Mumm Champagne and Calistoga

On Saturday, the excitement was second only to Christmas morning.  It was time to go to Napa- hooray!  We all got up and were ready around the same time so we headed out to Panotiq for breakfast and coffee.  I had a pain au chocolat while everyone else got breakfast sandwiches either on a croissant or French biscuit  (the real name is eluding me right now).
We hit the road and arrived in Napa around 11.  Thank goodness- it was time to eat again!  Well truthfully, even though eating and drinking definitely were the themes of the weekend, we were still a little full from breakfast.  So we walked around the Farmer’s market (last of the season!) and Oxbow market to pick up some picnic provisions.  We got back in the car and headed up to Yountville where we had an awesome picnic in the French Laundry gardens.  There are several picnic tables on either end of the garden and it was really an exquisite setting.  Our picnic was  delicious and then we walked through the gardens before heading to our first tasting!
Our tasting was at Mumm, in honor of Linda’s birthday and her preference for sparkling wines.   We had a reservation on the Oak Terrace and it was really nice and relaxed.  Our pourer was knowledgeable and I learned the best takeaway tip.  If the sparkling wine is not made via “method traditionale,” the carbonation and sugars are added artificially in the second stage which is the way to make a hangover in a bottle.   So, you don’t need to spend a lot but look out for those production methods!

SMS did this climb!
After the tasting, we went to the photography gallery.  There was a landscape photography exhibit by Ben Nixon, which was excellent.  SMS is convinced that the photographer must be a rock climber because he took picture in several places SMS recognized and several other places that SMS now wants to go.  There was also an Ansel Adams gallery with prints there on long-term loan.  Even though the photos exist in multiple prints, SMS explained that Ansel Adams printed each one by hand so each is unique due to subtle differences in darkroom manipulation techniques.  It was a small, but excellent, collection.
Then we were off to Calistoga!  We arrived at the B&B a little earlier than planned so we headed into town and tried wines at the Huge Bear Tasting Room.  Afterwards, we headed back to the B&B to rest up before dinner.  We went out to Evangeline, a French-Creole inspired restaurant with a huge patio.  We split three amazing salads- heirloom tomato, pork belly with egg and shaved persimmon-pear.  Afterwards, I had smoked salmon.  Everyone’s dishes were really nice but to me, the salads were the standouts. 

Then, after a day of eating and drinking, we were tired!  So we walked back despite Rip’s exhortations to keep the party going.  We went to bed, ready for our Sunday Funday of tastings complete with a driver!

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