When I wondered if I could weather a weekend trip yet, I had no idea how much real weather we would encounter. During the course of the day on Sunday, we experienced sunshine, wind, heavy rain, thunder and lightning and three different hail storms. The hail is of particular concern at the vineyards since the grapes are already starting to form on the vines and could easily be damaged at this stage.
But it was a great day for wine tasting. Our first stop, right after a late breakfast at a local diner, was Sonoma Cutrer. We had a coupon for free tasting and read they are known for their chardonnays and pinot noirs. The grounds at the winery are beautiful and they had hosted a croquet tournament the previous day. That meant there were several extra wines open and available for tasting. Their chardonnays age very well and we compared several different styles from 2006 and 2007, as well as a Founder’s Reserve from 2001. Although we hadn’t intended to make any purchases on this trip other than to pick up our KJ club shipment, we bought four bottles here.
Usually one stop before lunch is enough for me, but we were very close to a favorite we discovered on a previous trip, Martin Ray Winery. It was such a great experience we wanted to return. This is a historic winery site with several labels of different price and style of wines. And once again we struck gold! Their pickup party was the night before and they had about 25 wines that needed to be consumed by someone – so why not us??!!
We tasted our way through all the labels comparing their chardonnays, pinot noirs, merlots, cabernet sauvignons, and their high end cabs as well. Also a few others. I gave up at 15. It was all I could manage. This was all before lunch. But we spent several hours tasting and chatting with the server and the other guests, having a delightful morning, while the weather came and went.
And I think I discovered the secret to wine tasting before lunch – pancakes. We went to a local diner for breakfast and when I ordered a short stack, the waitress gave me a “look” and said, “Have you ever seen our pancakes? You only want one.” She was right. It was bigger than the plate and I only ate half. But it served a good purpose. Twenty plus wines before lunch and not even a buzz.
Somehow in one week, between wine club pickups and purchases, we managed to add 24 bottles to our ever-growing collection. Anybody want to come for dinner?
Still to come – dinner at Willi’s and our cheese adventure