Jun 22, 2011

5th Annual Wine Trip

The weekend of May 21st was our annual wine trip with friends. Cameron and I took on the task of planning it, given that it was my 30th birthday year. The whole thing got started when I planned a wine trip for Cameron & Pat’s 30th birthdays.

We thought it would be fun to taste some wines from our own backyard so we set our sites on Lodi wineries. Cameron did most of the planning, securing the limo and selecting wineries to visit. He even scheduled a special tasting for us at the Lodi Wine & Visitors Center to start the trip off right.

We started the morning with everyone meeting at our house for a waffle breakfast. We know the importance of a hardy breakfast before wine tasting after so many years. At 10 AM, the limo arrived and we headed the ½ hour away to Lodi.

Loading up for a day of fun!

The Lodi Wine & Visitor’s Center features wines that use grapes from the Lodi area – the winery doesn’t necessarily have to be located there. The gentleman that Cameron worked with to organize this tasting even started the tasting off with a birthday candle in a cork for us May babies to blow out. Plus, he set us up outside on a nice, shady patio, which was smart as it kept the tasting room clear for other visitors.

My favorite wine at the center was from a winery called Lobo Loco – it was a delicious, woody yet buttery chardonnay. Mmm, reminds me there is a bottle of that chilling in the fridge for me right now.

Next, we headed to Lucas Winery. I have nothing nice to say about them as they turned us away. As soon as the limo pulled into the gravel parking lot, a gentleman we assumed was the owner came running out and yelled at our poor driver, saying parties our size needed to be called in ahead first. I’ll give him the fact that we had 14 people with us, but his winery wasn’t that small from what we could see. And we didn’t appreciate that he yelled out our driver versus discussing the issue with us. We would learn that his tastings were complimentary on the drive to the next winery – but we don’t taste and run. We taste, wander the gift shops and purchase wine at every winery we go to. With 14 people, that can be a lot of bottles sold, and more than enough to cover the complimentary tasting. Oh well, his loss. We climbed back into the limo loudly stating we were happy to take our money elsewhere.

So it was on to Woodbridge by Mondavi. Here most of us paid for the $10 tasting so we could taste wines all over the tasting menu, versus going for the $5 tasting or complimentary one. It definitely helped that the $10 tasting allowed us to take our glasses home with us. We’d originally picked this location as it offers complimentary tours of the facilities, but we were enjoying ourselves too much when that time rolled around and were gearing up to head to a few more locations. After some purchases, we found ourselves back in the limo, snacking on cheese, crackers and salami, winding our way through the beautiful vineyards.

All The Boys at Woodbridge

Next stop: Heritage Oak. This vineyard had converted an old barn into the tasting room and had an outdoor patio with live music going that day. Not that I noticed much, as I spent much of my time in the tasting room. Tasting was complimentary and they had a wide range of wines to choose from. When they learned it was some of our birthdays, they opened a $20 bottle of port for us to try. It was delicious, and Lynde ended up buying a bottle for a special occasion. They also gave us some very nice, branded bottle openers. I found myself another nice white and Cameron a nice red to take home.

Cameron & I at Heritage Oak

We ended our day at Vino con Brio. Here they had a delicious Pinot Grigio that I couldn’t pass us. And the tasting flights included glasses once again. Time was running short, so we didn’t get to spend too much time here, which would have been nice as they had an interesting array of product throughout the gift shop. But, we were already running over on time with the limo, and my poor mom was probably ready for a break from London after watching her for three days straight.

Back at home, we barbequed from hamburgers and garlic bread to soak up all the wine from they day. Most everyone quickly dispersed after dinner to go home and sleep. Wine tasting is a tiring activity for us it seems.

I wonder where next year will take us?

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