So, early on Saturday morning we got our gang together and, with Andrew as the designated driver, headed north. It was the weekend of the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway so there was a bit of traffic along Highway 37 leading to Infineon (and a vast herd of RV’s parked in the campground across from the Raceway – a good sample of Americana for Franco). However, as soon as we got by the track things opened up nicely.
Our first stop was the Gloria Ferrer winery in the Carneros area at the very southern tip of Sonoma County. We arrived there just after 10:00AM when their tasting room opened and enjoyed some excellent samples of their sparkling wines on the terrace overlooking the vineyard.
Then it was off to downtown Napa and the Oxbow Public Market for a bit to eat. We wandered through the Market before making our food selection. Franco and I made a beeline for the Fatted Calf to pick up some of the roast porchetta (which Nancy and I had seen on our last trip to the OPM last year).
We also picked up some cheeses at the Oxbow Cheese Merchant and some offerings from Rôtisario. The Fatted Calf porchetta was excellent (see recipe here), and even approached the porchetta gold standard we had enjoyed at Porchetta da Franco, a roadside truck stand we had been introduced to on a trip to Umbria in 2006.
After lunch we drove up the Silverado Trail before cutting over to Younteville at the Younteville crossing. We made a pass through Younteville, past the French Laundry,
and then headed south on Rt. 29. When we got back to Napa we headed west up the slopes of Mt. Veeder to The Hess Collection. The Hess Collection is one of the several wineries around the world owned by the Hess Family Estates, and since those wineries include Colomé in the Province of Salta in northwestern Argentina, we felt that would be an appropriate one to which to take Franco.
Although The Hess Collection is in a beautiful and secluded setting, and includes a wonderful art collection, I found the the wines we sampled there a bit disappointing. However, all was not lost as I was able to pick up a couple of bottles of Colomé’s wonderful white Torrontés wine which Andrew and Connie had brought us from Argentina where they had been on their honeymoon.
Our final stop of the day was back in Sonoma County at “Gun-Bun,” the Gundlach Bundschu winery just off of Rt. 121 and not far from the town of Sonoma.
Gun-Bun’s Pinot Noir has always been one of my favorites, and while that was as impressive as always in our tasting, we also really enjoyed their Chardonnay (crisp and unoaked) and Tempranillo. We picked up a few bottles to take home, and then passed the warning sign at the Gun-Bun gate.