A Sunny Day in Wine Country

Today I had an absolutely wonderful, and necessary, trip to wine country where I visited Kayla and a handful of new-to-me wineries. Right now I’m chilling at a Starbucks in Petaluma charging up my iPhone so I’ve got a few minutes to catch you up on the day.

Woke up early and left The Palace Hotel in San Francisco (more on that later) to pick up my rental car to head north to Healdsburg. I got into town around 10:00, met up with Kayla and of course, hit up Seghesio Family Vineyards. I tried their Barbera, chit chatted with a few of the employees who now know me by name and had a good, short little time, the highlight being a pour from a Riedel Eve Decanter. This is an absolutely ridiculous wine decanter but you have to admit, it is equally beautiful.

They use it to serve their Seghesio Venom Sangiovese which is grown at an area called Rattlesnake Hill. Obviously an appropriate decanter if by name alone.

We left Seghesio to visit Fritz Underground Winery. We had a few (too many) tastes of their wines. Want to get more wine than what’s scheduled on the Estate Flight? Just start talking. The guy working the front of house is a great conversationalist and man, the wine just doesn’t stop flowing. I ended up buying a really unique bottle of wine as a gift (the bottle was unique, not so much the wine). I’d say more but it would ruin the surprise for who is getting the bottle.

Next up was a placed called “Family Wines.” I was pretty confused as to what the hell that meant, and I’m not even exactly sure I know at this point. All I can say is we parked there and walked first to Papapietro Perry Winery‘s tasting room.

Kayla and I had a few of their Pinots, many of which were rated really high and had a clean, light and powdery feel. I’m not a huge fan of Pinot, more of a big red sort of wine but these were enjoyable. For the price I feel you could do a lot better. Our last wine to try out was their Zinfandel. The wine must have been corked because the nose, texture and flavor were off the charts bad. Grassy, spearmint and rough.

We followed that up with a walk across the path to Family wines where we met Rooty the dog and Glen, the tasting room (manager?). We tried wines from Dashe, Philip Staley, Lago di Merlo and Mietz Cellars.

After that smattering of wine we hit up Kokomo Wines. I can’t remember the girl that walked us through our tasting but she was great. Really enjoyed our time there and ended up buying a bottle of their Zinfandel.

Kayla and I picked up lunch from a delicious gourmet food truck sort of establishment. I wish I remembered what it was called. If you’re at Family Wines and see the food truck/trailer, you must stop by. I had their spinach salad… to die for.

Finally we met up with some of Kayla’s friends at Sbragia, the winery I went to with Marris a few months ago. The view there is ridiculously beautiful. We ate our lunch and had one of the funniest conversations I have ever experienced. We also got some serious sun. I don’t think I have been this unfortunately sunburned in years. Note to self, polo shirts and aviator sunglasses do not mix well with bright sun for a few hours.

Well I guess that leaves us at the end of the day touring wine country and the end of this post. A lot of stuff has been happening between traveling for work, toxic mold in our apartment and a brand new, beautiful niece named Abigail. Much to tell just not enough time to do it!

I’ll leave you with one more photo. I hope you too had a great Sunday afternoon.

16 thoughts on “A Sunny Day in Wine Country

  1. That food truck is “al Fresco Kitchen,” the owner is the ex chef of Madrona Manor on West Side Rd., a Michelin Star holding restaurant. Having lunch there was my idea. You’re welcome!

    Sounds like that Zin was not corked just under ripe fruit. One of Zin’s issues is it tends to ripen unevenly so you can get very unripe berries mixed in with over ripe berries…Usually that Zin is their best wine on the list. I can’t stand the Pinots they do.

  2. That food truck is “al Fresco Kitchen,” the owner is the ex chef of Madrona Manor on West Side Rd., a Michelin Star holding restaurant. Having lunch there was my idea. You’re welcome!

    Sounds like that Zin was not corked just under ripe fruit. One of Zin’s issues is it tends to ripen unevenly so you can get very unripe berries mixed in with over ripe berries…Usually that Zin is their best wine on the list. I can’t stand the Pinots they do.

  3. @MatthewWells Thanks for the comment.

    I’m not sure what was wrong with the Zin. It didn’t really taste corked, it didn’t really taste under ripe. It tasted like the sort of mistake you cover up with a sex scandal. I find it hard to believe that they would have tasted this wine before serving it and said, yeah this is a fair representation of our wines. If it is, how are they in business? I have never tasted such a retched wine and that is the impression the Papapietro Perry Tasting Room left with me.

