5/1/19 to 5/4/19 Skyline Wilderness Park, Napa CA

Highlights: Wineries and hike

Campground:

This campground is run by an association created by the county who got the land from the state. Being the only highly rated campground near Napa it is very popular. We were placed in a pull through that was theoretically large enough for the trailer, but I couldn't get close to driving into it with the truck. They had one back-in site available that we took. It was short as well, but it was on the end and plenty wide enough to park the truck.

Once situated, the park is rather nice and covers a lot of ground. There are miles of hiking trails, horseback riding area, an archery range, and an 18 hole disc golf course – which I assume is a step above the norm. While walking we passed a group of adults with backpacks full of disks coming from the course. They looked like they were dedicated players.

I have little recollection on the hookups, but we believe we had E&W only. They advertise full-hook up, partial, and dry camping. Some of the dry camping sites are quite scenic and more isolated. Upon making a reservation the do not guarantee a specific campsite.

I took a hike up the hillside at Skyline Park and had spectacular views.

The campground is in the lower left of the photo.

Vineyards in every valley

Our trailer is the closest to the bottom of this photo

I apologize for the lack of photos, but one could search the web for any of the following wineries to see more.

Napa

Napa valley is huge and understandably a favorite destination of many. With only two days to explore, we really only achieved a better understanding of the area and how to tackle it should we come back. We did go to five tasting rooms, three of which were at vineyards. I don't know how people can do more and still make sense of it all. We determined early on that two tastings a day is enough for us – for both the alcohol intake and to relax and enjoy the experience. What you may think could take an hour could end up at two or more if you start asking questions, take a tour, or just decide to lounge on an outside patio with a beautiful view. I can understand how people could come here everyyear for a vacation. One could not possible visit all the wineries in a two week stay.

Just a few comments on the wineries we visited.

Stag's Leap. One of the most famous and highest rated wineries in Napa. This is the winery whose Cabernet beat the French in a blind taste test. It was also our most expensive tasting – but worth the experience. First, we sat on a beautiful courtyard overlooking the vineyards in the valley and creeping up into the hills. The $45 tasting consisted of wines selling for between $65 and $295 a bottle. Our server was very pleasant and patiently explained the soils, the seasons of the vintage, and the location of each tasting. A real pleasure was when he pointed to the vineyard for the origin of each. For example there may be several Cabernets where each comes from a different section of the vineyard. Though all within site of each other, the amount of water run-off from the hills and small differences in soil will affect the wine. The wine was good, but I didn't taste anything that would warrant the price. I suspect that they can price higher because of the panache of the brand. The real highlight for me was the beauty and peacefulness of the setting. For this, I still highly recommend Stag's Leap – and you can try some wines that you otherwise will never have opportunity.

Robert Sinskey Vineyards is less than a mile north of the turn off to Stag's Leap on the Silverado Trail. I thought this was one of the better wines and wine value on our trip. I liked the wine better than Stag's Leap for a fraction of the price. Unfortunately I didn't realize what we had until later because this was the first vineyard we visited in Napa. After all our other tastings, I wanted to go back to stock up, but we didn't have time.

Grgich Hills Estate is one my favorite wineries – and they sell Grgich at Costco! We had to stop after hearing their story at other wineries:

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich, as the finest white wine in the world." https://www.grgich.com/our-story/

The wine server in the simple roadside tasting room was enthusiastic, informative, and entertaining. We bought a few bottles from here, including their "world class" Chardonnay for a special day with our Seattle family.

In the heart of St Helena, our guidebook recommended V. Sattui. This is more bustling tourist attraction compound than the pleasant countryside vineyards mentioned above. People literally come here by the bus load. When entering, one passes into a country store with a take-out deli counter before walking into the tasting room. There are two large rectangular bars, each with a hand full of servers and surrounded by scores of patrons. Although we stayed, it was the most unpleasant tasting experience anywhere. There were too many people for the servers to say much about each wine other than a couple parroted quips. The wines were average - only the Zinfandel worth a try. The best part of stopping here was the deli. It was mentioned in our guidebook and deserves the high praise. My recommendation is to skip the wine, buy a nice sandwich and sit outside and watch the surplus of people out on the lawn.

Frog's Leap is in Rutherford. Their wines are commonly found in stores and restaurants nationally. I wasn't impressed. Many wineries that sell mass quantities nationally also have a vintner's select or other labels that are more hand crafted than the mass produced versions. I expected more from Frog's Leap.

Frog's Leap

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We are Sandy and Bill embarking on a journey we thought of for years, but pipe dream? Nope. We are doing it - while we are able to. While it is hard for us to leave our family, we feel we need to do this now. 

 

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