Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cruising the Napa River

We had one of the nicest cruises to date. My friend Tex and I met up on Saturday and took off for our boat. Two other partners had sailed the boat from Emeryville to Vallejo which is at the mouth of the Napa River. We met at Murray's house for dinner and hot tubing. We had a nice night and made it over to the boat about midnight. Slept in a little and then we woke up to coffee and an egg and veggie scramble. Murray came down at about 10am and we took off for a delightful flat run up the river in about 15 knots of wind. We sailed up river with a good chart and a GPS to keep us in the channel. It was 12:30 and we were already at the Napa Valley Marina. I had made another reservation at the Napa Valley Yacht Club just for fun so we decided to continue and get closer to downtown. We arrived about 4pm and checked in. There was no one there but my contact at the club swung by with keys and to tell us we had the place to ourselves. They had a nice big bocce court right next to the water and we commenced to play a rousing game before dinner. Tex and I have played many games over the years and after he took a big lead, I was able to get in the groove and win the game. Afterwards, Murray's wife Linda showed up for a nice kabob dinner. She was celebrating her 60th birthday so we had a very nice dinner on board and then some more bocce as the sun went down.

On Monday, it was just Tex and I for an hour motor back to Napa Valley Marina for our wine tour. I cooked breakfast while Tex enjoyed all the bird life. He counted almost 30 species of birds. Along with lots of Great Blue Herons on the banks. After banana blueberry pancakes, we jumped on our bikes to our first appointment at Ceja Winery. The winery is about 2 miles from the boat. This is a gourgous family owned winery with great wines to boot. We met Dailia and she gave us a wonderful tasting of their wines and shared their history with us. She was a gracious hostess and invited us to stay for lunch and ....bocce. They too had a court that was beckoning us. I took Tex to the cleaners and we had a nice lunch in the vineyard with a glass of wine. Very nice spot on this sunny breezy day! Then it was off to our 1pm appointment at Adastra. We arrived on time and Chris the owner was there to greet us. His winery was a little different for sure. He moved from Michigan to the Carneros Region to start a cattle ranch. He got tired of cashing cows and decided to plant grapes. He has done a fabulous job. After a tour we sat down at his dinning room table and he pulled out about 8 wines to taste. The Pinots were amazing as was the rest of wines. How cool is it to sit down with the winemaker in his house and taste and discuss these great wines. He also had a baseball diamond with bleachers and a classic croquet course on his property. Our last visit was to Bouchane Vineyards. This nice spot had some great wines and we enjoyed talking with Shantal and hearing about their wines and tasting them right down to the dessert wine which we had to have a bottle for later. What a great way to do wine country! There are many more wineries in the area, we only wish we had more time. Back on bikes for a short trip back to the boat. We could see the masts from the last winery, they are that close! Had a very nice sail that afternoon and into the evening back on the river. Dinner was pasta and tamales with some more wine! Then after some guitar and singing in the cockpit, it was off to bed. Up at 7:30 to head back. We motored down to Vallejo and then we were able to raise the sails for the trip home. Not much wind out there and San Pablo is a big bay. It picked up to about 12 knots and we had a dream sail down to the Richmond Bridge. Flat water and very few boats out. Sunny and warm too. Near the bridge I went up on deck to enjoy the view and in no time was dreaming on the deck. I woke up to Tex telling me it was time to tack. Once under the bridge, Paradise Cove was straight ahead and we anchored for a swim. We had a fast sail home in 25 knots and a nice way to end the day. We made it back about 6pm and reflected on an awesome trip up the Napa River. It was too much fun!

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