    As far as their Pinots go, they were ok. Nothing to write home about, especially at the price, so on that we seem to agree.

  4. @MatthewWells Thanks for the comment.

    I’m not sure what was wrong with the Zin. It didn’t really taste corked, it didn’t really taste under ripe. It tasted like the sort of mistake you cover up with a sex scandal. I find it hard to believe that they would have tasted this wine before serving it and said, yeah this is a fair representation of our wines. If it is, how are they in business? I have never tasted such a retched wine and that is the impression the Papapietro Perry Tasting Room left with me.

    As far as their Pinots go, they were ok. Nothing to write home about, especially at the price, so on that we seem to agree.

  5. A) Most of the wines in CA are crap. If they decided not to pour all of these wines there would be no wine left. B) If you expect your average tasting room employee to know the difference between a good and bad bottle you’re crazy. Training, and back ground wine knowledge requirements are almost 0. C) Those guys get major points from the critics. What we think really doesn’t matter because the wines will sell on that fact alone. 🙂

  6. A) Most of the wines in CA are crap. If they decided not to pour all of these wines there would be no wine left. B) If you expect your average tasting room employee to know the difference between a good and bad bottle you’re crazy. Training, and back ground wine knowledge requirements are almost 0. C) Those guys get major points from the critics. What we think really doesn’t matter because the wines will sell on that fact alone. 🙂

  7. @MatthewWells I refuse to believe that most California wines are crap, at least they aren’t to me. It is all subjective, what is crap to one person isn’t to another. You don’t have to have years of training to know what you like. Taste shouldn’t be indoctrinated.

    That being said, this wine wasn’t like a bad wine. It was a foul wine. It was a disaster that you could smell before he had even finished pouring it into the glass. There are people who work at tasting rooms who haven’t gone to school for years to learn how to pour, taste, describe, make, store and sell wine and still have an innate ability to do just that. Yes wine is science but it is also passion. I don’t see how the people at Papa had any of the above.

    There are better wines all over the world. There are worse wines too. We all have our tastes.

    And finally. Someone should do an expose on wine ratings, you up for it? I swear it’s like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” If one magazine/reviewer/douche loves a wine, they all have to. Just because Wine Spectator loves a particular wine doesn’t mean it’s any good. It’s their taste, not ours. Few people seem to get that and it kills me.

    Ever read any of Wilfred Wong’s wine reviews? I swear he was a fluffer in another life.

    I’d love your thoughts on Gary Vanerchuk.

    There’s this great wine shop in Texas (seriously) called Grape Juice that has a section of wine that either has poor marks, or was never rated at all, that they feel is under-served. It’s their owner Patrick Wilt’s five to ten favorite (rotating) bottles of wine. And you can be sure that they are great little bottles of wine.

    When I lived in Columbia, I loved TopTenWines because I knew Paul didn’t buy a wine he wouldn’t drink. None of his wines were marked on the racks as “RP 93, WS 91”. It was “PV’s Picks” or nothing at all. It was great. And if you wanted some totally bizarre, small co-op vineyard in some corner of France bottle of wine… he probably had it, had tried it or could get it for you.

    Ok, now I’m just rambling and still waiting on a “proper” tour through wine country with you and your choice vineyards. Though I’m pretty sure we’d have to do it on Vespas or something. 😛

    And if you ever want to make a trip to France to do a wine tasting/tour. I’m down. I love French wine and any wine you’ve ever selected that I’ve had has been fantastic.

  8. @MatthewWells I refuse to believe that most California wines are crap, at least they aren’t to me. It is all subjective, what is crap to one person isn’t to another. You don’t have to have years of training to know what you like. Taste shouldn’t be indoctrinated.

    That being said, this wine wasn’t like a bad wine. It was a foul wine. It was a disaster that you could smell before he had even finished pouring it into the glass. There are people who work at tasting rooms who haven’t gone to school for years to learn how to pour, taste, describe, make, store and sell wine and still have an innate ability to do just that. Yes wine is science but it is also passion. I don’t see how the people at Papa had any of the above.

    There are better wines all over the world. There are worse wines too. We all have our tastes.

