Wineries in California know what they are doing and know how to adapt. When California shut down most winery operations, those affected started planning for the inevitable changes that would come with reopening. When word came that tastings could resume, they were ready with enhanced experiences.
Knowing and embracing this, we made reservations for a variety of kinds of tastings at several wineries for our “S is for Sip, Savor, Sightsee” road trip. The wineries we visited all said the same thing: “This gives us a chance to personalize the tasting and show each visitor how important they are to us and how much we want them to enjoy the wines.”
Our first stop in Napa Valley was Trefethen. The wines have been a favorite for years, so it was on the short list. Almost all of the wineries now require reservations for tastings and everything must take place outside, so we chose “Taste the Estate” and dressed for the exquisite sunny weather.
This particular tasting included small bites prepared by Trefethen’s resident chef, Sarah, and were paired for specific Trefethen wines. Many of the ingredients for the bites came from the estate’s gardens and were picked the morning of the tasting.
We met Gary We met Gary at a kiosk near the parking lot for our personally guided tour of some of the grounds. We walked through a garden to the manor house on the property that has, at one time or another, been home to every member of the Trefethen family. The Arts and Crafts-style finishes have been meticulously maintained (or refinished) over the years. It’s now their event venue — once they are allowed to host events again.
We stepped onto the patio to a table set for two adorned with a fresh glass for each of the wines we would taste and shaded by an umbrella.
As Gary poured each wine, he shared the stories of the wines, the grapes, the vineyards and the Trefethen family. Sarah appeared from the kitchen with stunning bites designed to bring out certain flavors for each wine. The Harmony Chardonnay, we learned, was absolutely perfect with fresh goat cheese and tarragon, for example.
Wines tasted, the stories and chatting continued. We realized our gift for gab was matched by Gary and Sarah’s, but the winery had to close at some point. On the way back to the car, Gary told us the story of an old walnut tree on the property, now surrounded by grapevines. Intrigued, we detoured a little to see the tree that “Katie” Trefethen insisted be saved when she and Gene first bought the winery.
As we drove out the gate, it closed behind us and we headed for our hotel filled with visions of delicious wines, flavors still echoing through the stories we’d heard.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Savor each experience along the way.
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