Last weekend Chris took me away from it all to Paso Robles in Central California to celebrate my birthday and, well, do a little business. But when your business is wine, that's not a bad thing. A little background for those of you who don't know Chris (and okay, if you're really new to the blog: Chris is my "significant other" of nearly 6 years). He writes a wine column for Area 9 magazine and he also runs a website called ForgottenGrapes.com (yep, that's a link to it--check it out!). Lately he's expanded his wine repertoire to include wine tasting events at restaurants and wine bars. He puts on a great "show" that's entertaining and pop-culture referenced filled and at the same time educates the audiences on some of the lesser known wines (so Mourvedre, Viognier, Roussane, Carmenere....not Chardonnay, Cabernet or Pinot Noir; you got that right? No? Okay...time for you to check out the website). His next big adventure and expansion into eventual world dominance of Forgotten Grapes everywhere is leading a wine tour through Paso Robles for a long weekend April 8th to the 11th, 2010. 10 or 12 of us will get to tour the wineries of the Central Coast, but not just hopping out of the van and running into the tasting bars with the masses of humanity. No, we'll be meeting with the winemakers, getting private tours, doing barrel tastings, and in a few cases, dining with the winemakers in their private tasting rooms. (If you're interested in joining us....and why wouldn't you be??...there's room for a few more. Check it all out at ForgottenGrapes.com).
So this past weekend, Chris and I had the very, very difficult job of scouting out the trip. We went to most of the wineries on the trip, met with the winemakers, ate at the restaurant and checked out the house (well, it's really two houses) that will be the accommodation for our group. Awesomeness everywhere. So many good wines, but the people we met were even more impressive. So kind, friendly and genuinely interested and passionate about their wines. Maybe because Chris is so knowledgeable in an area that most know little or nothing about (another word for "Forgotten" grapes might be "obscure"), the conversations were endlessly interesting. (Another thing to know about Chris is he has an encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything and particularly wine; I'm old so I say "encyclopedic"; our younger friends call him "Chrisipedia.")
I wasn't in charge; I had no duties or obligations; I was chauffeured about, wined, dined, wined, pampered, wined, and generally spoiled and relaxed all weekend long. Sheer bliss. And I fell in love with Paso Robles. Very few places make me want to pack up and move. Paso Robles had me not wanting to even bother coming home to pack up anything (except Seamus; we need Seamus with us). Here's some photos from our trip:
This is Chris (right) with Claiborne Thompson of Claiborne & Churchill winery (they're both Princeton grads so they had that in common too)
The house our group will be staying in come April. It sits high on a hill overlooking the wine valley.
The Pinot Noir flight tasting at Wild Horse.
Dinner at the home of Lisa & Ted Plemons, with Alice and Steve Cass. The four of them own Cass Vineyards & Winery. I can't believe I didn't get a picture of Ted...but trust me, he looks just like Richard Branson!
Here's Lisa with their dog Fig. Fig was very Seamus-esque (note his presence at the table and the defiant stare; yep, that's Seamus!)
These were a select few photos from Saturday and Sunday. Still to come, the Monday photos (hint: Monday had gorgeous weather--that's when the photo that is now the blog header photo was taken).
To think, this time last year I had just started my very first chemo treatment. A trip like this makes that all a very distant memory.