No bicycle riding today!
Being at the back (cellar) door of Napa Valley, Angelo offered to take me down into the valley to see the renowned area, visit a few wineries and do some tasting. Okay, twist my arm.
The weather wasn't the best––alternately drizzly and rainy––but Angelo knows the area intimately and took me around to some of the different towns and appellations, discussing each of the wineries, some of the history of the area, a bit about some of the world-class restaurants, including The French Laundry (Occasionally rated best restaurant in the world by esteemed culinary publications.), and stopping at Joseph Phelps Winery for tastings of their top wines. Their 2007 Insignia was the most expensive wine I'd ever tasted ($225/bottle), but to my unrefined palate didn't taste $213 better than a pedestrian wine I'd purchase from Columbia Crest or Chateau Ste Michelle. Maybe I just need to do more wine tasting!?
Being in the Napa Valley and, I suppose, needing to differentiate themselves from the fold, some wineries turn to exuberant architecture and art in an effort to attract the crowds. (What does this say about the quality of their wine?) Artesa, with its bunker-like architecture, is one of those wineries:
After lunch at a great little Mexican place, Angelo then mentioned, almost like an afterthought, that there was a winery he'd show me that was designed by an interesting Viennese artist...
I interrupted, "Hundertwasser?"
Angelo looked surprised. "You know of him?"
Know of him? He's a favorite of mine and I didn't realize there was a building here that he'd designed! (In fact, it's the only Hundertwasser design in the U.S.)
When I was in Vienna back in 1997 I'd stumbled across Hundertwasserhaus, an apartment building which, having previously only done visual art, marked Hunderwasser's foray into architecture. I was blown away by it and it really stayed with me, so when Angelo said we'd visit a winery that was designed by Hundertwasser, I was elated.
Photos can't capture it, but I tried: