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30 Things Before I'm 30 - Item 11: Go on a wine tasting trip

So, I'm not a drinker. Never was. My college drinking experiences were limited to Pabst Blue Ribbon and Jack-and-cokes, and because I'm a total lightweight and I also don't like drinking things that don't taste good, I generally opt for a non-alcoholic option.

But seeing as how I'm encroaching upon my 30's, I at least feel like I should learn about wine, and find one that I like. When people ask me if I like white or red, I shrug because I don't know. I don't know anything about wine - how to drink it, how to appreciate it, etc. So this one was a must-have on my 30 before 30 list, and when I learned of a 2-for-1 wine tasting voucher on Facebook, I jumped on it.

So my friend Lisa and I set out today for St. Helena (about two hours away) to have lunch and visit a couple different wineries, amidst unusually beautiful late-October weather.

Our first stop was Farmstead, for lunch. (I'm already a lightweight drinker, I'm definitely NOT going into this on an empty stomach.) It's absolutely beautiful, and their ingredients are from local farms and ranches. Before going in to eat, we took a walk around the building and looked at the herb gardens.

So, I want to tell you about our lunch. Our lunch was probably the second most expensive meal I've ever eaten in my life, but it was so unbelievably delicious, and beautifully presented. We tried really hard to remember to take pictures. (We split everything, so we could try more things. Even so, we were SO FULL.)

I love the use of jars!!

"Salad of arugula with pears, almonds, Point Reyes blue cheese, and citrus vinaigrette"
We literally got to this last bite before we thought, "Hey, let's take a picture of this..."
I think this was probably the best salad I've had, like, EVER.

"Wood grilled berkshire pork chop with braised greens, yam puree, and apple butter"
My FAVORITE thing that we ate today. I wanted to buy their apple butter,
but they weren't producing it to sell. (They made it in-house.)

"California arborio rice with Mendocino porcini mushrooms, wood roasted delicata squash, and basil"
Also delicious but quite heavy - I couldn't eat much of this one. But it was definitely wonderful!

I don't have the official description, but it's pumpkin cheesecake with cinnamon whipped cream.
We took a few bites of this one before we remembered to take a picture of it as well. 

After lunch we went across the road to Velo Vino, a tasting room owned by Clif Family Winery - the same Clif family that makes Clif Bars!!! That was something I did not know. Their gift shop has cycling clothes and energy bars in addition to wine and nuts and olive oil.

We decided to pay a little extra for the Le Maillot Jaune tasting menu, which included 6 different wines, an olive oil tasting, an espresso drink afterwards (and a complimentary glass!) The wine pourer was dressed in an 80's rocker costume (complete with mullet wig and tattooed arm sleeves) for Halloween, which only added to the experience :)

We tried two Sauvignon Blancs, a Chardonnay, a Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Petite Sirah, and a Bordeaux Blend. (He threw in a bonus wine to taste.) And then we did the olive oil tasting, which was REALLY interesting for me, because generally, olive oil is not something especially interesting to me. He brought us a little oil in a blue glass, and told us to balance it in the palm of one hand, and cover the opening with the other hand, and then rub the glass in the palm of our hand to warm up the bottom. And then he told us to sniff the scent of the olive oil without removing the top hand. It was AMAZING - it smelled of freshly cut grass. And then he told us to sip a little of it, and I detected the faint taste of apples! I think that I will never think of olive oil the same way again!

After Velo Vino, we went to V. Sattui, since Lisa and her husband are members and members get to taste for free. It's a BEAUTIFUL location, and their store includes a deli where they sell their own (or locally made) cheeses, sauces, breads, desserts, etc.

Uh, random stranger in the photo.

We tried five wines: a Riesling, a Gamay Rouge, a Pinot Noir, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Muscat. And in the deli, I fell in love with their raspberry honey mustard dip. Oh, it was heavenly.

So I guess I would have to declare mission accomplished - I came away with full stomach and a new appreciation for wine. Oh, and, uh, five bottles of wine.

2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

My V. Sattui selections - Lisa bought me the Muscat along with the two wineglasses
below as an early birthday present. I bought the Riesling and two bottles of Gamay Rouge,
one of which I gave to my parents, along with a DELICIOUS Mousse Truffee pate. 

What's wine without glassware, eh? The stemless wineglasses were a present
from Lisa, and the Velo Vino glass was complimentary with our tasting


  1. I love wine tasting! It's so much fun. I definetly would suggest some of our local vineyards out in San Martin and in Gilory off Hecker Pass or even in the coastal Santa Cruz mountains. Livermore has a great valley too, and far less expensive than the bigger wine valleys of Sonoma and Napa.


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