Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Resort Living Napa style: Silverado!

     Last week I left my office for a few days with Claire and Sally to join my other daughter Georgia in Napa Valley. She had been in San Francisco for a conference and suggested a family vacation away from the Vancouver rain. It was an excellent idea.
      On Georgia's suggestion we booked into the Silverado Resort .https://www.silveradoresort.com/  She suggested it since it is close to Napa and has two golf courses. One is used each year for the PGA Safeway Open event.
While we were not aware of this when we booked, the property was damaged in last year's fires. we were told that ever since, reservations have been down
      While there are much fancier resorts in the area, this one was very comfortable and good value. We had a two bedroom 'cottage' which was really the lower level of a two level townhouse. Parking was right in front. Somewhat surprisingly, we had to drive from the main building to our unit since Silverado is a very, very large property.
At first I thought these turkeys on the grounds were public art, until they started to move!
I think this local resident was a bit embarrassed when she say me start to take a photo of her walking the dog....in a golf cart
    Located just an hour north of San Francisco, in addition to the golf courses it offers a spa, 13 lighted tennis courts, and biking and hiking trails. It's also close to more than 400 wineries, but don't expect a lot of good cheap wine. For that you have to go to Europe!.
This was the Duty Free price!
  When my daughter offered to get me a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from the general store, she returned to the car after 5 minutes to see if a Merlot would be ok, since the least expensive Cab in the shop was over $40 US! 
We were delighted to discover Quixote Winery designed by Hundertwasser
    A glass of Educated Guess in the restaurant was $14, much more than one pays in Vancouver restaurants, but I must say it was very good. However when we visited the winery to buy a bottle, they didn't have the same vintage, and even I could tell the difference!
     If you haven't been to Napa, it can be a wonderful experience. While it's fabulous in the summer, I can also recommend an off-season January or February trip, since it's not so busy and you can take your time in the wineries. 
    We discovered to our delight that we arrived just as they were celebrating the equivalent of a 'dine-out Vancouver' festival, which allowed us to enjoy some very good 3-course dinners for $46 and an exceptional 2-course lunch at the Michelin Star Auberge du Soleil https://aubergedusoleil.aubergeresorts.com/dining/ for....are you ready? $20!
    While we were subsequently told that it was impossible for mere mortals to get a reservation for this experience, Georgia figured out how to do it!
     For what it's worth..."The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil offers a fine dining experience from one of the best vantage points in the valley. With 11 consecutive Michelin Stars, Executive Chef Robert Curry’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine reflects the natural diversity and rich seasonal produce available in the Napa Valley. Ingredients are sourced largely from local and regional purveyors and featured on inspiring menus complemented by one of most extensive wine cellars in the valley, boasting more than 15,000 bottles of domestic and international wines hand-selected by our Director of Wine."
One of the many public art installations in Yountville
We didn't eat in the 3-star Michelin restaurant French Laundry which has its own farm across the street and a kitchen in a converted container
    Other restaurants that we enjoyed and which we can recommend included Torc http://www.torcnapa.com/ where you could enjoy a 2 oz glass of Chateau d'Yquem for $53 (although I was disappointed that the wines accompanying the dine out menu included Austrian and French selections, not local) and Angele http://www.angelerestaurant.com/ where we had a very good French meal with particularly good service. While we passed on our friends Jim and Doria Moodie's suggestion to go to Morimoto Napa, we did also enjoy Basalt http://www.basaltnapa.com/
When I asked whether this brochure was in Japanese or Chinese, I was told it was Mongolian. Mongolian? I asked. Is the owner Mongolian? No she said, but we get a lot of people from China. Oh, I said. I think you mean Mandarin. Yes she said!
We are in California, after all!
It's not as old as it looks!
What's a castle without a moat?
   One final suggestion. if you do decide to celebrate 'winter in the wineries' buy a Calistoga Wines Passport. It costs $60 but offers access to a considerable number of tastings (some of which are $25 to $35 on their own)  including Sterling Vineyard where you take aerial  tram from the parking lot to the very impressive winery, and Castello di Amorosa, a 136,000 sq.ft. 13th-century Tuscan-styled castle, 
This is a must see destination.
and the 1882 Chateau Montelena Winery whose chardonnay won the famous 1976 Paris tasting, which many believe put Californian wines on the world map. (A Stag's Leap Cabernet also won a medal that year).
     One of the reasons I was happy to do this trip and experience resort living was to prepare for a design workshop at Furry Creek the following weekend. That is now over, and I'll report on it in due course. But the fact is, many of the lifestyle experiences that made California so famous will soon be available in British Columbia. And if climate change happens the way many predict, our wines will also beat the French wines in blind tastings in years to come.

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