Sunday in Napa - Chapter 3: Deep in the Cellar

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Read Chapter 2: Braised and Roasted
Our party was already running an hour behind schedule, so we made our goodbyes and sorrowfully left behind Pam, Carl, and Quixote winery. Soon, our cars winding down the infinite rows of picked vines, we arrived at the Quintessa Winery.

The winery blended well into the hillsides, as is the intent to make as little architectural impact on the land as possible when it was founded by the proprietors Agustin & Valeria Huneeus. We were met by Gwen, our guide at Quintessa, and as we all gathered, I took a moment to rest a spell in a crown style chair by a roaring fire place. About to fall into a catnap fueled by good food and wine, it was the definition of Napa. However my nap was joyfully put aside as Gwen began our tour.

We began with a nice little nature hike up the hill, the smell of smoke and dead leaves around us, and we came upon a wonderful vista as Gwen told us the history of the winery. Organic and very earth friendly principles are used in growing the grapes and in their care. For example they allow gravity based methods to move the grapes to avoid the bruising, and thus increased tannin content in the wine. They also only harvest at night to avoid the sun drying or burning the grapes.

We were led into a dark cellar and as we walked down the stone hallways lined with oak barrels, we were in awe at the volume of the wine that stood at attention before us. It culminated in a small center, which seemed almost holy. A well lit fountain in the center of the barrel lined halls stood and just let you take in the deeply romantic surroundings.Our group soon came to the end of our tour, which culminated in a wine and cheese tasting (our second that day). We tasted the 1996 Quintessa which was a bit tannic, and slightly oxidized, but still had a nice taste to it. The 2007 - I think that was the year, I'm sure someone will correct me int he comments if otherwise - was fantastic. It's been two weeks now, but I still remember it having a nice bold flavor, and slight spice.

It was served with some delicious Humboldt Fog cheese, a nice goat cheese made in California by Cypress Grove Chevre. It's nice soft rind, and declaratory line of ash in the center announced it's strong lemony and goaty flavors (you must try it to understand "goaty") perfectly balanced by the light gouda that sat beside it. Served with a small amount of quince paste, it was a perfect tray to accompany the bright wines.

After toasting Ashley, Elise, and Gwen for setting it all up we said our fond (and slightly tipsy in my case) goodbyes. Normally, I would end with some waxing poetics, but at this point there's nothing more to say. It was just too perfect of a day.


  1. That looks so beautiful! What a fun experience.

  2. I've had Humbolt Fog and it's delicious. It looks like it was a really fun day.


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