Monday, August 16, 2010


After a much needed cat nap, we headed over to the Napa Valley Wine Train.  I heard about the Wine Train a few years ago on Top Chef Masters and put it on my bucket list.  The food was supposed to be amazing. was just okay.  Better than the food that I've had on any previous trains (Yes, I've been on a train before...but that's a whole other story.), but nothing spectacular.  All in all, maybe a 2.5 out of 5 rating.

 On the wine train waiting for our lunch to arrive.  Our server was actually from Hawaii.  What are the chances of that?  He went on and on about how much he missed  Kind of made me crave a spicy ahi roll, which I devoured the day we got home.

The food wasn't great, but the wine tours were!  We got in-depth, fully personal tours at two wineries, Raymond Vineyards and ZD Wines.  The whole point of the trip, for me anyway, was to tour the inner workings of a winery.  We definitely got our moneys worth on that. 

First stop, Raymond Vineyards.  Our tour guide gave us an extensive tour of the grounds, including an activity where we learned how to pick out different aromas within a wine.  Why does one need to smell the wine in the first place?  Isn't that just something that people do to look like cool wine connoisseurs?  Well, yes, that is what some people do to look cool, but it actually serves a purpose.  The aromas of the wine give you an idea of its character, origin, and history.  For example, you may smell a hint of coffee or chocolate or cloves.  This could be something that is found in the soil (ie. grown in a near by field or was grown there previously, so the flavors are sealed into the soil and thus picked up through the grape as it grew.) or something that was picked up from the barrel during the aging process (ie. as the wine ferments it picks up the flavor of the barrel.  Depending on what the barrel is made from will effect the flavors that it transfers.).  Interesting isn't it?

 The wine vats that hold the wine until it is ready to be barreled and fermented. 

The tour ended with a wine tasting.  I love wine tastings.  They make my heart sing.

The Raymond Vineyard tasting room.

Next stop, ZD Wines.  We started the tour in their Reserve Room, the room where they keep all the expensive "vintage" wine.

  Where can I get one of these?  I need a Reserve Room filled with wine, stat!

The wine was really flowing at this winery.  I don't think I had an empty glass throughout the whole  By this time, I think mostly do to the wine, the other people on the tour with us started to open up.  We made friends with a family from Ohio.  Mama Ohio won my heart when she blurted out how much she loved Guinness beer and that she likes drinking Irish Car Bombs.  We were buddies after that.  Hey, not a lot of women will drink a Guinness!

The family from Ohio is behind La'akea.  Ohio family, if you are reading this, send me an email will ya?

ZD was truly awesome for me because it is an all organic winery run by a bunch of engineers.  Organic wine and engineers?  My two favorite things in the whole world!  And not only because my husband is an engineer, though that does help.  (Dorks of the world unite!)

One glass was my husband's glass.  I'm not double

Our tour guide was funny and informative.  Towards the end of the tour we learned that he lived on Maui for a few years before coming out to Napa Valley and working at ZD.  So we got an "Aloha" and a shaka at the end of the 

Having lived on Maui and knowing that we were familiar with Maui and things that happen there, he told us a story about how a bunch of pot farmers stole ZD's solar panels a while back.  I guess the farmers thought that they could hook the panels up to their grow lamps as an energy efficient/under the radar source of power.  When they found out that they couldn't use them, they returned the panels back to ZD with a plate of hash  I laughed and blurted out, "Well, sometimes pot farmers make bad choices, but they are basically good people."  (I mean everyone knows some one that smoked or at least tried pot in their lifetime.  I personally haven't, but they don't call it a gateway drug for nothing.)  After getting over the shock of a nicey-nice person like me possibly knowing anyone that smoked pot, Papa Ohio jumped on this one and said, "Ah....I see now."  *Pointing at me* "You're the farmer..."  *Pointing at my husband* "and he's the engineer."  Haha...very funny Papa Ohio.  :)

On our way out we bought a bottle of wine and stopped off to take a few photos in front of the fountain at ZD.  Our Ohio buddies offered to take a picture of us.  Mama Ohio said "Look lovingly into your husband's eyes.  You know, how you used to look at each other before you were married."  This is what we got...

I don't think that this is quite  We did try though, but it just turned into this...
So we opted for this...

Thanks Ohio peeps!  You guys really made the train for me.  Until we meet again...


  1. OMG!!!! The girl writing this blog is not the Arielle I know. "Wine..makes my heart sing." I love it!!!! I've had a great time reading your stuff. Keep up the awesome job!

  2. PS. This sounds like Jaime. Long time no see girl!