For me, one of life’s greatest pleasures is being able to eat al fresco, shaded by a canopy of leaves, a gentle breeze cooling the air under a sun drenched, cornflower blue sky. Delicious food, wine and most importantly good company are the only ingredients required; where menu choices and the preferred color of the wine are the only decisions of the day. The patio at the Farmstead restaurant just outside St Helena, amidst their market garden and spring blossoms couldn’t be a prettier setting. For a few hours, every day concerns waft away, the surrounding laughter and chattering voices absorb you into an atmosphere of peace and contentment. Isn’t this what life is all about, being with those we care about, relaxing and sharing special times? Afterwards, a lazy wander through the local vineyards sampling an array of vintages, completes a perfect day!
An apple blossom tree in the Farmstead garden, bursting with new life and the promise of summer fruits.
A peek inside the The Long Meadow Wine tasting rooms and shop by the Farmstead restaurant enticed us in.
Tempting gourmet groceries to purchase.
Just a few miles back along the valley floor in Rutherford, the wines at Beaulieu Vineyards (BV), lined up like sleeping soldiers!
Inside BV’s infamous Georges de Latour’s tasting room, we discovered a little of its history.
Georges de Latour, a Frenchman, bought Beaulieu in 1899, supposedly making a fortune selling sacramental wines during Prohibition! Dedicated to excellence but with his prohibition fortune dwindling, Latour returned to France hoping to find a fellow compatriot to help him in Napa. He actually returned with a Russian refugee, Andre Tchelistcheff who became his chief winemaker.
The BV Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon became the flagship for the estate and although the first vintage in 1936 was just before Tchelistcheff’s arrival it was to become his signature wine. The cabernet sauvignon grape was described by BV as a “premier claret grape of the world…responsible for the renowned chateau-bottled red wines of Bordeaux, such as those from the médoc and Saint-Emilion.”
Local ‘cowboys’ outside BV reminded us that we were not intact amongst the vines of south west France!
Still pursuing a French theme, we crossed the road to sample their rosé, much praised at lunchtime by our waitress. At last, refreshingly crisp rosé has been discovered in California!
Both the rosé, chardonnay and cab at this small husband and wife winery (Elizabeth and Spencer!) were excellent.
The gates of a small estate looked reminiscent of many we had passed by in Provence.
We wound our way slightly up into the hills to Rombauer.
Their ‘tree house’ winery boasted incredible views of the valley with spring flowers carpeting the floor.
The Rombauer tag line, that I share here, so very apt!
An old vine greeted us when we arrived.
The Americana cow, as we departed!!
A final stop at the Oakville grocery ensured we had bread and cheese to accompany our purchases’s from the vintner’s, could there possibly be better food companions?!
As we departed, the vines stretching before us along the roadside, dancing Californian poppies cheerfully bade us ‘au revoir’, until the next time!