Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vacation log, part three

Our second day winetasting was an unqualified success, if I do say so myself. I had loaded the schedule (and let me add here that I begged TBO to add selections of her own to our list of wineries to visit, but she has so far demurred) with my 2 favorite wineries, so I was clearly setting myself up for disappointment, but thankfully that did not happen. Our first efforts were in trying to set up appointments at 2 small vineyards that sporks wanted us to visit so that we might buy her a couple bottles, which we gladly did. All of the day's visits were in the Sonoma valley, just west and north of Napa. The first stop of the day was to my first fave, Murphy-Goode. M-G makes very drinker-friendly wines, and our tasting there was just as nice. The bartender let us try all of their varietals we wanted, at no cost, which apparently is the standard outside of Napa, and even let us in on some hot winery news--that they had been purchased by Kendall Jackson just 2 weeks previously. He told us that wasn't necessarily bad news, since KJ usually lets their affiliates do their own thing; they simply take a little profit off the top of a wider distribution net. Once again, the first winery of the day started us off well. The bartender even refused to be tipped, telling us that this just wasn't done and he wouldn't hear of taking our money. Since we didn't know the "rules" on this matter, that was welcome news indeed!
That joy soon turned to bewilderment, when we went to our appointed meeting at sporks's fave A. Raffinelli. Our appointment (and the only one we made successfully, the second winery having never returned my call) was for 1:30, and we got there at 1. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but arriving early for any appointment is both a relief and a cause of consternation for me. I'm relieved, of course, because I'm not late, but I also wonder if I'm coming across as too eager, or weird, or I don't know what to the person I'm meeting. Well, coming early to this appointment seemed somehow appropriate, since we didn't know exactly if we might somehow be imposing on somebody's busy schedule or what. We knew this winemaker only sold their wines directly at the winery, but there was no discernible entrance or office we could approach.
So TBO and I waited in the car for 20 or so minutes, so that I thought that we wouldn't be too weirdly early wherever we were supposed to go. Of course, the absurdity was that we were waiting in the car in their parking lot, so anyone looking on would have thought we truly were weird, but hey, what are you gonna do, right? When we got out of the car, a couple of identical dogs (see web site photo) greeted us, but oddly enough, gave us no real clues as to where we were supposed to go. We walked around back of the only building that didn't have a "Private" sign on it, but we saw no one that looked "official". The dogs kept wandering in and out of the door to that building, but the first time I poked my head in, I only saw rows of barrels of wine. No people, no office or bar-looking place. We were stumped, and not a little angry at these unhelpful, but cute, dogs.
Eventually we heard voices coming from the keg room door, and I poked my head in again to ask what we should be doing. I was rewarded with instructions to wait for the owner to come for us, and when he did, we were welcomed in with open arms. We were given a taste of the three wines they make, treated with some homemade chocolates, and regaled with friendly conversation. Another hit!
We made our way down the road to my particular pièce de résistance, Ridge. I have loved Ridge wines for years, having found them during my stint as slave for Beverages and more! Our tasting there was elegant and informative, and capped a wonderful day of touring these vineyards of Sonoma.


Blogger sporksforall said...

Yea! Rafanelli. Yea! Of course good zin is best kept a few years. Boo! Passage of time. Boo.

2:59 PM  
Blogger scout said...

Something to look forward to: Yay!

One of my favorite winery visits ever was in Paso Robles, not because the wines were so very spectacular but because the very casual, even woodsy, tasting room was inhabitated by both a cat and a dog. Lack of pretention: Double yay!

6:15 PM  

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