|Kissed by the Oak|
A charter through Northern California's wine country uncorks some interesting experiences.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler — February 2002
"This is a charming Gewürztraminer. It goes so well with the roasted Napa Valley vegetables and baby greens topped with carrot vinaigrette, parsley juice, and cabernet reduction," says Shaun, our steward/bartender as he leans and pours. It is the salad course of my first dinner aboard American Safari Cruises' Safari Quest, a 120-foot charter yacht, on a two-and-a-half day Northern California wine country sojourn up the Petaluma and Napa Rivers.
The Quest can accommodate 22 people in 11 cabins on three decks. All the quarters are comfortable and have large en suite heads. The dining room is set up for two meals per day--breakfast and dinner, as the lunch hour is usually at one of the wineries--on three tables, while the saloon has a large-screen television, library containing hundreds of VCR tapes, and well-stocked bar. In addition, there are kayaks aboard as well as a hot tub on the top deck.
With one arm holding the bottle, Shaun strikes the pose of a fencer who has just sent his epee home with an exquisitely executed passata sotto. He then gracefully turns the bottle to prevent an errant drop from hitting the table or--perish the thought--dripping on the plate, thus ruining the balance of the cabernet reduction.
"Yummy," says Mario, one of my table mates, as he smiles and puts his wine glass down on the perfectly set dinner table. By the time we would finish supping, all that harmonious feng shui would take on the post-apocalyptic look of a first-grade lunchroom.
"Yummy? This is, yummy?" says Doug of Doug and Mary, another couple at the table, as Shaun, eyebrows akimbo, hurries off to the galley, no doubt to expose this grapey faux pas to the chef and staff.
"Yeah. It's..." Mario sips, adding a little tongue-to-palate slapping sound. "Yummy." Seated next to Mario is Kristi, his wife, who, smiling into her salad, commences slicing her vegetables into smaller pieces to better infuse the reduction.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.