USA Trip


5th March 2008 - 20th March 2008

Napa, California




Tuesday I drove with Barry to Freemark Abbey and as I had done on Saturday, reconnoitred the area. I decided to do a circular route via Crystal Springs Avenue and Deer Park drive over Howell Mountain to Pope Valley, driving along Chiles Pope Valley Road past Lake Hennessey (which is not far from Lake Berryessa and Monticello Dam and its bewildering Glory Hole) back to the Silverado Trail. I drove past Freemark along Highway 128 to the upmarket Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, where I had been in 2005 (in winter). I put in $20's gas and returned to pick up Barry at 17h00. On the way I stopped in Calistoga for a sandwich, this being a late lunch. The barbeque was rescheduled for my last evening in Napa and Barry had invited step-daughter Olivia (engaged to be married) and Alesya.  Olivia played drums in a band for a scream metal band, using high-pitched rasping and other uncommon techniques (see wiki). I was impressed with the rhythm section of the band.


Wine farm off St Helena Highway, near Calistoga, Napa Valley, California


Wine farm at the junction of Sanitarium and Deer Park Roads, before taking the pass over Howell Mountain, Napa, California..


View across the valley on Howell Mountain Road, en route to Pope Valley.


Wine farm off Deer Park Road; Driving Chiles Pope Valley Road; Wine farm off Chiles Pope Valley Road (same stop).


Freemark Abbey Winery, located between St. Helena and Calistoga in California's Napa Valley, traces its roots to 1886. The winery was first built by Josephine Marlin Tychson, the first woman to build and operate a winery in the state. In 1939, three businessmen from Southern California, Albert "Abbey" Ahern, Charles Freeman and Markquand Foster purchased Lombarda Cellars, as it was later known (after the birthplace of one of its owners in Lombarda Italy). Together they reopened the winery and renamed it Freemark Abbey (a combination which includes a portion of each partner's name).  The current owner is The Legacy Estate Group. - a financial institution, what else? Today, Freemark Abbey produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling, as well as very limited production wines, such as Viogner, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Franc. Depending on conditions, the winery sometimes makes a late harvest Riesling known as "Edelwein Gold".


Rolling hills and wine farms off Chiles Pope Valley Road, en route to Lake Hennessey.


Lake Hennessey; Wine farm near Calistoga, Napa Valley; The wine farm residence.


Wine farm off Highway 28, near Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley, where my good friend Barry works.


Barry took me to the bus terminus at 07h00 in time to board the airport bus at 08h00. I had enjoyed my stay and would certainly miss the old geezer!  The flight was at 13h30 from SFO airport, however, my name was called out at the check-in desk. To my surprise, United Airlines had upgraded my ticket to business class - in any event, the flight was full. I found the air hostesses in business class extremely polite and friendly, usually more senior and experienced than the rest.  One was married to an American and was living in Seattle. She had been born in South Africa and had lived there till about 12 before relocating with her parents to the UK and Hong Kong.  Just before we landed at Heathrow at 06h25 UK time, she presented me with a complimentary 750ml bottle of Concannon Chardonnay, as I had been drinking it. The wine hails from the central Californian coast, which is better known for its buttery Chardonnays. 


En route to Healdsburg in Sonoma Valley, just after Calistoga.


En route to Healdsburg; Wine farm near Healdsburg on Highway 28; Highway 28 - Lichen-carpeted trees.


Part One - Portland, Oregon: [ 1 ]  [ 2 ]

Part Two - Napa, California: [ 1 ]  [ 2 ]  [ 3 ]

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