Sipping Wines in the Valley on St. Patrick’s Day

The Napa Valley Wine Country Tour pulled us out of our hotel beds the last day of our four-day visit to San Francisco. Breakfast and lunch were provided in the touring limo for fourteen, so all we had to do was walk ourselves to the meeting point across from Macy’s on Union Square.

Driver Tim reassured us that we would not be disappointed with the wines he would introduce us to at the various wineries.

In well-cushioned seats, we glanced around the oval touring car at our companions for the day. Across from us sat three white women: a sixty-year old, sandwiched between her two thirtyish daughters. Further up, sat two Asian sisters in their early thirties, both petite, though one was perky and flexible, the other quiet and cautious. Following the bend of the oval was a Hispanic couple in their mid-forties, two rather nameless Caucasian women in their late twenties, next Paul and I–the not-so-young groovy white couple– and finally two fifty-year old white women friends.

First stop was Jacuzzi Family Vineyards where we tasted eight wines, two white and six red. My favorite was Rosso Di Sette Fratelli, a 2007 Carneros merlot. This wine was advertised as “complex layers of chocolate, tobacco and berries finishing with silky tannins.” I thought this an incredibly smooth merlot for a wine with this much flavor.

Our next stop was Homewood Winery. Here we sat on stools in a little house with no walls, facing a woman who taught us about wines while she tossed in personal anecdotes. Out of white wines, here we only tasted red. The one I liked best was a Homewood 2007 Eldorado, a petit syrah. This wine surprised me with its soft, almost buttery finish. I also liked the 2005 merlot tawny port which, with a little accompanying chocolate, made me smile from ear to ear because of the happy burst of sultry chocolate mixed with rich, deep berry sweetness on my tongue.

Back in the touring car, the distinct personalities of our traveling companions came out. One of the two daughters across from us turned out to be an Episcopalian minister, on a birthday vacation getting a break from her parish, her husband, and thirteen month old son. Her sister looked like a proper yuppie, but by day’s end was resting her head in a rather wobbly fashion on her mother’s shoulder.

Of the two petite Asian sisters, the perky one turned out to be the mother of a twelve-year old. When one of the other passengers heard this she said, “Then you must have been twelve when you had her.” And in fact at the end of the day–around five p.m.–when she curled up on the seat to sleep, and with her back to me, I could have taken her for a twelve-year old.

But, I was most drawn to one of the fifty-year old Caucasian women, who said she had her four children young and was now hungry for independent life. Throughout the day and into the late afternoon, she reminded me of a horse unbridled in an open field, her eyes wide open, flecked with light, shaking her mane with glee.