Jane & Caren SIDEWAYS
February 7, 2005
We set out bright and early on a grand adventure. Jane at the wheel, Caren with the map. Across the Norton to Napa and Healdsburg. The sky was blue, the air crisp, the traffic managable if somewhat annoying to the master pilot. Spirits were high! We felt rather like Thelma & Louise.
Stop One - brunch at the famed Gillwood Cafe, a local favorite in St. Helena.
After window shopping for Jimmy Choo shoes, outrageous baby clothing, and a peek into the exclusive Fideaux, we found On The Vine...
...where Jane aquired a fun watch with interchangable bezels and bands. Caren had her eye on the glorious butterfly bag.
Stop Two - Tasting at the Trinchero Family Estates
Otherwise known as Sutter Home
Our taste masters were quite knowledgeable, and as we were the only partrons, we had all their attention and a large selec tion of reds. Caren was quite happy to be able to taste the bell pepper in a '91 cab, and learned how to open up the vertical flavors and make them horizontal with extreme airation methods. Jane picked up some chocolate for her sweetie.
Stop Three - Whitehall Vinyards
Home of Bommarito
Purveyors of the Lozins house wine, Whitehall, too, was not occupied at our arrival. Again we had an excellent tasting, and the full attention of Neal's best friend Tony. Caren again asked way too many questions as the wine was loaded into the car.
As we prepared to leave Whitehall, we spotted this unusual structure back in the vinyard. It turned out to be a water tower - no longer in use.

Note the yellow flowers under the vines and in most every field - it was everywhere! Even on the sides of the roads. That's mustard. The Napa Valley Mustard Festival was about to begin.
Stop Four - A. Rafanelli Winery
Home of the Yellow Labs
Rafanelli is a small family winery off Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Our winemaster was 4th generation Rafanelli. The entire place was quite charming and the wines were wonderful. They were almost entirely sold out already of their 2001 harvest, so each group (by appointment only) was restricted to one bottle of their zinfendal, merlot and cabernet.
The official Rafanelli greeters don't care for the wines, but do enjoy both the grapes and grape juice. They are father and son and seem to take their job quite seriously.
Jane displays our purchases as we prepare for the drive back down to the Golden Gate Bridge and home. What a great day!
While the entire trip could not have been more fun for me, we did decide that next time we do need to find another driver so that Jane can do some heavy duty tasteing and sightseeing and not have to worry about the road duties. (But she was spectacular!)