Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wrapping Up the Weekend

Our New Year’s weekend retreat in Napa turned out to be more about food than wine. It was cold, rainy and blustery on Saturday morning as the New Year arrived, so we started out late. We stopped in Yountville at Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style shop and browsed for a while, then headed across the street for lunch at Hurley’s. It was the perfect place for a warm fireside lunch of butternut squash and pear soup for me and Mediterranean beef skewers for Larry. I also ordered a cheese plate to go with my soup.  It was such a mellow morning, I forgot to take photos! We learned later if we had driven a little further north, we would have encountered snow in St. Helena. But instead, we headed south to visit two of only six wineries open in the valley on New Year’s Day.

Raymond Vineyards was our first stop. We really enjoyed seeing the wineries and other shops decorated for the holidays. We purchased two bottles of Raymond’s Eloquence dessert wine on sale for the ridiculous price of $15. Last time I think we paid $30. Next we headed for a new destination, Hagafen Cellars. They have a number of award-winning wines, so we thought it would be worth checking out.

I think everyone else in Napa Valley had the same idea. The tasting room was a zoo! There was no opportunity to ask questions or learn about the Hagafen wines. They just went around pouring the wines as fast as they could keep up. That's great if you just want to drink, but I'd go to a bar for that kind of atmosphere. We'll have to return another time to really experience Hagafen Cellars. 

A highlight of our trip was dinner at our favorite restaurant, Ubuntu. That merits a separate post of its own. Sunday, we took a different route home, making a leisurely drive through the Carneros Valley. Our intent was to stop at Artesa Winery, but they were closed for renovation. Our final stop was at what used to be Folio Winery, but is now transitioning its name to Michael Mondavi Family Winery. They have a lovely new tasting room and a variety of wines to try available for sale at reasonable prices, distributed under a variety of brand names.

We ate far too much fine food, but enjoyed every morsel. Now it’s time to return to everyday life and the pleasures of cooking  at home.


  1. Warm fireside lunch, yum, you had me there. And a cheese plate! So glad you got to hit those two open (even if busy) rooms on New Year's Day! Fabulous. I'd have snatched up that dessert wine.

  2. Butternut squash and pear soup sounds interesting! It sounds like you had some good wine but it's a bummer Hagafen was so crowded. It sounds like you had such a good time!