Thursday, February 26, 2015

California Day 2 (part 1)

I'll have to split Saturday's photos in half because 67 pictures are too much for one post. (Arguably, 33 photos are too many from one post, but whatevs.)

On Saturday morning, we awoke free of jet lag ready for another Platypus Tour.  (Also, I remembered to eat breakfast this time since we would be drinking at 11am--big help.)  Really, I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful these tours are.  Granted, we had only been on one before, but now that we've done two I would have no problem signing up for a third, a fourth, a fifth, etc.  They looked up our tour from August to make sure we wouldn't repeat anything.  Rather than send us down closer to Sonoma Square, we stayed north in Healdsburgh.  Four other people were on the tour with us, all of them friends.  Two were from Pittsburgh, Fred and Rihannon, and Fred promptly greeted us with "Flyers SUCK!!!"  Frankly, if he hadn't been a Pens fan, I would've wondered what was wrong with him.  (And Leslie went to CMU and we all know that I love Pittsburgh, so that's fine with me.)  Their two friends, Farrest and Rosemary, I think were both from the Bay Area, but we were referred to as the Pennsylvania Group all day.

Our first stop was Viszlay Vineyards.  Basically one guy runs the whole show there, but he was out of town so his daughter did our tasting with us.  We sat outside--the sun was so bright it was bizarre. No clouds; there was a breeze and it seemed like most of us had to adjust to the concept of being (just being. BE-ing.) outside.  We couldn't get over it. (Or at least we and the Pittsburghers couldn't get over it.)  At one point I said, "I can't believe I'm outside. On purpose."  I began to think about it, and the last time I remember doing that was the first week of November on a Wednesday before school.  Everything was golden yellow because the leaves were still up, but a front was moving through and the wind was going to rip them all down.  Pretty sure I wore closed toe shoes that day too. It had been our last warm day (and we all knew that particular day that it would be our last one for a while)--four months ago [insert three anguished emoji].


Mustard was in bloom everywhere we went. Since spring has arrived early, all of the vines are waking up but the timing isn't right.  If there's a cold snap in March, anything that's allowed to grow now will die--the results could ruin the entire harvest.  Apparently, most wine growers are just cutting back all of their vines as fast as they can--they're trying to trick the vines into sleeping as long as they can.

I almost didn't bring sandals ... so glad I did!  My toes didn't turn blue or yellow or go numb once.  In fact, I could feel my extremities the entire weekend!  What a luxury.  (Wish I was joking.)  Rihannon and I bonded the most over our hatred of winter.  I kept telling her, "You win, you win: You live in freakin Pittsburgh. I got nothing on you!"  At one point though, she paused and said--totally serious--"You know, people really don't get how awful it is to be cold all the time.  It's so painful.  Really, just painful.  I hate how people don't get that, and then they think I'm really weak or something.  I'm not weak--I'm doing everything that needs to get done while in terrible pain."  I noticed that Fred and Ron refrained from their jokes and retorts on that one.  Rihannon wasn't messing around.

Yup, you can just leave your cyclamen outside and they won't die.

And your olives too--just leave alllll your olive trees outside. No big deal.

There was a pasture with goats not far from here, but we didn't get to see them.

From here, it was off to Everett Ridge.  According to Ron, this was the group favorite. I must have missed that conversation.  I did like their wines best, but I think I would pick the stop after this for favorite ambiance.  This place was gorgeous too, though.

I saw this (lichen? moss?) all over the place on this particular trip.

The first of, like, a zillion citrus trees I would see on this trip.

Half of my wardrobe are these colors.  There were two wines here that we really loved: the Riesling (not the off-dry one, but that one was pretty amazing too) and (I think?) a Pinot Rose' ... I can't find it on their website which makes me wonder if I'm making that up.

Mom, they serve CHEESE PUFFS instead of cheese and crackers here!

I just couldn't get a shot of the wine swirling--I would really have to concentrate and take a hundred to get it right.

We had lunch here overlooking this valley.  By this point, we all felt really comfortable together.  Fred was seriously hilarious--he reminded me so much of my friend's little brother, Marshall (who is nearly 30 now and not so little).  He and Farrest bantered back and forth for the entire day just cracking us all up, and it was one of those weird things where you are amazed that you've only known these people for four hours.  And it's even stranger that when the day is over, you'll never see or hear from them again.

I THINK those are Spanish Oak trees? I need to look them up.  I think these are too curly to be Spanish Oaks ... they could be California White Oaks?

See the wall in the foreground? Yeah, it's just covered in heaps of rosemary.  It's just there. All year. No problem.  Ron called it lavender and I corrected him, and he was like, "uhh, I think I know lavender when I see it" and before I could think up a decent smart ass retort, our tour guide said, "Yeah, that's rosemary."  HA!  The leaves of the two are similar, but the flowers are nothing alike.

I must've taken more pictures the second half of the day than the first, so I'll keep going ...

This blew me away: CHERRY BLOSSOMS!!! IN FEBRUARY!!  Really, it was enough to make me weep.  April exists--she's real ... but she's 3,000 miles from Philly.  (She's also too early for California, but that's not my problem. And hey, you can't control the weather, right? Better to be at it's mercy here than where I live ...)

The patio at Kachina Vineyards--I could've stayed here all day.  Our table here was in the shade, and with the sun shining through the trees (Spanish Oaks--I asked, so I actually know this time) it felt like May.

There has to be a pool around here somewhere--trust me, I looked for one.

We tried a port here, and it was served with half of a truffle (the chocolate kind--not the mushroom kind ... I think I remember Fred asking for clarification on that).  That port was amazing--my favorite part.

And they had goats! And not just goats, but also BABY goats!

This is Kiva, a fifteen week old border collie--so friendly and sweet.  She's going to learn how to herd the goats.  I loved how her right eye had black eyelashes and her left eye had white eyelashes.

So we're two-thirds of the way through, but only halfway through the day.  Even as I sort through all these images and write all this down, I wonder if it was real--I could not have been further away from my daily February grind on this particular day.

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