You’re bound to run into some crap everywhere. Such was the case on our trip to Napa and Sonoma this past weekend. In case you missed it, check out my post yesterday on my favorite experiences while we were there.
So today is the crap edition and first on the list: Tasting Bars and Wastes of Money.
One of our travel buddies was all about trying out Sonoma Valley. She had never been and had heard that it was amazing and more affordably priced than Napa. Let’s face it, I don’t book cheap wineries. Having done Wine Road Weekend in March, I was underwhelmed to say the least, but decided to throw this newbie a bone and book an entire day in Sonoma. Of the few we visited, most were good, if not great. Seghesio for example, is great! Their Family Table tasting is a must, along with their Home Ranch blend. J Vineyards on the other hand: crap.
Why do I hate tasting bars? Because you’re not special. And pretty often, the wine sucks. I selected J Vineyards as a sparkling wine option while in the Valley. Considering the group would be having quite a lot of red varietals, a bubbly refresher seemed to be in order. Let’s forget that the area where J. is looks more like an industrial park meets double-wide inhabited farm… instead, I was happy enough that my bubbly wasn’t being poured out of a sheet metal shed (*cough* Hook and Ladder). The building, an 1970′s update, was set within some truly beautiful gardens. We walked in and were immediately overlooked by not 1, not 2, but 4 J. employees. Great first impression, bucko. When we finally caught the eye of a nice man, he handed us a wine-stained, dog-eared paper menu and said this is it. We dutifully ordered our 1st glass and ran for the out door patio. Overall, their wine was fine– nothing special, nothing repulsive. If the weather and their gardens hadn’t been so nice, I would have been truly repulsed. I’m a consumer, dammit. I would have happily bought some wine if they had showed any interest in me at all… in fact, I’m a wine club member to quite a few places for this simple reason alone. Note to self: SKIP J. Vineyards.
Paraduxx. Surprising, I know. I was particularly interested in this experience due to the fact it was a blend your own wine seminar. AWESOME, right! Wrong. Well, let me skip ahead. It ended up being good. We started off with the 3 seemingly-stoner dudes at the front demanding our credit cards for payment. Hey buddy, I’m good for it, I swear! Once we handed them over, they thought it would be fine to drop off a glass of Rose for us to enjoy. Hindsight, the Rose was so that we would be able to tolerate out tour guide for the first 30 minutes. The tour guy wasn’t able to focus long enough to get our credit cards stored in the computer and kept saying the system was down. Ok, no problem. He wrote them down and then we proceeded out to their vineyard. I’m all for knowing the inner workings of your establishment, but hey, I graduated from school quite a few years ago and words like viticulture make my eyes glaze over in .04 seconds. This guy, who had obviously had his share of special brownies that morning, and had chops the size of Rhode Island, was indeed a tool bag. At one point, he even told our low key group of 6 to move in to elbows length so he didn’t have to strain his voice. Wait, I’m PAYING for this? Once we made our way back to the blending room, the tour really perked up. The tour guide, whom one of our fellow tourists nicknamed “Wolverine,” got some booze in his system and ended up being fairly entertaining. Overall, the wine was great but it wasn’t worth the $40 per person… And it especially wasn’t worth the $80 per person when Wolverine double charged us. I still haven’t gotten my money back on that second charge.
I’m such an advocate for research when you are traveling. Although I did my fair share, We still ended up with some junk. All you can do is know what you like and stick to it. If I had done that, it would have at least ruled out our trip to J. Vineyards.
Ok, that’s all. Happy Travels!