Sunny and 80 in the wine country….but good friends are more important.

Who is in charge of this weather?  It can’t be better.  In Sausalito, we could see the SF skyline as clear as it has ever been…and the sailboats were racing across in a pleasant breeze…it was smooth for the ferry.  And, walking around town was so pleasant, even late evenings.

Today, as we did our Beau Wine Tour day, we awoke to another sunny and no humidity sunrise.  We hiked up to that big statue on the hill in the vineyard behind the hotel.

DSC_2655
The morning fog on the far hills frames these trees in the early sunshine.
The guy is small from our room, but 3x lifesize when you get to his place.
The guy is small from our room, but 5x lifesize when you get to his place.

The big van, driven by our man, VJ, came at 10AM and he was with us until 5PM with his gourmet box lunches, sparkling wine and loads of fresh water in the Sprinter.  Plans were to test Dell Dotto wines in the morning, lunch at Robinson Family Vineyards and then a flexible afternoon as we tried to reach the O’Neill’s friends at Detert Vineyards.

Dell Dotto's building is too much. Here are O'Neills, Roachs and Mondellis as we make an entry.
Dell Dotto’s building over-the-top. Here are O’Neills, Roachs and Mondellis as we make an entry.

Dell Dotto is a Michael Brock favorite and their tasting building is a bit over the top…a Venetian castle brought over from Italy and put together by Italian craftsmen.  Lots of good wine to try…a flight of 7 at 10:30AM is a bit much, but we were up to the challenge – with a little cheese, water and bread sticks to clear our palates.

VJ suggests a stop at Inglenook Castle on our way up to lunch…this is the Francis Ford Coppola vineyards with a history which goes back to the 1800’s…fascinating.

What a welcome...looks like a Hollywood set, eh?
What a welcome…looks like a Hollywood set, eh?
Copolla is sharing billing with the original sea captain owner...both names grace the stained glass.
Coppola is sharing billing with the original sea captain owner…both names grace the stained glass.
the staircase features grapes, too.
the staircase features grapes, too.
We sneaked a peek into the fermenting area...great barrels.
We sneaked a peek into the fermenting area…great barrels.
...and many of them.
…and many of them.
The threshold is from the original vineyard entry.
The threshold is from the original vineyard entry.

The outside of the place is all restored and quite grand.

DSC_2707 DSC_2709

And the vineyards stretch all the way out to the Silverado Trail main road right around the castle.

Most fields were picked during Crush season in Aug/Sept, but these are just here for
Most fields were picked during Crush season in Aug/Sept, but these are just here for “the show” as Coppola would say.

VJ says there’s still time for one more stop on the way…at the famous Robert Mondavi Winery.  Mr. Mondavi is a legend and just died recently at 93, still operating with a strong hand.  Look at the way they portray him at the entrance.

This is Robert...and the tower of their famous tasting premises looms over the building behind.
This is Robert…and the tower of their famous tasting premises looms over the building behind.

DSC_2731 DSC_2732…and art is featured throughout the grounds.

This piece was one of my favorites.
This piece was one of my favorites.

Moving along, we climb up a hill in the Stag’s Leap district to the Robinson Family Winery.  We always seem to have the most memorable times when we depend our friends to help us find the “best places”.  Mike and Jill Silvas live in Napa and work here and in Sonoma (Jill’s runs the Pacific Union Real Estate office on the main square there; Mike has his own brokerage – Wine Country Fine Properties. )  They encouraged us to do our lunch stop here and they are best friends with the family.  Tom Jinks is a rancher and Susie, his wife, is his partner…her parents were the Robinsons.

Tom's hands attest to the hard work he does here. They just finished building their own house in the vineyards, too.
Tom’s hands attest to the hard work he does here. They just finished building their own house in the vineyards, too.

Their kids and grandkids help around the place, too.  It is up-close-and-personal…and just delicious in every sense of the word.  Our lunch was outside on a table next to their house under a tree….with big Lab there to take care of any crumbs.

Susie poured wine as they explained the history of their efforts.
Susie poured wine as they explained the history of their efforts.
We went inside to do some more tasting and see their fermentation
We went inside to do some more tasting and see their fermentation “caves”…hand made, too.
Here's our darling friend, Jill, listening to Tom...she's probably heard whatever he was saying many times before.
Here’s our darling friend, Jill, listening to Tom…she’s probably heard whatever he was saying many times before.  Sorry we missed a shot of Mike, but we will get him at dinner tonight…promise.
The 1937 truck is still used for work here and graces the front page of their web site too.
The 1937 Ford truck is still used for work here and graces the front page of their web site too.

So, as you do when you find a very comfortable, knowledgeable and affable host and hostess…we nearly over-stayed our welcome.  The plan was to hit one more place this afternoon; after checking with our new friends – Jinks and Silvas – to go to Chateau Montana, which was featured in the movie Bottle Shock.  (see it if you haven’t; it’s a feel good flick).

Here's the Napa Valley and all of the appellations named. Stag's Leap is home to 19 vintners.
Here’s the Napa Valley and all of the appellations named. Stag’s Leap is home to 19 vintners.

VJ steps on it to get there about 10 miles out of the way.  It was another treat of history, architecture and viticulture.

Chateau Montelena is the real deal...and put California wines on the map...back in the day.
Chateau Montelena is the real deal…and put California wines on the map…back in the day.

Back to the Meritage Resort for some napping before our 8PM dinner at Ristorante Allegria.  Ciao.

chiproach

Lifelong Philadelphia area Realtor. Now a 13-year citizen of Sanibel, Florida. Married to Nancy for 53 years. Three children (2 in Devon; 1 in Steamboat Springs, CO) and 5 grandkids (2 in college). Helping with charities involving poverty, kids and education.

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