Muir Woods - Napa Valley May 16
It was our last morning at the Serrano. We had breakfast at Sears Fine Foods. In the 1970's Jay Leno interviewed a waiter from Sears Fine Foods named Sidney who was 108 years old and seated 50 customers per hour.
Muir Woods is the closest stand of redwood trees to San Francisco. It is in the mountains 17 miles north of the bridge.
Our bartender was Marc in the tasting room. Robert had 3 glasses of a still premium wine, called a flight of wine. He had Chardonnay carneros, pino vnoir and pinot meunier. We did not care for the pinot meunier. It was sparky and sharp. The carneros was good and the pinot noir was ok.
We had supper at a nice restaurant in Napa called Brix. It had beautiful flower gardens, herb gardens for the restaurant and producing citrus trees. Service was available on the patio under an arbor. It was so charming. In San Francisco it had been cold but it was about 90 degrees in Napa. The wine list was as extensive as it was expensive. $11 a glass, $40 a half botle for brands we had never heard of. There were bottles on the menu for up to $425 apiece so we had herbal iced tea.
Robert had the filet and I had the steak. My steak had a bed of spinach and was great. There was a basket of garlic toast and pieces of herbed biscuits with creme fraiche. This meal and the one the next day were the 2 most expensive meals we have ever eaten. It was over $100 for supper and this was with no dessert and iced tea to drink.
There was a dearth of places to eat and places to stay in the area that we could see. All we found on the highway from Napa to St. Helena was that restaurant and a mom and pop delicatessen. All the hotels inthe AAA guide were asking for a two day minimum, over $200 a night.
We have Best Western membership so called the reservation line and were able to get a room for one night in Napa after all. Our room had a lovely balcony and it came with a free breakfast at Denny's next door. There was also a Jacuzzi plus the swimming pool. With discount it was $175.00 + tax. My best guess is this is about twice what it should be worth.
Best Western in the Vines
There is a delightful film just out in dvd, Bottle Shock, based on a true story set in the Napa Valley. It was completed just in time for the January 2008 Sundance Festival and got a standing ovation later at Cannes. It is about Jim Barrett, lawyer who bought a broken down chateau with vineards and sets out to produce a world class wine.
Chateau Montelena was built in the 1880's by Alfred Loving Tubbs. The property originally had 476 acres. In 1972 when he was about 45 Barrett purchased 250 acres for $273,000, replanted Chardonnay vines and brought his brand, Cahteau Montelena to market within 4 years.
At that time California wines were not recognized by European connoisseurs. A Britsh vintner from Paris, Stephen Spurrier challenged California vineyards to a blind tast testing as a publicity stunt intended to prove the excellence of French wine.
The end result is that it changed the wine business permanently and wine from other countries and not only California began to get seriuos attention; South America, Australia, New Zealannd, Africa, Canada. Alan Rickman as Steve Spurrier is perhaps the actor in this film most are familiar with but it also stars Bill Pullman, Chris Pine, Freddy Rodriguez, Dennis Farina, Bradley Whitford, Miguel Sandoval, Eliza Dushkyu and Rachel Taylor. If I may say so it was perfectly cast and masterfully done. It is a great screenplay. One critic said it best, calling this film the equivalent of Rocky for wine afficionados.