A Traipse Through Wine Country


I love wine country, and when my friend offered to drive a few of us up to Napa and Sonoma because his girlfriend needed to pick up a few cases of wine, I eagerly accepted.  Napa Valley!  Sonoma!

We started off in Sonoma’s Hanzell Vineyards (we got a bit lost in the process), and ended at Joseph Phelps Vineyards.  The picture you see above is one of Hanzell’s vineyards.  Beautifully breathtaking.

I have been to Napa and Sonoma three times in my life now.  The first time was for my cousin’s wedding in Sonoma, and the second time was last year with my friend, Delida.  I’ve got to say– each time has been different, and I’ve learned something new.  Part of it is going with different people, part of it is my palate developing and understanding the flavors I am experiencing, and part of it is just the different vineyards I am exploring.  The first time, I was underage and traveling with my father, uncle, and cousins.  I got a little sip of sparkling wine from Domaine Chandon, but I had no idea what I was tasting.  Just that it was bubbly.  And that there is a lot of chemistry behind creating wine– which was just fine for me.  As a biochemist, I was highly interested.  Unfortunately, our guide didn’t go too much into technical details.

The second time was after several years of occasional wine tasting with friends from high school, and with a slightly more developed palate.  However, both Del and I were completely inexperienced when it came to wine tasting, and when we went, we weren’t sure what we were doing.  Plus we got to Napa Valley so late we were only able to taste a few without much of the accompanying lectures and lessons that make wine tasting so interesting for novices like me.  Also, we had no idea which wineries to go to.  We ended up exploring Mumm and Peju.

This time, with my friends Jason, Janice, and Sara, I was in the company of some wine connoisseurs!  Janice is a member of Hanzell and Joseph Phelps and regularly receives wines from their vineyards.  She and her boyfriend, Jason, clearly know what they’re tasting.  And Sara, as well.  I was the one admitted noob in the car.


Hanzell Vineyards

It was fun at Hanzell.  They had a rack of all of their wines in order by year.  To the left you can see me with the wine from my year.  😀

Our tour guide said it was their way of making sure that younger visitors were all of legal drinking age.  A smart way to check, if I may say so myself.  I wonder how much it would cost for a good wine from the year I was born . . .

The wines we tried at Hanzell were mostly whites.  I bought one, in the end, although by the end of the day I was regretting not having bought more wines from them.  Next time, eh?

In the meantime, I’m still dreaming of how beautiful those fields are.

The Napa/Sonoma Crew (from L–>R): Jason, Janice, Sara, and me!


Joseph Phelps Vineyard

Then we were off to Joseph Phelps Vineyard!  I didn’t know this before we went, but apparently Joseph Phelps is a very high end (read: expensive) wine.  And Janice is a member, which meant we got to have a complimentary wine tasting.

AND we got to mix our own Insignia (a line of special wines created by mixing different Joseph Phelps wines).  It kind of reminded me of chemistry class in high school.  We had six wines in front of us, plus an empty glass and a pipet.  Haha!  So we pipetted our own mixes and tasted them.

I have to admit, it was kind of fun.  If only our classes in college were so fun . . .

After the Insignia-mixing session, our instructor took us outside to taste the actual Insignia from the past couple years.  I wish I could say that it was mind blowingly awesome, but to be honest, my mouth was so puckered from the tannins in the wines that I could not truly taste anything properly, despite the large number of crackers I kept stuffing in my mouth.

I don’t have that many pictures from Joseph Phelps’.  But it was beautiful, as this picture evidences.

The first picture of the Joseph Phelps series (with the wine glass and bottle), is from my tasting of Backus, which is supposedly an amazing wine that retails around $150-200 per bottle.  Heh.

I really enjoyed that trip out to Napa Valley and Sonoma.  I learned a lot about wines, and I think my appreciation for them has increased incredibly over the past year or so.  As I sat in some lessons and the people were sniffing out very specific aromas (citrusy? flowers?) of the wine, I felt very lost.  But I am confident that my wine-IQ will increase.

I didn’t buy anything at Joseph Phelps’ (unfortunately it is slightly out of range for this lowly law student’s budget), but I did come away with an increased appreciation for wine.  And for the people whose passion for wine allows them to sip wine all day, every day.


We made a few other pit stops that day, including one for lunch at Bouchon Bakery, where I bought a lot of bread items.  But that will be an entry for next time.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays, everyone!


2 Responses to “A Traipse Through Wine Country”

  1. 1 Sara

    YAY!!! Thanks for posting! 🙂 Get to relive it all over again. I like we have “wine teeth” towards the end. haha! Miss you!

  1. 1 A Traipse Through Wine Country « Pineapple Bread | The Bottle and Cork - Napa and Sonoma Wine blog

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