Contrary to popular belief, I’m not out tasting on a weekly basis – but I do make time when guests come from out of town to visit (or any other similar excuse). My Mom and her husband were here this past weekend and I wanted them to have a memorable experience. I planned a couple of tastings and a Saturday night dinner reservation, but for the rest of the time I thought we would play tourist and pop in wherever our hearts desired. On Saturday afternoon we headed over to Sonoma Valley to the Robledo Winery where we learned about the “historia” of the family from Luis Robledo himself and tasted some of their fabulous wines. The tasting room is in an old barn on their property off of Arnold Road, and has a rustic atmosphere. For us, the Petite Syrah was a standout and we picked up a bottle for dinner that evening.
I chose the Harvest Moon Café on the square in Sonoma for dinner. It was highly recommended by Lin Durling of Artesian Wine Tours (www.artisanwinetours.com) and a new destination for me. We were seated right away in the small, cozy front area of the restaurant. Our waiter’s name was Pasang and he was from Nepal, he told us that Pasang means Friday and is a common name for Sherpa’s born on that day. Reminiscent of my travels in Bali where they have only 4 names; First, Second, Third and Fourth [born] – respectively Wayan, Kadek, Nyoman and Ketut. For males they put an “I” (pronounced “ee”) before the name and for females they use Ni. That makes me Ni-Nyoman Wendy. And yes, if they have more than 4 children, they start over again! If you have read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert you already know this little factoid.
I digress; we were talking about the Harvest Moon Café. The service was spot on and the food was delightful, especially the chunky tomato soup and the lamb stew over a bed of risotto. I recommend this little jewel of a restaurant for a welcoming, cozy dinner.
After dinner we headed back to Napa and stopped in at the Ceja Vineyards Wine Tasting Salon & Lounge in downtown for salsa lessons. The floor was packed by the time we got there and the intermediate lesson was just getting underway. My mom and her husband immediately jumped out on the floor and participated in Ariel’s “Bachata” lesson – although my mom already dances salsa, this was a new step for her and she loved it. You must stop by! Every Saturday evening the beginning classes start at 7:30, intermediate at 8:30 and then the party continues all night. Some of the best nightlife in Napa!
On Sunday we made several stops, including one at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville for some of their world famous tomato soup – it comes with a puff pastry baked on top and is simply to die for! If you have not tried it, I recommend you head over there immediately. It’s phenomenal. A trip to Yountville is not complete without a stop at Bouchon Bakery – we grabbed a couple of baguettes and a few of their delicious French macaroons.
Wanting to drive up valley a bit, we headed up to St. Helena and popped in to Charles Krug on Highway 29, it is the first winery in the Napa Valley (established in 1861) and offers not only a great selection of wines, but lots of history as well. It was getting late and time to start heading home for the evening, but on our way back we saw the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America (once a monastery and later owned by Christian Brothers) looming on the right, and we couldn’t resist but to stop in for a glass of wine and marvel at the kitchen and the architecture. I still haven’t been there for dinner, and I think that's criminal. It’s next on my list – I’ll be sure to update you when I go. Stay tuned!
~Wine Club Wendy