As promised in the last post, here's a recap of the fantastic wine tasting trip we went on with Brian, Rita, and the boys last weekend where we all had such a blast (and buzz).
Before making the 40-minute drive to the Livermore Valley wine country, the smaller and lesser-known little cousin to the famous Napa Valley 1.5 hr to the north, Rita hands out treats to Bryson and Picasso in exchange for good behavior when we get to the wineries (don't wanna ruin it for all the future canine visitors!). We're not huge wine snobs, just psyched that we can take these guys along to these dog-friendly wineries so close to home!
Livermore Valley Cellar was the first winery we hit. They're in a tiny little shack in the middle of a housing development, kinda a strange place for a winery. But they more than make up for it by making some damn good big-ass zin's. Check out their appropriately-named "Derriere Series" with names like "caboose" and "weigh behind". Cute. We also got their arcanum (a cab/merlot/syrah blend) and syrah, both are super yummy. Just thinking about them now make me crave a filet mignon or lamb chop, hmm... (*salivating*).
**At last check, LVC's website is loaded with viruses! Visitors beware**
Anyway, back to our wine-tasting day last weekend. It was a super hot day and LVC just wasn't big enough to accomodate all of us + Bryson and Picasso (all squeezed inside for the free A/C, of course), so we headed over to Tenuta Winery a few minutes away.
Brian and Rita told us the best thing about this winery (apart from being dog-friendly, as is LVC) is that they do barrel tasting. We've never done it before, and we're very happy to learn that this is how you get "first dips" at a good deal. Basically, you taste the wine when it's still in the barrels, then buy them as "futures" if you like them (i.e. paying a discounted price now and pick up when they're commercially released, usually a few months later).
And that's just what we did when we got there. We got to taste a really awesome primativo (essentially same thing as a zin, as I understand it), which we got for 30% (+ another 20% off since we got a case) off the final retail price. The down side of course is that we'll be thinking about it every day till we can actually get our hands on it when it's released this fall. *sigh*
The picture above on the left is the public tasting room, and the one to the right is our "private tour" to the barrel room in the back, which the boys enjoyed very much, being able to sniff out all the weird smells of fermenting grapes and wet oak barrels (they probably wonder why we like such foul-smelling stuff, just like we wonder why they like to roll in poop, ha ha).
And I have to say being taken "back stage" to the barrel room by the very patient and friendly Rich, seeing the inner workings of a small family-owned winery, tasting wines straight out of the barrel, and doing all that with our dogs by our side was a pretty unique experience.
They've also invited us back during harvest season to process grapes with them- no stomping grapes I-Love-Lucy-style though (how disappointing!), but we'll be working the machines that pick grapes, and learn how they're pressed and processed. In turn we'll get a couple bottle of wines as our "wages" for the day. How fun is that?! (Fellow Bay Area residents- wanna bring your pooches and come join us? :>)
And below is Bryson before and after a nice glass of primativo. ("Nice buzz...")
Check out our Flickr album for more photos from this fantastic day!