Tag Archive | winery

Circus Trip 2018: Amana Colonies

Day 19, Friday, August 3, 2018

After my second respite in just a few days, I was fully recharged and ready to resume the trip.  My destination for the day was the Amana Colonies.  Yes, that Amana, as in Amana appliances.

The Amana Colonies are the home of a group of German Pietists who fled persecution in their native Germany to settle near Buffalo, NY.  Eventually they moved to Iowa in 1856.  They brought their craftsmanship with them from Europe, and for over 80 years, they maintained an almost completely self-sufficient economy, with a division of labor among the community members.

Me in a German style hat

The society tried to maintain everything as equally as possible within the society by not using money, and not using products that came from outside the community.  Men and women were considered equal, but interestingly, marriage and child-bearing were discouraged, which obviously had an impact on future generations of colony members.

There are seven towns in the community – the total population of the seven is around 2,000 as of the 2010 census.  The colony founded the Amana Corporation, which manufactures refrigerators and other appliances to sell outside the community; it was this business that generated the money that the community needed to purchase land outside of the colony to support the members, as well as to buy supplies that could not be made by colony members.  (Amana is no longer owned by the colony).

An Amana home

All land was owned by the colony.  All jobs were assigned by the colony, and members ate communally in several communal kitchens.  Everybody who could work was given a job according to their abilities, but in general work was divided into traditional male and female roles, with men working in the factory and in the fields, and women working in the communal kitchens and gardens.

The Ackerman House – built 1856

I took the van tour of the Amana colonies.  It was fascinating; our tour guide was a former member of the colony so he had a lot of information on the inner workings of the colony and what it was like to grow up there.  He left the colony as a young adult, and later returned there to live, but he did not rejoin the religion.

Our guide outside the museum

On our tour, we went to several sites within the community.  We saw one of the general stores, a communal kitchen and a church.  At the church, a woman who was a member of the colony explained the way that they worship, with men and women separated during the service.  We also got to watch a video of the history of the community, with lots of historic photos of the community.  It was so interesting to see the cemetery too.  The premise is that all people are equal in the community, so the graves are simply laid in rows, with all the headstones the same, and simply arranged in the order in which people died.  It is certainly a departure from the concept of family plots.

 

 

The Amana colonies functioned well for over 80 years as an almost completely communal economy, importing almost nothing from outside of the colonies.  However, over time, weaknesses began to reveal themselves.  Colony members became unhappy that outsiders had technological advances, and began to make money on the side to support these purchases.  Other colony members then became jealous about what the Jones’ down the street had.  It is a familiar story whether or not you live in a community with a self-sufficient local economy, and sadly it eventually meant the end of the economic structure of the Amana colonies.  Members began to demand a vote of the society, to determine whether the group wanted to continue with their separate, communal society, or abandon it and join the capitalist economy of the people who lived outside.  I think you know how the vote went.

Today people continue to practice their form of worship, but the communal society they built here is gone.

My mom had recommended my visit there; I was interested but I doubt I would have sought it out had she not mentioned it.  It was really interesting though and I was glad I did.

One last note on Amana.  They have a couple of wineries!  I stopped by Ackerman Winery, a family owned winery that has been in operation since 1956, and did a tasting of their mostly fruit wines.  They are sweet, but I found a few that I enjoyed, and purchased the Rhubarb wine.  And I learned that I do not like dandelion wine – who knew?  Now I do.

Ackerman Winery

 

 

Road Trip Photo Faves: Winery

Here is another of my favorite photos from my road trip.

I stopped in at the Ackerman Winery in the Amana Colonies in Iowa; they have been making fruit wines since 1956.  I loved the way they displayed their wines and the various awards.

 

 

Moab 2015: Castle Creek Winery

Upon leaving Canyonlands, we had a little bit of time before we had to make the long drive back to Salt Lake City. And it just so happens that a little way outside of Moab is one of Utah’s few wineries! I wanted to go!

Castle Creek Winery is located 14 miles up Highway 128, a scenic drive along the Colorado River. It also happened to be the route of most of Jon’s half-marathon the previous day, so I had the opportunity to see what he was up against. There was a long… uphill section that looked really tough! There are lots of campgrounds and trail heads along the highway that look like they would be perfect for exploring – if only we had more time.

The winery is on the grounds of a resort ranch. You can stay there, and it looked like activities included horseback riding, swimming, rafting, hiking, and of course, the winery. There is also a museum on the grounds that we didn’t have time to check out.

The sign seems more weathered than it should, given the age of the winery...  I sense a theme...

The sign seems more weathered than it should, given the age of the winery… I sense a theme…

Our tasting was interesting… A complimentary tasting included 5 samples, which let us taste all but one of the wines. They were decent but not complex, fine for everyday drinking but they wouldn’t hold up to age. None had much in the way of structure or tannins. But that isn’t what made it interesting. Our server did that all on her own. She was nice enough, but was an older lady who was very worn – I didn’t smell smoke but she had the look (and the voice) of a ‘several-pack-a-day-for-several-decades’ smoker.

I asked about the history of the winery, and her response was to urge us to go downstairs and watch the video. When we didn’t appear to be moving quickly enough, she kept prodding until we felt we had no choice but to go. Downstairs was odd. We found ourselves in a random cold, dimly lit hallway with glass windows facing out onto the dark production floor. And, as she promised, there was a 5 minute video explaining in extremely general terms the history of the winery and their production story.

Other than telling me that Castle Creek Winery played an integral part in changing Utah’s laws to allow for wineries, I learned nothing. Well, that’s not quite true… I had learned my lesson, and did not ask further questions upon emerging from the “dungeon.” That made the tasting go really quickly. That said, the wines were fine, and several had beautiful labels, so I bought one bottle to enjoy in our hotel room that evening and we got on our way…

Picturesque truck

Picturesque truck

And because the winery didn’t inspire me to take any photos inside, here’s a photo of what I hope is an authentic historic school outside of Moab.  I say I hope because it shares its parking lot with a gas station.

