Monday, December 25, 2006

Wine Country

We paused our southward journey on highway 101 in Santa Rosa to have a quick look in a couple of shops in a large mall there. Big mistake. The traffic was awful so getting back on the freeway took an age. I’m sure the inconsiderate driving style that people have over here doesn’t help these situations. We were only back on the freeway for a very short time before we reached our goal for the day, Rohnerts Park Ramada. This was to be our home and base for the next three nights. The motel is well situated for the freeway, but otherwise in a completely unlovely location in the middle of a huge trading estate.

The plan was to use the motel as a base for exploring the wine country of the Napa and Sonoma valleys. The plan didn’t come to fruition however. The weather was awful and had a very negative effect on our moods. I’m starting to believe that we are solar powered. So instead of lazily visiting wineries and sipping their produce we mainly holed up in the motel watching TV and looking at stuff on the Internet (via a power-line router). We did manage to take a drive out to Copia in the Napa Valley. Copia is a centre for American food, wine and the arts. On entering we were a little unsure what to make of it as it was very warehouse-like and very empty. We picked up a schedule and had a quick look around. In the upstairs gallery we found an exhibition of wine photography which was pretty good. We joined a ‘lecture’ downstairs. This consisted of a taste of a wine and then a completely unrelated overview of the lecturer’s favourite Christmas children’s stories.

We tasted a sparkling wine, some cheese and some pomegranate juice before going on the orientation tour, which at 30 minutes was far too long. Copia doesn’t have that much stuff going on. We left the tour at the museum-like section which had some interesting displays, some interactive, about food and wine. Apparently my ideal meal would be mashed potato and mayonnaise.

On the way out of Napa I thought we could be clever and drive back a different way. I found a suitable road on the map and had Gemma get us on it. The road was possibly the steepest and most winding road we’ve been on in this trip. Eventually we negotiated ourselves up, down, up again and back down and out into the Sonoma valley. We just drove through rather than stopping off anywhere, because the rain had started in earnest.

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