Friday, May 20, 2011

Napa Valley and Calistoga

Wanting to make the most of our time in San Francisco, my California-based friend (Thanks, Mitzi!) arranged for a day trip to Napa Valley, a world famous wine area and a popular tourist attraction. Napa Valley is home to more than two hundred wineries.

Domaine Chandon

Robert Mondavi Winery
An interesting observation: there are usually rose bushes planted at the end of a row of grape vines. Why is that? The practice is also seen throughout the wine regions of France and grape-growers use the roses as an early warning system. Roses and grapevines are susceptible to a disease (powdery mildew) caused by fungi . Roses are more sensitive than grapevines; if a grape-grower sees that his roses have powdery mildew, he can then take measures (like spraying sulfur) to prevent the disease from spreading to the grapevines. Roses also warn of other diseases and growing problems before they affect the grapevines. They also serve as a habitat for some beneficial insects that eat other undesirable insects. And besides, roses are beautiful!

In the afternoon we proceeded to drive to Calistoga to see California’s Old Faithful Geyser. We were advised that Old Faithful was erupting every 5 minutes that day. Our timing was just right because shortly after we had entered (there’s an entrance fee), Old Faithful let out a powerful stream of hot water high into the air. And as we were about to leave, it performed for us again!

California's Old Faithful Geyser
Waiting for Old Faithful
There she blows!
Note: they say that the water is 350-degrees F and can go as high as 60 feet into the air. (Source)

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