You Either Spit or Slur in Sonoma

Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, September 23, 2010

You Either Spit or Slur in Sonoma

9/ 23/10

After the coldest summer in Northern California for forty years, the weather report predicted Highs in the 80s. My husband had several days off and the car was packed for an overnight in Sonoma and a weekend at Point Reyes National Seashore. I had dreamed that our trip would be blessed with amazing weather. However, I did not actually believe it would happen. With the sun roof open and armed with a list of well recommend and thoroughly researched dog-friendly wineries, we headed north to Healdsburg.

Bella Winery is one of the last wineries along Sonoma's Dry Creek Wine Trail.  We had decided to begin our tastings here and then make our way back to our hotel. The tasting room at Bella is located inside a series of caves, which was very cool, physically and metaphorically. Mike and Harley, our dog, relaxed at a picnic table on the lawn, while I brought out our first tasting from the bar. The lawn overlooked the vineyards and was littered with lounge chairs and to our surprise hula hoops.  Although I am not a fan of sharing a winery with obnoxious drunk people, the addition of hula hoops could definitely improve a lush’s entertainment level. As it was early afternoon, I think we were a bit early to witness anyone’s talent or lack thereof. Besides Mike still found something to laugh at when I pulled a small plastic cup from a stack out of my purse and used it to spit my tastings into. Our plan was to hit several wineries that afternoon, "I can either spit the wine out or throw it up later," I said reminding him of one previous wine tasting experience. “Didn’t that happen twice?” He responded with a grin. I answered with another spit of Chardonnay in a cup.  He laughed, grabbed the glasses and headed back inside for more wine.  

After a solid tasting, we purchased a bottle of the 2007 Hillside Cuvee, a Syrah and Petite Syrah blend with a fantastic vanilla finish. We also thoroughly enjoyed their Primitivo and Petit Sirah, but needed to limit our purchases as all the wine needed to fit in our cooler.  As we were getting in the car, I sensed a little crankiness from Mike. “Didn’t you like this place,” I asked.  His reply made me laugh, “I really like it and I’m upset because I want to spend the whole afternoon just sitting here.” I reminded him that we were on vacation and could do whatever we wanted. However, apparently as much as he wanted to hang out, he wanted to taste other wines more.

Our next stop was Truett Hurst Winery which like most wineries in Dry Creek specialized in Zinfandels.  It was very interesting to taste four different Zins in a row and even more fun to try to pick a favorite.  We settled on the 2006 Three Vineyards Zinfandel with its jammy fruit flavors balanced with pepper and earth. However, the 2008 Burning Man Petite Sirah, with chocolate, pepper and clove notes, was my favorite in the line-up. Mike fell in love with their Dessert Wine. So three more bottles were headed for the cooler. Before we left, our hostess encouraged us to walk Harley down to Dry Creek. Behind the Tasting Room and past a beautiful garden, ran the creek. We waded in the creek and eyed the chairs, thinking about how we had found another great place to waste away the afternoon.

Just down the road, we pulled into the parking lot at Maurtison Winery and were greeted by two big yellow labs. Knowing these were just the kind of dogs that Harley would try to hump, we rolled down the windows and headed into the sleek and modern tasting room without the pup. The tasting menu boasted a broad line-up including a couple Whites, several Zins, a Cab, Malbec, Syrah, Petite Sirah and more.  While sipping our first wines, I noticed a jar on the bar filled with beakers.  I asked the tasting host and he brought the soil samples to us and explained how many different types of soil were on their almost 300 acres.  The samples ranged from chalky to red soils to loam.  The geographer in me was fascinated to see the differences in the soil while tasting the differences in the yummy wine. After yet another terrific tasting and complete with two more bottles of Zinfandel , we said good-bye to the labs , Chelsea and Soho , and headed to Wilson Winery.

A banner proclaiming several newly awarded gold medals hung over the modest looking tasting room.  Wilson’s tasting menu included one Sauvignon Blanc, but then to our delight jumped into the Big Reds.  While we were enjoying our best Cab of the day, a group of six bleary eyed wine tasters stumbled up the bar. One of them inquired about the rest room, while another asked about the tastings and the winery.  The hostess answered their questions and nonchalantly asked how many tasting rooms they had visited that day. “Two,” a middle aged blond replied. Mike and I glanced at each other unconvinced.

“Before I serve you, may I ask who’s driving?”  A tall mustached man, blinked his eyes a few times trying to focus, raised his hand and stammered, “I’m not gonna drink anymore.”He looked as if another sip of alcohol would cause him to vomit.

“Well, I have to tell you that I am concerned that you have all had too much to drink. And they have really been cracking down on us for serving people who are intoxicated.”

“We’re, we’re not intoxicated, “the blond replied.

“Um, However, you’re slurring and talking really slow…”

“I’m from Indiana,” the women interrupted, “we talk slow. I can show you my driver’s license if you don’t believe me.”

Mike and I looked at each other utterly amused and I had to drop my eyes while stifling a snort. The hostess grabbed some bottles of water and offered to show the group to the patio. As soon as they walked outside, Mike and I burst out laughing.  “That’s why I spit” I explained with a grin. The hostess came back and apologized. I was impressed with how she handled the situation, but more impressed with the delicious wines she kept pouring.  We enjoyed everything, and I found myself cursing the gorgeous weather as it was restricting our purchases.  We managed to narrow it down to the Cabernet, the Roger’s Fault blend and 2007 Syrah. We thanked the hostess declaring it that day’s favorite winery.  Outside, Mike packed the cooler and I got in the driver’s seat.

“You OK to drive,” he asked with a grin.

I winked at him. “Aren’t you glad I’m not from Indiana.”

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