J Vineyards Makes it Right

A few weeks ago I wrote about a negative experience my friends and I had at  J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg. The short story is that we were part of a Wine Club special event tasting where employees were uneducated about the wines and food pairings, they lacked attention to detail and their guests and the “sparkling only” wine shipment was overpriced and handed to me not with pride but apologetically.

A few days after sharing that experience I was contacted over Twitter and the phone by Carolyne, a representative of the winery. We talked at length about what happened, what should have happened and what will happen in the future. Carolyne was kind to listen, apologize and provide me with the confidence that myself and others will not be dealt the same poor service ever again at their tasting room. Continue reading

J Vineyards and Winery, a Bitter Taste

I tweeted earlier in the week that Kayla, Marris and I had a dreadful wine tasting at J Vineyards in Healdsburg. J Vineyards responded on Twitter requesting I direct message them my story so they could make it right. I told them I’d put it together here and so I have. A direct message, while definitely tidier for J, would never allow me to fully explain my disappointment. Here goes:

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you probably know about the never-ending renovation I’ve been doing on my house in wine country. I find myself going up north to meet with a contractor or furniture delivery person at least once a month. While this might be annoying to some, and it is to me, the best part of these trips is getting to see Kayla.

It’s a rare event that Kayla and I are in the same zip code and don’t do some sort of wine tasting. So on this trip to Sonoma County, she and I decided to hit up J Vineyards for a quick tasting and pick up my wine club shipment. Marris was in town and joined in on the adventure. But before we go there, let’s learn a bit about the winery and my history visiting them. Continue reading

Wine and Friends

You might remember that I went to court just a couple of weeks ago to deal with a squatter who had been living in our family cottage in the wine valley. We won the lawsuit and he was to be evicted 5 days after the judgement had been made official, ie, after he was informed and the Sheriff had posted notice on the house.

Well the day came that I was going to have to meet the Sheriff’s deputy and do the official turning over of property from the squatter back to me.

Not a fun trip to make really. Luckily my dear @KaylaGettys organized a super fun blind wine tasting with some of her friends in Healdsburg. So, the night before I had to be in Forestville, I went to Healdsburg, met some really amazing people, drank some fun wine and generally had an amazing time.

Without that night I don’t think I could have made it through the day that followed.

Going Away Party and a Road Trip to California

I’m packing up my place today, hoping to put the final touches on tomorrow before my going away party to be held tomorrow (Wednesday, December 15th) night @TopTenWines here in Columbia.

Top Ten Wines has been my “go to” bar here for years. The owner, Paul, and the regular wine lovers have turned this once small wine shop into a bustling bar, music venue and the best wine tasting room in mid Missouri. Saying goodbye to Top Ten Wines is like saying goodbye to one of my friends, many of which I have because of Top Ten Wines. It only seemed fitting that I had my going away party there!

Oh yeah, everyone is invited! So if you are in Columbia and free tomorrow night, stop by Top Ten anytime after 7:00pm. There will be a champagne toast, ping pong, great music and more!

In an attempt to avoid the slick winter roads of Colorado, I’ve decided to take a somewhat southern route to San Francisco. All going as planned, I will depart Columbia Thursday around noon and drive to Amarillo Texas. Sleep there and then drive west to Kingman Arizona. Next stop, San Francisco!

The plan is to leave December 17th 21st and arrive December 21st 24th in San Francisco. But I’ve given myself an extra day to make it so, perhaps it will be the 22nd 25th that I get to the city.

It’s going to be a LONG drive in my rented minivan but I’m hoping to make it fun with awesome music, informative podcasts and interesting audiobooks. If you have any suggestions for traveling music, standup comedy routines, audio books, etc, leave them in the comments!

Also, if I’m driving through your neck of the woods, let me know! I’m sure I’ll need a coffee break (or 90). Leave your suggestions, invitations and whatever else in the comments! Thanks friends!

Cake Moda Cupcake Wars at Crush Barrel Wine Market

That might be the longest post title I’ve ever used.

There are few things in the world better than cupcakes and wine. I mean think about it. Excluding Life’s essentials, what’s better than delicious gourmet cupcakes and free wine? Nothing right? Not even cats in top hats!

