Napa Valley 2014. Wait. What?

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 Images from Napa Valley: early December 2014

Right. This entry has nothing to do with Italy. But wait. This blog is all about—and only about—Italian wines and grape varieties. Isn’t it?

Yes. However, we all need a break sometimes and Napa is slowly becoming my friend.

Yours truly over here is getting down to business and rounding out her world wine knowledge (again!). I just spent the first two weekends of December—long, wet weekends, I might add!—at the Napa Valley Wine Academy taking the WSET Level 3 courses and exam. I managed to find a few spare moments when there was still daylight, it wasn’t pouring rain, I wasn’t in class, and I wasn’t studying or sleeping, to snap a few pictures. Napa is a gorgeous place in any season. But I guess I am a sucker for fog-enshrouded hills ( … ahem: Piedmont). I just couldn’t stop myself from getting out there with my camera. Literally.

Oakville mud: the places I go to capture these images!
A study of Oakville mud. December 14, 2014.

I got dressed up all “semi-cazj” on Sunday. (A mistake.) Then went traipsing through the vineyards along the Silverado Trail in the early morning hours, hoping to capture some artistic angles of Napa Valley. Ha ha! Remember all the rain that’s been pelting northern California for the last three weeks? Yeah. I forgot for half a second until my left shoe stuck and sank all the way into the mud. I had to remove my foot from my shoe and take the shoe out of the wet earth with my hands, while balancing on the other foot, that one only half submerged. There was nothing left to do but step down in the mud with my bare left foot while extracting my right foot. Then what? Put my muddy feet back into my shoes? I just ran out bare-footed. Yes, I was a muddy mess trying to get myself out of there. Luckily I had spare shoes in my car … and baby wipes.

All that! Just for this image, which really could have been better! But you have to see it now.

Gnarly, head-trained vines along the Silverado Trail. December 14, 2014.
Gnarly, head-trained vines along the Silverado Trail. December 14, 2014.

Here are more images along the Trail in the early morning hours, both before and after my mud incident. I didn’t let it stop me. Needless to say, I was late for class. December 14, 2014.

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My exam was yesterday, Monday. Finally! And the best way to party, post-exam? Barrel tasting! Less muddy, but still messy. Here are some shots of the intense color of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2013 and 2014 vintages. December 15, 2014.

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The spittoon!
The spittoon!

Then I took a quick jaunt to Robert Mondavi for undisclosed reasons. This is part of their historic and infamous To Kalon vineyard. (Notice the flooding.)

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And finally, these are some iphone shots of the foggy vineyards along the west side of the Silverado Trail and hills of the Mayacamas Mountains from the previous weekend. December 6 & 7.

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But let’s not forget the town of Napa. Repaired and repairing. Unbelievably quaint.

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Downtown Napa at dusk. December 7, 2014.
The Oxbow Market in the afternoon, Napa. A great place to run into friends! And buy Italian truffle oil!!! December 14, 2014.
The Oxbow Market, Napa, in the afternoon. A great place to run into friends! And buy Italian truffle oil!!! December 14, 2014.

† In 2007 I received my sommelier certification (level 2) through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Not too long after that did I turn my focus to Italy and not look back. Now I am looking around once again, exploring the world … not abandoning Italy, by any means. But expanding.

2 thoughts on “Napa Valley 2014. Wait. What?

  1. Wet feet notwithstanding, the rain can make for great images, which you clearly showed!
    Did you like the Napa Valley Wine Academy? We don’t have any courses near Minnesota, so I’m looking at options for WSET, and it’s one of them. Plus, it’s a nice spend a couple of days before or after the class. Thanks for sharing!

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