Living only an hour away from the Napa Valley gives me plenty of opportunity to drive up there and experience new wineries. But no matter what my plans are or how much time I have, I always stop at V. Sattui! In fact, it is always our jumping off point for a day of tasting.
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The restaurants in Napa tend to be quite posh and expensive. Since I know I'm going to buy wine, I prefer a smaller lunch that doesn't cost too much. The deli at V. Sattui is perfect for this. It has quite an extensive selection of prepackaged meats and cheeses, as well as deli salads and side dishes. They also have many different kinds of bread, fresh fruit, condaments and dessert, not to mention beverages that are not alcoholic for drivers or those who don't want to start too early in the day. They sell "picnic packs" that contain paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware. But be warned - they only supply plastic knives and it usually isn't strong enough to cut the larger loaves of bread of hunks of cheese. I suggest bringing along a swiss army knife or something to that effect. After buying your deli items, you can sit outside on benches or on the grass and enjoy your lunch. On weekends they also have a nice barbecue going. I have never bought the barbecue lunch so I can't comment on it here, but it always smells very good.
Inside you find their large tasting room. You get to taste many different varieties and the tasting is free. They produce many kinds of wine from drier reds to sweeter whites and even dessert wines. I highly recommend the Gamay Rouge. It is a light-bodied red with a hint of strawberry flavor that makes it great for people (like me) that don't like their wines too dry. It goes with all sorts of dishes from beef, to poultry to pasta. Their Rieslings are also fabulous. They have both a dry and off-dry variety. And I also like their Muscat dessert wine. It isn't too overly sweet or powerful; just right for finishing off that extensive meal. My friends who like drier wines also rave about their chardonnays and cabernets.
If you have never been wine tasting before this is a great place to start. The staff are very knowledgable and friendly and will describe the different varieties of wine for you. I always end up buying at least two bottles if not more when I leave (you can never have enough Gamay Rouge!) The only draw-back here is that more and more people are finding out about this wonderful place so it gets more crowded on the weekends especially. Try to arrive early and eat before the actual lunch crowd shows up. But even with all the people, it is a must stop on your next trip to wine country.