Today my roommates Hannah and Monica took Monica’s car and spent the day wine tasting in wine country.
We barely made it in the car, but when we finally did we all locked pinkies and promised to leave all of our current life in the parking lot. We’d pick it up when we got back.
Monica turned on a Joni Mitchell album and we stopped and got coffee at a drive through. We did a brief google search for “vineyards” and headed in the direction with the most red dots. Highway 50.
The drive was absolutely beautiful. We drove across a desert wasteland for about 20 minutes and then hit the mountains: winding roads, evergreen forests, boulders, mountain streams and increasing altitude with chilly air coming in the rolled down windows. Black cows against electric blue cloudless sky and dusty golden dried grass- the colors creating a layered effect. Herds of goats, donkeys farms, chicken coops and horses and hammocks. We stopped at a little road side shop about an hour later, and got out to talk to a local. The woman said she didn’t know much about wine, and directed us two miles down the road to her friend’s shop.
Two miles later, we pull up to another tiny shop. We ask Tracy how to find a winery, and she walks out the door, and points to the sign straight ahead, with a list of 20+ vineyards down the road.
“Just turn left. You’ll be drunk on your way back,” Tracy told us. Thank you Tracy, we are driving.
We turned left, and immediately came upon our first vineyard. Driving in we were close enough to lean out and grab grapes off the trees. We went in for wine tasting, and observed our surroundings. We were prepared for the worst, as it was a very fancy establishment, with beautiful expansive patios. I asked how much the tasting would cost, and the woman responded that it was complimentary.
She asked us how long we had known each other- were we good friends from college? “No, we actually met three weeks ago.”
And then she proceeded to open and pour 10+ different wines for us, explaining each as she drank with us.
We learned how to properly taste wine- the five s’s. And we learned so much about the different varieties of grapes, the history and the process. We also ate some nice crackers.
We said our goodbyes as she was about to pour another glass for us, and headed down the road. She advised us on another winery to stop by on the way, so we took her suggestion.
The winery she told us about was in a cave, and we actually got to taste wine in the same area that they stored their barrels in.
The cave was set atop a beautiful hill, with a great view of the area. Inside it was decorated for Halloween, and we wandered in and proceeded to taste about 20 other wines, mostly red.
We learned a great deal again, and started to feel the wine a little around 2 pm in the afternoon.
After we had tried most of their bottled wine, our host took us down the corridor and we tried wine straight out of the barrels. He took a glass straw, and sucked it straight out and into our wine glasses. We tried a few dessert wines out of the barrels. The last one was absolutely delicious, 14 years old and it tasted like hazelnut at the end. He said that the longer a wine sits in the barrels the more it gets a nutty taste.
Both the vineyards we visited asked us if we were 21 after they had poured the wine. “Yeah,” we said. And that was the end of the questions.
After the cave experience, we sat down in the sunshine outside letting the slight buzz wear off. We played a few games, talked about a few things, and then walked down the street and picked and ate grapes off the grape trees.
We had blue teeth by mid afternoon.
We left the winery awhile later and headed to Apple Hill off the suggestion of our second wine host. It was like we were following a secret unpredictable trail.
We found the apple festival, apple farms, tree farms and pumpkin patches. We each got a slice of traditional fresh apple pie and apple cider.Then we headed back.