Going Rogue on the Wine Tasting Trail


“Pinch me, pinch me! I must be dreaming.”

A reasonable estimate is that I’ve visited hundreds of wineries over my career. Often with an appointment; most often as a drop in.

I am also compelled to disclose that my favorite play is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

You see I may have been under the influence of Puck during a recent visit to a wine country. So if you don’t believe any of what follows, maybe we need to get the Puck out of the conversation.

My first stop also had a good restaurant and superb valley views. Enjoying a small plate of delicious mushrooms, I sample 3 Pinot Noirs, all good with different personalities. Make that really good. Wandering inside the tasting room, I’m offered a bright, lovely Chardonnay, followed by a magnificent Pinot Noir from 7 clones, and then end with a stunning Cornas-tasting Syrah.

Turns out the well-informed tasting room guy was the owner. “Only in your dreams” you are probably saying.

Or, maybe you are curious about those mushrooms.

Next stop, a few miles away, A small winery focusing on Spanish varieties. Wait! Spanish. I definitely must be dreaming. We start with the 2017 Verdejo…bright and lively with crisp citrus flavors. Who in their right mind would make a Verdejo?

Well, it was followed by a Rose, mostly Tempranillo with Grenache and Graciano blended. In a word,”Lovely.” Next were two Tempranillos, the first with 19% Cabernet and the second, 100% Tempranillo. Well, both were excellent, beautifully made versions, one to drink now, the other to age.

After some polite chit-chat, we figure out the woman talking about the wines is the winemaker, the woman pouring, her sister. They are the owners. 

The tasting fee was waived.

Third winery was a distance away but on the other end of the pretty valley. A valley with vineyards on steep hillsides and a year-round river. Not knowing what to expect, my eyes immediately go to the manicured grounds and picnic area set up for concerts and /or weddings. We walked through the brilliant flower garden which is adjacent to the herb garden. Inside, the tasting room doubles as a restaurant. The outdoor tasting bar overlooks the picnic area and vistas. Families are picnicing; kids are playing.

We begin with a spicy, minerally Pinot Gris followed by a Viognier, ripe, rich, and powerful. Next up is a blend of 75% Viognier with 25% Chardonnay, which is more subtle, more complex, more complete. The wine is named “Amuse” and although when in a waking state I’m suspicious of wines with cutesy names, I’m in love. (Damn you, Puck!)

This dream was sure to end with a glass of 2014 Barbera plunked down before me. Nobody ever thinks of a sturdy, plummy, herbal, Barbera with definite acidity today. Unless it is complementing my last piece of pizza.

 Perfect match!

Better yet, a 2016 50-50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet was so appealing with a touch of leather with black cherry fruit and great structure, that I decided to buy a few bottles before I depart. 

That’s the big clue.

Now you too must suspect this has to be a dream because when would a wine writer ever buy a wine?

Or was it? 

The wine-cup is the little silver well,
Where truth, if truth there be, doth dwell.


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