Adventures in wine country

Whew. I enjoy driving, but two eight-hour drives across mountainous terrain aren’t exactly fun experiences, especially when the first one involves navigating the snow storm from hell. Being back in my corner at my desk is very therapeutic, in a sadly technology-dependent way.

I’m back on campus for about fifteen hours! I’ll be heading up home to Washington tomorrow morning with the girls, but there’s internet there, so no worries.

(Yeah, about that – my boyfriend’s house only has one internet-linked computer, so it was challenging enough checking email, never mind updating the blog. I didn’t even get to Twitter because I managed to forget my password. Whoops.)

Anyway, spring break has been pretty awesome so far. California was (gasp!) sunny and warm, at least compared to fifty-and-raining Oregon. We played lots of cards, watched “Kung Fu Panda,” explored Table Mountain and took pictures, and played more cards. For our anniversary, Kevin took me to a great authentic Italian restaurant called Sicilian Cafe. I think I can safely say they serve the most delicious alfredo I’ve ever tasted, so the next time you’re in Chico, stop by. (Plus, its waiters are all attractive Chico State boys, so, consider that.)

One of the highlights of our stay in California was going wine tasting. I know extremely little about wine, and I don’t like it as a rule. I’m a huge wuss when it comes to alcohol. Graduating from Mike’s Hard Lemonade to hard cider was a huge step, and beer is still way out of the question. When I really want to feel hardcore, I manage half a shot of Captain Morgan Tattoo, as long as I have a chaser ready in my other hand. Anyway, I keep trying to like wine and never quite succeeding. I guess it’s just one of those “you know you’re a grown-up when” things.

Well, Kevin’s dad is a wine buff, and he took all of us in their RV down to Sonoma Valley. We had to get a fairly early start, and I’m not much of a morning person or a breakfast person, so I spent most of the first leg staring determinedly out the front window, trying to get my very grouchy stomach to calm down. I fared a little better than Jessica, who had to stop for fresh air, but only barely. It didn’t help that we took the scenic twisty route in, which would have been awesome in a smaller car, but made for a very bouncy ride in the RV.

We went to four different wineries, all of them vastly different. The first one, Domaine Carneros, had a huge chateau which reminded me of Pride & Prejudice and reminded the guys of Gears of War. It specialized in sparkling wine, and I have to admit I felt fabulously classy sipping sparkling wine from tiny glasses out on the sun-drenched patio of this chateau. (The chateau lost some of its glamour when I read the plaque saying it was built in 1988, but whatever. It’s a chateau. It’s big and brick-covered and it has a lot of stairs.)

By the time we reached the third winery, Gundlach Bundschu, we’d discovered that our little samples of wine actually did a lot of damage on our un-breakfasted stomachs. I think our low point (or our most awesome point) came when we were standing by the bar, glasses of syrah in hand, singing along under our breath to the Journey songs playing in the tasting room, determined not to make idiots of ourselves but still tipsy enough want to belt out “Don’t Stop Believing.” Kevin’s folks bought an ENORMOUS bottle of wine there – all of the huge bottles have awesome names like Methuselah and Nebuchadnezzar, and the Methuselah holds 15 liters.

By the time we reached our last stop, Loxton, I was pretty “wined” out, and everything was sort of starting to taste the same. I couldn’t handle any of the reds, and even the chardonnays, which I would have liked earlier in the day, began to taste too dry. (That’s a wine term, see that? Yeah.) But we finished with a port. I’d never tried port, and they served the glass with a little piece of chocolate, and it was delicious! I know there’s a science to pairing wine and food, but I never really considered how well it would work. The port was sweet and tasty on its own, but drinking it after eating the chocolate basically made it taste like alcoholic chocolate. Yes, this is a delicious and wonderful thing.

I spent most of the ride home lying in the top compartment of the RV, watching the sun set and wondering if I’d be the first to die if we crashed. It was pretty relaxing to just roll along, lying on my stomach watching the sky go by. I’d sort of felt like a different person that day, out bein’ all classy with my wine tasting and my RV chauffering. The drive back was a somewhat painful reminder that break is ending soon and I have to go back to being not-always-classy, independent, college-student-on-a-budget me, who has to worry about getting her car tabs on before they expire and mailing in her taxes and figuring out what’s going to happen to her the day after graduation. It’s good to be back in a place I call home; I just wish that place didn’t involve homework.

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4 thoughts on “Adventures in wine country

  1. That is lovely! I’m glad you guys had fun wine tasting! The science of pairing wine and food is really what has made me more interested in my job with coffee tasting. I’m not a real big fan of black coffee, but daayumn certain blends are AMAZING with a peice of chocolate, or a lemon square. I love it.

    • Lemon? That would be interesting. Coffee is another one of those grown-up things I’ve yet to adjust to. I got instant cafe mocha something-or-other, which is only good if you mix it with a ton of hot chocolate.

  2. God, how could you honestly resist a Journey sing-a-long? I can’t do that ever, and I’m basically always sober.

    By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂 I checked out those outtakes for the Durex ads I posted and you were right– very funny!

    • Oh my gosh we love Journey so much. My friend and I have sort of adopted “Separate Ways” as our go-to 80s angst ballad. There’s a car dance and everything.

      Your blog rocks! I’m breaking into the blogosphere very slowly, but I’m making regular stops at your page. 🙂

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