Since Ryan was going to be working much of the time that I would be in California, I asked him to find a few things for me to do while I was out there. Ryan is incredibly good at this sort of stuff. He planned the epic spring break we had a few years that went from Kansas City to Buffalo New York to Niagara Falls Canada to Toronto to New York City to Washington DC and back to Kansas City. Quite possibly the best vacations of our lives.

Never to disappoint, Ryan managed to find three of my favorite things as events in the city. Cupcakes, wine tastings and a half-off coupon, in this case, all together. It’s the San Francisco Cake Moda Cupcake Wars at Crush Barrel Wine Market. I’m in and so were my friends Kevin and Dave.

We made the bus ride to San Francisco’s wharf to the Herbst Pavilion and readied our tickets, thanks Eventbrite and Yelp for the hookup. We were in for the gastronomic time of our lives. Right? There was lots of fun live music, great wines to try out and a coupon for $10 off any wine purchase. Win!

Alas, who knew it would be possible to go to an all-you-can-eat cupcake and wine tasting and not have a single cupcake? Also, who knew that not eating all day coupled with drinking lots of wine could be a bad idea?

Both lessons were learned on this voyage to Cupcake Desert, Wine Oasis. Apparently 1,000 other people had the same idea and the free cupcakes became $1-4 cupcakes and all you can eat became all you can afford and dare to wait in line for. We wandered around for a bit, enjoyed some wine, kevetched on the complete absence of free cupcakes, took some photos and eventually decided this wasn’t our scene.

Instead we opted for a cupcake from Ghiradelli Square and dinner with Ryan and Mark at Home.

The next morning I woke up extra early, picked up my rental car, a sweet Volkswagen Jetta and headed north to Healdsburg where a limousine, Kayla and a great time awaited me.

True/False Film Festival

I’ve live in Columbia Missouri, off and on, since 2003.  In my nearly seven years here I have managed to miss True/False 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009!  That’s pretty despicable if you ask me.  This year, with the help of Laura (@BigRed77) I vowed to make it to at least one film.

True/False started out for me with a wine tasting at Top Ten Wines (@TopTenWines) with Laura.  The wines were delicious, a selection from Latin America, a wine region too often overlooked in a country seemingly obsessed with Australian, New Zealand and South African wines.

I feel I must confess that this picture isn’t exactly from the wine tasting but from a few days earlier.  I just wanted to feature Laura’s husband (@EricCox) in a post, it’s been way too long since we’ve gotten to hang out!

Just before our tasting began, the True/False Film Festival parade broke out.  It’s one of the most unique parades I’ve ever experienced, reminded me a lot of the Houston Art Car Parade. Crazy costumes, grandmas dancing, marching bands marching and artists just doing their art.  So much fun and love and happiness.  Oh, and a side of just weird!

I bumped into my friend Paul shooting as a volunteer for True/False, something else I always forget to do.  Apparently, volunteering not only gets you into the fun after-parties but also a sweet hoodie and access to the films!

Laura and I saw Colony together which investigates the vanishing bees all across America.  The film started out really strong, mixing comedy with the serious ramifications of a bee shortage but began to fall apart towards the end.  Still, a definite recommendation if you can find it for rent somewhere.

After the movie, and a little more time at Top Ten Wines, we caught a late dinner at Sycamore followed by a short stint at The Blue Fugue for some live music.  It was a great evening and a wonderful start of my very first True/False Film Festival.

The next day I wandered around town, shot some photos with my new Nikon 85mm f1.8 lens and just generally enjoyed the wonderful weather gifted to us for the weekend.

I managed to snag tickets to the closing ceremony and film on the last night of the festival.  The film was Last Train Home, a film about the annual migration of Chinese workers back home for Chinese New Year.  It’s the largest migration of people in the world and it happens once a year, every year.  The film was pretty great and will be shown again at SXSW.

However, perhaps the best part of the finale was getting to see a short recap video that the company I work for created.  As a bonus, it turns out a great friend of mine did a large portion of the video!  I was so impressed and pleased to see that they put it on Vimeo so I can share it with you guys right here.  If you’ve never been to Columbia Missouri, here’s a wonderful look at our amazing city.

True/False 2010 Closing Night Video from Boxcar Films on Vimeo.

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