    And finally. Someone should do an expose on wine ratings, you up for it? I swear it’s like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” If one magazine/reviewer/douche loves a wine, they all have to. Just because Wine Spectator loves a particular wine doesn’t mean it’s any good. It’s their taste, not ours. Few people seem to get that and it kills me.

    Ever read any of Wilfred Wong’s wine reviews? I swear he was a fluffer in another life.

    I’d love your thoughts on Gary Vanerchuk.

    There’s this great wine shop in Texas (seriously) called Grape Juice that has a section of wine that either has poor marks, or was never rated at all, that they feel is under-served. It’s their owner Patrick Wilt’s five to ten favorite (rotating) bottles of wine. And you can be sure that they are great little bottles of wine.

    When I lived in Columbia, I loved TopTenWines because I knew Paul didn’t buy a wine he wouldn’t drink. None of his wines were marked on the racks as “RP 93, WS 91”. It was “PV’s Picks” or nothing at all. It was great. And if you wanted some totally bizarre, small co-op vineyard in some corner of France bottle of wine… he probably had it, had tried it or could get it for you.

    Ok, now I’m just rambling and still waiting on a “proper” tour through wine country with you and your choice vineyards. Though I’m pretty sure we’d have to do it on Vespas or something. 😛

    And if you ever want to make a trip to France to do a wine tasting/tour. I’m down. I love French wine and any wine you’ve ever selected that I’ve had has been fantastic.

  9. Actual “taste” aside most CA wines are crap. The vast, vast majority is made from over-sprayed, over-cropped, low quality fruit, and the wines are micro-biologically unstable. Acids are too low, pHs too high, residual sugar galore, etc. There is an entire underground sub industry of people who make a healthy living trying to “fix” these wines with reverse osmosis alcohol adjustments, fancy additives, and a NASTY chemical called dimethyl dicarbonate (google it, this stuff can actually kill you if you drink the wine within 24hrs of dosing. The company who does this has a client base of approx 25% of Sonoma/Napa wineries). The CA industry is just too young and too focused on making money.

    CA is not the only offender though by any means, I’d be happy to call out Australia (major offender) and even Bordeaux and Champagne, they are almost as bad.

    You will never hear me describe flavors in the tasting room, because that is subjective, I only discuss farming/winemaking methods, and speak to structure. I rarely read Wong because I never go to Bevmo. Vanerchuk knows his shit big time, but I feel like this reviews are all over the board. Some of the stuff he loves I hate, some I adore (check out his reviews on Phillips Hill, some of the best Pinots in CA).

    I honestly believe good taste in wine is acquired. You learn to appreciate the good stuff after you taste a shit ton of crap. Start attending the tastings at Arlequin if you want taste the wines I adore and start reading dirtysouthwine.com. Parker and Spectator aren’t going anywhere, the expose has been done many times. Alice Feiring’s “How I Saved the World from Parkerization” was an honest attempt.

    You’ve gotta come up on a Friday for a tasting of the funky stuff.

    @justex07

  10. Actual “taste” aside most CA wines are crap. The vast, vast majority is made from over-sprayed, over-cropped, low quality fruit, and the wines are micro-biologically unstable. Acids are too low, pHs too high, residual sugar galore, etc. There is an entire underground sub industry of people who make a healthy living trying to “fix” these wines with reverse osmosis alcohol adjustments, fancy additives, and a NASTY chemical called dimethyl dicarbonate (google it, this stuff can actually kill you if you drink the wine within 24hrs of dosing. The company who does this has a client base of approx 25% of Sonoma/Napa wineries). The CA industry is just too young and too focused on making money.

    CA is not the only offender though by any means, I’d be happy to call out Australia (major offender) and even Bordeaux and Champagne, they are almost as bad.

    You will never hear me describe flavors in the tasting room, because that is subjective, I only discuss farming/winemaking methods, and speak to structure. I rarely read Wong because I never go to Bevmo. Vanerchuk knows his shit big time, but I feel like this reviews are all over the board. Some of the stuff he loves I hate, some I adore (check out his reviews on Phillips Hill, some of the best Pinots in CA).

    I honestly believe good taste in wine is acquired. You learn to appreciate the good stuff after you taste a shit ton of crap. Start attending the tastings at Arlequin if you want taste the wines I adore and start reading dirtysouthwine.com. Parker and Spectator aren’t going anywhere, the expose has been done many times. Alice Feiring’s “How I Saved the World from Parkerization” was an honest attempt.

    You’ve gotta come up on a Friday for a tasting of the funky stuff.

