March 27th, 2013 by Jim Beazley
What’s more fun than Wine Tasting in the Napa Valley? Doing it TWICE in one month!
We take our staff on a “Wine Safari” each year both as a reward for their wonderful, devoted selves but also so they can speak with authority when recommending places to our guests. So on lucky February 13th we again boarded our Elegant Tours Limo with Veronica, Che, Sonja and Daryl and Carol and Jim headed out!
Carol and I need the same refreshers. But this trip even included a place we had never been: Stags Leap Winery. Located WAY off Silverado Trail, this historic property is so exclusive WE had never been. Of course our DAUGHTER, Sonja Beazley-Burch, wedding coordinator extraordinare, had! So we were in! We were hosted by Faith Poirier-Loo who informed us in delicious detail about this Napa landmark’s history.
Not only has there been a winery on the Stags Leap property since the late 1800s, but in 1976 it was a Cabernet from Stags Leap which bested the French in Paris. Otherwise known as the Judgement of Paris, it has been referred to as one of the most pivotal moments in wine history. France, which had always been hailed as the best wine making country, was up against California’s unheard of Napa Valley in a blind tasting at Paris’ InterContinental Hotel. I think they shot the French judges. In our judgement: the Stag’s Leap Cab was worth it!
Because Stags Leap shares a road with some very rich neighbors, they’re limited to just 32 visitors per day. This means we must book our guests well in advance to assure they can experience the 90 minute intimate tour and tasting experience that pairs its handcrafted wines and legendary history. The cost is $55 per person and the tours are conducted at 10 and 2:30 daily. To assure we’ll be welcomed back Carol and I joined their wine club…Okay! some wine was involved too!
Our next adventure was as new as Stags Leap was old: Odette Estate! This brand new winery was created from the former Stelzner Estate property at 5998 Silverado Trail and is owned and operated by a group who also own Cade and Plumpjack wineries. Heather and Elizabeth were our hostesses and had a wonderful lunch catered by Villiago laid out for us upon our arrival.
One of the advantages of Odette Estate’s ownership by Plumpjack is our guests can taste wines from all three wineries: Cade, Odette and Plumpjack while at this trendy new winery. Heather told us they will release the inaugural vintage of 2011 Odette Estate Cabernet Sauvignon in 2013. In the meantime, their Adaptation label wines are currently available in the tasting room, which opened on August 4, 2012.
From Odette’s sunny patio we traveled to the windswept hilltop of Artesa Vineyards and Winery in the Carneros. Built in the early 1990′s deep into the hilltop it occupies by famed Barcelona architect Domingo Triay at a cost of some $29 million. The owners, the Codorníu family of Spain, has been making wine since 1551 and said they were happy to recoupe their investment by their grandchildren’s generation.
Our hostess, Linda Champagne, wanted us to experience the new specialty tasting and tour programs which Artesa has just begun to offer. No longer will our guests have to just “belly up” to the bar (which can be three to four deep on weekends!). But they instead can sit in the quiet elegance of a glassed-in, private room just off of the sun-splashed inner courtyard. After choosing from six pairings which range from $45 to $80 per person our guests are assured a unique Artesa experience.
We were treated to the “Vino con Queso” tasting which starts off with a glass of Artesa’s Grand Reserve sparkling wine. We were then guided through a tour which took us deep inside of the mountain–from production to the barrel room. The tour concludes back in the sunny private tasting room where we experienced the pairing of Artesa’s small production Limited Release and Reserve wines with artisan cheeses. The presentation was only surpassed by the delicious wines. And how good were they?
We promptly joined the wine club!
March 21st, 2013 by Jim Beazley
When we were young and foolish we would try to visit 6 wineries in a single, blurry day. By about the fourth winery, we were mostly shot and couldn’t have told a good Cab from a stalled taxi. We always used a limo or designated driver, so we weren’t dangerously incompetent, just unclear on our palette’s limits. Today we know that three wineries in one day is our limit.
So this month when we visited 6 wineries we spaced it over two days a week apart. Our first outing, fittingly on February’s first Saturday included Madrigal Vineyards, Bremer Family Winery and Ehler’s Estate. While some in our little group had been to one, only our daughter Sonja had been to all. Sonja Beazley Burch and her husband Daryl are our wedding coordinator & Marketing team and get around decidedly more than we.
Our other two couples included Michelle, our very first innkeeper and her hubby Bob and our friends Stacey and Tim, also from Danville. Our party was driven by Elegant Tours, one of our favorite limo companies.
Now after nearly 32 years of wine tasting you’d think we’d have remembered the first rule: Don’t take too long at any one place, especially the FIRST place. The reason is that it destroys your schedule for the rest of the day. But the wine at Madrigal Vineyards flowed, like a song. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) We lost track of all time and were late from then on. Joel, our host, was as busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger! Not only did he have our group, but another couple and “drop-ins”. Madrigal (as were all of the day’s wineries) hosts tastings by appointment only.
At the Bremer Family Winery, located on the slopes of Howell Mountain, the property features an original construction stone winery and cellar built into the side of the mountain. We were sooooo enjoying the wine and stories by our expert host we got even FURTHER behind.
But, hey, you ask: “Who cares about TIME when you’re havin’ fun?!!” Well, our TUMMIES do! We were VERY late for our picnic lunch at Ehler’s Estate.
Wine without food is a recipe for a wine tasting disaster. Yet another rule we were “dissing.” The pictures of us all at Ehler’s show the results! Thank god for our limo and our very patient hostess, Marie, Ehler’s sainted tasting room manager.
Fed and refreshed we piled in for the ride back to Napa…wine bottles clinking in the trunk from our day of debauchery!
Next: the SECOND WINE TRIP in February!!!!
January 7th, 2013 by Jim Beazley
If my Blog archive was a Diary you’d judge that I died at the end of October 2011. As a stopped watch found in the wreckage of my life you’d see the hands frozen, the messages interrupted.
Silence. For a whole year!
Let this be a lesson to all: get out of the habit of writing and you lose touch.
But like your mother’s love, there’s always “New Year” to offer the hope of a fresh start.
New Year, that eternal “Spring” of new possibilities when we get to make new plans, set new goals. And if we don’t forget our past year’s shortcomings, at least we don’t allow them to stop us now.
It’s not like there’s not a lot to write about!
Napa has half dozen new restaurants, several new wineries, and fun things to do! There are changes, a whole year’s worth just here at the Beazley House: wonderful things: a new innkeeper named Michaele Drew, new breakfast temptations, even a new puppy named Bubba. Okay, so he’s not a puppy anymore but a beautiful Golden Retriever boy dog who tips the scales at 80 lbs.
Carol has shed the cast she wore for a month after badly breaking her arm, I can breathe free after finally recovering from a three month sinus infection. We all have endured a bruising national election and don’t have to listen to fear mongering about the economy.
We can all concentrate on healing: our hearts, our spirits, our goals, our romances!
And the Beazley House can help.
After all, that’s what we do best!
October 10th, 2011 by Carol Beazley
Makes 2 pie plates or 16-20 small fluted ramekins
Drain and mix the following together in a colander and set aside:
In large bowl mix:
Serve with sour cream and salsa. Garnish with cilantro or avacado, if desired.