Friday, May 4, 2012

A Sip through the Wine Country

Last Friday, I disembarked on what I would find to be the best weekend of food, wine and friends, that I have had in a long time. 

Leaving Los Angeles is never easy. As Ron and I both scrambled on Friday to pull away from our hectic work schedules, we both knew we needed some unwinding. Driving through wonderful LA traffic is never a great way to start a journey. But we are sure glad we did it! 

Ross, a very good friend of mine from college, has done the "Passport weekend" through Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma CA for years. I have seen many photos and have forever been jealous. This year, I wasn't going to allow the 450+ miles get in the way of a good time. Ron and I immediately said yes to the invitation and quickly packed our bags to head north. 

When you think of wine tasting, how many wines (or maybe I should say wineries) would you think you'd taste or go to? I assumed we would visit 2 maybe 3 wineries. WOW was I wrong! 

We went to 14 different wineries, sampling an uncountable amount of wine and food pairings! The experience was amazing (from what I can remember) 

Zichichi Family Vineyards 

These wineries are not in the order we attended. (Mainly because I can't remember the order in which we visited all of these!) But I do have a few that were my favorites! 

What I love about Northern California as appose to Southern California, everyone is much more friendly. I can't pin point what it is, but it is so easy to generalize that up North, neighbors actually like one another and people really do pass each other on the street and say 'good morning'. 

At Kachina Vineyards, we were greeted by just that, friendly wine connoisseurs who were eager to share their best wines with us. The wine maker is Canadian so it was only fitting to have a Canadian inspired theme for the occasion. They had an amazing elk slider that still makes my mouth salivate when thinking about it. What I really enjoyed there (their wines were not nearly are memorable as their food) was the cucumber with fresh Alaskan Smoked Salmon. Normally I am not a fan of Salmon, but this little appetizer forced my taste buds to do a total 180. 

Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves was a magical experience. The vineyard has man made caves throughout the side of a mountain on the vineyard. I suppose the owners chose to make this location for storing wines in a cool dry place. But for Passport, they transformed their estate into a world of wonderland. As we walked up the long drive towards the tasting room, we were met by a man on a unicycle dangerously resembling the mad hatter. It only took seconds to realize, we were the ones to be chasing the white rabbit down the rabbit hole. 

Photo on the right shows the Tea Party of Alice and Wonderland. I think Alice had too much to drink by the time we arrived for tea, as she was nowhere to be found! 

Bella Wine Caves 

Papapietro Perry Winery had by far my favorite wines. Their Pinot Nior was by far the best wine I've had, and I had many that day!  Each bottle ranged from  $40-60 in price. Needless to say, I enjoyed every sip as I dreamed of one day being able to open a $40 bottle of wine with an every day meal. (I still find anything over the $8 range is too pricey if I am not enjoying among friends.) Obviously I have a long way to go in my career before I can return to Papapietro Perry Winery and really enjoy. I found it entertaining that the winery with (in my opinion) the most prestigous wines was also the winery with the least classy theme. Mardi gras beads were given to every passport holder as we entered the tasting room. I have to admit, I almost asked the girl at the front desk if there was nudity required to receive these beads. I am really grateful that I had some sense to sensor my humor at that point. 
Photo of Ron and I outside of  Papapietro Perry Winery's tasting room. 

Although the order of which we visited these wineries is a blur, I can say that we visited Mounts Family Winery towards the end. I know this because looking at the photos, I am clearly sober. Mounts featured a classic car show theme which was very popular among our group. 

Yep, at that point in the day, I thought I was a super star. 

My favorite part about this winery (at the time) was the swag we received. I was decorated with a temporary Mounts tattoo (which took a really long time to scrub off in the shower!) as well as a pink cow girl hat. I quickly re gifted this hat to my neighbors 4-year-old. She was just as excited as I was when I received it. Yehay! 

Notice blue teeth? Yep, that kid was stoked! lol 

How about a real photo of the beauty that Mounts had to offer 

I love that this lady was just as excited as I was! 

Kokomo Winery was memorable mainly because they had a photo booth where we took some fantastic photos. 

What I liked about Kokomo was their small focused approach on their wines. They pride themselves on small production techniques and strong relationships with local growers. Their wines all had a very strong fruit presence, which I liked a ton! I guess this is why we bought a bottle or two! 

Armida Winery was our last stop. Every year, passport travelers such as ourselves end their day with a tasting from Armida and enjoy a bottle of wine on the lawn overlooking a beautiful little pond.

 Armida's popular theme was not missed as angels and devils alike served wine on the terrace. Their popular concoction? A beautifully crafted bottle of poison! 
Photo taken from Armida's website. 

I could go on for days about the great wine, the great food (blue berry pie pops, OMG!) and the fun we had with friends. But, I'll let you see for yourself. 

Check our Passport to Dry Creek Valley next year, April 27&28 2013. We did the one day pass, but after that amazing day, I think a two day passport is in order! 

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