Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Turning Paper into Wine

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Sonoma & Napa Valley were pretty amazing… and the company was too. After work on Friday, I picked up C-Real & Dizzy and we drove to the Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma, and it’s a gorgeous luxury lodge set up with cottages & a full service spa that I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone. The weather was absolutely perfect all weekend as well. Not too hot, not too cold, just a little wind, lots of sunshine but a few clouds to keep from roasting. Very nice. That afternoon, we started with a tasting literally outside the parking lot of the hotel at Cellar Door. The gentleman there was very nice… and pretty lenient with the portions of the wine. He was rewarded with a purchase of a bottle of Gewurztraminer.

After the sips, we took the hotel shuttle to Sonoma Plaza, the heart of the city of about 12,000 lucky people where they have a number of bars, restaurants and tasting areas as well. Fun fact: There’s an Occupy Sonoma movement at City Hall… and it’s basically two guys who have their flags & signs… and a permit from 4 PM to 5 PM on Fridays to protest… and then go to the bars afterwards. Now that’s a movement that I can get behind. Anyway, we went to La Plaza Bistro for a few drinks, then Murphy’s Irish Pub & Grill for some great food (burger that was half beef, half
bacon) and horrible music… but still good times. After that, it was back to the hotel for a dip in the hot tub with some people that we instantly hit it off with & gave us some great tips for the weekend on where to go. We celebrated the great vacation so far with that earlier mentioned bottle of Gewurztraminer.

Saturday we drove out to Napa & visited five different wineries. We started with Silver Oak…

Then across the street to Groth Vineyards, which would end up being one of our favorites… we also made a purchase…

Next was Robert Mondavi with some wonderful art on display and just a beautiful setting…

Then we headed to Sterling Vineyards where they have a tram that takes you up to the winery, then a pretty intricate tour with stops along the way for tastings… and then a final sit-down tasting. This one was probably my favorite just because it was the full experience of touring a vineyard (without smashing grapes) but Groth was definitely my favorite wine…

Next, we decided to get some dinner at Buster’s Barbeque where I had some decent pork ribs & macaroni salad. The prices weren’t even that bad either. On the drive back, we picked up some snacks & breakfast at Raley’s and basically spent the rest of the night relaxing at the hotel again. This time at the hot tub were some of the most shallow people I have ever met… they were apparently “popular girls” back home in Pennsylvania… and were basically just talking sh*t on their friends, you know, typical girls weekend stuff… but I just didn’t care for it… even if they were cute & in bikinis. The hot tub was great though… so I did stay for a bit.

Easter Sunday, we went to a cluster of four wineries that were open on this most confusing of holy holidays and tested their reserves as well. First up was Gloria Ferrar Caves & Vineyards, which offered a beautiful view of Sonoma Valley…

Then Cline Cellars, where one server seemed kind of pissed, another was admittedly hung over & a third was an absolute sweetheart… and also plenty of wine was given…

Then Viansa where they offered some affordable antipasti with their selection which really helped to bring out the flavors as well…

Last was the Jacuzzi winery… and yes, they’re THAT Jacuzzi family. So which came first? The wine or the tubs? The wine did. Now you know… hot jetted tubs came were begat from cold grape juice vats…

Then we headed back to the apartment… and the ladies took naps.

Monday after work, we went to La Mission for some Spanish tapas and to have an evening of dancing & wanderlust. We ate at Picaro, which you may remember from when Jackie D & I hit up the Mission over a year ago. Great food & sangria… and this time, there was even a mariachi band. After dinner, the ladies got a little weary of the neighborhood & most things seemed to be closed… so we headed back to the apartment for a few drinks and some TV. Not exactly a big blowout by any means… but yeah, still a lot of fun.

Tuesday after work, we went to get C-Real a tattoo at Lefty’s (no joke) and then followed that up with a delightful Taco Tuesday at a pretty nice place called Azucar Lounge… where we enjoyed some fine beverages & $10 all you can eat tacos. The atmosphere was really nice too so I may definitely be going there again. Anyway, here’s a picture of C-Real’s tattoo… and it’s a Ghanaian symbol meaning… I’m not sure exactly… but enjoy…

Wednesday was basically the day that I caught up on some rest because I really needed to after the week before… but then Thursday was my trip to the DMV to become an official Californian (also with my 31st birthday coming up, my license was about to expire). So… here’s my suggestion about the DMV. There should be some kind of high paying government job that turns this department into an efficient machine. I know, I’m far too brilliant for what I do & it’s amazing that nobody has ever thought of this before… but it would just make things so much easier. Also, if you tell me that there already is a job similar to what I’ve described, then I think that person needs to have a boss give him a serious review… because he’s f**king it up pretty badly.
I had my appointment set for 10:35 AM because it was the earliest that I could get. I arrived around 9:45 because, you never know, maybe they’re a little slow & it never hurts to be early. Apparently the system was down earlier in the morning… and they were catching up. However, at the time they were only about 30 minutes behind… and seemed to be catching up. Well… long story short… I was there until shortly before 2 PM because the system was on again / off again… and there was just a lot of standing in line to wait for your appointment… then to get to the next line for an attendant… then to get the next line for your photo… then to get in the next line for your driving test… then to take a test that is completely retarded & tricked. Now, I’ve been driving for over 15 years… so I know my sh*t. However, when you ask me a multiple choice question such as this… and keep in mind, only one choice is correct:

Q: When in the slow lane (furthest to the right) on a multi-lane highway, you should:
A. Expect oncoming traffic from the merge lane on the right
B. Drive slower than the lanes to your left
C. Allow cars to merge into your lane from the right

All three of them are correct… yet only one of them is the right answer. Usually it’s just two of them that are correct… but yeah, f**k the DMV. So then after taking the test… you stand in line for one guy to review all of them. One guy… and he isn’t exactly the most efficient guy either… and he’s also giving out the test from the line before you… and believe me, you can’t turn him on answers. “So what you’re saying is… I should only yield to pedestrians if they’re in the accordance with crosswalk statutes? Can I have your business card? Because when I run over a jaywalker or
a blind man, I may need you for my criminal defense.” Oh… so then after standing for over four hours (because I’m a gentleman) and all of that… then I had a day at work to catch up on… so that was fun too.

Luckily I got out of there before 8 PM… and then basically went to sleep watching “Adventures of Tintin” which was pretty good. I definitely recommend it. Funny thing about this movie though… is the whole two-hour movie… is basically summed up in the two-minute credits. Anyway, it’s based on the comic by French illustrator Herge and is about a young reporter & his dog that stumble upon amazing adventures. This one involves a pirate captain curse, buried treasure, international espionage, evil masterminds & a journey all over the world. Think a CGI version of Indiana Jones… starring someone from an Archie comic with a quaff. Check it out… from the
legendary filmmakers Steven Spielberg & Peter Jackson.

Anyway, that’ll about do it for today. No real plans this weekend… maybe the Cherry Blossom Festival but that depends on the weather. Next week is pretty packed with a few work parties, a Gotye concert, and working with Meals on Wheels again. Then the week after that starts the birthday week… complete with a Spurs-Warriors game, karaoke jam with friends & coworkers, and who knows what else? Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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