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Santa Clara, California
October 8, 2004
Our group always chooses to bring our own food, which is an event in itself. Most people go all out on their meal, as you can find people with white tablecloths, flowers, and more. In the past, attendees were allowed to bring their own wine, but this year it was forbidden. But attendees were allowed to purchase bottles from Mondavi. The one thing that I notice is that these are truly wine drinkers, since you find very few drink their wine from plastic cups. You will find that most people bring good wine glasses for the occasion.
The concerts doesn't start until 7:30pm, so you have approximately two hours for socializing and enjoying the surroundings before the concerts begins. Since the concerts are held in the summer, there is alway a good sunset, and there is nothing better than listening to some good jazz while in the pecfect setting.
All concerts have an hour intermission, when Mondavi offers wine and cheese tasting. Then it's back for part two of the concert.
Our group has been doing this for over 10 years, and we have not gotten tire of coming back each year. In fact, when the tickets go on sale in April, we make it an event - we have conference call to hear the line up for the season.
It is truly an event that I recommend to all.
From journal Weekend of Jazz and Wine in Napa
October 25, 2003
A cautionary note for the non-wine drinkers, if there are any who are crazy enough to go to Napa in the first place (like me)… The tour, including three tastings, will still cost you $10 – even if you don’t want the wine. As it turns out, though, the tour is well worth it, and as this is our first stop, my friends are more than happy to drink my wine in addition to their own. The tour lasts about an hour and a half including the tasting.
When Ralph introduces himself, he tells us that "wine is the second most complicated liquid." He plays along as guests ask about the first and the third (blood, milk). In fact, he plays along quite well throughout the tour. He’s good. Really good. He’s candid with us and admits that he has to lead us to the gift shop and that he sometimes drinks cheap wine. He talks about "Robert" (Mondavi) as if Mr. Mondavi was an old friend rather than the boss. Sometimes his stories are completely off track, but we are in wine country, surrounded by beautiful fields and a warm sun, and suddenly it doesn’t matter.
For the first part of the tour, we are seated under a gazebo amongst a field of grapes. It’s an intimate setting, as there are fewer than 10 people on our tour. We then move into the winery and Ralph allows us all to grab a bunch of grapes. (Grab a small bunch – they’re good, but with 23% sugar, they are too sweet to eat in large quantities). We proceed through, around the big barrels and the fermentation and machines, and as I said, I’m not a wine drinker, so I daydreamed through this part. At the end of the tour, in a private little room, we have our own little wine tasting with Ralph at the table telling us all about the different wines and wines in general and what you should eat with what.
The grounds: If you’re not doing the tour, Mondavi’s grounds are disappointing. There was a big rope around the grass and the statues as if to say "Don’t touch."
General Advice: Make reservations for the tour (888/766-6328, extension 2000).Tour starting times range from 10am to 4pm but may change during different seasons. Bring wet naps for the grape-eating. Don’t buy RM wine that you can buy back home. Website: www.robertmondaviwinery.com
From journal Two Days in the Valley
New York, New York
June 24, 2000
From journal A Week in Napa Valley