For Pinot’s sake

I learned there are several ways to approach visiting California wineries. One popular way is to reserve a seat on a limo/bus and travel to a bunch of wineries in one day without getting arrested for playing bumper cars on Highway 29. You can find plenty of limo services on the web that, for a fee, will drive you around all day. Our daughter-in-law did just that for our son’s birthday this year. They had a blast! Oh, and they were so snookered by lunch they fell asleep on the grass during one of the winery stops. Yep, and nearly got left behind by their limo driver. I asked if they took any pictures of the wineries. They figured the camera would get lost, so they left it home. Smart kids!

With only one day to get the teeniest sip of wine country, we considered the limo approach, but opted for just picking one winery that included a tour. We actually were in the area to visit our Air Force son, who is today deploying to scary parts of the world, and our lovely daughter-in-law. With a French oak barrel full of possibilities, how in the world does anyone pick a winery? That was the twenty dollar question. Our oldest daughter and new son-in-law came to the rescue. They had just gotten back from their honeymoon in Napa and Sonoma.

“I went to yelp.com and Hendry Winery had lots of great reviews,” Katie said.

She knew her engineer/dad would love George Hendry and his approach to winemaking. I mean how often does one get to be in the presence of a dude that is passionate about wine and also designs cyclotrons for Pinot’s sake? George is also a physicist. I liked that Hendry wine (www.hendrywines.com) is made of grapes harvested from the 140 acres of grapes planted on the estate. Oh, and the bottle of Hendry Pinot that Katie and Chad brought back to us certainly helped sealed the deal.

The tour/tasting lasted 2-1/2 hours. They do them twice a day. Be sure to reserve in advance. It was $40 per person (fee waived with equivalent purchase) and included an educational tour of the vineyard, where they made and stored the wines, and a seated, formal tasting. Katie indicated a “seated tasting” was a little unusual for Napa/Sonoma and she thought we’d enjoy it better than hangin’ onto a bar for dear life. Did we ever!

Somewhere between their unoaked Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, I was feeling warm and a tad lightheaded. It’s probably why I couldn’t tell you whether we sampled six, seven or eight different wines. We were taught to swirl and sip and it was all good … especially the Pinot Noir. We noticed the difference in taste and color of the barrel fermented and unoaked Chardonnay. Of the 12 bottles we bought, and they conveniently shipped home to us, three were Pinot Noir. We are saving them for a special occasion. What the heck, we’ll uncork a bottle this weekend. Weekends are special, aren’t they?

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