Over breakfast on the final full day of our trip, while chatting with the other couples at the table, Ian and I described how we had solved our wine problem (i.e., not being able to ship it home) with a new suitcase and some packing materials. This prompted a story from Carol and Brian (I’m actually not sure her name was Carol. I don’t think I ever caught her name, but I’m calling her Carol here for the sake of simplicity), a couple from Manchester. Some years ago, during the first few days of a 3-month around-the-world trip, Carol had come across a tea set she just adored. She hesitated in buying it at first, knowing they had a lot of travel ahead of them. But then it occurred to her that they would be meeting up with their daughter in a short while. They could give her the tea set to take home and retrieve it when they were done with their travels. For some reason, the daughter could not or would not take the tea set home. So, it accompanied them throughout the duration of their trip. Carol motioned to Brian, “Oh, he sure gave me an earache about it each time we moved from place to place, but the set made it home intact.”
Suddenly, carrying our wine home seemed like no big deal.
Our first winery stop that day was Chimney Rock. It was our second visit there, and as we did our tasting, Ian told the tasting room employee about the last time we were there (five years earlier). We had come in toward the end of the day, and a large private party had just left, leaving several open bottles behind. So, our host that day poured us several tastes off-menu, and when Ian offhandedly mentioned his fondness for Cabernet Franc, our host got a gleam in his eye and exclaimed, “Oh! You like Cabernet Franc? I have something you need to try!” He excitedly opened a new bottle.
“Cabernet Franc? Oh, that had to be Tom,” the tasting room employee said chuckling. Apparently Tom had a reputation for being a Cabernet Franc fanatic.
Next up was Mumm. It was a lovely day, so we took advantage of their patio for our tasting. I know not everyone is as big of a bubbly fan as I am, but if you are down with bubbles, Mumm is worth a visit. The tastings there were by far the best value we had in Napa—$28 to $35 for three to four full pours! Also, there was an adorable winery cat named Kitty Girl, who sprawled out on the floor of the foyer, totally unconcerned about all the hubbub around her, seemingly waiting for the nearby patch of sunlight to come to her.
We had a lunch of giant, delicious sandwiches at Guigini’s Deli, in St. Helena and proceeded on to Rutherford Hill for a tasting. Spying a bottle sitting on the back of the bar, I nudged Ian and said, “Hey, that wine literally has your name on it.” We came to learn that this wine, Ian – Tiago, was named in honor of the two winemakers’ sons. It’s always a 50/50 blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon–no favoritism!
We finished up with all we’d planned for the day, and it was still relatively early, so we decided to stop at Domaine Chandon. It seemed fitting to have some bubbles during our last winery visit of our anniversary trip.
Back at the inn that evening, once we’d decided on a restaurant for dinner, Ian handed me the iPad and said, “This place is right next store. We could stop there for a tasting before we eat.” I looked at the website he had called up: Gamling & McDuck–the name alone made me want to go there.
When we arrived at the Gamling & McDuck tasting room, I noticed several things that made me immediately love the place:
- The ceiling was sparkly (I think some kind of fiber optics were involved)
- One of the shelves behind the bar held a Storm Trooper Helmet
- On the counter behind the bar, I spotted a Trapper Keeper
I soon found there was much more about the place to love. Adam (the McDuck half of the duo, Gamling was unfortunately not there at the time) was super friendly and delightful, and the wines were great. I was particularly fond of the Feral Rosé–and not just because the label is adorable. They also use this wine to raise money for cat charities!
Another one of their labels features not only a drawing by Adam’s young niece but also a MadLibs!
To join their wine club, all they ask (aside from paying the fee) is that you draw Tippy the Turtle. It doesn’t have to be good, but you do have to try.
I was utterly charmed by the place, and I believe at one point I asked if I could live there. I never did get an answer on that.
Next door, we had a lovely dinner at Grace’s Table. The thought of the goat cheese-stuffed grape leaves appetizer we had still makes me salivate.
Later that night, as we packed up in preparation to head home the next day, Ian decided to reconfigure some of the wine packing he’d previously done. I only poked fun at him a little bit for it, and I honestly did appreciate all his efforts to ensure that our wine made it home unscathed.* As he redistributed bottles among the pieces of our luggage, I looked at him and said, “If it helps at all, please know this: I promise never to make us lug a tea set around the world.”
But you know, even if I did want to carry a tea set around the world, I have no doubt that Ian would pack it up securely for me. That’s love, folks.
* It did–all 14 bottles of it!