Friday, August 3, 2012

Anniversary Road Trip!

Well, as soon as we pulled in, I immediately checked on the horses. My wife went over to check on her cats.

She was worried that they'd starve by the time we got back. I was sure they wouldn't. They were left enough food to last a week, nevertheless three days.

Besides, they are supposed to be mousers. Mousers are supposed to do something for the great accommodations that we have set up for them. They have boxes with pillows and carpets, scratching wood and posts available, fuzzy hanging thingies to mess with, and of course the run of the place.

Their only duty, a must, their part of the arrangement is to hunt mice around the barn and house. Mostly around the barn. Because yes, mice droppings and horse feed don't mix well.

That's for later, right now let's talk about a great trip!

We left on Monday morning, our anniversary. My wife's mom surprised us with the trip to wineries and a stay at a Bed & Breakfast in Geyserville, California, in the absolutely beautiful Alexander Valley Wine Country above Healdsburg in Sonoma County.

It is about three and a half hours Northwest of us. With my slow driving, and a few stops, we got up there in five hours.

And yes, for you who have never heard of Alexander Valley, it is a wonderful beautiful place - and definitely not as crowded as Napa Valley just Southeast of it.

We stayed at the Geyserville Inn, which is a very nice hotel.

When I say very nice, I mean fireplace in the room, with a balcony over looking one of the prettiest valleys in Northern California type of very nice.

The first night there, we broke open a map and plotted out a course to action that would take us to all sorts of different wineries to explore. Yes, this was a wine tasting and fun trip!

The Geyserville Inn and the Hoffman House restaurant next door, are owned by the same people. Both very much high quality for you dollar. The service at the Hoffman House, like the hotel, was just outstanding.

Tuesday morning, our server was a great young gal by the name of Nellie. She is just too sweat. Great attitudes go far with me when I'm traveling, and Nellie has such a friendly attitude that she just makes you feel right at home.

Since I hardly ever drink anymore, I was for all practical purposes the "designated driver" for my wife. OK, so I did figure on trying a few wines, but hopefully not enough to get me pulled over.

There is something else. On trips, I like to meet and talk with people. I like people. White, brown, black, orange, I don't care what color they are. Rich or poor, it just doesn't matter. And no, I don't hold it against folks if they've worked hard and made it good. In fact, I respect them for it.

Like I said, I like people. Blue collar, white collar, no collar, who cares!

I don't care about how much money one has, or what someone drives, or what someone does in life. I don't even care what their politics are. Yes, as shocking as that sounds, it honestly doesn't matter.

Look, we can't all be Conservative and I know that.

Fact is, without liberals we wouldn't have anyone to correct and educate. We wouldn't have anyone to laugh at or marvel at. Without liberals, we won't have so much trouble in the world - but then again when I'm on a trip, I try not to pay them much mind.

To me, when I meet people, I look at how they treat others. I enjoy watching people. I love to see what kind of attitude they have, their disposition, and of course their conduct.

Maybe it's a hold over from my days working in Security, or maybe when I was working in Corrections years ago. To me, conduct and how one holds one's self separates people from being good and friendly regular folks - to being snobs and jerkweeds!

On this trip, I met some really nice people. It seems just about everywhere we went, we met a lot of good folks.

There is a great gal who works up at SBRAGIA Winery in the picturesque Dry Creek Valley right over the hill from Geyserville.

SBRAGIA Winery was our first stop. It sits on the top of a rim overlooking the Dry Creek Valley.

Wow, what a gorgeous view! 

Later I thought, we should have visited there toward the end of our day so that we could have sat out on their deck overlooking the valley. 

Since that was our first stop, Kirby was our first server. And yes, she is a great gal.

She is as friendly as the day is long. She is good natured, what we would have called a "free spirit" back in the '70s.

Yes, she is truly an independent happy sort of gal. She is cute, witty, with an infectious smile, and eyes that sparkle. 

She help start our trip off on a good note. And yes, the wine at SBRAGIA was great as well!  

As I said, since I don't drink very much at all, this was going to be my wife Deanna's wine tasting trip with me as her designated driver.  But at the start, I found that I would have a taste here and there. And here and there, I did indeed have a taste or two or three.

If you think I'm talkative when I'm sober, you really should see when I've been drinking!

My wife and I visited a few wineries. Most really great places. Some wineries had some pretty good wines at some real good prices, and others had some pretty poor wines that were very pricey. And yes, not all of the places had good souls like Kirby serving the public.

Some were truly snobs. The few servers who I saw that I didn't care for seem to be wannabe wine connoisseurs or "oenophiles".  They enjoyed talking over the heads of their guests who wore expressions of bewilderment rather than that of joy.

I have to admit that I really did enjoy watching the looks on some faces as their eyes glazed over with all of the "wine speak."

Friends, talk of balance, complexity, body, bouquet, aroma, are all well and good. But honestly, wine tasting is purely subjective. Fact is, my friends, different wines appeal to different tasters for all sorts of different reasons. 

