Tag Archive | Zinfandel

The First Wine from the Mixed Case

Bright cherry red with a hint of carbonation?  That’s usually not the description for a wine…  But it was how I describe the first wine from the mixed case I purchased last weekend.  I let Jon pick the first wine to try, and he chose the 2012 Trentadue Old Patch Red.

The color was more bright cherry red than I was expecting from a wine that is primarily Zinfandel, and it was less opaque than I was expecting too.  On the palate, it has a medium body, but the first taste of this wine was odd.  It made my tongue tingle, almost like the wine was lightly carbonated.  Once the tingle dissipated, I figured it was very strong spice that was causing the sensation.  So weird!  Fortunately the tingling on the tongue went away after the wine sat in the glass for about 10 minutes.

This red blend from the North Coast of California is 85% Zinfandel, 6% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignane, and 4% Syrah.  This wine was meh… Not bad enough to pour down the drain, but… in short, not every wine is a winner.

Have you had the 2012 Trentadue Old Patch Red?  What did you think?

California Marathon Road Trip: Gundlach Bundschu

Our second winery stop was at Gundlach Bundschu – good luck trying to pronounce that name!  It is the oldest continuously family-owned winery in California.  It was founded by Jacob Gundlach in 1858 as Rhinefarm, with Charles Bundschu joining the company in 1868 – originally the farm in Sonoma was about 400 acres.  It was renamed Gundlach Bundschu in 1894 and at the turn of the 20th century the company was producing about 250,000 cases of wine each year.

Up until that point the winery facility was located in San Francisco, but the production facilities and about a million gallons of wine were destroyed by the earthquake in 1906.  They moved the production facility to Sonoma after the quake and then Prohibition hit.

During prohibition the winery closed its doors, and all but 130 acres of the farm were sold – the family managed to make a living selling grapes for juice and raising cattle.  After prohibition, the farm began selling grapes to Inglenook, Almaden and then Louis Martini wineries, but didn’t reopen the winery until the 1970s.

The winery now produces about 25,000 cases total – I believe all their wines are estate grown.  They have a huge tasting room with a gorgeous outdoor patio area; seems that they do a lot of events.  Too bad it was too cold to sit outside and enjoy the view!

Gundlach Bundschu Patio

Gundlach Bundschu Patio

Gundlach Bundschu was a fun winery; our server was Columbian and he was super friendly.  We tried Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  We both loved the Zin!  It was fruit forward and balanced, without losing structure.  There was a lot of pepper and spice on the Merlot, and the Chardonnay was a nice acidic wine with a light balanced oak on the back of the palate.  The only wine I didn’t really like was the Gewürztraminer.  I liked it at first taste – it was semi-sweet with citrus, but there was a floral finish on the back of the palate that didn’t appeal to me.

Gundlach Bundschu Tasting Room

Gundlach Bundschu Tasting Room

While we were there several other groups came in, and you can tell they have a loyal following.  Which isn’t surprising, given the quality of the wine.  What a fantastic visit!

California Marathon Road Trip: Sonoma and Tin Barn Vineyards

The day after Jon’s marathon, Jon and I decided to head to Sonoma for the day to do a bit of wine tasting.  The day was cold and clear, and we got to Sonoma right at lunchtime.  After wandering around the square checking out our lunch options, we decided to try the Plaza Bistro.

The place was pretty empty when we arrived, and the temperature was cold – I wish they would have turned the heat up a bit.  But the service was friendly and fast, and the food was excellent.  Jon had the beet salad, with roasted beets, fresh sliced fennel, Blue Lake beans, Chevre goat cheese, and almonds, all on baby greens topped with a sherry vinaigrette dressing.  Jon was very satisfied with the salad – but he wished it had been larger.

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

I had the salmon sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula, and lemon garlic aioli on a ciabatta roll.  It came with a green salad with vinaigrette.  The sandwich was amazing!  My only gripe was that the salad needed something more; it was just lettuce and dressing.  The sandwich was more than enough for me, and I knew Jon would be hungry again soon if he didn’t eat more, so I was very kind to share a few bites of my sandwich with him.

