I’m petting my cat
When suddenly she decides
It’s now bitey time!
I’m petting my cat
When suddenly she decides
It’s now bitey time!
Impersonation can bring
When will the photos
Of lunar beavers at last
(See here if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)
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:
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!
On Sunday morning, we drove to Tunnel View for some pictures. Although we lamented the rain, sleet, and fog at the time, some of the shots actually turned out to be pretty cool.
We had wanted to visit Glacier Point, but Glacier Point Road was closed. Plan B was to go to Mariposa Grove. Upon leaving Tunnel View, we drove through the Wawona Tunnel, which is 1.3-mile-long channel through solid granite. As we approached the other end of the tunnel, we could see that snow was falling. I wish I’d thought to get a picture, but it probably wouldn’t have done the experience justice anyhow.
As we continued on Wawona Road, the snowfall increased, and the car windows started to fog up such that we had to pull over multiple times to wait for them to clear. All in all, we were fortunate that we’d left when we did and that we weren’t delayed too long because there came a point where park rangers had begun stopping cars that were going in the other direction (which was to higher elevation while we had started to descend), requiring them to put on tire chains or turn around. Not having tire chains, we would have been SOL, so our timing was good. We made it to the Mariposa Grove Welcome Center and took the shuttle the rest of the way to the grove.
Part of me wasn’t thrilled at being snowed upon so late in the spring (May 19), but I have to admit that the snow made Mariposa Grove seem magical. I’m sure it would have been lovely under just about any conditions, but the snow definitely added an extra something. It helped that I was wearing appropriate footwear (waterproof hiking boots), unlike this fellow I saw!
We hiked the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail in this springtime winter wonderland, and although we did not build a snow-person, we did see one!
We got the shuttle back to the parking lot and, in our rental car, made a lunch of some provisions we’d picked up that morning. We discovered that we’d accidentally bought vegan cheese, but all in all, it wasn’t half bad.
Our next destination was Butterfly Creek Winery, which is not a place one is likely to stumble upon by accident but is well worth a visit. We were greeted at the car by the winery dog (whose name escapes me), and not far behind him was a somewhat scruffy looking cat, who we’d later learn was named Riley and was 21 years old (roughly 100 in human years), which more than explains the scruffiness. Upon entering the tasting room, the owner (Bob) eyed Ian’s ever-present Cubs hat and exclaimed, “More people from Illinois!” (he pronounced it Illinoiz)–apparently we were the ninth set of the week. Bob was a hoot. During our tasting, he not only regaled us with several humorous tales, but he also provided some Yosemite tips we ended up using the next day (more to come on that). I think that if we’d been able to stick around, he would have happily talked to us all day. If you ever happen to find yourself at Butterfly Creek Winery, ask Bob to tell you the story about merlot and ginger ale.