Napa – final thoughts and suggestions

Whew! Did it take you all of yesterday to read that post? Just one more and then I’ll go back to chatting about recipes. I wanted to leave you with some overall thoughts about our trip and some suggestions if you’re looking to head that direction.

General thoughts
For semi-pro wine aficionados (we can claim that status after 7+ years of drinking wine, right?), this trip was actually incredibly informative. We learned a lot about what blends we gravitate towards (a lot of cabernet wines are mixed with something else). We discovered that we like Rosé – as long as it’s the French style. We found some Petite Syrahs that totally floated our boat and even came home with shocking bottles like a Riesling and a Grenache.

The trip also reaffirmed our belief that you can’t go wrong with a 2007 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Every one we had and any one we talked to about this year supported this fact. The 2008’s seem to be coming on strong too.

Next trip (because this is certainly not our last) I’m looking forward to visiting more wineries in the Stag’s Leap area to take advantage of the views and the reds. I’d like to do more tastings that include pairings or tours, and I’m already updating the spreadsheet with suggestions we received too late to integrate or while we were there.

Suggested Itineraries
But what should you do with all this info? As I already mentioned, I’ll totally plan your trip to Napa for a very affordable fee. But if you’re not looking for a total custom plan, here are my (and Hubster’s) top suggestions based on your wine loving level.

I drink wine occasionally, but I’m still interested enough to visit the valley
Sterling Vineyards – The self guided tour and taste will give you a good basic knowledge of wine, definitely add the reserve tasting
Judd’s Hill – Very approachable wine
V Sattui – A variety of good, standard wine
Iron Horse Vineyards – Great views and bubbles are always fun

I keep less than 10 bottles of wine on hand at a time
Merryvale – This will be a great introduction to a variety of higher end wines
Quivira – Well rounded offering that won’t blow the bank
Prager Winery and Port Works – Fun atmosphere and you get to try port
Reynold’s Family Winery – Great, affordable wines

I have a cellar or have considered an elaborate wine storage system for my rented condo
(Hubster and I fall into this category, if you couldn’t tell.)
Merryvale – Stunning portfolio
Stags’ Leap – Superb estate wines and great tour
Cakebread – If you love red, sign up for the red tasting.
Prager Winery and Port Works – Unpretentious and they make seriously tasty stuff. You’ll be surprised by what you like.

Ok, so who wants to go to Napa?! (My hand is raised!) Let me know if you have suggestions for our next trip.

Renee - May 3, 2012 - 7:39 pm

I am seriously uneducated when it comes to wine (see my recent blog post for proof of this), but I enjoy it and would very much like to learn more about the different types and what I like. Any suggestions (besides visiting Napa) for improving my palate?
I love your recipes, as I’m sure I’ve said, but I’ve really enjoyed reading all your napa stuff too. Wine seems to be something you know a lot about, I’d love to read more on it in the future.

ModernMealsForTwo - May 4, 2012 - 12:08 am

I saw your post :) I tried to comment but lately my work computer freaks out when it’s on your blog and it crashes my browser. It’s really odd.
Anyways, you’re here to talk about wine. When we moved in together we decided that we wanted to be wine drinkers. It may have been slightly influenced by a wine chest that we purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond. From then on we just started drinking wine. The nice thing when you’re starting out is that you can’t tell a difference between a good bottle and a bad bottle. So if you want to gain an appreciation for wine, don’t blow the bank right away. Start with $10 bottles and work up from there. Besides that we just tasted enough to learn what we liked and what we didn’t. And the more you drink the more attuned you get to the flavors. I still have a long way to go. Hubster can actually sip wine and say “mmm there’s a lot of tobacco in this”. I’m definitely NOT there yet. Doing wine tastings, taking a small class (we did one on our honeymoon cruise) or even hosting a wine tasting party are all great ways to learn about wine in a relaxed environment. We have some wineries here in Missouri and the only one I can recommend (just based on what we like) is Crown Valley. So if you and B want a day trip sometime, visit their winery in Ste. Genevieve and do a tasting there.

Cheri - May 4, 2012 - 3:32 am


I meant to suggest Madonna Estates Winery before you went; but write it down for future reference. It’s a smaller winery, BUT it’s all organic. Organic grapes = organic wines. Organic wines= lower sulfite content. Lower sulfite content = less headache the morning after overindulging! I enjoyed their wines enough so to join their wine club. I got wine up until I deployed in 2010! Their dolcetto is really yummy as is the “Due Ragazze” – if I’m remembering without my notes. Just a really cute family run affair. Check out the website:


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