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

After our tummies were full, we were ready to start our tour.  We headed first to Tin Barn Vineyards.  We were first introduced to Tin Barn wine when we went to Zuzu restaurant in Napa a few years ago.  Zuzu is a tapas restaurant (fabulous by the way) and we had a bottle of their Zinfandel with our meal that evening.  We were hooked.  It was well balanced, fruit forward, and not overpowered with tannins.  We even tried to visit the tasting room on that trip and struck out, because it was Tuesday and they were closed.

This trip we were lucky enough to be there on a Monday, one of the days that the tasting room was open!  They are located in a row of warehouses, and it looked pretty deserted.  But the sign said they were open, so we went inside.  We looked around the tasting room waiting for somebody to come out, and peeked into the winery area as well.  Eventually, the owner, Michael Lancaster, realized that we were out there and came out to pour – he had been working in the winery and didn’t hear us come in.

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Mike was super friendly and guided us through the Tin Barn line-up, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc, a dry, crisp balanced wine with flavors of lemon-grass.  There were two Pinot Noirs, both from Ricci Vineyard in Sonoma County, the 2010 and 2011 vintages.  They were both excellent; and having two different vintages from the same vineyard meant you could taste the difference that weather imparts on wine.

There were also two Zinfandels on the list – both from 2011.  The first was from Gilsson Vineyard in the Russian River Valley – a nice, fruit-forward Zin.  Gilsson Vineyard has 50 year old vines, which make for a fantastic wine.  The other was more tannic, from Los Chamizal Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, but also delicious.

We finished the tasting with the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  This isn’t a vineyard designate wine, and it also contains Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  It was a great California Cab, with great structure and not over-oaked.

We left with two bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of each of the Zinfandels.  Our visit left me wishing we lived closer!

California Marathon Road Trip: Old Clarksburg Sugar Mill

In my last post, I told you about our visit to Locke, California, on The California Delta.  After our visit, we got back on Highway 160 and were enjoying the scenery when we  saw a huge, old brick building.  We knew it must have been a factory of some sort, but didn’t know what kind.  Then we saw a sign announcing that we were coming up to the town of Clarksburg, and there was wine tasting at the Old Sugar Mill!  Well, duh, of course we had to stop – it was wine tasting in a historic sugar mill!

The Front Entrance of the Old Sugar Mill

The Front Entrance of the Old Sugar Mill

The Old Sugar Mill was a beet sugar mill that was originally owned by the Amalgamated Sugar Company.  This particular mill was built in Logan, Utah in 1897, and closed in 1933, due to blight and drought in Utah.  At that point, the company dismantled the mill and moved it to Clarksburg, where it was reconstructed and opened again in July, 1935.  The mill changed hands a couple of times, but had a long run processing beet sugar from surrounding farms, before finally closing for good in 1993.

The unrestored section of the Old Sugar Mill

The unrestored section of the Old Sugar Mill

In 2000, a plan was made to convert the mill into winery crush and retail space, and the first winery opened there in 2004.  The Old Sugar Mill has 10 wineries operating there now, and the mill is huge, with a lot of yet to be converted space.  Since we had never visited before, I did what any self-respecting wino wine connoisseur would do; I found a lady in the restroom who was carrying wine, and I asked her which were her favorites.  She said Todd Taylor and Rendezvous.

Todd Taylor was closer to the restroom, so we headed there, and ran into Todd himself.  He led us through his lineup of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.  I liked them all and was pleased by how much I enjoyed his Carneros Pinot Noir.  If you remember my posts on my March trip to the Anderson Valley, you know I wasn’t blown away by the Anderson Valley Pinots we tried.  Todd Taylor’s Pinots were wines I really enjoyed!  And his Zinfandel was excellent as well.

The Interior of the Old Sugar Mill – I love those Brick Walls!

The Interior of the Old Sugar Mill – I love those Brick Walls!

We asked Todd for his recommendation on another winery that did Zinfandels, since Jon wanted to make sure we tried some good Zins on this trip.  Todd recommended Three Wine Company, just down the hall, so we headed there next.

Three had a larger lineup, with a complimentary tasting of 5 wines.  It is the latest project of Matt Cline, who worked for many years as the winemaker at Cline Cellars.  The first wine was released in  2008.  For my tasting, I tried their Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Old Vine Zinfandel, their Field Blend, and the Petite Sirah.  My favorites were the Riesling, a nice semi-sweet Riesling, and the Old Vine Zinfandel (actually a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mataro (also known as Mourvèdre), and Alicante Bouschet).  I wasn’t a fan of the Field Blend, but I liked the Petite Sirah.  It was a big tannic wine, but I think it would soften over time.

