Geysers, a food museum, and sake on our budget tour of Napa Valley

Sunset

Day 3 budget

We started Friday with a hearty breakfast at Gordon's Cafe and Wine Bar in Yountville. The restaurant hasrustic farm tables to share and makes fantastic omelets. Kate and Isplit an egg plate and a pastry for $13.35.

After filling up, we strolled the posh, quiet town, walking pastthe old railroad depot, a gorgeous brick shopping center, and amore than 400-year-old oak tree. We even walked past one of thefanciest restaurants in the world, the French Laundry ― butit's not the place to dine on a budget trip.

Our budget wouldn't permit mud baths in Calistoga, either, whichcost upward of $50, so we stopped at another area classic ―the Old Faithful Geyser of California. Admission was $7 each (with coupons from the geyser website). We wereushered into a yard with a big mud puddle. Kate raised hereyebrows― I could see she was thinking that we could havespent this money on wine. But soon, the puddle hissed and spit, andsuddenly, a shot of water burst up, spraying higher and higher. Youcould call it reliably amazing.

Geyser
Woman
Thomas J. Story

There was one more foodie temple on Kate's list, Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts.The 1 1/2-year-old cultural center ― part museum, part diningroom, part wine and food center ― is in an airy modernbuilding, with a lovely organic garden out front. After paying $12.50 admission each, we toured the gallery offood-inspired art objects. At the sniffing station, I couldn't tellthe difference between barbecue sauce and the aroma of bakingbread, but Kate could. Then we attended a seminar on pairing winewith cheese, nibbling on the samples.

The capper for our three-day trip was a different kind of wine:sake. We'd gotten a coupon on the Web for free tastings at Hakusan Sake Gardens, so we tried a half-dozen rice wines,warm and cold. Outside, we followed the sake production line andwalked around the Zen garden of sand, rocks, and cypress. It was asoothing way to conclude our bargain foray into the world ofluxury. Heading home, Kate and I felt pampered ― and prudent.What a combo.Day three
($9 in pocket)

Breakfast at Gordon's in Yountville's old market building: $13

Walking tour of Yountville: FREE

Seeing Calistoga's Old Faithful Geyser erupt: $14

Copia for wine and food tasting: $25

Sake tasting at Hakusan Sake Gardens: FREE

Remaining change: $7

Total Spent: $393

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