27 July 2008

Wine tasting

In one of the literature booklets I picked up, I saw a burb about the "Lake County Wine Adventure"...a weekend long event where you pay $25 and you can go to and taste wines from up to 22 locations representing 27 different local wineries.

There was a traffic jam on 101 as we got on (northbound) at Petaluma. We had no idea how far south it went but we logged it at 7 miles to the north.

The road between Callistoga and Middleton was the most windy, twisty road I think I've ever seen. I started to get a little woozy... It led us over the mountains to Napa Valley and then north to Lake County.

We stopped at the closest winery and got our wrist bands and souvenir wine glasses. Cool place! It's about 6 miles off the highway but it's tucked up in the hills with a fantastic view of the hills, valley and lake. The estate (Langtry) has a nice wine tasting shop in an Old West sort of way. The tasting area had barrels on end sitting around like cocktail tables with little tin buckets of salted peanuts in the shell...one of those places where you throw the peanut shells on the floor and the help has red neckerchiefs and cowboy hats. The wine was good (also the most economical of the day) and they had very appropriate appetizers paired with the wines...peanuts, fresh bing cherries, cucumber slices topped with salmon mousse.

The next winery was 6 Sigma. It was also a bit of a jaunt off the highway had some very good wines with superb food pairings. They had 7 wines for tasting with foods specifically presented with each wine. They had 2 wines I'd never heard of...a pique-nique (actually, a cuvee) and a tempranillo. The last is a new grape to the area and only one other winery we visited had it. I liked it.

The next was Ployez Winery, run by a man from the Champagne region of France. They had 4 wines to try with soft jazz playing and a spread of roast beef, pizza, shrimp cocktail, brie and various dip and chips/crackers.
At Terrill Cellars in the Tuscany Village, there were 3 winerys represented. Murphy had a syrah and a cab that I loved. I didn't really care for the Terrill Cellars ones. The 3rd one had an excellent cab-franc.

At Gregory Graham they had some seriously good wines and food pairings. The sauvignon blanc, viognier and syrah were great. The zin (not white) was good but more of a dessert wine...very sweet.

We stopped at a few other wineries but they were nothing special.

Each of the wineries we stopped at had at least 4 wines to taste...most had 6 or 7. Each pour was 1 ounce. If you drank it all (as opposed to the official wine tasting technic of swishing and spitting), you could have a full glass of wine at each place. It could be a LOT of wine. We only did about 4 hours on Sunday but could have started at 10am both days for the one-time $25. With all the food and extras, it was a heck of a deal and a whole lot of fun.

Somewhere along the way, we decided it would be cool to buy a case of wine and open one bottle every month on our monthiversary day to toast and remember our honeymoon. Unfortunately, by the time we decided this, it was almost 5 and we weren't at the winery where we liked the wine the most. The was one winery that had wine we liked that we could possibly get to ... Gregory Graham.

I tried to call to see if they'd still be open by the time we got there, but with the hills I couldn't get reception on my cell phone. Then we got to the top of a hill and I managed to reach them. The woman I talked with said they'd be there so we soldiered on. We got there, bought our case, which they packed for shipping for us. We'd asked about shipping, but shipping charges would be $40 or $50. Since we hadn't checked any bags, we could check it as luggage without charge. It was not very convenient to carry to the airport but it was certainly the way to get it home!

We headed back to Petaluma, where it was about 30 degrees cooler than at the wineries. We took off our shoes, kicked back and just chilled for the rest of the evening.