Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wine, Vine, and Love.

Mr. Husband knows that his wife thrives on plans. I love lists and organization for activities, but I cannot clean our abode to save my life. Fortunately, cleaning is a couples activity in our neck of the woods, but we always have a plan. I like to have a list of things like “clean the toilet, fold laundry” so I can mark it off with a pencil scratch. That pencil scratch is my own neurotic reward for progress. I have to know where I’m going at all times, and my dear husband plans for that. He is very afraid of Neurotic Wife who cannot breathe due to not knowing what’s coming next. We’ve also had many moments of confusion based on lack of planning, which has caused us to learn to love the plan. The family council has passed the Planning Game into law and sees this as the best way to proceed in most activities.

Mr. Husband likes to remind me that I cannot control everything.

Our second day in San Fran was to be romantic day for Husband and Wife. We planned to head out to Napa Valley. Mr. Moser gave us a laminated map that detailed all wineries along with tasting rooms and hours. To see how many little dots—amazing. I didn’t have adequate time to plan. Oh, no! Since we were on vacation, I thought we’d wing it. I really tried, too. I kept telling myself about how free I was. How I was going to just head down the road and see where it takes me. Mr. Husband, who is always much wiser than neurotic wife, knew better. While I was showering and dressing, he looked up various vineyards and planned our day trip. He had everything ready to go into the GPS in the rental car. He not only planned for various wineries in Napa, but he researched each website to see what other than wine the winery might offer. Since we didn’t know much about what was out there—good or bad wine and where—we were throwing stones into a pool of water (or, better, a pool of wine).

There is one thing that neurotic wife likes more than plans—a theme! Mr. Husband had carefully crafted a theme for our day’s romantic adventure. We were visiting wineries that offered spectacular scenery. There had to be something unique about the winery as a viewing point. Fantastic! He wouldn’t tell me what the special feature was until we were just upon the winery. This is about as much mystery excitement as I can handle—seriously; I’m not good with surprises. I clapped my hands and we drove and made up silly songs. It is about an hour and a half from San Fran Noe Valley to Napa. However, the scenery is so crazy spectacular, that one hardly notices the time. It’s like watching a really good movie.

The first winery was a chateau that has a castle and a Chinese Garden behind it. Wow. The garden was a dream. It was just down behind the castle that was covered with crawling ivy. We were the only ones there. In a dream. Well, it would have been a dream except for the gardeners and their mowing mowers and weed whackers whacking that offered continuous remembrance of the Here and Now instead of transporting us to Other World. But we ran and we laughed and we played on the pond with the baby ducks, the graceful swan, and the turtles that seem to be everywhere these days.

We’ve labeled this winery Chateau Forgettable. I can never remember the proper name because the wine simply wasn’t to our liking. But the winery—spectacular! They had a reasonable Riesling that made me think of our dear Mrs. Patel who thrives on Riesling. Their best wine was a Cabernet for $125, but it was really only fun and not truly exciting. On this day, we were looking for exciting. With house budget, we needed to be wowed In order to buy something that wasn’t on budget. Oh, and like nothing was on budget.

The next winery was St. Clement that offers a Victorian house up on a hill overlooking the winery and valley. Lovely. It is the perfect place for a small spring wedding reception. Gardens carved out of stone with big trees that invite you to their limbs. The tasting room was small and packed. It was uncomfortably small. But it was here that we tasted liberty. Here we tasted a wine with mixed grapes that ran down our throats, past our tongues, like a great wave of velvet. Oroppas. Say it—the word “Or-O-pPas”! It reminds me of Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist where we get stuck sounding out “Omphalus” –words taste good. This wine tasted better than words. I’m going to English Literature hell for that statement—it’s the dreaded ring of hell of which Dante never speaks or writes for great fear.

We bought two bottles of velvety 2005 and two half bottles of 2002. We shared one with Moser and Petar and one of the 2005 is still on its way to us. (The guys are shipping our wine.)

We fell in love all over again with that bit of Oroppas. That’s good wine.

The next winery was Mumm Napa. This is a sparkling wine winery with a photo gallery as a bonus. Of course, we thought “museum,” which it really was not, but walking among the black and white photographs were big windows where we could look in upon the casks of wine making their time. Casks of love. I got the giggles from the sparkling wine and we bought a bottle to share with Jeff’s parents. The Blanc de Blanc made us think of my Mother-in-Law (MIL). Jeff tasted the fine water at this establishment. Since he was driving, he spit out most the wine at any place. Here, he got an actual glass of water. Funny. He rated it for tap water versus bottled quality. A discerning tongue knows all liquids and can rate in accordance.

Our final vineyard was Gloria Ferrer. We were late getting there, though. The tasting room was closed. We only got to see the view and know that this is a place we wanted to revisit. Spectacular drive with a patio overlooking the magnificent rows of grapes. Serenity was here. She saw us and she gave us the rest of our lives to think back on the moment and the view. We would come back to this view. We would. And we had each other for the day, together in wine, vine, and love.

We drove home, guided by the strange woman on our GPS. We found our two friends and filled them with the wine of our travels. We all vowed that another trip was necessary. Napa stays with us forever in memory and on our palette ever. Good planning. Good Husband.

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