Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Napa

Last week, the department that my work group is a part of went on an off-site to Napa for some camaraderie, some team-building (Go team. Yea team.), and some wine-tasting. Lots and lots of wine-tasting. In fact, the whole outing was actually little more than an excuse to start drinking champagne at 9:30 in the morning on the bus ride up there, and then keep drinking all day long, with a respite in the middle of the day for lunch and, naturally, more wine. Yikes!

It's a shame we couldn't have picked a nice day for our adventure.
Our first stop was at tiny Tudal, a "boutique winery" that bottles less than 1,000 cases a year.
Glasses in hand, we marched on down the dirt road ready to taste some of the delicious reds that Tudal is famous for.
An ancient wine press is just one of the many artifacts and objets d'art that are scattered around the grounds.
This old, retired tractor is featured prominently on some of the labels of Tudal's wines.
Nothing like a good open-air tasting of some hearty, full-bodied reds (Zinfandel, Table Red, two different bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon) to start out the day.
Grape stompers wanted. Skinny folks need not apply.
Grape vines turn color in the fall, just like many trees. We saw some brilliant golds and reds among the green foliage.
A gazebo out in the middle of the vines.
My co-worker, Philip (L), and Heiko, the Mad, Menacing German.
How many of these can I roll home?
In Napa, it's all about the grapes.
...And more grapes.
Our next stop was Clos Pegase, where the art collection rivals the wine-making.
We gave a big thumbs-up to both the art and the wine there.
It's really a beautiful spot, with all sorts of paintings, artwork and unusual pieces of sculpture throughout the winery.
Fermentation tanks in the wine-making warehouse.
Our host at Clos Pegase (I forget his name -- can't imagine why) was a combination wine-maker and stand-up comedian... who should probably stick to wine-making.
We had lunch deep inside the wine cellar cave underneath the winery. Keep that claustrophobia in check, kids!
All through the cave were various art pieces. Here is one niche, taken without flash...
...And with the flash.
Our final stop of the day was Regusci, a so-called "ghost winery" that has been in Napa since the mid-1800s.
Resisting the urge to use some kind of play on "I heard it through the grapevine" here.
Grapes aren't the only things that grow in Napa.
Heiko relaxing, feeling philosophical. Or maybe a little tipsy. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.
You might expect, with all the wine that was consumed that day, that some silliness would ensue: Whose legs are whiter?
At the end of the day, we bid a fond farewell to Napa and the grapes and vines and wines. On the way home we sampled some of our tour guide's favorites from his own private cellar. Niiiiiice daaaaaay.
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