CALIFORN-I-A DAY 3: Conservation, Cakebread, and Cooking Competitions


Rolling out of bed at the slightly more reasonable time of 5am (bodyclock is struggling here!) I had plenty of time to prepare for our first full day of this and that. With a seminar and two winery visits to start the day, a no-holds-barred cooking spectacular for lunch and an afternoon listening to Napa legends telling us what makes the place so great, I was glad I had a bit of energy in the tank!

Looking After The Place

We started off downstairs in the breakfast room listening to seminars given by members of the California Wine Institute, the lovely people who have invited us all out. It’s great to be reminded of the facts and figures, bit more than anything it was amazing to hear about all the forward thinking and sometimes quite ballsy conservation and sustainability initiatives that are flowing through Napa and Sonoma and the rest of California. Especially given the current administration’s distain for environmental matters, it means a lot!

Luxury Weekend

We then headed off to a couple of the regions top wineries, Trefethen and Rambauer. The biggest takehome for me was that these places mean serious business. It winds me up when I’m Italy and I see these amazing wineries with nearly zero sales nowse. Well these places are the other end of the scale. Don’t get me wrong, the wines are very well made, but the experience of being at these vineyards? It’s full on luxury and set up for the great and the good of the local cities to come up and chill out in comfort for the weekend. Very cool.

A Pizza Cake

Can’t believe I’m only at lunch! And what a lunch it was!!!! Pizza pairing where each of us got paired up with an iconic winemaker and come up with pizza toppings that perfectly reflected the guy or girl’s wine. I got paired up with Philip (an Irish sommelier on the trip who’s been one of the superstars so far), Eleanor (the poor lady who’s job it is to make sure we’re all pointing in the right direction this week), and Bruce Cakebread himself from Cakebread cellars. We somehow managed to win the competition, which was weird given our “perfect pizza” for his Merlot contained spring onions and leeks!!

Napa Dignitaries

The afternoon took us to a seminar on the great wines of Napa with an impressive cast of Napa dignitaries, including writer of the Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil. Brilliant afternoon, made even better by watching Amelia Singer, of the WineShow, lose the plot entirely in the presence of her idol.

My life this week is going pretty well!




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