Too Much Wine Too Little Time

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Venge Vineyards Visit 2010

Our day began as usual here at the Wine Country Inn, with a great breakfast that really helps when you plan a day of tasting. It was then off to the Sunshine Market to pick up lunch, water and a cooler. Our first appointment of the day was a favorite; Venge Vinyards. Heading up the driveway we were surprised to see the new winery building and crush pad up and functional. venge6

Having last visited in March we were aware they would be doing construction, never did we think that just seven short months later the building would be up and pretty much operational. In fact they were sorting Cabernet grapes as quick as they were harvested.





Lin; our gracious host gave us a tour of the new facility and I must say it was very impressive. The place was abuzz with harvest activity including owner/winemaker Kirk Venge moving grape tubs with a fork lift; quite inspiring.











I have already raved about the Venge wine list so I won’t repeat myself. There are two new Cabernets that do deserve mention though. The 2008 Silencieux (The Silent One), tasting notes describe the wine as opening with scents of blackberries, cassis, licorice and coffee that lead to a concentrated, viscous wine that showcases great length on the palate. Approachable upon release and cellar worthy in proper aging conditions, fans of our Scout’s Honor and our Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon will love this wine for its fruit concentration and excellent structure. A young wine that could certainly sit for years to come we still found the wine very approachable after a bit of aeration. There is an allocation on the wine and I am sure it will sell out quickly. Bone Ash Cabernet 2008 is the other new one we tasted; a limited production bottling of 250 cases. Tasting notes describe the wine as rich, intense, and concentrated with copious quantities of black currant liqueur, cedar and smoky cigar tobacco. Full bodied and soundly structured with superior aging potential in proper cellaring conditions. A very bold Cabernet, that is rather young and a bit tannic at first but again very approachable with some aeration. Needless to say we will be sending home a good quantity of both wines for resting in our cellar. Our history with Venge wine began when we were the last visitors at the previous Venge location; the Rossini Ranch. We watched as an emotional Lin closed the cave doors for the last time so it was fitting that we arrived to see the first harvest in the new location. We have visited every year since they opened, watched their progress, enjoyed the excellent wine, talked with Lin about family and ongoing Venge news, and in a way feel like part of the family.  We are sure Kirk Venge’s new location is destined to become one of the premier Napa Valley stops.

Tastings are by appointment only for more information visit their website at

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Napa Valley Day One

Arrived in Napa around 2:00pm yesterday, and could not be happier with the way the day went! A big thank you to Continental Airlines, once again they had us on the ground in San Francisco almost a half hour early. The trip through the airport was quick and easy Hertz Rental also gets big thanks for quick service and a nice car. We drove into San Francisco and had a nice lunch at the Blue Mermaid which is down at Fisherman’s Wharf. The New England clam chowder was fantastic. Then it was off for the hour drive up to the valley. Our first stop which has become tradition was Regusci Winery. They have become a favorite of ours and the wine never disappoints. We tasted six wines, the 2008 Chardonnay, 2007 Estate Zinfandel, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Estate Cabernet, Regusci Patriarch, and Angelo’s Cabernet. As usual all were very good however, I did come away with a new favorite, the 2007 Zinfandel was great! Tasting notes describe it as having crisp notes of blueberry, raspberry, light blackberry and luscious plum. The wine ‘zings’ the palate with tingly acidity that simply reverberates around the mouth, leaving a hint of blackcurrant finish. Needless to say the first case of wine was ordered before we were in the valley for an hour. We then headed over to another favorite Silver Oak. We tried the recently released 2006 Alexander Valley Cabernet and the 2005 Napa Cabernet. As an added bonus they were pouring a 2002 Alexander Valley Cab that had aged very well and I am happy about that as we have several bottles aging in our cellar. It was then off to the Wine Country Inn for the daily afternoon tasting and appetizers. We ended our first day at the Silverado Brew Pub with a nice dinner and watching the San Francisco Giants beat Philadelphia. What a great first day!