According to a county booklet that my wife picked up at the Hoffman House, what we were doing by jumping from one winery to the next - it's called "Corkhopping".  And yes, we were!

For my wife, like her mom, she enjoys different wines. The difference between her and her mom is that her mom likes red wines over whites. Me, if I had to pick a wine, I'd pick a dessert wine because I like sweet not bitter. I think it's a hold over from when I was a kid.

Growing up, all of my family lived together. My mom and dad, us six kids, all lived in the same house with my grand-parents and my great-grand-father who was from the Azores in Portugal.

My great-grand-father used to keep a bottle of "table wine" or "red wine" on the kitchen table. I remember it simply tasting good. It was more on the sweet side.

Wine tasting has a lot of great benefits. First, you get out of the house.

In the old days, you could go wine tasting at different vineyards and not cost a dime in the process - now most charge you something between $5 and $10 to sit there and taste what they want to sell you.

OK, here comes the Conservative! When I first realized that we had to pay to sample their ware, I wondered why they charged since the idea was to get us to sample and buy their wine?

Second benefit, you see things that will amaze you. For example, at one winery that we visited, the tasting room manager said that the vines there were said to be over 400 year old with machines like crushers and such going back hundreds of years.

Also, most wineries have absolutely outstanding landscapes. There is no doubt when driving into most of them that they have put a lot of time and effort into making their property look great. Some are simply and yet beautiful while others are obviously manicured and pampered.

At one very nice winery, the VML, they had something most of the others didn't. After you walked into their tasting room, they had a door that lead to a balcony where you could watch them making the wine in the huge stainless steel containers.

This was something that you don't usually see at the wineries - people actually making the wine.

And by the way, I want to say hello to a great couple that my wife and I met there at VML. Jimmy and Abbey are wonderful folks from Los Angeles who were up there on vacation. Jimmy works in the Entertainment Industry - and yes, he is a really nice guy!

I asked them if it would be alright if I put then in this article. At first I wanted to use them to demonstrate the nice folks you meet on one of these trips.

Jimmy and Abbey are wonderful people. They look like they fit each other. I really believe a person would have to work pretty hard to find a more loving couple. I see them happy for many many more years to come!  

Yesterday morning as my wife and I were leaving, we bumped into Jimmy in the hall. He said he had looked up this blog.

Knowing he worked in Hollywood, I asked again if it would be OK to say something about him and his wife in my blog? He said it was OK. But then, well, he said something that made my day.

He said, "I can't wait to tell my friends that I'm going to be in a Conservative Blog!"

Well Jimmy, tell your friends in Hollywood that not all conservatives hate liberals.

In fact, I know many conservatives who don't like liberals - but hate is too strong a word for how they feel about them.

As for me, I don't like what liberal "extremists" are doing to our country. I think uncompromising or fanatical behavior such as following radical political doctrines associated with socialism and communism are detrimental to Americans in the long run.

But, as it's always done in our great nation's history, I believe the ballot box will rectify the situation and move the country away from the far left.  Even the center is better than what we have these days!

Our server at the Hoffman House, yesterday morning, was Danielle.

She is a simply great gal. Like Nellie, she's born and raised in the area. But unlike Nellie, who is still a teenager, Danielle knows where the better wineries are. And yes, she was good enough to pull up a chair and take a look at our picks for the day to see if we were good to go or not.

Daniella is a single mom with a five year old son, she works hard but still has a great attitude toward things. She really ought to be a tour guide in the area because she knows it so well. Like most of us, she is a blue collar worker who knows others who work at the different wineries. And yes, through friends, she has a great handle on the area.

With her help we plotted out our last day of going to the Francis Ford Coppola and then head home. 

And by the way, if you ever get up to Geyserville, a visit to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery is a must see sort of place. If anything else, just for the chance to take a look at his film museum there. 

He has his 5 Oscars, Golden Globes, and other film and directorial awards on display. He has the many of the original props from some of his movies, including Vito Corleone's chair and desk from The Godfather.

There are also other props including the gold phone from Godfather Part II, and the actual Tucker automobile used in the movie Tucker, among a lot of other things.  

On the way home, we decided to go down Hwy 101 and pick up Hwy 12 to visit the town of Sonoma.

It is also a wine town, but much bigger than Geyserville. Hussle and bussle is everywhere!

Besides sitting in the heart of the wine country, the town makes claim to be the birth place of the Republic of California. It is where the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846 took place.

Sure my wife's eyes rolled back! She suspected something was up when I asked if she wanted to take a look at the original Spanish Mission and Barracks still there since 1834.

That's OK, she's might not the history nut that I am -  but we had fun anyway! 

Story by Tom Correa


  1. Happy Anniversary!

  2. Glad you had a great time; you guys deserve it.
    Happy Anniversary! - Ed and Delores

  3. Happy (Late) Anniversary! Nice blog. I've added you to my blog and put you under "featured."


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