California Trip 2006

Day 7

Monday, October 2, 2006

56 degrees and high thin clouds this morning. It's looking like it might be a pretty nice day. It was in the 60's most of the day but the sun came out mid afternoon and it was a lovely 70 degree day after all.

We started our day's adventure checking out the town of Napa. It's a bustling town with narrow streets and lots of tourist parking. We ended up in the main town mall at a restaurant with outdoor dining.

Outdoor Restaurant
Outdoor Restaurant in downtown NAPA

After lunch and a stop at the visitors center before we headed for the Seguin Moreau wine barrel manufacturing facility.

Seguin Moreau Building
Seguin Moreau Building

Marilyn at the barrel factory
Marilyn standing by a large barrel at Seguin Moreau

This is a beautiful place with a self guided tour. Unfortunately they do not let you take photos of any of the processes. We started in a little room with a video overview of wine barrel making.

Barrels   Staves
Oak Barrels and Staves in the presentation room

It was fascinating to see how they align all the staves and put the steel rings on. They first put rings on one end which fans out the other end. They place it upside down over a burning pot to heat the staves so that they can be bent.

Picture from Brochure
Photo of barrel bending from the company brochure

There is a steel cable placed around the bottom of the barrel and as it is heated the steel cable is tightened until all the staves come together at the other end. More steel rings are added and the barrel takes it's final shape.

The next step is "toasting" the barrel. The barrel is placed over a fire pot and the wood is toasted to a specified darkness. Each winery has their own requirement for how heavily or lightly the barrel is toasted.

After the toasting the big steel rings are replaced with lighter steel rings after the outside of the barrel is sanded. The bottoms and tops are put on and the barrels are ready for the winery. It was a fascinating process and well worth a visit if you ever get to Napa.

Next we went to a winery that is built like a pyramid but covered with dirt and grasses.

Artesa Winery Entrance
Artesa Winery Entrance

The Artesa Winery has beautiful water gardens and on a clear day you can actually see San Francisco.

View from Artesa
No San Francisco view today but still pretty

Ken at Artesa Winery in front of one of the water gardesn

More Artesa Winery water gardens

More Artesa Winery water gardens and Marilyn

The inside of the building is every bit as impressive as the outside. It looks more like an art museum than a winery.

After seeing the prices of their wines we decided not to even do the wine tasting which was $15.00. Most of the bottles we saw were from $80.00 on up.

Next we went to the low end of the scale and stopped at the Vander Hayden Winery. It's a family owned winery that produces some OK wines.

We did the tasting for $10.00 and didn't taste anything that we had to have. The young guy serving the wine seemed to be pretty knowledgeable and we learned some interesting facts about the valley.

As we told you earlier the property here in Napa is too valuable to make into campgrounds. This guy said that one of the major wineries bought twenty acres of prime wine growing land for $200,000,000 dollars. Yep that's ten million dollars per acre! They had a cute Wino Crossing sign hanging on the outside of one of their buildings.

Outside Vander Hayden Winrey
On the way into the Vander Hayden Winery tasting room

We finished the day with a nice steak dinner right at our trailer, watched a movie and hit the hay.


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