After getting down with some food we journeyed back up our good old friend Pritchard Hill towards Ovid vineyards. A really interesting project put together by some of the biggest names in wine: Andy Erickson, David Abreu and Michelle Roland to name a few.
We journeyed up the mountain and reached the peak where we were welcomed by a large boulder with the name of the winery etched into the rock. A remarkable site once again, as we gazed out over the valley floor below us.
Elizabeth showed us around the winery. We met Austin, the winemaker at the sorting table. Such a cool down to earth guy. On that day, by chance, that day they actually weren’t sorting grapes. They grow nuts on property and they were sorting through thousands of almonds that were fresh off the plant.
We tasted some. So warm and soft. Unlike any nut I’d tasted before. Tender and extremely flavorful, we were so happy to be there on that day. We gazed out onto Napa from their terrace and took a moment to really soak it all up. Absolutely stunning.
We toured their facility. Their fermentation tanks are built into the mountain, a feat no other winery has accomplished or even attempted. It was a remarkable operation with the utmost cleanliness and state of the art technology being utilized at every turn.
We checked out their offices and lab where they keep records of all their vintages and do the blending of their bottlings. They’re all about the science of wine as you can see by the (most likely aesthetic) writing on the floor to ceiling chalk board in the lab. Other chalkboards had what looked like more actual figures written on them. Really cool.
We tasted through a few of their wines including their new Ovid Estate Red release. They were absolutely gorgeous wines with finesse, intrigue and complexity. Layered fruit, spice and earth gave way to a feminine style in both cases that Jill and I adored.
On our way out we checked out the vineyards and played around for a bit. 100% organically grown fruit is how they operate. Even some other high end wineries still rely on some synthetic pesticides for their grapes. Jill picked some while I spied on her.
We drove just a short ways back down the mountain before we arrived at our next appointment, David Arthur Vineyards. We walked into their barn/winery and kinda shouted out, “Helloooo!….” It echoed. As I began to snoop around a bit we heard foot steps coming from a hallway near the back of the building.
Out walked a middle aged guy wearing an Avion Tequila t-shirt and jeans. He kinda looked like Paul McCartney a bit – definitely a hippie at one point in his life. He introduced himself as David and welcomed us to the winery. It took us a few minutes to realize it, but this was David Arthur Long – THE David Arthur. SO cool!
He walked with us down to the vineyards where he talked about the history of the winery, where he’s seen Napa come over the years, his family, his winemaker friends…we spoke about everything with very little having to do with his wine!
We walked back up to the winery where he showed us some of his hand made smokers from used wine barrels. Each one was carefully constructed by David himself and he’s even sold a few at auction for good causes! Incredible! We demanded an invite to his next BBQ at the winery.
We went back inside where we tasted through some of his best wines. A Sauvignon Blanc, his Meritaggio – a Cabernet, Sangiovese blend – his Estate Cabernet and finally his Elevation 1147, his flagship wine that was bottled just two days prior to our visit.
We fell in love with David – and he fell in love with us – we agreed. He was so sincere, welcoming and just friendly. We felt like we had known him for years by the end of our tasting – and it wasn’t just the wine influencing our feelings.
When he found out that we had just gotten engaged he disappeared in the back room for a minute and returned with a bottle of the Elevation 1147 2010 vintage just for us! He signed it and told us that as it was bottled two days before, this was the FIRST BOTTLE of the vintage to even leave the winery! HELLS YEAH! What an incredible honor. We had made an instant friend for life. Thank you David. Thank you so so much. As we drove back down the mountain and admired our newly acquired bottle, we realized we were beat and needed a regroup back at the villa…
A few hours later we arrived at Zuzu tapas for dinner. It wasn’t an originally planned stop, but all the locals seemed to recommend it as a place most tourists don’t go and the chefs in the area love. We walked in and instantly were greeted by a welcoming host. The restaurant was really crowded but we were shown to an upstairs dining room and seated right by a window looking out over Main St. Napa – awesome table – I let Jill look out.
We started with Bacalao. Salted cod, drizzled with white truffle oil served with onion crostini. Oh my goodness this was delicious. A creamy spread of salted fish with a pungent earthy drive atop perfectly warmed onion toast points. Spot on. Excellent texture and flavor. Great start.
We moved on to their farro risotto with wild mushrooms. Stuff was bomb! Could’ve fooled both of us that traditional rice wasn’t the main ingredient in this savory, smoky and well cooked dish. The plate was oozing and the risotto didn’t stand up, it ran all over the plate – the sign of a properly made risotto.
Next course, a Mexican breakfast favorite! Chilaquiles! Tortilla chips, chicken, spices and peppers all combined to create a loose casserole of spicy, zesty and super fresh goodness. They nailed it. Best version I’ve ever tasted. Sorry line cooks of my past – they got it down.
Zuzu is unique because they offer individual sized paella that they prepare in a mere ten minutes. Usually, two or more people have to commit to a paella dish and it could take more than 45 to arrive at the table. Their version was spectacular. Really. It was served in a mini individual sized traditional paella skillet. The top crust of the rice was nice and crispy, inside the dish was piping hot and absolutely delicious. Different kinds of seafood were sprinkled throughout the rice. Everything was cooked in a delicious, tangy and super rich sauce that had just the right amount of saffron edge. We were both really glad we ordered the paella.
Wow, absolutely great reports of your winery travels, feel like I am right there with you! Hey, can you please ring me up when you get settled back home? Local Chicago dude here, would love to talk all-things grape with you, esp. pertaining to some of your CT notes.
Did you buy anything at Ovid? Would love to visit, but wonder if you feel any pressure to buy at the end of the tour?
They actually had nothing available for purchase! In fairness, I was visiting as my restaurant wine buyer though.
I visited as my restaurant’s wine buyer so I didn’t buy anything personally but we picked up a few six packs for the restaurant. What I hear, you kinda have to buy something for some of these Pritchard Hill vineyards. But a bottle of Ovid is worth the experience. One of the prettiest vineyards in Napa.