Nikki and I often comment about how every weekend spent around N. California feels like a vacation. We're 20 minutes away from Napa, one of the great tourist destinations in the U.S. and we try to take advantage of it every time we get a chance. This weekend it was Cliff Lede Winery followed by dinner at R + D kitchen in Yountville.
We looked at a wine country map the other day and calculated we've been to 58 wineries in the Napa Valley. Considering the fact we've been here 15 years, it seems to me like we're slackers, but we really didn't start visiting wineries in earnest until we had been here for a while. At first, we did what most other people new to the area do: We spent a lot of time at Fisherman's Wharf. I weep for the dollars we spent at the likes of "Bubba Gump's" restaurant (just kidding, Tammy, thank you for introducing us to it (wink)). It takes a few years before you realize there is much better stuff to do, so we've been trying to make up for those lost years.
As you would expect, my wine vocabulary has increased tremendously in the last 15 years. I was able to describe Cliff Lede wines as both "dry" and "tannin-ey". When I want to increase the perception that I know what I'm talking about, I pick up the wine and give it a giant sniff. People from the midwest are impressed when I do it. After 15 years I now know that I like "fruit forward" wines, which typically means "young". Damn, that's 4 different terms I've used so far.
After Cliff Lede we went to R + D Kitchen, located in a jam packed area at the far North end of town. The first thing you notice when you get there is an outdoor bar with an inviting courtyard to sit around and eat, drink, or sleep. The area includes ample seating and firepits to help attenuate the later evening cool breezes. We had a couple of drinks and then left to go inside, but I could have stayed there for hours.
Once inside, we quickly ordered sushi and two sandwiches, a chicken and a carnitas. Much like my wine vocabulary, my food vocabulary is somewhat limited. However, when I mumble, "Holy shit that's good", it means the food is on another level (plus, I find that description so much more useful than savory, sweet, delicate, etc..). That's exactly what I said when I bit into the carnitas sandwich. I looked at Nikki and she nodded her head in agreement. The chicken sandwich was excellent as well, but did not achieve the H.S. rating. I'm pretty sure we'll be back.
|This wine had great "legs" and it may have been "Oak-ey".|
|Here I am giving the wine "the sniff". Plus, I like to include any photo taken by Nikki that's in focus.|
|Winery cat at Cliff Lede.|
|Beer in wine country is as world class as the wine, I've come to discover. There are 13 top notch craft brewers in Napa, Sonoma, 5 of which I've been to.|
|Osaka Pressed Sushi R + D Kitchen. For some reason I didn't photograph the sandwiches. Typically you can only photograph a limited number of food items before you start to come off as a douche to those around you.|
|Chefs at work at R + D|
|Wine Board at R + D|