    @justex07

  11. @MatthewWells YES! That’s exactly what I wanted you to say. Cheers cheers and amen.

    My friend zackluye knows garyvee and seem to think highly of him as well. I have two of his business oriented books for my iPad, alas I sold my iPad so I can’t really read them. His attitude on camera is too much for me most of the time to really get into his wine reviews but I do enjoy his effort and knowledge.

    I don’t disagree that some taste is acquired. We are born loving the taste of chocolate. Not exactly sure why we do, it isn’t even native to where we are from, well at least not since our Garden of Eden days. But it is more or less universally loved. Dark chocolate, really high quality, pure cacao nibs stuff, that is an acquired taste.

    I think can be partially illustrated with how people (generally) first start drinking wine and will only drink sweet white wines before growing into bigger, sturdier and more complex reds and whites. You can definitely be taught to understand the subtle nuances in a wine, not just to understand that you like this wine more but also why. This is one of the reasons I like to try wines with people who are way smarter than me about wine. I want to hear them describe the smell, color, taste etc. I’m a kinesthetic learner, a watcher and doer.

    I’d like to make a trip out to Arlequin for a tasting I just have a hard time doing those sorts of things by myself. I would of course meet people at the tasting but this is more of a Justin is afraid of groups of people he doesn’t know thing more than a wine tasting thing. Despite my incredible ability to appear super outgoing, deep inside I can be every color of terrified.

    And what is this about coming up on a Friday for tasting the “funky stuff?” I’m down. Name a Friday and I’ll do all I can to get there.

    Do I need to wear my Rick James outfit?

  12. @MatthewWells YES! That’s exactly what I wanted you to say. Cheers cheers and amen.

    My friend zackluye knows garyvee and seem to think highly of him as well. I have two of his business oriented books for my iPad, alas I sold my iPad so I can’t really read them. His attitude on camera is too much for me most of the time to really get into his wine reviews but I do enjoy his effort and knowledge.

    I don’t disagree that some taste is acquired. We are born loving the taste of chocolate. Not exactly sure why we do, it isn’t even native to where we are from, well at least not since our Garden of Eden days. But it is more or less universally loved. Dark chocolate, really high quality, pure cacao nibs stuff, that is an acquired taste.

    I think can be partially illustrated with how people (generally) first start drinking wine and will only drink sweet white wines before growing into bigger, sturdier and more complex reds and whites. You can definitely be taught to understand the subtle nuances in a wine, not just to understand that you like this wine more but also why. This is one of the reasons I like to try wines with people who are way smarter than me about wine. I want to hear them describe the smell, color, taste etc. I’m a kinesthetic learner, a watcher and doer.

    I’d like to make a trip out to Arlequin for a tasting I just have a hard time doing those sorts of things by myself. I would of course meet people at the tasting but this is more of a Justin is afraid of groups of people he doesn’t know thing more than a wine tasting thing. Despite my incredible ability to appear super outgoing, deep inside I can be every color of terrified.

    And what is this about coming up on a Friday for tasting the “funky stuff?” I’m down. Name a Friday and I’ll do all I can to get there.

    Do I need to wear my Rick James outfit?

  13. It’s good to see this landscape again! I lived in downtown Napa (for 3 months I think) when we were traveling and produced a vid for LP, so we got to explore the area quite a bit. If you travel a bit south of where you are/were (or west of Napa) you’ll find the Microsoft Hill (the most distributed Windows wallpaper!) in Sonoma Valley here: 38.251819, -122.407222

    I came across that info while doing research, of course I had to see it for myself. I miss the California landscape. For one, there are no rolling hills like that in Vancouver.

  14. It’s good to see this landscape again! I lived in downtown Napa (for 3 months I think) when we were traveling and produced a vid for LP, so we got to explore the area quite a bit. If you travel a bit south of where you are/were (or west of Napa) you’ll find the Microsoft Hill (the most distributed Windows wallpaper!) in Sonoma Valley here: 38.251819, -122.407222

    I came across that info while doing research, of course I had to see it for myself. I miss the California landscape. For one, there are no rolling hills like that in Vancouver.

  15. @travelfox I will have to check that out! Thanks for the coordinates. I always presumed that was some CGI landscape, it was so beautiful.

  16. @travelfox I will have to check that out! Thanks for the coordinates. I always presumed that was some CGI landscape, it was so beautiful.

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