Hello Readers! Scout and I are here with our coffee, Pendleton wool, and a story to tell you. Usually, Scout can’t wait to sit down next to me and start dictating. This week has been different. He’s been deep in thought as he decides how to tell you the unexpected ending to this otherwise sad saga.
As you know, not unlike the story of Hansel and Gretel, this adventure began as a cautionary tale. Indeed, it is still a cautionary tale, but without the didactic ending we’ve all come to expect. (Neighbors in candy houses were much witchier back when Hansel and Gretal were kids.) We suppose you could call this ending a happy ending to an otherwise unfortunate brush with wine country tragedy.
Neighbors in candy houses were much witchier back when Hansel and Gretal were kids.
We Drove Past Napa Part 2 ended as Sister #4 (“The Deb”) drove the car towards what she believed was the last hope of Napa wine at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday. Scout really respects “The Deb” for this next part because she did something that’s frowned upon when you’re under pressure or with your family: she followed her instincts. Familial expectations, the fear of disappointing others, and even the fear of proving yourself right sometimes keeps us all from fulfilling our wine country destinies.
Not so for “The Deb”. She was resolute in her quest to find a winery-vineyard-tasting-room. You see, it really wasn’t about the wine. It was about finishing what the sisters set out to do, regardless of the sizable sister schism. Scout says that instinct quite literally saved his life in the scorching Nevada dessert. In much the same way, Sister #4’s instincts saved the sisters in the harrowing Napa Valley wine country.
“The Deb” took that 2008 Honda Accord up a hill, across a field, and past dozens of seemingly safer roadways until, almost suddenly, it appeared. It was just sitting there surrounded by trees and lights and friendly cobblestones.
It was the last winery-vineyard-tasting room open on a Friday night in Napa, CA.
After hours of wandering and wondering, we found ourselves on Washington Street in Yountville. If you know anything about Napa or Yountville then you know that Yountville has more Michelin Star restaurants per capita than any other “ville” in the world. Not surprisingly, the sisters didn’t know anything about Michelin Star restaurants in Yountville or Thomas Keller. We just politely smiled and nodded as Scout pointed to The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro across the street. After all, we were here for the wine and really didn’t need to waste time on redundant restaurants.
After all, we were here for the wine…
As we strolled into the winery-vineyard-tasting-room, a smartly dressed gentleman polishing wine glasses greeted us. He asked what he could serve us and we promptly requested a restroom. At this point, Scout hopped under a table in hopes that he wouldn’t be associated with such poor form. Fortunately, the smartly dressed gentleman polishing wine glasses chuckled as he asked what brought us to the Stewart Cellars tasting room that day.
Oh he should not have said “tasting room” and he should not have asked what brought us there that day.
At the exact same second, all four sisters began to describe how they were from Colorado, California, Nevada, and New Zealand. Oh, and “The Infant” was our niece and she was too young for wine, but really very easy-going. And we had wandered Napa for hours and almost died on a narrow road where we couldn’t find wine, but we had eaten hours ago at Oxbow Public Market right before we had a minor disagreement over where to go next. And also… was he absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt SURE that this was a tasting room?
At this point, most smartly dressed gentlemen at Yountville tasting rooms would have politely directed us to the nearest family-friendly something or other as far away from Yountville as one can go with limited gas and an infant on a Friday night. However, this was no ordinary smartly dressed gentleman polishing wine glasses in Yountville. This was a generous smartly dressed gentleman polishing wine glasses and he was polishing those wine glasses for us. He smiled, he nodded, and he calmly recommended the one thing that was sure to bring all warring parties together: a glass of wine.
A Glass of Wine
As we sipped our wine, we learned that the smartly dressed gentleman was from Switzerland and relocated to cozy little Yountville after his wife became exceedingly stressed while running a Swiss Bank. At this point, Scout hopped out from underneath the table and began to listen as all four sisters responded to this notable account with an, “That sounds so fun.”
“That sounds so fun”? This man just relocated from the Swiss alps where his wife ran a Swiss Bank so that he could live in a town known the world-over for it’s world-class dining and award-winning wine. Nevertheless, we thought that this his life-changing move to a new continent in pursuit of his dreams among the worlds greatest culinary icons sounded, well, fun.
“That sounds so fun”?
As we continued to ask the smartly dressed gentleman just how much it might cost us to eat at that little restaurant around the corner known as The French Laundry, Sister #1 (Rebekah) noted, “It’s almost like we needed a glass of wine all along.” With a nod, the smartly dressed gentleman smiled as if to say, “Yes. Going all the way to Napa for wine and then trying the wine is a very good idea.”
Sister #1 had only just begun to share how much she loves Europe and how being a mother, while wonderful, has slightly affected her travel schedule, sleep schedule, food schedule, physical health, and mental health, when “Liddy-Kitty” began to cry. Of course, she needed her diaper changed. And, of course, it would be exceedingly rude to change an infant’s diaper in a Yountville tasting room. This is why it was only polite that we excuse ourselves, walk outside, and proceed to change “The Infant’s” diaper on the curb outside.
Now before you conclude that we’re entirely devoid of manners, hygiene, or common courtesy, you should know that the smartly dressed gentleman was the one who recommended we change “The Infant’s” diaper outside. In retrospect, he might have meant outside in our car, but there’s really no way to be sure. Regardless, we returned to his beautifully appointed tasting room, bought several more bottles of Chardonnay, and told him just how much we loved Yountville. Then, all four sisters (and Scout) left Stewart Cellars in a remarkably optimistic mood.
Oh, and do you know what that smartly dressed gentleman said to us as we left? “Come again.”
In our heart of hearts, we like to believe that we gave him a warm, truly American welcome as we sipped wine in Yountville that day. As we drove away, we all promised that we would write a wonderful review of Stewart Cellars or, at the very least, we would write the smartly dressed gentleman a thank you note. Well, do you know what we did? We forgot.
We’re a year late, but we want to thank you, smartly dressed gentleman at the Stewart Cellars tasting room…
Even though your location’s status as a “tasting room” and not a “winery” or a “vineyard” or some combination of all three is debatable, we’re grateful we met you. We’re also deeply grateful that you poured us a glass of wine, listened intently to our harrowing tale, and snapped this photo for us to look at when we start to forget that we like each other:
Months later, we discovered that we were surrounded by thousands of wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms as we drove Napa that day. A little treasure known as a map from a little place known as a “Welcome Center” outlines the thousands of Napa Valley gems we could have visited that day, but never saw. (If only we’d listened to Silent Sister #2.) We also learned that Stewart Cellars strictly closes at 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and that we left Stewart Cellars somewhere closer to 6:45 p.m. on that Friday evening. As unexpected as this may be, we’ve concluded that our sad saga was actually a rather transformative tale. It’s remarkable what a little bit of hospitality and wine can do.
Our sad saga was actually a rather transformative tale.
So, without further adieu, we’re pleased to say that Stewart Cellars ranks #5 on Scout’s Foreboding Five-Point Scale. If you ever happen upon Stewart Cellars in Yountville, Scout has one piece of advice, “Grab your tribe and form a line!”