Enjoy the food. Savor the conversation.

Eat+Drink's Annual Napa Wine Excursion 2015

eat+drink's very first, official trip to Napa! I say "official" because I've been visiting Northern California, Napa and Sonoma for the past 20 years and finally some people have found out about my secret trips. This adventurous group of 10 wine-loving souls tagged along with me for three days of eating and drinking over a glorious weekend in January. 

January, you say? Yes, January. January happens to have a three day weekend - Martin Luther King Jr weekend - and no one wants to go traipsing through vineyards in the winter so i get the place pretty much all to myself. I love it. We visited some wineries I knew well and others that were completely new to us. The focus of this trip was smaller, family-run wineries, spending time in the vineyard and winemakers on the cutting edge of breaking out. We had a great time and can't wait for next year!

Buccella was our first visit on Saturday morning. This was probably our "fanciest" wine tasting because we were in Buccella's new tasting room and they created a great pairing accompaniment for us. "We chose the name Buccella, which means “mouthful” in Latin, to evoke the big, bold, concentrated layers that make our wines so luxuriously flavorful." And yes, these wines are bold. I love them so much I'm willing to shell out some serious $$ to get them. Bill and Alicia started Buccella over a first date and a bottle of wine - it doesn't get much better than that! 

Marita's Vineyard
Marita's and Soma wines are made on a small piece of land in Coombsville, one of a few new AVAs (American Viticultural Area) in Napa. I found this lovely family of winemakers from a Wine Enthusiast article about this new AVA. I love everything new and not well known, so this fell right up my alley. The Montes family is in full work mode when you arrive. Bulmaro (Dad) is the winemaker and vineyard farmer, Sara (Mom) creates the delights for you to taste with their wines, and their daughters handle the business side. I can't get enough of the Montes family!

I love Ted Osborne and his wine with some unknown passion from some unknown source. He's that good. Ted is the winemaker for Spence, a premiere, limited production Howell Mountain Cabernet. It's pretty damn delicious and the property is to die for. I can understand why Ted never wants to leave the Spence Vineyard.

Olabisi is Ted's own label and if you haven't heard of this man and his wine yet, you do now so don't blame me when he becomes a huge force to be reckoned with. I met Ted when he was working at another winery and had just started his own label. After a quick barrel tasting, I bought a case that would show up many months later and I've been barrel tasting and ordering from Olabisi ever since. The Olabisi Cabernet Sauvignon "Black Pearl" Vineyard is my absolute go-to for big cabs.

MacLeod Family Vineyard
I was introduced to the MacLeod Family through Tilar Mazzeo. Tilar has written many books, but my favorites are Back Lane Wineries of Napa and Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma. If you have to buy any two books about Northern California wineries, these are the two. They aren't huge, you can throw them in your backpack, and they have a wealth of knowledge for all the things that are important to us, interesting people making great food and wine. Never head up North without them!