With temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees for the third consecutive day, we decided to condense our itinerary to three wineries and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing by a pool. It was a wise decision in that it left our stomachs ready for more when dinnertime rolled around.
At 10:00am we stopped at Shafer, a gorgeous 205 acre vineyard that began by producing 1,000 cases of wine in 1978 and currently produces 32,000 cases annually. Shafer prides itself on sustainable agricultural practices. Cover crops help its owners create a natural habitat for insects and eliminate use of pesticides and chemicals. We tasted 6 wines, including Shafer's intoxicatingly smooth Hillside Select, while being treated to tales from the winery's Chairman, John Shafer.
Shafer is located in the Stags Leap District
Entering the driveway
A recent addition- a renovated Tasting Room
Guests are provided with an Owner's Manual at the tasting
Following Shafer we made our way to Kelham Vineyards for a lunch paired with 8 different wines. Kelham is a 10 acre vineyard run by winemakers (and brothers) Hamilton and Ron Nicholsen. Ron holds a degree in architecture and designed the layout of the extremely comfortable, homey grounds. The atmosphere, complete with Miss Ellie- a timid dog Ron rescued from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, provided the perfect setting for a long wine fueled lunch. Our lunch platter overflowed with cheeses, spiced nuts, fruits, meats and chocolate and made a great accompaniment to Kelham's young wines.
Entering the property
Kelham Vineyard's perfectly manicured grounds
Miss Ellie- a fixture at Kelham Vineyards
Ron Nicholsen explaining his winemaking techniques
Gorgeous cluster of grapes at Kelham Vineyards
Cakebread Cellars was the last winery we visited during our three day tour of Napa Valley. John Cakebread (I can't imagine a better name- the meeting of two of my favorite foods: cake + bread) began producing wine on his 22 acre property in 1973 with 157 cases of chardonnay. The Cakebread family currently owns over 420 acres throughout Napa Valley and the North Coast and houses a culinary studio adjacent to its Cakebread Cellars' Tasting Room. We participated in a tasting of 5 current release wines while being guided around the winery's facilities. We took our time strolling around, enjoying the views and the wines, before returning to our resort's pool- content with the experiences we had during our three days in Napa.
A sign guiding us to Cakebread Cellars
Cases of chardonnay awaiting shipment
The bottling/assembly line
Barrel stacked atop barrel in a temperature controlled aging room
Our guide giving us a lesson on grape clusters