A Different Napa Experience
A little bit about myself I am an Australian, an actor, host, teacher, writer, charity event planner, and I am what you would call a travel addict.
I have lived in England (London) for two years, Spain (Valencia) for six months, Germany (Frankfurt) for two years and the states (LA where I currently reside) and you guessed it I LOVE to travel and I LOVE to find BARGAINS!!!
I wanted to share some of my stories and inside scoop on the places I have been to I am definitely not a millionaire and I strongly believe that you don’t have to have lots of money to travel and go to some amazing places, you just need to know some trade secrets from seasoned travellers (such as myself) to help guide you towards affordable eating, drinking, entertainment, culture and everlasting experiences.
This month I thought I would start with my most recent trip I did in December/January up highway one to Napa Valley Wine Country Heaven (or AA in the making whichever way you prefer to look at it!)
Now when I first got there my boyfriend and I like everyone else fell into the trap of forking out lots and lots of money for wine tasting. This was quite a shock to my system as in Australia wine tasting is FREE (book those tickets ladies I’m not kidding).
So after the first day of going to winery after winery with my pocket money becoming less and less I had to change it up and get smart about our cash or we would be going home very soon. We decided the next day to head off into the city and explore some of the wineries , which are often overlooked, as people want the “Napa Experience” of being there amongst the grapes but overlook the city itself.
I came across a little goldmine called Naked Wines in the city center. This place is amazing for a number of reasons. You pay a flat fee of $10 and its ALL YOU CAN DRINK, plus the staff are not fussed if you bring in any food to eat unlike some wineries where you can only eat their products, you can stay for as long as you like and if you buy any of their amazing wines (more about that later) you get the $10 fee waived! Ladies I truly found my little piece of Australia in the heart of Napa!
The most amazing thing about this company (besides the $10 for unlimited free pouring drinks lets be honest here) is what the company stands for and what it does. I spoke with one of the employees the lovely Lauren Carlson who explained that naked wines are a customer funded wine business. Basically it is able to keep its costs down on wine making and wine sales because it’s like a “start up” business for new winemakers. Customers join the company thus becoming “angels” and pledge $40 a month. This money is stored like a piggy bank into your account with Naked Wines and you get to then buy wines at 40 to 60 percent off. You also get sent a free bottle every month as well.
The reason why Naked Wines are able to sell wine so cheap is because they cut out the “middle man” they don’t spend money on marketing (which is why you might not of heard of them) and the money is invested in the independent winemakers (new people starting out their own business not greedy corporations), so not only are you getting affordable delicious wines at a killer price you are HELPING someone fulfill their dream and open their own business, someone who did not have capital to do so until Naked Wines stepped in and helped. Even if you decide not to become an angel and invest their wines are cheaper by far compared to any other wines in Napa Valley and you are still getting quality wines at a very affordable price and helping a growing community.
The wines are made in Napa and all over the world (Australia, UK) and the company itself is fairly new (it launched in the UK in 2008 and its primary goal was to help fund independent winemakers who could not compete with big wine corporations), and if you go to the Wine lounge here in Napa there are stories on the walls of some of the faces and names behind the wines, so its very personal and touching reading some of their stories about how they came into the wine business.
The primary goal Lauren explained to me was to make expensive wines accessible to normal people. What else can I say about this find: go there and experience it for yourself, exspecially if you have had enough of the very expensive wine tasting in Napa and want to throw your heels back and relax, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy some amazing wine at a very affordable price!
One other local amazing place worth mentioning was a tiny place called Uncorked at Oxbow
A locally owned business in old Napa town that offers wine, art, music, education and local wine tasting all under one roof. My boyfriend and I went there on our last night (before we went back to Naked Wines of course!) to try their free wine tasting voucher we received from the reception lady at our hotel (another tip: make sure you become friends with the reception people at your hotel they usually give you vouchers for free wine tasting, half price drinks at restaurants, and two for ones at wineries if you give them the time of day-they don’t offer this to everyone so you have been warned!!).
This very local company was started by Bruce and Celeste Ahnfeldt of Ahnfeldt Wines and the locals like to hang out here and chat to you about how Napa has changed over a few bottles of wine. The wines here are very local and affordable. The flight of wine tasting is also very agreeable and they offer you pretzels and chocolate to accompany your wine experience at no extra cost.
Well as you can probably guess after all that wine tasting I am back in LA and on a detox……at least until Australia Day that is January 26th!
Next month I will explore my own backyard that is the secrets of South Bay and where to find those little gems that local people know about and are willing to share (sometimes) with outsiders.
Until next time,Jasmin Xxx