We began the next day back at the inn’s dining room, which was a converted cellar with exposed stone walls and great ambiance. When we sat down, a bowl of fruit and champagne glasses full of orange juice were waiting for us. The glasses were actually half-full of orange juice, and Jan and I briefly considered filling the other half from the bottle of Domaine Chandon sparkling wine we’d bought the day before. Mimosas sounded excellent, but we decided against it.
The innkeepers said the breakfasts there were always hearty and meant to sustain guests for a day of wine tasting. As soon as we finished our fruit, the staff brought in the next plate, which consisted of an apple crisp and also an egg and potato soufflé.
After checking out we headed north, with a plan to drive to the top of Napa Valley and slowly make our way south before heading back home. Our first stop was Château Montelena, which I wanted to see after recently watching the film Bottle Shock. The building was beautiful, just like in the movie and the grounds featured a lush garden, lake complete with geese, and red pagodas.
Next we walked downtown Calistoga, enjoying the sunshine, but no mud baths that the town is famous for. I was too happy and clean after soaking in our room’s Jacuzzi tub to have any desire to be covered in mud at the moment.
We continued our drive, heading south on Highway 128 and stopping to tour the Culinary Institute of America, which was housed in an imposing but beautiful old winery. No celebrity chefs were spotted this time, but we saw plenty of students and checked out the winemaker’s hall of fame, learning a little more of the area’s history. At this point we were starving, so we drove through St. Helena, a town I would want to revisit in the future.
We had lunch at Oakville Grocery Co., which came recommended to us by other guests staying at the Old World Inn. I ordered the Chicken Gruyere, which also had pancetta, balsamic onions, Dijon, and mayonnaise on a baguette, while Jan ordered the Classic Reuben, which had corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. We also asked for two plastic cups so we could enjoy a glass of wine with our picnic outside. The sandwiches were delicious, the only thing we were missing was a pickle to go with them.
As we were eating lunch, the Napa Valley Wine Train passed by. I’m not sure how the food compared there, as I’ve heard the train is an experience not to be missed, but I could have sworn some of the passengers were eyeing our sandwiches.
I had heard about the art at the DiRosa Preserve, and that was to be our last stop. However, when we arrived, we were told that we had missed the last tour for the day, and that there wasn’t much to see in the entry gallery. But we weren’t too disappointed, as we added another item to our list for our next visit. As it turned to late afternoon, and we’d reached our limit of wine, food, and sunshine, heading home to Fresno was exactly what we wanted to do.