Stop 1 - Chappellet
Chappellet is a family owned vineyard with lovely rows of manicured vines, lovely rolling hills, and a view of the valley reservoir that is breath-taking. 2005 was a great harvest year for California vineyards, so when domestic 2005s come to market, be sure to grab yourself some bottles, lay them down, and enjoy for years to come.
The grapes were late this year, as everyone said in Napa, but the conditions were prefect for to produce the perfect grapes. Look at these grapes, dunno what kind they are, but aren't they just pretty?
The Chappellet Winery tour is by appointment, and can be made by calling 1-800-4-Winery. How did Chappellet get that phone number ? Good for them! There is a guest reception building up on top of Prichard Hill. The reception area is attached to the fermentation and aging room and there are doors on the far end that leads to more of the vineyard. We spent a lot of time with our hostess looking at the process of making wine, and all the stainless steel equipment. When we got back into the barrel aging room, there was a dark wood bar with chocolates and wine glasses lined up just for us. How delicious it was to taste wine and then take a bite of chocolate! I totally get it now! Excellent reds with bittersweet chocolate is the definition of decadence. What a nice way to start a tour of St Helena, CA.As we were leaving the wine tasting, we asked to have lunch in one of the Chappellet gardens. The garden we went to was high on a hill and there were a couple picnic tables and a trash can for use. We drove across one hill to this lunch spot. Notice the rolling hills in the background, the beautiful reservoir in the mid-field, and a new vineyard in front of the picture. I gotta tell ya, this picture just does not do the beautiful view justice. I look at the photo now, and say it is nice, but multiply the nice by 1000 and that is how the view is from this lovely place. The view was a feast for our eyes, and we were about to start a feast for our tastebuds. Before going to Chappellet, we went to Sunshine Foods www.sunshinefoodsmarket.com down at 1115 Main St, St Helena, CA 707-963-7070 to pick up some cheese, pate, bread and fruit for lunch. This neighborhood market had the best produce of any grocery store I have ever been in, and the avocadoes were ripe and ready to enjoy without being over mushy or bruised. The cheese counter is as good as the cheese shop at PennMac on the Strip in Pittsburgh, and there was a really great butcher on deck at the meat counter (Wild Oats, take notice!). We got a few types of cheese, pate, some freshly made french bread, and grapes to eat for our lunch. Gorgeous food, gorgeous view, good company and great wine. Does life get better than this?