Leaving Wine Country

Yesterday was spent bouncing from place to place to place, and revisiting a lot of memories. I went to Alpha Omega, where I first met my friend Jean, and to Sutter Home where I bought a bright pink wine key to add to my collection. I went to Prager, the best port wine makers I’ve ever met, and a place Sonja and I remember fondly from our second visit to the Valley. Then I stopped in at Grgich Hills where I finally got to try the wines that Miljenko Grgich is making in Croatia after several years of wanting to do so. It was a fruitful and enjoyable last morning in Napa.

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I stopped in at V Sattui for lunch, which was so busy and hectic that, after a quick salad, we quickly fled for Sonoma and a few (thousand) less people. I drove over the Oakville Grade, navigating the tight corners as best I could, occasionally saying a quick prayer or cursing the builders for not installing a guard rail. I drove as fast as I was comfortable, and the natives sped around me at every opportunity. Often when I could I pulled over to let them pass. From atop Mt. Veeder I surveyed the fire damage on the Mayacamas, far more dramatic on the Sonoma side, and drove past more than one decimated property, more than a few remnants of vineyards. The drive was beautiful, yet poignant, and on the other side, the lushness and relative quiet of Sonoma was a relief.

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In Sonoma, I visited a few places I’d been before — Mayo, En Garde, and enjoyed them a great deal, revisiting wines I hadn’t tried in many years. I also took suggestions, and visited some new stops — B Wise, Muscardini, which proved to be terrific new experiences.  When evening rolled around, I went to dinner with Steve Ledson, whose winery (like Mayo) Sonja and I visited on our honeymoon in 2013. His spitfire daughter entertained us through dinner as Steve showed me videos on his phone of the fire damage in Sonoma. “Sonoma is tough,” he told me. “We’ll rebuild.” I thought of the #SonomaStrong campaign, and the signs I saw driving up Highway 12, and I knew that he was right.

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I leave this place, yet again, with a pocket full of new wine keys to add to my collection, a case of wine that was gifted to me along the way, a lot of new memories, and a few new friends. Every trip to Napa and Sonoma is a great one, though this one has in many ways exceeded expectations. If you’ve been reading this week then you understand why, and I thank you. To everyone who made this trip so special, I thank you as well. Now, I need to go get a run in, make another cup of coffee, and pack my bags. I get to see my kids in a few hours! Napa, Sonoma, I’ll be back soon.

Cheers to being excited to come home,

Mark

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