Grape Diplomacy in the Moldovan Countryside

In the late-afternoon light, the gingerbread homes of the Moldovan village, Rosu, were bathed in golden hues. The homes’ green and periwinkle-blue fences, and wooden adornments on their gables cast frilly shadows on the dirt road, as Shawn and I embarked on an evening stroll.

The wire arbors over the homes’ driveways were brimming with grapes wearing muted amethyst, plum, and seafoam-green hues. They ranged from smaller clusters to plump specimens, calling me to spirit away a bunch or two. They looked so tempting.

As I stopped to photograph a green trellis studded with grapes overhead, two women chatting on the street, called out to us in Moldovan.

Continue reading “Grape Diplomacy in the Moldovan Countryside”

A Long Weekend in California Wine Country: Getting a Taste for Napa and Sonoma Wines (Part 2)

cluster of grapes in NapaNoteThis is part two of the series, Long Weekend in California Wine Country. Click the image for part one. 

Sunday: Papapietro Perry Winery,  Trattore Estate Wines, Dry Creek Olive Company, Dry Creek General Store and Armida Winery

To commence our final two days in Napa and Sonoma, we drove to the Warm Springs Dam, where there is a scenic lookout over Lake Sonoma.

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We then followed the Dry Creek Road down to a cluster of tasting rooms. Our favorites were the Papapietro Perry Winery and Trattore Estate Wines and Dry Creek Olive Company.

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With an unassuming, but cheerful interior, Trattore offered friendly service and a lovely sampling of wines. We couldn’t resist purchasing the 2011 Viognier. Knowing that we would be flying back overseas soon, we didn’t snap up any of the wonderful olive oils and vinegar also on sale there. Shawn’s mother did, though, and we would later enjoy sprinkling both in our salads while preparing lunches back at his parents’ home. (Our favorites were a subtly-flavored lemon olive oil and pomegranate vinegar).

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Across the street from Trattore is the Papapietro Perry Winery, so we naturally headed there after trying Trattore’s wines. Shawn’s father purchased an extraordinary 2009 Pinot Noir, which we enjoyed on their cozy porch that overlooked a red barn, and more vineyards.

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We picked up take-out sandwiches at the Dry Creek General Store before heading to the Armida Winery, a spot inextricably associated with bocce ball matches and wine for Shawn and his family. There, we savored our Dry Creek General Store sandwiches. (I had chosen well with a perfectly spiced chicken curry salad sandwich. Thank heavens this weekend landed on our agenda before I had to embark on a gluten-free lifestyle!)

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Under the watchful eye of a lion sculpture, we played several heated matches of bocce, a ball sport popular in Italy and France that’s similar to games played in the Roman Empire. I was pleased that I experienced the beginner’s luck phenomenon during one of the rounds.

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Monday: Petrified Forest and V. Sattui Winery

En route to Napa, signs to the Petrified Forest caught our eye, nudging us to pay homage to the park’s redwoods, which were turned into stone over three million years ago following a volcanic eruption. During all of Shawn’s familial pilgrimages to Napa, they’d never stopped at the Calistoga natural wonder. The park was small, but we enjoyed seeing the age-old redwoods (particularly since we’d just visited the famous coastal redwoods farther north, a bit earlier in the season). As we turned back to the car, a harmless fellow even slithered along our footpath, just to show that there’s much life among those stone, lifeless Calistoga trees.

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man riding horse in California

Our last stop before heading back to my in-laws’ home was the V Sattui Winery. On the way, we passed through Napa’s charming downtown, and the Napa Wine Train zipped past us. (Both are on my itinerary the next time we are in California wine country!) As we entered the V. Sattui grounds, we brushed by chest-high buckets of grape bunches which had just been harvested.

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I immediately fell for V. Sattui’s old world charm: its inviting grounds, shaded by a canopy of old oak trees; its flower-studded landscaping, and its classic stone structure, which was built relatively recently. I also loved our informal picnic offerings, reminiscent of those we’d feasted upon at Ledson two days earlier: cheese, bread and artichoke spread. A 2011 Gamay Rouge rounded off the picnic, and then we bode farewell to Napa and Sonoma. At least for now.

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Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.