Tag Archives: Wine

Travelogue: Paso Robles, which means “Pass the Marbles” in Spanish.

12 Nov

Not really. But our trip did a great job highlighting how little Spanish I know. Alan looked at me multiple times each day as if I were Will Farrell on Anchorman, proclaiming, “San Diego. Sahn Dee-ah-go. In Spanish that means ‘whale’s vagina.'” I gave up even trying to guess the real translations.

Tuesday’s adventure took us from Pismo Beach to Napa by way of Paso Robles, which apparently means, “The Pass of the Oaks.” That’s slightly less fun than what I thought it meant – something to do with marbles or a rumble – but perhaps slightly more logical.

[Tip: If you’re ever trapped in car with someone, it’s fun to rub your tummy and wince, then loudly proclaim, “PASO ROBLES,” as if you’re saying, “DIOS MIOS.” Every time, Alan just silently shook his head and rolled down the windows without even looking at me, which I considered a victory.]

Joking aisde: I really liked Paso Robles – everyone was super friendly, the weather was sunny and warm, and the wines were rock solid.

Let me back up. We started our day with a walk down the beach to watch the sunrise and pick up sand dollars. Not bad, until those same sand dollars started smelling like the previously defined “SAN DIEGO” in the backseat of the car as they baked.

After our walk, we lounged around with laptops, writing on the balcony, enjoying our last real time with the Pacific before rolling out later that morning for Paso Robles. We stopped just short of the city, heading into Templeton specifically to visit the Turley winery.

Wine-Nerd Side Note: Turley is one of my favorite zinfandels, and I was worried that visiting their tasting room would put me off of it because they might be snobby. I could not have been more wrong. The women serving the tastings were very friendly and even thew in an extra pour and some great local cheese, and charged us a SONG ($5!) for the airplane carrier we snagged.

With our first official tasting under our belt, we headed downtown PR and wandered the square, which was quaint and packed with good looking restaurants. Because I developed what Alan might call an unhealthy dependency on TripAdvisor, we ate at a small place called the Red Scooter Deli. This pains me to say, but my reuben trumped what I’ve eaten at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor. And was a fraction of the price. I’m wincing. (Seriously: GO THERE. NOW.)

While we were wandering around, I stumbled across this little gem, which both excited me and made me sad that I didn’t have my own winery – though I’m not really clear on how “soda works” comes into play:

Copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement?

[This town also had a public restroom in its center and I decided to check it out – mainly because I had to pee, but also because I wanted to see if all California bathrooms function as drug lairs. Apparently the answer is no, because this one was very clean and there were no creepers hanging out there.]

The rest of our trip north was uneventful – until we arrived in Napa.

We stayed in an adorable B&B on Main Street. We pulled up at dusk and the placed was super quaint – a darling Cape Cod with a large porch, picket fence and swaying trees in the front yard. When we initially approached the house, it was after dark, so I was glad that the porch lights were on.

Image Source: http://gallery.gosi.at/d/16869-1/funny-pictures-cat-saw-a-really-big-spider.jpg“This is adorable,” I started telling Alan as we ventured up the walk, approaching the house. I was interrupted as he looked up and – covering his head as if it were about to be struck by a meteor – said, “Holy shit!” And there, descending on an invisible line, was THE LARGEST SPIDER I’ve seen in my life. I may or may not have screamed, right as our host opened the front door.

I knew she was awesome when – instead of trying to greet me or look at me as if I were a freak – she turned on her heel and grabbed a broom. “Here,” she said, thrusting it at Alan. “Kill it. I mean – I hope you aren’t animal lovers, because I really want it dead.” Yes, girl.

As Alan spun around to do battle with the descending arachnid, our host asked, “Do you think that was a tarantula?” causing me to climb at least one full level on the terror scale. SERIOUSLY?

When we finally came inside and settled in, our room was a bit stuffy so we went to open the window – but it was lacking a screen. “We’ll be fine,” Alan said, cranking it wide open as sweat ran down his forehead.

“The hell we will,” I said.

And that was our first night in Napa.

I did that. Did I do that?

22 Nov

Have I mentioned that Alan and I enjoy wine? I would go so far as to say we’re oenophiles, but then I’d have to pronounce it. And as I’ve stated before, I’m not so hot when it comes to zee French.

We’ve each had our fair share of ridiculously amazing bottles, but we’re open to trying just about anything, as long as it’s wet and made from grapes. I momentarily forgot that last week after we drove from Urbanna to Williamsburg. We’d been in the car for an hour when we saw a sign pointing down a dirt road for the Williamsburg Winery. When Alan asked if I wanted to go, I made a weird gargling sound before saying, “Nah! Virginia wines aren’t very good.”

Fortunately, Alan ignored me and made the turn. But – because he’s a nice guy – he immediately stopped and, before proceeding, said, “Your call. But it’s a gorgeous day. Want to just check it out?”

When presented that way, how could I say no? Yet I continued to hem and haw as we drove through the vineyards on our way to the winery. “My thing with tastings,” I explained (because I always have a thing), “Is that I feel obligated to buy something. And if the wine sucks, I don’t want to. So I feel guilty, like one of those people who eats samples at Whole Foods as their dinner.”

Alan, being level-headed and understanding, said, “Let’s just check it out. If there’s a paid tasting, maybe we can do that without you feeling guilty. And if not, we can bail.” Good plan. And as it turns out? They did offer a paid tasting – $10 per person with a tour of the cellar and tastes of seven different wines — plus a few bonus pours.

I won’t keep you in suspense: I loved it. Who cares if Virginia will never be Napa? Not me. It was a gorgeous fall day – crisp breeze, bright blue sky, colorful trees, temperature somewhere around 65. And a retired college professor from William & Mary who loved wine was doing the talking and pouring. What’s not to like?

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I’m pretty sure the real gift he’s trying to give me is religion.

27 Dec

Not safe for communion.

Last week while I was in Michigan I got a phone call from a stranger informing me that she had erroneously received a holiday package intended for me. My suite number at work is 630-E; apparently FedEx delivered my package to a church at 630 E Street SW.

From her voice, I gathered that Mrs. Marshall was an older African-American woman. I thanked her for letting me know she had received my package, but then went on to explain I was out of town and couldn’t retrieve it immediately.

“I’ll be back in DC on Monday. Could I come by for it then?” I asked.

“Monday, you say? That could work.” She paused. “But, uh, it says ‘alcohol’ on the box.”

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