Oh Napa Valley, how I fell for you! Your sexy, curving roads thrilled. Your warm October breezes, heady with eucalyptus, rosemary, and grapes intoxicated. Your wine sated and delighted. And your food. Oh, your food! Each ingredient shining but not overpowering, casually lending just-yanked-from-the-garden character. And your insouciant beauty, from vista to vineyard lunch, aroused both inspiration and envy. Don’t tell Chicago, but I’m dying to see you again.
Images, from top to bottom: (1) a view of Barnett Vineyards through Cabernet Sauvignon vines (2) grapes plucked from the vines at Calistoga Ranch (3) the stunning contours of Fisher Vineyards on the western slope of Spring Mountain, (4) a collage from our lunch at the Spring Mountain Estate of Fisher Vineyards, by far my favorite experience. Clockwise from top left: a salad of persimmon slices, apples, bacon, fennel, Point Reyes blue cheese, and the most luscious figs I have EVER tasted, made by Tyson, the Fisher Vineyard chef, with produce from their gardens and orchards; Saki the (115 pound) Akita and resident vineyard dog, curled up at my feet during lunch; a kaleidoscope of grapes; olive trees, lavender, and vines in one glimpse (5) Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, painstakingly harvested by hand, at Barnett Vineyards (6) the wine cave at Barnett (7) more Fisher contours (8) the nostalgic sign from Taylor’s Refresher, which is now Gott’s Roadside (9) the green chile cheeseburger (and crispy ahi tuna tacos) from Gott’s (and yes, I devoured both) (10) the UNBELIEVABLE outdoor shower of our Calistoga Ranch accommodations – pure heaven (10) a bee diving in before the crush