Whether you’re interested in shopping for culinary delights or dining in the award-winning restaurant, most food lovers agree, CIA Greystone Napa offers a fantastic backdrop.
I recently had the pleasure of spending the weekend at FlavorNapa 2013. Some of the events took place on the historic CIA property in Napa, including the Appellation Trail Tasting. The beautiful building is situated in and around the Greystone Cellars building, built back in 1888. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was formerly owned by the Christian Brothers who made sparkling wine I believe.
Founded in 1946, the CIA itself, is an independent, not-for-profit college offering associate and bachelor’s degrees with majors in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and culinary science, as well as certificate programs. – See more at the CIA Website. For tourists visiting the Napa campus, CIA offers tours, events, restaurants, as well as food and wine classes.
As you pull up, the 117,000 square foot structure rising out of the mountains, makes for a dramatic first impression. We arrived in the evening for Appellation Trail Tasting featuring wines from all 15 different Napa Valley appellations paired with delicious food. This tasting event held annually in Napa helps to kick off the weekend’s festivities for Flavor Napa Valley.
For the gala, all three stories of the large building are dedicated to wine and food. This is nice for those wanting to see all rooms in the Culinary Institute without taking a full campus tour.
At the Appellation Tasting, there were over 100 wineries and 25 restaurants presenting their best tapas style menu items. Small bite plates were offered as you wander down the “trail” and glasses were filled. Although I enjoyed the food immensely, I do have to say that placing so many heat sources in a room, even one as big and cavernous as the Greystone building, can sure create a ton of heat.
I recommend lightweight attire…unless you enjoy humid clothing…haha. The chefs were cooking up their wares on the spot and with large groups of people herding themselves down the lines, the body heat and food heat made one crave a nice cool Chardonnay. Luckily, this was not hard to find at Flavor Napa.
The top floor of the building, houses a test kitchen and teaching areas. During the trail tasting…. it also houses lots of yummy food and wine. This room was much cooler and filled with some of the best chefs and local restaurant fare.
I watched Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef fame, filet a humongous fish. Awesome to watch him signing wine glasses after the demonstration. We met and raised a glass with folks from Michigan, France, Ohio, New York and many locals from Sonoma and Napa Valley.
My date for the event was the beautiful Jacqueline, who is also a twitter temptress when it comes to Napa Valley wines.
She also works with Pine Ridge Vineyards and Angele Restaurant. Both were in attendance and Angele French Style Bistro had one of my three favorite dishes of the evening creating a pork belly croquet, yum.
It is always nice to attend a Napa event with a local wine expert. Jacqueline was able to give me information about each of the wineries I saw without me having to wait in line with the rest.
Also yummy and requiring a second trip to the table was The Thomas Restaurant Napa that featured a Black pudding waffle with poached pears and foie gras butter. WOW. Enough said.
Jacqueline’s favorite was the Roasted Pork Rillette w/ Pickled Mustard Seeds by local Chef Michael Chiarello. The pickled seeds were really unique and quite surprising in sweetness. As for wines…surprisingly I was the designated driver for the evening and only was able to sample a few before cutting myself off early in the night.
Winner of the sexiest Wine Manager and pourer at Flavor Napa was from Silenus Vineyards in Napa Valley’s Oak Knoll District. Nice Cabernet and…sultry bald-headed men… However, we were there for work, so Jacqueline and I were on to the next.
My favorites that were pouring would be Robert Keenan Winery in the Spring Mountain District of Napa, Ca’ Momi had a great 2009 Cabernet Reserve I remember quite well and Cornerstone Cellars had a Chardonnay that I liked from Willamette Valley and also enjoyed a Hall Cabernet and wish I could remember which one.
The event is jam packed with winos and it can be hard to keep your wits about you in the crowd.
Guess I will have to take a trip out to the Hall winery to find out which one it was I liked.
Life is rough here in Wine Country. *Clink *Clink Cheers all.