Wineries, Vineyards, and the CIA

Sunday we drove through Napa Valley, past dozens of wineries and through hundreds of vineyards, with stops at Mondavi and Grgich Hills and Stag’s Leap and Sterling Vineyards, with its Greek villa architecture atop a hill accessed by a ski-lift style tram. Along the way we stopped for lunch.

The CIA is the Culinary Institute of America, apparently based in New York but with a facility in Napa Valley, California. The first and only time I visited Napa Valley, some 14 or 15 years ago, my friends and I stopped there for lunch, and it was worth returning to during this second trip: in addition to the educational institute in a grand stone building along the edge of the valley of vineyards, the Napa site includes a restaurant where you can sit at a semi-circular bar and watch the chefs in the center as they prepare your meal. As it turned out, on weekends (we were there this time on a Sunday) the kitchen is staffed by professional chefs; the students are there on weekdays. Still, it’s fun watching them work, if not quite as revealing in these days of Food Channel TV. (And the food is very good, if perhaps not quite as exceptional as at a genuine 4-star restaurant.)

More about Locus HQ and how to get graduated at Berkeley next time.

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