Christmas at Three Wine Company

Christmas at Three Wine Company

We wrapped up our purchases at Three and headed out just as the Old Sugar Mill was closing for the day.  We drove back to Roseville to meet up with Jon’s friend Pablo and his girlfriend Jessica for dinner at Sushi Nami.  They were having their “appetite stimulus package” sale, which meant that any of their sushi rolls was on sale for half price.  HALF PRICE!  It was advertised as a limited time only, but Pablo said that this special has been going on for a couple of years now.  I would totally visit all the time if I lived nearby!

We had a good time catching up, but unfortunately Pablo and Jessica couldn’t stay very long, and we were on our own again.  We headed back to the hotel for an early night, as Jon’s race would be here before we knew it!

Merry Christmas!

I hope that everybody had a Merry Christmas and stuffed their faces silly with lots of high calorie foods and fantastic wine.  I know I did!  Over two days, we had prime rib, ham, mashed potatoes, au gratin potatoes, kale salad, squash salad, roasted beets, rolls, trifle, and red velvet cake (I know I’m leaving some things out…).  I also enjoyed sparkling Riesling, Picpoul Blanc, Merlot, apple cider, more apple cider and a taste of Zinfandel.  Not to mention fun with family, the glow of Christmas trees all lit up with sparkling ornaments, warm babies and warm cats snuggled on my lap (even at the same time!), and some lovely thoughtful gifts received and shared.  To top it all off, it wasn’t raining on the Pacific Northwest, and Jon and I enjoyed a nice hike at one of Washington’s National Historic Sites with his dad, brother and sister.  The views of the ocean and the farmlands of Island County at Ebey’s Landing National Historic Site were amazing, and unobscured by the clouds that are all too typical this time of year.

My thoughts go out to everybody who is struggling with illness or loss, or is experiencing the full force of mother nature, like my family in Michigan who are without power during an ice storm.  I am thinking of you all.  Even though I’m a day late, I want to wish a heartfelt Merry Christmas to all.  I am truly blessed.

California Road Trip: The Anderson Valley Pinot Tour

We woke up the next morning ready for our foray into Anderson Valley Wine Country.  At that point, it had been a whole 18 hours since I had last thrown up!  Not the ideal timing for a wine tour, but today was the day, as the rest of the trip was mapped out in other places.  I am a big (no – HUGE!) fan of Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, and I have been interested in trying some of Pinots from other areas.  In researching our trip, I learned that the Anderson Valley has a double draw – they are known for their Pinot Noir wines and there are also several sparkling wine producers!  Win, win!  The Anderson Valley is characterized by a coastal fog that settles in the valley, creating the cool nights that Pinot Noir is known to thrive on.

Jon and I got on the road, and while I was feeling a lot better (my breakfast remaining in my stomach being a vast improvement over the day before), I would be lying if I said I was feeling 100%.  So we headed out, across Highway 253, a scenic country road that heads up and over some hills before descending into the valley at Boonville.  The view was nice, and we enjoyed the drive.

A Historic Wine Delivery Truck in Boonville, California

A Historic Wine Delivery Truck in Boonville, California

Our plan was to drive northwest from Boonville to Navarro on Highway 128, and then turn around and work our way back, stopping at our destination wineries along the way.  There are many wineries located right on 128, so there really isn’t much chance of getting lost on country roads along the way.  We checked out where we wanted to go on the way back (really, I decided where I wanted to go, because Jon hadn’t provided any input) and then we drove up to our first stop of the day.

Handley Cellars is a family owned winery that began operations in 1982.  When you step into the tasting room, you are met with all sorts of interesting items from around the world.  The server explained that the elephant chairs in the sitting area are over 100 years old, and is among the folk art items that have been collected by winemaker Milla Handley in her travels around the world.

Handley Cellars Tasting Room

Handley Cellars Tasting Room

While we were there, we tasted the 2011 Mendocino County Chardonnay, the 2011 Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer, and the 2007 Late Harvest Riesling.  For the reds, we tasted the 2009 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, the 2010 Mendocino County Pinot Noir, and the 2009 Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir.  We also tried the 2009 Redwood Valley Syrah and the 2010 Redwood Valley Zinfandel.  It was our first winery of the day, and as I was still a bit tired from being sick, and I completely forgot to take any notes.  Sadly, I didn’t love the style of Pinot Noir.  It was a much more earthy and spicy than the light, acidic, cherry Pinots from the Willamette Valley.  The highlights of our tasting were the Late Harvest Riesling and the Zinfandel, which we took home with us.

