Saturday, April 7, 2012

California Dreamin' Part Two (aka California Drinking)

In case you couldn't tell from the previous post, the first portion of our trip was, really, all about wine.

Before moving to Ithaca in 2010 I hadn't had much wine.  Sure I'd have a glass if someone had opened a bottle, but I didn't know much about it apart from reds are darker (duh) and served at a warmer temperature and in bigger glasses than white.  Nothing revelatory.

In addition to providing me with a job and Michael with a fancy pants Ivy League degree, Ithaca provided us with wine knowledge.  Due to its less that hospitable frigid climate, the varietals are limited.  California has no such restrictions.   And let me tell you we tried a lot of them!

When you visit 5 wineries a day here's what happens:  You taste a lot of wine.   Your taste buds start to go numb.  (Can taste buds go numb?  They stop working is what I mean)  You dump out a lot of wine.  You find wines you like and want to take them home with you.   All the while, you are standing at a long bar with many other people in various states of drunkenness.  

Our first day was spent in Napa.  We only made it to 4 wineries (epic fail!  We missed Frog's Leap) but we did get a fun tour of Beringer.  It's the oldest continually operated winery in the country.  Turns out when you make wine for medicinal and religious purposes during Prohibition, you can stay open.  What can I say?   The owners were German.  We are a resourceful lot who does enjoy a drink.   Good job Frederick.

We took a fun little tour of the winery and saw what would have been in place in the late 1800s.  Very cool.  The photos didn't turn out great, but you can sort of get a feel for the cavernous area.  They hand carved this tunnel over a period of several years.  It's huge!

The 'free wine tasting' on the tour was abysmal.  I actually dumped out my Riesling.  Let me say that again.  I dumped out my Riesling.  I am not sure that I have ever done that before in my life.  It was awful.  

The tour was fun, but the wine they gave was so not fun.  And, to make things more interesting, our tour guide was drunk.   I swear.  Not like falling down and slurring your speech drunk, but she was happy and a wee bit tipsy.  It's a good thing it was a walking tour and not a bus tour.

The grounds of Beringer were gorgeous.  I shall now post a slew of photos from the winery, and use another post to describe other wine highlights.

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