A historic schoolhouse - I hope...

A historic schoolhouse – I hope…

We made the long drive back to Salt Lake City in order to fly out the next morning. Another great vacation had come to a pre-mature end…

Just Give Me the Wine!

I’m clueless…

Jon and I went wine tasting today after I finished up at a conference.  As we bellied up to the bar and began our tasting, we noticed that something was going on.  The next couple down from us held some strange fascination for the tasting room staff.  They kept asking to take photos with them, and this gigantic, sparkly ring.  I thought they must be newlywed friends of the tasting room employees.

But more interesting, they were drinking wine out of champagne flutes.  So, of course… I asked what they were drinking!  Who cares about the people, I wanna know what wine they have!

As it turns out, the wine was a Pinot Grigio sparkling wine, and our server gave me a pour of it, even though it wasn’t on the tasting list.  It was delicious!  I was sold!  I don’t think I’ve ever had a sparkling wine made from Pinot Grigio, and this one was great; a dry sparkler with a hint of sweetness.

We finished up our tasting and purchased our wine (including the sparkler).  As we got into the car, Jon told me that the guy was a Seattle Seahawks football player; and the ring that was being passed around among the staff was his Superbowl ring.

Eh… whatever… I’m just glad it got me a taste of that fabulous wine!  I have priorities…  And don’t ask me which player it was; but Jon didn’t know either.

Happy Friday Everybody!

Boise Roadtrip Random Highlights!

During our Boise trip, after we went to the World Center for Birds of Prey, Jon and I spent some time just relaxing without an agenda.  Here are a few of the highlights:

BitterCreek Ale House:  The food was great (we each had a salad) – and they have a lot of local micro-brews to choose from.  For days when it isn’t quite so hot (it was 104 the day we were there), they have outdoor seating available on the sidewalk.

A Beautiful Historic Sign on a Sandstone Building

A Beautiful Historic Sign on a Sandstone Building

Record Exchange:  Jon liked this local downtown music store – he browsed their albums for a long time.  They have an adjacent coffee shop and cafe that is attached to the store, and it also sells kitschy and novelty items, so I had some perusing to keep me occupied.  They have a bunch of funny greeting cards, and cute gift items.  And maybe the best part, the cafe booths offered me an opportunity to sit down while I waited for Jon to finish shopping!

Aspen Leaf:  This is one of those pay-by-the-ounce frozen yogurt places in downtown Boise, and Jon and I split one topped with raspberries and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Bad for the waistline, but great for the soul – delicious!

Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt - Perfect for a Hot Day!

Aspen Leaf Frozen Yogurt – Perfect for a Hot Day!

Cycle Pub:  While we were eating our frozen yogurt, we were amazed to watch a man piloting a pedal-powered bar down the street.  He was all alone when he rolled onto the street, but before very long, several people had hopped onto the strange contraption.  Apparently you can book this thing for a rolling pub crawl – with a bit of exercise thrown in!

Cycle Pub - A Pedal Powered Pub Crawl with your Friends!

Cycle Pub – A Pedal Powered Pub Crawl with your Friends!

The Old Assay Office: Now you didn’t think that having no agenda would really mean no historic buildings right?  We visited the historic Old Assay Office, built in 1871 to weigh and value minerals and gold brought in by Idaho’s miners.  Between 1872 and 1933, millions of dollars a year came through this office – some estimates are over $1.5 million each year.  The Office was constructed of sandstone in the Italianate architectural style, and the top floor was occupied by the chief assayer and his family, and the security guards lived in the basement.  The building is now the office for the Idaho State Historic Preservation agency, and the grounds outside are a city park.

The Old Assay Office - Built 1871 - Italianate Architectural Style

The Old Assay Office – Built 1871 – Italianate Architectural Style

Wineries:  Jon and I had time for two tasting rooms while we were in town.  We were already downtown, so we checked out a couple in the downtown core, the Snake River Winery and Mouvance.  I’ll post about them separately, but both were great – for very different reasons.  Snake River is making wines with Snake River Valley fruit, both estate grown and sourced from other vineyards.  Mouvance is bringing in their fruit from their family owned vineyards in the Willamette Valley, specializing in my favorite red, Pinot Noir!

We had a great time in Boise, and will certainly go back!  It was a big city with a small town feel – clean, easy to get around, and (at least for us) no big city traffic congestion!  The downtown core had a nice feel and I loved our drive through the area of historic homes.  Although it was way too hot while we were there to take advantage of the many recreational opportunities (103 to 107 degrees the days that we were there!), we would love to go hiking next time we visit.  Antiques Roadshow introduced us to a whole new, beautiful city!

Eastern Washington Weekend Sneak Peek

More will be coming soon on my fantastic weekend, but I just wanted to give you all a sneak peek!  In no particular order…

1.  Jon ran his third half-marathon.

2.  We wine tasted in Walla Walla for the first time.

3.  Terror on the pass!

4.  Swimming!

5.  Dinner at Taverna Tagaris, the Tagaris Winery restaurant.

6.  I got a new stamp in my National Parks Passport.

7.  Sunshine.

8.  Great lunch at Olive in Walla Walla.  Mmmm… bacon…

9.  The Thorp Fruit Stand is awesome!

10.  Time with friends.

What a great weekend, and now I’m home enjoying some snuggle time with Martini.  I feel so fortunate that my friend Shelley has a heart of gold and was willing to give Tini her meds so I could have a few days away.  Now that’s friendship.