View of the Vineyards at Handley Cellars

View of the Vineyards at Handley Cellars

Husch Vineyards was our next stop, right down the road – their tasting room is very scenic – located in a historic pony barn built in the late 1800s.  Husch planted their first vineyards in 1968 and the winery was founded in 1971, making it the oldest winery in the Anderson Valley.  The current owners purchased the winery from the Husch family in 1979.  All of their grapes are estate grown, but some of the vineyards are in the Mendocino area.

Husch has a wide selection of wines (22 in all – although only 17 were available the day we were there), and you can choose to sample any six on their list.  I sampled their 2011 Mendocino Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Vine One Anderson Valley Chardonnay, 2012 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley (a Rosé), 2010 Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Noir, 2010 Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Mendocino Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Chenin Blanc, and 2012 Muscat Canelli.  If you count up those wines, you’ll notice that they let me sample eight, which just goes to show a little friendliness goes a long way.

Husch Vineyards

Husch Vineyards

I was pleased with many of their wines, with their Chardonnay being a nice balance between the crisp style that I like and the oak that Jon prefers.  Their Vin Gris Rosé was a nice, light summer wine, perfect for a hot day.  The Reserve Pinot Noir was very nice, with more of the cherry flavors I have come to love in a Pinot Noir.  Jon and I both enjoyed the Husch Cabernet Sauvignon, although I didn’t taste enough of a difference to justify the big price difference between the regular and the reserve Cab.

And I enjoyed the Chenin Blanc, which had a slight sweetness with acidity and just a hint of butter.  The Muscat Canelli had flavors of peach with honeysuckle on the finish.  We left with a couple of bottles – the Reserve Pinot Noir and the Chenin Blanc.  Then we continued on our tour!

2010 Cathedral Ridge Necessity Red

The weather was terrible today.  After weeks of dry weather – 80 some days with no rain! – we finally got some blustery, stormy weather on Friday.  The wind picked up last night and continued through today.  We have a lot of leaves and small branches to clean up once the weather clears!

So to honor the terrible weather – I made some comfort food.  Spaghetti chicken bake, as I like to call it.  Spaghetti with sauce and veggies, cooked in a casserole dish with a couple of chicken breasts and some shredded cheese.  Baked long enough that the cheese forms a delicious crust.  And to go with our meal, Jon opened up the Cathedral Ridge 2010 Necessity Red.  This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel; it was the perfect red to go with our dinner!  The blend is about 80% Pinot Noir, and it has a tart cherry flavor that is so prevalent in Pinot.  However, it also is just a touch more robust, due to the addition of Zinfandel.

Cathedral Ridge – 2010 Necessity Red

And you have to love the name.  Thomas Jefferson is attributed with saying, “Good wine is a necessity of life.”  Cathedral Ridge named this wine with that quote in mind.

I wish we had some more of this …

Carlton Cellars – Part two

The number three station on the marathon tasting tour was Carlton Cellars again, where we tasted their reds. We started out with the 2008 Seven Devils Pinot Noir, which at $20 is a great value. It was a great wine too, with a balance of cherry and tannin that we both really enjoyed. We tried their reserve Pinots as well, and they were very well done, but I couldn’t taste enough of a difference to warrant the premium price. We ended up with a couple of bottles of the Seven Devil’s Pinot Noir, for an everyday drinking wine.

Ghost Hill Winery was number four. Ghost Hill is relatively new to the scene – they seem to have just set up a tasting room out of their home right down the road from Annie Amie Vineyards. We thought about visiting there, but were detered by the long, pot-holed gravel road, so we were pleased to see that they had a presence at Carlton Cellars. We sampled their Pinot Blanc, a Pinor Noir Blanc, and a Pinot Noir. The wines were good, and I think they have a lot of potential. I didn’t walk away with any distinct memory of the Pinot Noir – in the shuffle of the day, it got lost in the other wines. I did get a couple of bottles of the the Pinot Noir Blanc – it was a well structured wine, and it was very reasonably priced at $20. Not many wineries do a Pinot Noir Blanc, which is made with the Pinot Noir grape with the skins removed at the beginning of the process, to avoid having them color the wine. In fact, the only other winery that I’ve had it at is Anne Amie, so when we saw it at Ghost Hill, I got excited about trying it.