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Napa Valley Beckons

The wait is finally over; on the plane tomorrow at 7:00 AM and off we go to Napa Valley! Have some great stops already planned. Dinner reservations at Cook, Tra Vigne, and will try to do a walk in at Rutherford Grill. Of course, we always kick back on our first night after a long travel day at the Silverado Brew Pub, which is within walking distance from the Wine Country Inn. Please Continental…arrive on time and Hertz Rental don’t hold me up in the airport! I am ready! The valley of the gods awaits me! web ready

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Part 2 Along the California Coast

Following our stop at Orfila, we decided to drive out to Carlsbad and follow the coast back down to San Diego.  If you only follow the coastal roads and stay off I-5, this trip will take you about 2 hours or a little more if you stop to check out the view.  Our trip took us through Encinitas, Cardiff-By-The-Sea, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, La Jolla, Mission Beach, Mission Bay and back into San Diego.  Torrey Pines two of the most beautiful golf courses in the country.  If you follow the coast road you will end up right outside the gates of Torrey Pines Golf Course.  From there it’s approximately a 25 minute ride to La Jolla. Following the coastal roads is a great way to see the southern coast of California and the views are some of the most amazing in the country. 

 Sunset cliffs

We arrived back in the San Diego area just in time to see the sunset.  We headed up Sunset Cliffs Blvd, which runs along the Pacific Ocean and ends at Sunset Cliffs Park.  Located adjacent to Point Loma, the park offers an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.  Sunset Cliffs Blvd can take you right to the park but also offers plenty of pull offs you can stop at to enjoy the view and are popular gathering spots for locals. 

 Sun small

The next morning we got up early and headed out to Point Loma before our flight.  The Point Loma Naval base is located on the southern end of Point Loma peninsula and at its southernmost point is the Cabrillo National Monument.  To access the monument you have to go through the Naval base, access is granted daily from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Entry to the park costs $5.00 and it offers the best views of the San Diego Bay area.  Unfortunately, the day we were there a thick sea fog shrouded the land so we only saw glimpses of Coronado and downtown San Diego.  Cabrillo also offers tidal basins which have a wide variety of wildlife in them during certain tides and times of the year.  You may also sea whales or sea lions depending on the time of year that you visit the monument. After a stop at the tidal basins it was off to the airport for the flight home. 

 Ship fog

There’s nothing like air travel to ruin your day.  While the flight was mostly uneventful, the joys of late night baggage retrieval that greeted us were not so uneventful.  Some 50 minutes, 4 stoppages and one major breakdown after our 20 minute early arrival, we were finally reunited with our bags and on the way home.  Our 11:00 pm home arrival time ended up being 1:00am. Finally at home there was only one final step to complete the vacation, upon opening the suitcase we were reunited with the Orfila wines we had purchased.  After placing them in the racks for safe keeping, it was off to bed after the end of another successful trip.  Until next time Salude!!

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Napa Valley Fall Trip

IMG_0179Only ten more days and off to Napa Valley we go and as all plans do ours have changed already. We have pretty much decided to not make any plan and just go with the flow when we arrive. Now maybe that statement is not all true. I did make an appointment with Elyse Winery; a friend who is a cousin of the owners suggested trying them. After checking out their web site and trying some wine I can’t imagine how we missed them in our last seven visits. Elyse is located on Hoffman Lane just south of Yountville heading down valley from St Helena. In 1987 Ray and Nancy Coursen started Elyse with 286 cases of Zinfandel from the Morisoli Vineyard. For a decade they made their wines at various custom crush facilities before buying their Hoffman Lane location in 1997. Ray honed his skills in winemaking with a nine year stint at Whitehall Lane Winery where he started as a cellar worker and moved up to head winemaker. We have tasted their 2007 A.K.A Zinfandel and 2005 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet, both of which were excellent wines. Can’t wait for this stop, we also made an appointment with one of our favorites; Venge Vineyards. Venge is in the process of building new winery facilities and actually pressed their first fruit there this year. We are excited to see the progress! So with no other plans at this time I am thinking about that first day, arriving in the valley and making our first stop at Regusci Winery a visit that has become tradition. Ah, back home in the valley!