Heibel Ranch Vineyards
I read about Heibel Ranch Vineyards in an old volume of Food and Wine, and while it certainly wasn't the first (nor will it be the last) winery I have drooled over in the magazines glossy pages, this one definitely caught my attention. Heibel Ranch isn't your typical wine country tour, but rather a full on excursion.
Located over an hour away from central Napa you have to take some pretty sharp and steep turns to ride up the the top of the mountain where the vineyard is located. Upon arrival you are greeted by Trent, the brainchild behind the winery, whereupon you hop into his open air Jeep straight out of 1950. From there you are taken on a bumpy, yet picturesque ride through his property while his yellow lab runs beside you. You won't find an experience like this anyplace else.
After your Jeep Tour you get to drink (no three ounce pours here!) his fantastic wine accompanied with local Bouchon Bakery bread, salami, cheese and olives. Our tasting included an incredible Sauvingon Blanc... officially the best we had on our trip and a decadent Cabernet/ Zinfandel/ Petite Syrah blend called Lappas. I would have taken both home but we only had space for one more bottle, so we settled on the Sauvingnon Blanc, but I am keeping my eye on this vineyard. They are very young with a very bright future.
If you travel to Napa, vist Heibel Ranch. I simply can't be any more blunt about it.
It was a perfect day, for a perfect tour and a perfect ending to an incredible trip.
On our drive back to San Francsico we made a quick stop at the Culinary Institute of America, which has a gift shop that will make any foodie swoon.
Then it was back to San Fran for us where we returned our trusty hatchback and hopped onto the BART towards Berkley where we would spend our final night pretending to be MBA students with Brittany and Phil. We had a lovely sushi dinner and got to hob nob with her classmates over Mojitos. Not a bad final night at all. The next morning despite some plumbing issues in her apartment (boo!) Brittany gave us a little walking tour of campus before we headed to the airport, six wine bottles heavier then when we arrived.
No matter how much you enjoy your trip, it is always nice to get home, especially when you have to furry felines to greet you at the door. However, even though months have passed this trip still hasn't left me. It's memories hit me at random moments: On a crowded El car, glancing out the window at work, settling into a couch with a glass of red in hand. Our time out West was not only the stuff that dreams are made of, but it planted the seed for dreams of the future.
I am not sure just when I will make it back there but I don't just feel, I know, that I am not done with California and it's glorious wine country.