Thursday, March 15, 2012
Like Fine Wine
When you turn 25 just days before giving birth, you don’t necessarily realize that 25 years later you and your daughter will both celebrate milestones the same week. Nor can you imagine that the celebration will take place in a tony California town when, at that moment in 1987, you are living just above the poverty line in rural North Carolina.
We decided to drive this trip so we could bring back a lot of bottles. First, though, we made a stop in Davis to meet our granddoggie, Axel.
Then it was on to Santa Rosa for dinner at Mary’s Pizza Shack, a tradition in our family the past seven years. That's our birthday girl on the left. Downtown Santa Rosa is really delightful at night. I regretted not staying in a hotel closer to the core, even if it cost us more.
The next day we prepared for that night’s party and snuck in a wine tasting and private tour that served as a primer for the next day’s big event (see video). Siduri is different from wineries I’ve visited. For starters, it’s located in a business park. The owners are from Dallas; thus, the giant holding tanks that allow the fruit to ferment are named after Dallas Cowboy players. The grapes come from different vineyards throughout California and Oregon. And I discovered I'm a "new wine" versus "old wine" drinker. The tannin in the grape skins changes wine over time, so now I can stop shopping for older vintages. I like 'em young.
Jeff, the hospitality manager, gave us a private tour in the barrel storage room that offered a fascinating look at the wine-making process. I had no idea how critical – and expensive – the barrel was to creating the right mixture. It’s a lucrative business, with companies harvesting select trees to create oak barrels that sell for $1,200 each and immediately lose 90% of their resell value as soon as they are filled. The French in particular have high standards.
I thought of how little I knew about wine while we scoured the aisles of Costco for party food that would double as picnic fare the next day as our limo moved through the windy hillsides of northern Sonoma County. It's a day I could never have conjured all those years ago in Weeksville, N.C.
There my husband and I were, surrounded by our children and their friends who instantly were our friends as we sipped champagne and then fine wines while taking in the beauty and bounty of this part of the country. You often hear that good women age like fine wine. Judging by the bags under my eyes in the photos we took, I may be corked.
But the rationing of alcohol over the entire "wine weekend" was perfect: I felt happy – never drunk – the entire trip. That's what fine wine does for you. A fine life too.