Angel Vine was number five in the marathon tasting session. Angel Vine focuses on Zinfandels, although they do a Pinot Noir and a Petit Sirah as well. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Angel Vine, they were Three Angels Winery, but apparently had to change the name when they got sued by a large corporation over the trademark. I find it sad that the little guy has to cave when the big corporate lawyers come knocking, but we are here about the wine now, aren’t we? At any rate, their Morgster Pinot Noir was good, but nothing special. The Zinfandels though are amazing. We tried the 2008 Columbia Valley Primitivo, which is the Italian clone of the Zinfandel grape and it was very nice, which a strong, bold flavor. The 2008 “The Hellion” and the 2008 Les Collenes Vineyard Zinfandel were also very good. They source their grapes from Washington, in the Yakima and Walla Walla valleys, and it is nice to see a winery that focuses on some of the varietals that aren’t as widely grown in Washington. They have done a great job with all their wines – in fact, it was impossible to choose a clear favorite among these three Zins.

Are you tired yet? We were, so we took this opportunity to take a break and get our BBQ pulled pork sandwich, that was complimentary with our tasting fee. The chef is a Mississippi native, who ended up in Portland. The BBQ sauce was excellent, with the spicy sauce having a great kick, but not an overpowering spice. His coleslaw was delicious too. It gave us a chance to take a break and regroup before continuing our circle around the barrel room. I took a little break out in the sunshine as well, although it was really kind of overcast rather than sunny.

Reminiscing about California

Jon and I have been stuck at home, due to work and school schedules lately.  It’s giving both of us the itch to do some traveling, but we had to make do with opening a nice bottle of wine to remember the trips we have taken.

We decided to uncork a bottle of Peju Winery’s 2008 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  We picked up this bottle on our July, 2010 trip to Napa Valley – our inaugural trip if you will, because we will definitely go back (totally random aside – Jon says saying “if you will”, sounds pretentious – I disagree.  Feel free to comment).  The weather was cool there while we were there, but it was nothing to complain about when you consider lows in the ’40s around here lately.

I wrote about Peju in a previous post, but for a refresher, Peju was great once you get beyond the line to get into the tasting room, and the egos of some of the servers.  Peju prides itself on its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, but Jon and I thought the Sauvignon Blanc and the Zinfandel were their standouts.

We paired it with some cheap Thai food meals-in-a-bowl.  The meals in a bowl, frankly, sucked.  We won’t go into anymore detail about those.

The Sauvignon Blanc, on the other hand, was our own personal heaven for the day.  The initial nose is of light butter, with a little bit of honeydew.  The taste, was crisp and clean.  The taste of melon and pineapple sweeten the wine’s acidity.  Jon thinks that this wine drinks like a Washington Chardonnay, light butter and light oak.  However we describe it, this wine completely made our day – the only drawback is that we only had one bottle.

Let’s go Danish in the heart of California

Day 3 of our journey led us back to the cute little Danish town of Solvang.  We didn’t feel like we had enough opportunity to explore it the day before, and both Jon and I were in the mood for relaxing.  We headed up there after taking our time in the morning, and our first stop was the Solvang Antique Center.  I was expecting a place with some antiques, some collectibles and lots of little stuff to go through.  This place had hundreds of antique, ornate, grandfather clocks.  And old, huge European furniture.  And a few glass items.  In short, nothing that we could afford, and even if we could, it wouldn’t fit into our house.  We saw one clock priced at $57,000!  Wow, talk about a step up from my IKEA clock!  So, I was in the mood for antiquing, and this place didn’t satisfy me, so we drove up the road to Los Alamos to another antique mall.  This one had the fun stuff I like to look at.  It is housed in a turn of the century train station, and it was neat to see the original floorboards.  If you get tired of shopping, you can have a seat at their wine tasting bar.  We were tempted, but we hadn’t had lunch yet…  We both saw some things that we liked but we saved our money like good little newlyweds – you have to have some for wine!

