Prom Date was only in town two days, coming in midday Saturday and leaving midday Monday. We had to show her the best of the Bay Area. Here’s where I have to admit something slightly shameful for a bay Area resident – I’ve never been to wine country. There, I said it. It’s totally embarrassing since I’m not Mormon and I drink alcohol. But for some reason, I never got around to driving up to Napa or Sonoma County and sampling some of their famous wine.
Luckily, J went last year with June and Muffin and knew where to go – Chateau St. Jean. (Jean is pronounced in the same was you would say Gene). Having never gone to wine country, my criteria for a place to do a wine tasting was how closely it resembled the winery on Falcon Crest. Yes, my cultural point of reference is a Dynasty-style nighttime soap. J chose well because Chateau St. Jean is a picture postcard of a winery with beautiful views of the vineyard and the surrounding mountains. The grounds are gardens were out of some travel guide and we could have just gone there for the scenery.
Scenery schmenery, we were there for some wine. We decided to spend $15 for the reserve tasting, mainly because we would get to taste their Cinq Cépages wine. Cinq Cepage is their signature wine, a reserve wine price at $75/bottle. Not being wine people J and I were skeptical about how that would be worth it but boy was it worth it. Before coming to California and visiting Chateau St. Jean there were two things about us:
We weren’t red wine people.
We hated Chardonnays
For #1, as we’ve had some wine enthusiasts in our circle of friends, we’ve been introduced to red wines we adore (oooh Bink’s Syrah!). Cinq Cepage is definitely one of those. Full fruity but not oaky. And oaky is what we absolutely hate about chardonnays. There’s usually so much oak flavor that the crisp fruit flavors get lost. But the Chateau St. Jean reserve was amazing because the oak took a back seat to a wonderful caramel flavor. It really lingered and gave the chardonnay a great complexity and depth. We all bought bottles to enjoy for later and they weren’t cheap.
After a leisurely wine tasting, we hooked up with West Coast Rebecca and Bellisima to taste some authentic Italian-style pizza at Diavola in Geyserville. This is literally a one street town but oh what a street that is – wine bars and tasting rooms and a photo gallery. And the best pizza in the bay area. Yum! We shared three different pizzas, their sausage, their meatball, and their pizza Margherita along with an asparagus salad with fried egg and a smoked trout salad. As I can’t really chow down on the pizza I ordered myself their meatballs on crostini with tomato sauce. The pizza lived up to the hype. The crust was hearty and substantial without being too bready. On top of that (literally!), the toppings have so much flavor! I was particularly enamored with the sausage. Sampling the sausage and having the meatballs, Diavola really does meat well. Their sausage and meatballs have a strong meat flavor which some might call gaminess but I call delicious. Their tomato sauce has a nice savory flavor and tastes less like canned tomatoes and more like a sauce that’s been simmered for hours. On top of that, we got a sausage stuffed pork belly with sautéed fennel. Yes, this place does meat well. After rolling ourselves out of Diavola, we could barely think much less think about food. Therefore, we got Chinese take-out for dinner.
That’s Prom Date for visiting us. It was a great excuse to eat a lot!