Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sailing Sojourn to Napa

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Napa with my friends John and Tex.  Sailing up the Napa River has got to be one of the great trips from the bay.  We started with a loading of the boat on Sunday evening.  I had arrived early to fix a connection on the radio/mp3 player.  I traced the lines and found a corroded piece that needed replacement.  Success!  I was up at 5am to take Kona for a walk.  By 6, we were on our way.  We motored for several hours towards Vallejo.  By noon we were passing under the Mare Island Bridge.  Shortly after the bridge tender raised the bridge, we were sailing the river.   The wind was a mellow 12 knots and pushing us nicely towards our destination.  We meandered past vineyards and beautiful landscapes under full sail.  Soon, we could see parts of Napa that we recognized.  We rounded the last marker and completed the 12 mile sail up river and tied up at the Napa Valley Yacht Club.  The club sits at the edge of downtown Napa and features a full size bocce court which we played 2-3 times each day.  Plus, we have the place all to ourselves.  $30 per night and it nice and peaceful as well.  After a nice salmon dinner, Tex told us about his recent experiences at Burning Man.  He had a great burn.  In the morning, we had some great omelets and then up to the bocce court.  I surprised the gang with a limo pick up and off we went to hit some wineries in Calistoga.  My niece Julie rounded out the crew and we had a great time.  Our first visit was with Travis, a friend from the Baja Haha, and his winery, Bennett Lane.  He gave us a nice tour and we used a fractometer to determine if the grapes were ready to harvest.  Not yet ready was the result.  Next we were off to Chateau Montelena.  We had a nice taste and some laughs.  After a quick lunch in Calistoga, we hit Clos Pegase.  This is the winery my wife Bridget and I got married at 20 years ago November.  Tex was the best man.  We enjoyed the wines and then took off for home base.  At the boat, Kona was waiting for us and ready to run around the club meeting other dogs and some fishermen.  We played some more bocce and then my nephew and his partner joined us for dinner.  We had a nice pasta dinner and great conversation in the cockpit.  And then some midnight bocce!  I was rolling well and we had some fun.  On Wednesday, we jumped on our bikes and headed out to the Coombsville Region.  This is a little known area east of Napa and it dotted with tiny wineries producing some very nice wines.  We met with Curtis who was very informative at Ancien winery.
Some great wines too.  Then off to Black Cat .  We met Tracy at the designated time and sat on her lovely patio surrounded by grape vines.  She is a one person show and produces some lovely reds.  We were all charmed by her and had a lovely time visiting and talking wine and sailing in New Zealand.  Then it was off to Tolucay.  Bill greeted us at his front door and invited us in to his dinning room for tasting.  That is the cool thing about these wineries, they are unpretentious and you are welcomed into homes with the wine maker.  How fun!  Back to the boat with a great bike ride thru town and the river.  Travis and his girlfriend would be joining us for dinner and....bocce.  I think by now you have gathered our theme for the week, bocce, wine, food!  We had a great time with Agusta and Travis in the saloon.  Travis brought plenty of wine and we started the night with some soup and wine on the patio of the club.  Next was dinner with some Thai chicken from the BBQ.  Then back to the bocce court for another showdown.  We are having some fun.  On Thursday, we had plans to head down river on the boat to the Carneros region.  The tide was not in our favor and we were stuck at the dock in the mud.  We decided to play some bocce and then head to town for some fun.  We ended up at the Oxbow Market for some crepes.  Back to the boat and she was floating.  We motored to the Napa Valley Marina and headed off to Bouchaine Winery for a tasting.  Rosie remembered us and we were having a great time.  We purchased a bottle of white and headed to the patio for some conversation.  The weather all week had been perfect and today was no different.
Back to the boat for our last visitor, Ralph. He brought a vertical tasting of some Shiraz that was out of this world.  On Friday morning we headed back down the river towards home.  It was all motoring until we hit San Pablo Bay.  Winds were light but enough to have a terrific sail down to Pt Pinole.  From there we motored some more and once under the Richmond bridge we were able to sail home in some nice winds coming thru the Gate.   All in all another great trip up the Napa and one that I would recommend to anyone.

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