Napa

Continuum winery with the Backtype guys. Met the Mondavi family, drank great wine, enjoyed gorgeous views

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Kate and I joined the Backtype.com guys up to Napa today to visit Continuum Winery, which was started by Tim Mondavi, Robert Mondavi’s son.

It was incredible. We drank amazing wine, ate great food, and played with cute puppies.

But best of all, we were taken care of by the Mondavi family. Tim was incredible, nicest guy in the world. He went out of his way to get Kate a glass of wine when he saw her empty handed. Kate and I cracked up when he violently threw his white wine into the grass, calling it undrinkable :).

Carissa, Tim’s daughter, gave us a great tour of the property, which included fabulous views of the entire valley. Continuum is on quite a bit north east of where Kate and I usually taste. We were up on Pritchard Hill, where the land is steep. This means lower yields, but incredible wine.

Thanks to Backtype, the Mondavi family, and all our gracious hosts. It’s not often you get taken care of so well, and especially by legends in the wine business.

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“If your open up your ears for five seconds, you’ll know what to do.” – David Topper, Goosecross Cellars

“If your open up your ears for five seconds, you’ll know what to do.”

“…great wine isn’t enough – customer service and genuine customer relationships remain the heart and soul of who we are. When asked about the future, we explain that our new inspirations come from our customer’s constructive advice and embracing new technologies as they evolve to provide ever clearer, and more pertinent communications with those that trust in us.”

Very wise words from David and Colleen Topper, the owners of Goosecross Cellars in Napa, CA.

A few weeks ago, Kate and I attended their 25th anniversary gala dinner. David is deeply involved in social media. You’ll find him on Twitter, Facebook, and even BackType. He always has a pulse on what people are saying about Goosecross.

Their words highlight Goosecross’s dedication to customer service. This, more than anything else is why I proposed to Kate at Goosecross, why we’re wine club members, and why we were celebrating their anniversary with them. (Their Howell Mountain Cabernet is another good reason šŸ™‚ ).

Many thanks to David, Colleen, Nancy, Jose, and the rest of the Goosecross staff for inviting us to the celebration. We look forward to drinking Goosecross wine for years to come.

If you’re planning a trip to Napa, make sure to stop at Goosecross!

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Nancy is pouring wine before the main event.

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Crush!

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Nancy, the barrel thief. We got tastes straight from the barrel.

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Delicious dinner. First time seeing a “Kate Agarwal” table card.

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David and Colleen gave great speeches.

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Staff photos.

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Kate wants to dance. Or go home. I can’t tell.

Saturday in Napa with Avi and Jenny

We had another great day in Napa. Started out at Cosentino. It’s one of our favorite wineries and we have cases of their wine at home, but we didn’t get the best service this time. I guess we need to call ahead in the future.

Lunch at Mustards was amazing, as always. I had a Mahi Mahi tostada.

Then we went to Goosecross, where we were treated like VIPs. Nancy gave us a private tour of the place, and we hung out with her on the patio for a while, trying all sorts of awesome wines. We loved the 2004 Goosecross Howell Cabernet.

Frog’s Leap had a beautiful garden and nice wines.

Then we headed to Frank Family Vineyards for some bubbly. We started schmoozing with the guy there and he hooked us up. We got to try some unlisted wines, including a $225 bottle. That means a single taste is worth about $15. We loved it (but I really don’t know enough to evaluate it). Kate is great at tasting wine and picking up flavors, which really helps to prove we’re not just tourists.

We ended the day at Solbar for a cocktail and some appetizers. Delicious!

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Kate and I are engaged! I proposed between the grapevines at Goosecross Cellars in Napa

I am the luckiest guy in the world. Sometimes I can’t even believe how, after 27 years of basically being alone, and thousands of miles distancing us, I found my Kate. We met in such a perfect situation: a New Year’s Eve party in New York City, in a room full of our closest friends.

After we met, we fell in love quickly, Kate moved to San Francisco with me, and now we’re joined at the hip. Kate is not just my girlfriend, she is my best friend. We can’t stand to be apart even for a moment. I am so happy knowing that I will be with Kate for the rest of my life, and we will be together for all our life experiences.

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Thanks to everyone at Goosecross Cellars for making the day so magical. Especially Nancy, thank you so much for going out of your way to take care of us. We are lifelong wine club members, and we look forward to visiting you guys whenever we are in Napa. You will always be a part of our memories and stories.

Another successful trip to Napa, with Kate’s parents

We are becoming Napa regulars. Kate’s parents were in town for her birthday so we did a quick day trip to taste some wine. Driving up we hit a bunch of traffic so we were worried that Napa would be packed. It was a gorgeous 85 degree day after all. But between drivers peeling off to go to the amusement park in Vallejo, heading to Sonoma, and going to the touristy venues within Napa, we were able to visit our favorite wineries with no crowds.
 
Since most people go to taste wine, get drunk, and don’t buy anything, the wineries are forced to charge tasting fees and push people through as fast as possible. In particular, the larger vineyards have tailored their facilities for tourists. They have paved parking lots, high tasting fees, large productions, rehearsed tours, and no personal attention.
 
In contrast, every vineyard we went to was fairly empty. They all do small productions which always sold out. They all had a posted tasting fee, which was easily waived with a bit of schmoozing. We tasted a TON of wine (I believe 20 tastings at just 3 vineyards, in just a few hours) and didn’t pay anything for them. The people working at the counter were always incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, and not the least bit snobby. It was perfect.
 
On this trip we went to Cosentino, Peju, and Hagafen. Combine that with an incredible lunch at Mustard’s… I had an ahi tuna sandwich which was the largest block of tuna i’ve ever had. With fresh ginger and other spices, it was great.

Kate and I have already been to Napa 3 times together. It’s the same distance from SF to Napa as it is to Cupertino, a drive I did everyday when I worked at Apple.

I know we’ll be going back often. It’s one of our favorite places in the world.

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Napa, January 2009

Kate and I went to Napa a couple weeks ago to celebrate our anniversary. It happened to be the first weekend with great weather since we’ve moved here, so it worked out quite perfectly. Despite the good weather, Napa was deserted (common right after the holidays and in a slumping economy) so we were treated like royalty everywhere we went.
 
We stayed at the brand new Westin Verasa, a room I got for free using my SPG points (SPG Amex is the best credit card to have). Upon arriving we were upgraded to a deluxe room with a balcony, view, and kitchenette. The hotel has a heated pool, spa, and every amenity you can imagine. I highly recommend it.
 
With recommendations from our concierge in hand, we set off to taste some wine. The best way to know where to go is to listen to the locals: the concierge, and then the people at the wineries themselves. If you drop a few names, you don’t have to pay tasting fees!
 
We started out at Cosentino, and then lunch at Mustard’s.

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We didn’t really like the wine at Cakebread, but we did get a near private tour of the winery.

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Peju was one of our favorites. Great wine, and a beautiful winery/tasting area.

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One last stop for the day: Black Stallion. We enjoyed this winery the last time we were in Napa so we had to go back.

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That night we had an incredible dinner at Bouchon.

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Day 2: Hagafen, Darioush (for the architecture, we heard the wine is bad), and Steltzner.

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Baldacci came highly recommended, and they even had a super cool dog.

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Last stop was the tiny (and super friendly) vineyard of Goosecross. We bought some delicious port there.

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