Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Road Trip: Napa, Day Six - Castles and Coffee

Today was a day of castles, coffee and college shenanigans, and in many ways it marked the beginning of the road trip proper. The day started much as the day before, with me sleeping in and then walking to Peet’s after I awoke. I’ve been trying to get into a British history class at UCLA that fits my schedule better than my current third class, but today was the first day they allowed non-majors to register for the class. I can’t access the UCLA website from my phone, so I needed access to the wireless at the coffee shop. Unfortunately, it turns out the class is waitlisted, but I at least got onto that and I’m in fifth position.

Around 3:00, Nate and Tyler finally arrived to pick me up and begin our mutual journey. It was on Sunday that the two of them departed in Tyler’s Scion and they spent Monday in Morro Bay with Nate’s brother and then left the next morning to meet with me. When they arrived we left my sister’s apartment and drove into the beautiful little Napa Valley town of St. Helena were Nate’s grandparents live. Nate caught up with his grandparents, and his grandfather orated on the various fine qualities of Napa wine and two buck chuck.
When he finished, Nate, Tyler and I drove to the Castello Di Amorosa Winery. The Castello is apparently a recent addition to the valley and is modeled on European Castles. It advertises itself as having hundreds of rooms, guided tours, a chapel and, naturally, a torture chamber. To get to the winery, we drove up the 29 through the valley, passing once more under the wonderful lane of trees in St. Helena I talked about a few days ago. Turning of the 29, we climbed up a windy road lined with trees and arrived at the castle. Perhaps taking  a page from Hearst Castle, the Castello Di Amorosa has multiple different tours that can be taken, each one exploring different parts of the castle and costing different amounts of money. Being cheap college students, we took the cheapest route, a $10 entrance fee that allowed us to taste five of their wines and then explore the main level of the castle unguided. We goofed around, filmed our antics and enjoyed the wine (well, Nate and I did, Tyler only got Capri Sun because he’s a baby). One neat feature of this wine tasting compared to the Sterling Vineyard is that you get to choose which wines you taste. Nate and I tried the four reds and also two dessert wines (they poured one for Nate and one for me and we shared). The wines were good, but I can definitely say I’m still not a fan of dessert wines. I just don’t see the point of them.

Leaving the castle, we drove back down the 29 to St. Helena, and then went out to dinner with Nate’s grandfather. Unfortunately, his grandmother is on a very limited diet prescribed by her doctor and she can’t go eating out (keep her in your prayers). The four of us went on to the Silverado Brewing House, a favorite of Nate’s grandparents. Nate and Tyler got pasta and the brew house’s own root beer and I had a seasonal rye ale (which tasted like a malty wheat beer). I’m afraid I actually can’t remember what it is his grandfather had to eat. While we ate, he told us funny stories about his days back in the war.

After dinner, Nate’s grandfather went back to his house and Nate, Tyler and I drove back into Napa to get some items from Target and Safeway. I drove, and it was my first time driving Tyler’s car. The  car was fun and controlled very well, but I occasionally gunned it more than I intended, being used to far less powerful cars.

Tomorrow, we’ll be spending a little time in Napa and then taking a little detour back the way we came from to visit my aunt and cousins in Sunnyvale. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them and introducing them to my friends.