A great friend of mine from my Peace Corps days took advantage of my business trip and visited me in the Bay Area. I was glad she came out because I’ve been thinking of visiting Napa Valley, but that is so the last place I’d want to travel alone.
Get a Designated Driver
After asking around for tips, a friend suggested that we hire a driver on TaskRabbit. This way, we can drink to our hearts’ content. After all, that is the main point of visiting wineries. It turned out to be a wonderful idea. I listed the task for someone to be our driver/tour guide in Napa for a day from 10am-5pm. Within hours, I had several offers. Based on the description of the offer, you can easily tell how enthusiastic someone is. Robert gave a lot of information, and seemed very keen, though not in a creepy-serial-killer way.
We had a few email exchanges to finalize details. He offered a solid itinerary of various places to visit, depending on our preferences. 10 am rolled around on that Sunday morning, and he was there to pick us up. The day before, I had stocked up on cheese, crackers, charcuterie, fruits, etc. for a delightful picnic. We first hit up a tasting room of Patz & Hall. My friend’s roommate’s aunt actually is a co-owner of this winery. I dropped the name, got a free tasting, then a recommendation to another amazing winery, Rutherford Hill.
Turns out, it is true what they said – it’s all about who you know. We meet these perfect strangers, who loved our stories (Peace Corps folks tend to have very complicated stories to the question, “where are you from?”), and somehow they all want to send us to another winery to have a free tasting.
At Rutherford Hill, which is actually on a hill, with a gorgeous view, we got recommendations for several others, and free tasting. Too bad we didn’t visit Rutherford until the end of our day. I would’ve loved to spend more time there. Looks like Napa is definitely on the itinerary on my next visit. How can you say no to free wine? Not to mention these amazingly nice people. I suppose it’s pretty easy to love your job (and hence in a stellar mood) when your job is to drive to a pretty winery and talk to people about wine.
I’m no rookie to the winery scene. St. Louis area actually has quite some nice wineries. There’s also that summer when I “study” abroad in France and toured the Loire Valley. But, Napa is famous for a reason. There is certain uniqueness that I can’t quite put my finger on it. Guess you’ll simply need to see it for yourself!