california dreaming. [pt. 2]

San Francisco. Check.

Napa. En route in a convertible!

Yes, a convertible. White Mustang to be exact. I felt like I was high highfalutin. I quickly remembered that I must wear my hair in a bun or my perfectly tousled hair, that was planned accordingly because we are near the coast, became a nappy mess. Amidst me struggling to tame my mane while coasting down the highway at 80 mph in the warm 75 degree weather, the grapevines suddenly appeared over the rolling hills of Napa. Wine within reach! Leaving San Fran, I noticed the sun became more intense so massive amounts of sunscreen was applied, especially on Kevin's forehead.

The first stop on the winery tour was Keever Vineyards. Keever is a small, family owned and operated vineyard that opened in 2006. We wanted to start small on our tours and work our way to the larger, industrialized vineyards and this one was small, or rather, intimate. Our tour the of Keever's estate was given by Mrs. Keever herself, Olga. She was very kind and her excitement and fervor shown throughout the tour. Between the demonstrations of how the grapes are taken from the vines to the machinery and the caves where the wine is stored, it was a learning experience. I am a hands-on learner and I was able to touch the machines. Thus, I was able to learn.

The view of the property was also a great illustrator. You could gaze at the 6-acre lot as Mrs. Keever painted a picture of the workers plucking bunches of grapes of a precise deep purple color and delicately placing them in shallow wooden baskets. Most of the workers did the picking at night to steer clear of heat, which only makes sense.

Adorable Mrs. Keever.
The lovely 45 minute tour came to an end, bottles were purchased and pictures were taken. Next stop, Mondavi Winery.

Flipping huge storage room.  DELICIOUS.
French tour guide with authentic accent = Mondavi gets major bonus points. I ate this place up. Probably because I was inquisitive for how such a large winery seemed to run so effectively. She indulged in my questions with detailed answers as I nudged Kevin with every answer, "Did you hear that? Wow! That's so cool!" as if he could possibly be doing anything else but listening. I acted like a child in a place where you must be 21. Fun fact about the picture above: they paint the middle strip with whatever color the wine is in the barrel. That way, when they take out samples to taste the aging process, it won't be a splattered mess. I think Mr. Mondavi may have been a neat freak.

Our wine testing of 4 different bottles was held in Mrs. Mondavi's personal stash room. There were huge bottles where dust collected. There were also large urns to dump leftover wine in. As if that happened while Kevin and I sipped our samples. Many a time we would bring the glass to our nose, inhale deeply and tout, "Smells like wine!" and let out a chuckle. We thought we were funny.

Onward! Last stop, Catello di Amorosa aka castle that a rich man funneled a lot of money into!

Should have captured this better. My big head peeking over the cars...
This castle on one of the hills in Napa is huge. 121,000 square feet, 107 rooms, 8 levels ... just HUGE. And all this hugeness started 20 years ago. I sound like I'm chastising the place but it's actually neat to check it out. It feels like you're wandering through someone's imagination because there are hidden figures in the walls and funny details paintings, all which are housed in a castle that mimics 13th century Tuscany.

These were in one of the many rooms, because, you know, they had thrones in 13th century Tuscany and what's a 21st century castle without thrones?
We had a zealous tour guide from Ohio that took us around and fawned facts and secrets after working there for 2 years. He was very personable and I found it interesting that he asked where everyone in our group was from and we had to recall it halfway through our tour to ensure our attentiveness. Castello wasn't a learning experience, but rather, let's taste wine in many rooms.

As you can see on the left, they aren't keen on uniform barrels like Mr. Mondavi.
We were able to sample 6 wines + a wine from a barrel, in a different room of course. It was like a fun house for wine-os. We had a great time meeting everyone from all over the United States and it was the perfect way to end our day-long excursion to Napa.