The CIA

The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena was our first dinner in Napa Valley and wow was it unbelievable! First the building is gorgeous! Greystone Cellars as it was first known was completed in 1889, and at the time was the largest stone winery in the world. After a phyloxera epidemic and prohibition the winery was dormant until after the Great Depression which is when the winery was passed amongst several owners before gravity-flow winery was back in production. In 1950, the Catholic teaching order, the Christian Brothers, purchased the winery to increase the production of their well-known wines, brandies, and ports. In 1990, just after an earthquake that made a portion of the building unusable, the Christian Brothers brand was acquired by Heublein, Inc and through their generosity, the CIA was able to acquire the building, surrounding grounds, and the 15 acre Merlot vineyard.

Before we sat for dinner we perused the student “book store” – everything a foodie/aspiring chef/wine lover could ever want! I limited myself to a few treasures (truffle honey and saffron salt to name a few) as my bag was almost over the weight threshold before we even left MPLS… I pretty much had to be peeled away in order to make our reservation. Which brings me to the best part, the food and wine. We started with some J sparkling and raw oysters, a match made in heaven some would argue but it just didn’t do it for us. Although we were really glad we decided to try our first raw oysters at the CIA we decided it’s just not our thing. For the main dish Mike got duck with Farro risotto and I had the filet with a red win au jus and fingerling potatoes…both were amazing! Our waiter suggested a Pinot noir to pair and was spot on! Our favorite part of the meal was dessert though; a chocolate tart with a dessert wine flight. It was really fun to try all three – I am not usually a sweet wine lover but these were very good! The first, Robert Mondavi Moscato D’Oro, had a wonderful ripe mango/pear taste to it, the second, Ojai “Roll Ranch”, Viongier Ice Wine, tasted like honey and cooked pineapple and the third, Quady, Elysium, Black Muscat reminded me of simmered, sugared raspberries and Bing cherries. The last paired wonderfully with the chocolate tart MmmmMmMMmmmm.

That brings me to the close of our first dinner…not a bad way to start the trip…

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  1. {on my radar} :: Northern California Wine Country | The Girl Who Knows - May 6, 2013

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