After my antique itch was scratched, we headed back to Solvang to find lunch and enjoy the afternoon.  We looked around at our lunch options – sushi, German food, ice cream, and we finally settled on a place called the Little Mermaid that offered traditional Danish fare.  I ordered the combo plate, which included Danish sausage, Danish meatballs with gravy, pickled cabbage and mashed potatoes.  Jon thought I was nuts to order that on a hot day and went with the salmon.  My verdict on Danish food is that is kind of your typical European, non-spicy meat and potatoes.  I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that I would go seeking it out if our hometown opened up a Danish joint.  They had a really good passionfruit flavored iced tea though.

After lunch, we wandered down the main drag to Lion’s Peak Winery’s tasting room.  It is decorated with lots of leopard and zebra print, and kind of reminds you of an art gallery.  Their labels are taken from art by a local artist whose prints are hanging in the tasting room.  The server was a lot of fun, and liked to growl like a lion periodically (perhaps she was doing a tasting of her own, under the table).  They had several wines that we really enjoyed, including a buttery Chardonnay that was one of Jon’s favorites, a Mourvedre that I really enjoyed, and a dark full bodied Zinfandel that was outstanding.  Of course we got some wine from there, because best of all, they were having a sale!  To make room for new releases!  We even got some wines for our moms – sorry moms, you’ll have to wait and see what you get.

Lion's Peak Winery Tasting Room in Solvang, CA

Next we headed down the street to Lucas and Lewellen.  This place was hopping- it was really packed!  It was interesting though.  They pour you a taste, don’t tell you anything about it, and then leave.  When you finish that one, they are right there to give you the next taste.  I did find it odd that there was no description, no chit chat, none of it.  It was very impersonal.   I wondered if maybe it was because they were chatting up the locals, but they really weren’t very much.  Later that evening, I read an article that described them that way – that they leave you to your tasting.  I guess it is just a matter of personal preference – but I like to hear about the winery.  They had some good wines, and some that were ok.  I didn’t feel any of them were real standouts though.

After wine tasting some, we wandered around in the sunshine for a bit and stumbled upon the Wednesday Farmer’s Market.  Oh wow, the peaches!  Huge and juicy!  We bought 4, and enjoyed one on a bench in the sun.  I wish our farmer’s market had peaches like those – I can dream…  Next up was saltwater taffy.  We picked two of all the flavors that looked good and ended up with about a 1/2 pound of candy.  We were able to make it last a whole day – hey, we are on vacation here, we have to enjoy ourselves!  We should have gotten more.

After walking through a gate in the adobe wall, we were at the Santa Ynez Mission.  We took pictures of the outside, but didn’t do the tour of this one.  I guess at this point we were a little “missioned” out.  They did have a beautiful rose garden, and a youth ministry building called “The Vines.”  Ummm, starting them a little young down here on the wine, aren’t you?

Jon ringing the dinner bell

The last winery of the day was The Presidio Winery.  They are an organic and biodynamic winery, which means no pesticides, but also that they use the lunar cycles to determine when they will plant, pick and do other things to the grapes.  They plant beans and other crops in between the rows to provide nitrogen to the soil too.  I was looking forward to their wines, but I wasn’t impressed.  They do only unfiltered reds, which apparently means they come cloudy and tart.  There was not a red in the bunch that I enjoyed.  The whites were better, but unfortunately, there wasn’t a standout there either.  Jon did get a tealight holder that sits in a wine bottle, so he was happy, but we weren’t tempted to buy any wine.

After heading back to the hotel, we looked up restaurants on TripAdvisor.com and found a Brazilian restaurant called Maqueca (pronounced MAH – CAKE – AH)  in Oxnard, CA.  What a find!  Maqueca is a traditional Brazilian fish stew – you can have it with fish, shrimp, lobster, mixed seafood – however you like it.  It is served with sticky rice, and a gelatin-like stuff that she said was made of flour.  You spread out your rice, put the gelatin substance on top of that, and then spoon your maqueca on the top.  It isn’t very spicy, but you can add VERY HOT chili peppers if you would like to.  I tried one – that was one too many for me!  The stew was delicious!  When you order, they say it serves two, but even with Jon’s appetite, this stew could have been for at least three.  We had a lot left over, even after stuffing ourselves full of big chunks of fish and shrimp.  I would have loved to take it home – our server said it is even better the next day, when the spices have had more time to marinate.

We went back to our hotel room, stuffed and happy, to share a bottle of wine.