Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lodi and Napa Valley California

Such a nice visit to the Corps park at New Hogan Lake and then off to Lodi, California, known as the Zinfandel Capital of the World.

As members of Harvest Hosts, we decided to make a stop at Harmony Wynelands.

What a nice visit.  On the website is a picture of the family.  We spent a good bit of time talking with Linda and son Shaun.  A lot of interesting information about the vineyard and about wine culture in Lodi. Shaun mentioned studies in winemaking at University of California, Davis.

And then, what a pleasure to have Dad come out and play the magnificent theater organ that he installed in the Tasting Room.
The organ includes hundreds of pipes and special built enclosures.

A sound fit for a large theater.

The view out our side window at our camping spot for the night.  This camping is free, but , of course, the expectation from Harvest Hosts is that you will patronize the farm you are visiting.

No problem!

From our back window, more vines, and a great view of the almost full moon.

Lodi is not as big as Napa, a little over 62,000 population.  Partially for that reason and being newer to the winery scene, there are a number of vineyards that participate in Harvest Hosts.  There are none  in Napa.

Our next night we go across town to Jessies Grove.

This vineyard goes back to 1868(misprinted as 1968 on their website)

Again, a very pleasant visit with much information and great wine.  We also meet and talk with some other Rvers to exchange information. Also we show off Lady Blue to a prospective new owner of a Lazy Daze.

This vineyard is a lot bigger than Harmony and therefore a lot busier with much farm equipment.

Jan and I note that many of the managers and workers are quite young, in their 30's.

Behind the old house, is the stand of original Zinfandel vines from the 1800's.

Looks like a small tree.

The original house from the 1800's.  Not that old by New England standards.  Very pleasant with a wrap around porch.  Currently, it is being renovated.

What a great place to live.

Nice local road?

No.  Just the driveway for Jessie's Grove.

We spent some time in Lodi.  A pretty and friendly downtown area.  Jan and I purchased some wonderful cheese, olive oil, and special vinegar from one shop. We also grabbed a fired pizza from a new shop just opened by another young thirty something.
We had a small chat with her grandparents who were there.

Another nice surprise was the opportunity to visit with Patrice, a friend from back home that many of you will remember.

We were happy to see Patrice and her apartment, just a short walk from downtown Lodi.

It is not nice to mention age, but Patrice, at the age of 83, is still very active with church, volunteering, and also working! as a member of the Police--uniform and all.  Impressive!

Patrice had a surprise lunch all arranged for us and even gave Jan a wonderful tulip that was happy to spruce up Lady Blue.

From Lodi, it was a short drive to Napa, California.

For most people our age, we associate Napa with the emergence of American wine as a contender and winner on the world stage.  What a difference from the vineyards in Lodi.  Along Route 29 , north of town, is a parade of beautiful wine tasting properties as well as the vineyards.  Parallel to the road travels the Napa Valley Wine Train    We saw the train and were quite impressed at how full it was on a Wednesday.  Very popular.
We camped the night in Napa at the Napa Valley Expo.  What an amazing park.  It is in downtown Napa and was fairly recently renovated to look very modern and welcoming.  Only 28 sites, but it gave us a chance to walk downtown for some viewing, tasting, and a wonderful dinner at the Norman Rose Tavern.  There are a number of Zagat rated restaurants--all looking great.  Our next choice would have been Zuzu-Tapas and Paella.

Our first stop the next day on route 29, was a winery recommended by a camper we met in our Napa camping spot.  We quickly noted that these elaborate wineries and tasting rooms had no need and no room for Harvest Hosts.  They were extremely busy and the traffic was huge and slow.

Beautiful grounds and crowds of people.

A plus at this winery is a very good deli that allows visitors to purchase makings for a great picnic to go with their wine.  All of which can be enjoyed in the shade at tables around the grounds.

Jan loved the roses.

Had to take this picture for Alison , although we wish the picture color was truer to the actual.

A perfect shade of lavender.

All winemaking , storage, bottling, and sales are done from this property.

I added this link to the picnic grounds, but you can see all the other offerings including weddings.

A picture from the wine cellar and caves.

A little history in some rooms and a special room for their wine club members for tasting.

Do you like to read oak wine barrels?

All different reasons to pick different barrels. American, French, and Hungarian.  The "toast" refers to the charring of the inside.

 Dave?, Did you notice "Cooper Select Oak"?  Castello Di Amorosa is actually another winery with a very elaborate "castle" as the main feature of the grounds.   V.Sattui uses grapes and wines from other vineyards as well as their own.

A very twisty. steep, and narrow 13 miles takes us off Route 29 to Pope Valley.  A much more down to earth , old time winery with a familiar family name!

Not only does it have a history back to the 1800's, but a little more connection to the history of winemaking and the survival of some of these wineries during Prohibition.

Pope Valley Winery sailed right through Prohibition by shipping wines to Chicago---to someone called Al Capone.  The wine was served in Al's speakeasies and brothels.  However, when Capone started "offing" people, the winery decided to stop the shipping.

In contrast,V. Sattui closed his winery which did not reopen again until the grandson reopened in the 1970's.

Ed Haus was the founder in 1897.  In a showcase of 19th century technology, he built this three story barn into the hillside.  The grapes could be started at the top of the hill and then wound up in the bottom floor in barrels.  The room was naturally temperature controlled by the hillside.  On site was a creek to help run the blacksmithing shop--tools are still there.

The small shed in front that looks like it might be a barbeque, is really the old time hot water heater.

Another young winemake, this is Charlie. He says he was born in the 90's.  Like we said, young workers.

He was explaining to Jan how Ed Haus had hand cut through the shale behind Jan to create this three story building.  The current and future wines are aging in the barrels  Charlie was great, walked us around the property and gave us a golf cart ride through the vineyards.

This is a view from the Tasting Room and the Barn.

A beautiful property surrounded by miles of other beautiful property.

We enjoyed Charlie--currently a local college student majoring in "winemaking"---because he absolutely loved his job.

An interesting addendum to our visit. While in the Tasting Room, a gentlemen came in to pick up a few cases of wine.  He started talking in a very heavy Italian accent.  Very pleasant and pointed out some papers to us.  Well, Charlie explained to us that he was the owner of a local Italian Restaurant.  The menu looked wonderful.  It was like a scene from old wine areas of France. Local produce, local wines, and local restaurants. Everyone connected to each other. We are given the opinion that Californians are proud of their local foods.
Such a nice visit along the wine trail.  Right now, we are relaxing in Clear Lake State Park.  Just sitting and watching the fishermen, birds, and scenery!

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