Wednesday, April 16, 2008

California Wine trips and some films too

In the past month I have been very fourtunate to have had business twice in Califonia's wine country.  My trips covered Napa, Sonoma, and Lodi.

The main thing I learned, which many wine lovers probably already know is that the wineries keep the good stuff for themselves. Even the best wineries send their lesser wines to the stores.

I toured at least 4 wineries in each county and I has only ever tried wines from no more than 2 of them, either they don't distribute outside of their own wine club or just not in the places I frequent.

I was amazed that my favorite winery was not in Napa or Sonoma but in Lodi. The Lucas Winery is a very small wine
ry with huge attention to detail and they sell 90% of what they make to their wine club. I would encourage anyone who loves finely crafted wine to visit there, not only for the taste but the prices are amazing for the quality.

I was in Sonoma for 2 days touring because of "The Toll" was in their film festival. And at the recommendation of a friend at the Tiburon Film Fest we started the day with Bubbles at Gloria Ferrer. We stuck to the bubblly and some chocolate for my dad. We sat out on the patio and looked over the vineyard and it was a great start to the da
y. Maybe too quick for Wanda because the bubbles went right to her head. Oops wrong time of he day to get her tipsy. Later that night we were accross the street at the Jacuzzi Winery who threw a great opening party and Wanda was a knockout in her black dress ( I wasnt the only guy starring at her).   We came back the next day for a great and economical tasting and left with a case of wine a club membership and a few tasty bottles of olive oil.
Benziger had the best tour by far ( bought a case of some real quality stuff and signed up for 6 bottles quarterly) Pay the extra couple of dollars and taste in the private room and do the tour that includes tasting in the caves we were only the 2nd tour allowed in the caves and while it was an extra $30 each it was a blast. Arrowhead (bought 1 very nice bottle) and Imagery were very good Mayo was a great surprise and I totally reccomend their pairing restaurant which is located north of the wineries store. I bought a case of heir Pinot Noor that as on sale for $13 a bottle. We didn't make it up to Wattle Creek but did their tasting in Ghiradelli square and they were a great value and taste. (bought a case and signed up for 4 cases within a year)
The biggest disappontment unfortunately came from Kenwood. They were a sponsor of the festival and each day i avoided Their festival tent because the wines wee outside in the sun. Well at the closing party they were the only wine in site and I said what the heck be went for their reserve ( Pinot or Syrah I forget ) I only had 2 glasses and got 1 headache, not good!

I was going to save the Napa trip for anothertime when I had more time. But I called my favorite winery that my brother in-law Derek enjoys and the could fit us in. A huge difference in Lodi to Napa is you need to schedule a tasting to get into the good places.

We decided to take the 35 minute over the mountains instead of the 1 hour trip around them ( well thats the at the GPS read at least ) mullholland drive in LA has NOTHING on the curves and steep dropoffs seen on this shortcut thru the mountain, its not a trek for the faint of heart an especially the buzzed driver!!!

We arrived at Honig Cellars 30 minutes early so we ventured back to the main road and tried Elizabeth Spencer, now I am not saying the wine was vinegary or had a bad nose and ugly body but it was the first place I elected to spit or dump any extra in the glass. We didn't even finish the tasting choices. We headed back to Honig just in time to restore my faith in Napa Valley. Honig was a very small tasting area that was off the beaten path. The parking area had huge rosemary bushes and I think even speariment you knew walking in that this was not a tourist trap, there should have been a sign along the quarter mile driveway that read quality wine ahead. Kelley guided us through a very relaxing tasting with great conversation and a reccomendation for a great dinner place in up the street ( Market, we all loved this place dispite a few mixed reviews on Yelp ) Honig was the first place we bought a magnum, I ask Wanda for it to celebrate my 40th in a few (couple) years. This place was not cheap but it was all delicious. Along with an order for a pretty decent wine club I left with a hat that reads "friends don't let friends drink chardonnay"

The next day I returned to Napa to visit the local Mac dealer ( Napa 1 ) and stopped in at V Sattui winery. I mailmy stopped because I finally saw a sign that matched more than just cheddar cheese with wine. I was delitefully surprised with an extremely drinkable rose "Gamay Rouge" which will be my new hot summer afternoon refresher.

I signed up for more wine to be delivered and wine clubs than just 2 of us can enjoy so I think we will host a few parties.

I will be adding reviews of each place to my yelp page soon

Very happy to have a designated driver! Thanks Mom!

and please forgive spelling and grammar this was my first post from an iPhone and i suffer from fat thumb syndrome.

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