Tag Archive | Gerwurztraminer

A Home Buying Wine Tour

So, it’s one week until closing. We are just waiting, and getting the last bit of our packing finished. Our financing has been finalized for weeks, so other than packing, we really haven’t had a lot to do. Our buyer, however, is still not ready to go with her financing and it is making me nervous. Her mortgage officer is trying to reassure our agent that everything will be ready to go by closing, but I’m still nervous. I can’t understand why it should be taking so long if things are happening as they should. So, in the meantime, I’m trying not to think about it.  Yes, I’ll admit it – I try to be very organized about these things, and it annoys me to no end when other people are not, if it affects my world. And this certainly affects my world.

I have been a bit absorbed with this whole home process lately, and my wine and travel blog has been suffering. We haven’t had time to do much wine tasting! I’m looking forward to turning that around once we move and get some semblance of a normal life back. That said, we did do a local mini-tour last weekend in honor of harvest weekend with Jon’s mom and sister. We went to two local wineries – Willow Tree and Glacial Lake Missoula.

Willow Tree Vineyards is a new winery in the area, having opened their tasting room in April. As you drive in, it certainly doesn’t look like much. There is a ramshackle single-wide trailer on the driveway to the winery, and the winery itself is housed in a non-descript pole building. Which isn’t that uncommon for wineries in this area. Don’t let that deter you. Once you walk inside, the tasting room is tastefully decorated, with a fireplace, comfy seating, and a stand-up tasting bar. They also have had chocolates and cheese and crackers out each time I’ve been there, which is a huge bonus. I’m usually hungry in the afternoon, and the nibbles are great to hold me over until dinner. The co-owner is usually serving, and she is warm and friendly and knowledgeable about their wines. It is a winery where you feel welcome!

Willow Tree has several whites, including a Sauvignon Blanc, two vintages of Chardonnay and Viognier, and a Pinot Gerwurztraminer. My favorite of these is the Sauvignon Blanc, which has a crisp minerality that I enjoy. Jon likes their more heavily oaked Chardonnay. Willow Tree is currently having a labeling issue with the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency) on their “waiting to be released” Blue Heaven, which is a Blueberry Riesling. Yes, Riesling combined with Blueberry juice. We got to barrel taste it, and it was delicious. Which makes the fact that the ATF has now rejected 7 versions of the label especially frustrating for Jon’s mom and me, as we have to continue to wait to buy it! Willow Tree also has several good reds, including a Carmenere, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. Unfortunately, all the reds are currently sold out except for the Cab Franc. So, we are eagerly awaiting next year’s releases. What a nice problem for a new winery to have!

After we left Willow Tree, we headed out to Blaine to visit our favorite local winery, Glacial Lake Missoula. Tracey was holding down the fort with a friend, as Tom took a trip down to Oregon to pick up grapes. They are branching out and producing a Chardonnay and a Gamay Noir. I’m very excited about both. The Chardonnay will be another “enrobed” wine, which is Tom’s name for a white wine that is colored (and flavored) with the skins of red grapes. A white wine that looks like a red. And depending on the temperature you serve it at, it can taste completely different. Their current “enrobed” wine is a Marsanne, which is excellent, so I can’t wait to see what they do with the Chardonnay. And Gamay Noir is one of my favorite varietals, so I’m super-excited to try this one. Of course, as they are just crushing now, both wines have awhile until release. It is just so hard to wait!

I’m sensing a theme with this post. Waiting…. One of my least favorite things to do. Hopefully in one more week, the wait for the house will be over. Stay tuned.

P.S.  After posting this, I learned that our buyer’s loan docs are finalized and at the title company!  So everything should be good to go now!


Southern CA, and a bit of the middle

So, our next trip up is to Long Beach, CA. It wasn’t necessarily on either Jon’s or my list of must see places, but we got a very inexpensive flight from home to Long Beach on Allegiant Air. It was kind of a “why-not” type of trip. Especially since we’ll be at home for awhile after this, because of Jon’s work schedule. We had an afternoon flight, so we got into Long Beach at 5 pm. We had decided to stay in Ventura, so our first evening was pretty much just driving to Ventura from Long Beach. It was a pleasant drive, with only one traffic jam about 20 miles north of Long Beach.

On day 2, which was really our first full day in California, we headed up to Hearst Castle. Mind you, this was a bit of a boo-boo on my part. I booked tickets online for the Castle, and then realized that the drive there is still 180 miles from Ventura. When I told Jon, he was just as shocked as I was – he had the impression it was about 90 miles. We decided to go anyway, because unless you are doing a drive down the California coast, Hearst Castle isn’t really close to anything. It’s a good thing that William Randolph Hearst was rich enough to bring everything to him.

We had lunch in the town of Cambria, which has a quaint main street and a touristy feel, at a deli called Sandy’s Deli and Bakery. Jon had the Cobb salad and I had the Turkey Club. Our meal was fantastic. I think this was the best club sandwich I’ve ever had. It was so full of goodies that I had trouble holding onto it!

And then we were off to Hearst Castle. We were glad that we bought tickets online, because when we got there shortly after noon, the next tickets available for the tour were at 3 pm. On a Monday! Ours were for 1:20. We dawdled around looking at the exhibits for awhile, and learning about the life of W.R. Hearst. He inherited his fortune, including the land where Hearst Castle is built, when his mother died in 1919. By this time, he had already made his own fortune in the newspaper business and was getting into the movie business too. He built Hearst Castle, because at 56, he wanted to spend more time on the property, where he had camped with his parents growing up. However, he was too old to be “roughing it” anymore. When he was camping, they had the servants haul a bunch of 4-room canvas tents to the site, complete with wood floors and heating stoves. Uh-uh, “roughing it,” my thought exactly.

So, back to the tour – at the appropriate time, you had to board a bus with 40 of your closest friends for the 5 mile trip up the hill from the Visitor’s Center. Wow, this place is amazing! The little guest house is 3000 square feet, another is 3600 square feet, and the main house is 70,000 square feet. After World War I, when Europe needed money, many countries sold their treasures, and Hearst was there to snatch them up. He has paintings that are hundreds of years old, religious icons, French fireplaces, choir stalls from a 600 year old church.  You know, the sort of collectibles that everybody decorates their house with.  It is like a European museum tucked into the boonies of California.

After the tour, we went back into Cambria and wandered around a bit.  We went to Black Hand Cellars, which has a tasting room on the Main Street of Cambria.  They had a good Syrah, and an even better blend called Hit ‘n Run.  Their Alibi blend was delicious too, but not quite as good as the Hit ‘n Run.  We liked their reds better than their whites.  She recommended we try out Moonstone Cellars down the street, so we headed there next.  The folks at Moonstone were friendly and down to earth.  We really liked their whites – they had a Sauvignon Blanc that was crisp and fresh, and a Gewurztraminer that was delicious, without being too sweet.  Jon really enjoyed their oaked Chardonnay, but I liked the unoaked Chardonnay better.

We took their recommendation for dinner, which was at the Seachest Restaurant just outside Cambria.  Can you guess – they serve seafood!  We had oysters, clam chowder and yellowtail.  Delicious!  An excellent unpretentious place.  Water view and no dress code!  Cash only though, so if you go, bring some.

The Seachest Restaurant

Then we had a long drive home….  that other 180 miles.  All in all, the day was well worth it.  I’m glad we made the trip – even if it was further than we had planned!  I found my new home – although I can’t afford it in a million years…