Saturday, August 28, 2010

Living the Dream

This picture above captures the essence of the "California Wine Lifestyle" --it's the classic image seen in many glossy wine and lifestyle magazines-- Friends gathered in the vineyard, sun setting, wine in hand.

When I moved to California wine country I decided I wanted to sample that picture perfect life those glossy magazines were showing. I wanted to learn more about wine and all its aspects. I wanted to be in one of those pictures. Then I looked at the picture again… wait a minute here…I am in that picture! (click on photo above to enlarge)

Cue Talking Heads music…Once in a Lifetime (with apologies to David Byrne for slight lyric changes)

You may find yourself in a beautiful vineyard, with beautiful friends
You may ask yourself: well... how did I get here?

Yes indeed! How did I get here is the question.

Well I suppose it all started with a love for wine and meeting some very generous and amazing like-minded individuals. I started wine blogging to give myself a place to talk about the things I was learning. I never really considered myself a wine blogger as the bulk of the writing I do is about travel. But now, after attending two wine blogger conferences and countless local wine events, I guess I really am a wine blogger. And here I am living the glossy magazine fantasy I imagined less than a year ago.

The photo above was taken at Floodgate vineyards at a celebration dinner event to commemorate the launch of Cartograph Wines by Alan Baker and Serena Lourie on July 24th.

We began the evening by touring the vineyards in a modified hay wagon. Vineyard manager Warren Burton led the way telling us the background and characteristics of each area that was planted. Floodgate vineyards produce a multitude of wines and is planted with clones of Pinot Noir as well as Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, and Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard tour was staged with stops that included a food and wine pairing for the particular grapes that had been grown there.

First pairing stop-- Prosciutto wrapped around melon paired with an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc by Atascadero Creek. This Sauvignon Blanc had the crisp fruity flavors and acidity that I normally attributed to SB from New Zealand. It was surprising to find that same balance in a local wine. I quickly took a picture of the label for future reference.

Pairing Station Two: Artichoke mousse tartlet’s with Cartograph Gewurztraminer. I love this Gewurtz. It’s endlessly satisfying and a delight to drink with it’s bight flavors and dry finish.

Pairing Station Three: Bacon and Blue Cheese with Pinot Noir from C. Donatiello Block 15 and Gary Farrell’s Alysian label Floodgate Pinot. These wines were quite different in style and showed the incredible range of the Pinot grape.

After the third stop I began to feel a bit like we were in the church of Floodgate and visiting the stations of the cross. I wondered when the collection plate would be passed around. But thankfully, this was not the church of my youth, this was a new religion altogether.

Pairing Station Four: Bruschetta and fresh tomato salsa paired with more Alysian Pinot.

While we sipped more Pinot on a hillside overlooking the property I noticed the rows at Floodgate were planted so straight that if Warren ever gives up his wine pursuits I think he’d make a top-notch orthodontist.

Pairing Station Five: Oysters on the half shell and a bit of Riesling as we watched the sun set.

Next we had dinner under the stars. Warren Burton kept us laughing all through out the meal and poured some Bradford Mountain Syrah. Our country BBQ feast featured grilled steaks and a host of side dishes including fingerling potatoes with mint that were deceptively simple--just butter potatoes and mint, but oh so good.

The glow and good cheer and camaraderie of that evening will linger with me for quite some time. It really was an evening straight out of a wine lifestyle magazine. But this evening was not a staged photo shoot. It was the real deal.

I’d like to thank Warren, Bobbie, Marlene, Maxine and Adam for their hospitality and of course Alan and Serena for making it all happen.

NOTE: This post is quite late because I was trying to recover my photos from the evening off a damaged camera disc. Unfortunately, they were all lost. But better to post late than never.

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