San Francisco (III) -- No to Napa
Just don't go. It's a waste of time and waste of money.
We decided to take a day off from the conference and bike Napa (well part of Napa at least).
Our first stop is "Sterling" which greets us with a large parking lot filled with SUVs and limos. That's enough to make me suspicious but the worst is the $20 fee to take a cable car to access the wine tasting area. $20 to "taste" wine? When did this happen? This is like paying a contractor for an estimate. You should not. Estimates are part of their cost for doing business. Tasting wine is the same thing. This should be part of the cost of doing business. If the wine is good, we buy a bottle and everyone is happy. We decide to pass on the $20 wine tasting experience.
The place next door ("Twomey") is much more low key (still $5 for a tasting but the wine is excellent) but the first impression is the one that stays for the whole day. It is a rip off. Wine places are selling "chocolate Riesling", "wine coasters", napkins. Each place looks more like a supermarket than a winery. I still buy a couple of bottles. One is for a friend that was pissed at me (and my entire fault). I ask the guy at the counter a wine to restore a damaged friendship. No wine is too good. I hope this would do the trick. The other bottle is for the concierge at the hotel who got us the rental car. We could not find one and he saved our Saturday. Later, when I give him the bottle he laughed at my description of the places and tells me that next time he'll give me the list of places that I should visit. That there are still nice, low key places in Napa. They're just a bit more hidden than the big names on the tourist circuit. There will be no next time. Napa once is one too many...