Educate me dear master

Sometimes you just need to shut down.

I know last week, before I left for vacation, I tempted you all with the possibility of an on-vacation blog or two, but as soon as we landed down in Sonoma County, the last thing I wanted to do was write. I wanted to read; I wanted to drink wine and eat cheeses outside on the patio; I wanted to fully take in the sounds of the crickets and the frogs and the drunken rooster; I wanted to pick apples and tomatoes. But I did not want to write.

And so, dear friends, now that I’m home, I’ve got blog postings up the wazoo all about retreat-style living, celebrity drooling, cycle racing, vulture chasing, wine tasting, and so much more. Let’s start with the wine shall we 😀


No one told me I was supposed to spit… actually, they did, I didn’t listen. The second we walked into our first vineyard, I had a choice. I could pretend I knew all about wine tasting and ultimately make a fool of myself, or I could just come right out and say I have no idea what the heck I’m supposed to be doing here, and even though I’d likely still be making a fool of myself, I’d be doing it honestly. I chose the latter.

At 10:30 a.m., Mario veered the rental SUV (we felt like such grown ups driving that thing) into the parking lot of the Mill Creek Vineyard and Winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma County. I looked up at him with question marks in my eyes; this wasn’t on our list. We got to start somewhere, he smiled. And as soon as we walked through those doors, and I saw the young pregnant chick behind the counter, I announced she was our first ever vineyard. Educate me dear master.

Lesson 1: You do not have to drink it if you don’t like it. Spit it out, she said. We will not be offended.

That lesson, I majorly failed. There were a lot of wines I did enjoy in the five wine tasting rooms we visited, but there were several I did not. I think I spat twice, which occurred only under my new wine guru’s watchful eye, but after that, the lesson went out the window. How could I not think they wouldn’t be offended, when they were staring at me intently as I took each sip, talking about the robust flavours, and asking if I could taste the brilliant oaks and plums and blackberries – with beauty pageant smiles plastered to their faces. You do NOT want to mess with beauty queens or kings. And so, despite my tongue and cheeks instantly drying up as though I had been trudging through the desert for days with nary a drop of water (I learned that was the tannins; I do not like tannins) I did not dare spit their swish of wine out. Oh no. I swallowed. And swallowed. And swallowed some more.

Lesson 2: Bring a box a crackers when tasting wines.

If you’re not going to spit, you might very well get tipsy, so eat those crackers, eat them up good. Mario and I chose to share a glass rather than each of us getting individual glasses, but I’m a cheap drunk, I’ll admit it, and after just a few tastings I could feel my head getting the spins. I blame the tannins.

Lesson 3: Try something new, you might be surprised.

When Mario and I started drinking wine six years ago, we only drank whites, but not chardonnay, we were more pinot grigio, gerwertztraminer, and pinot gris kind of drinkers. After our first Paris trip, we started drinking rosé wine, and after Italy, we were finally into the reds, but still only chiantis, pinot noirs and malbecs. The other stuff was far too dry and bitter for my liking. This trip, however, changed a bit of that. The Dry Creek Valley is where we discovered the beauty of peppery zinfandels, and actually fell in love with a bottle of the Zichichi Family’s cabernet sauvignon, which shocked the hell out of us as it did not have any of those nasty tannins popping through like every other cab sav we’d tasted prior, but instead was so super duper smooth. Who knew? We bought the bottle 😀

In total, we visited six wineries; five one day, one the next. We drank from Mill Creek, The Roadhouse, Papapietro Perry, Zichichi, Kokomo, Raymond Burr, and D’argenzio. We purchased a bottle from Zichichi, which we enjoyed over a couple of evenings, and a bottle from D’argenzio, made specially for the Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo.

But as much as the tour was about the wine, it was just as much about the beauty encasing the wine.

Next up: Running with the vultures

4 thoughts on “Educate me dear master”

  1. my wine rule #1 like what you like. i love going on wine tasting at vineyards and mostly love the dark tannic stuff but it is a blast to go and explore. have fun (and I vote against spitting)!

    1. My parents love the tannins too … at least that’s the kinds of wines they keep trying to get me to drink every time I’m over there. But now, I know some good foods to pair with those kinds of wines, so maybe I’ll grow a bit of an appreciation for them. Maybe 😀

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