In keeping with my Yes Game change in mentality, I ended up wine tasting in Hood River, OR this afternoon. Yaaasssss.
Ok, we met at 11:00. But I promise, the first cork didn’t pop until noon. Which is good, because, spitters are quitters. In related news, I had a pretty good buzz by 12:45.
Backing up a few days, though, to how I ended up here: I was invited to go by a friend of mine that I have worked with on and off over the last…eight years now? Sheesh, time flies. Or in this case, ferments, because I think my connection with this particular friend gets better and better as time passes. Last year, she even gave herself a nickname – Little Buddy. And who am I to resist a Gilligan’s Island themed nickname? Lo, though I see myself as a Thurston Howell III or Ginger Grant type – depending on the day and my mood – I guess my Little Buddy’s choice of nickname was relative to our working relationship at the time and that made me the Skipper by default.
Knowing my present state of crotchetiness, my intrepid LB invited me to go with her and her boyfriend out to Hood River to pick up their wine club order from AniChe Cellars. She promised to make a day of it with stops at another winery as well as a few breweries in the area. I got a little buzz just listening to the itinerary. She seemed to have it all laid out and it sounded like this (mis) adventure is a typical excursion for the quarterly wine club pick up. She sweetened the invite by removing my third wheel status and including the Silver Fox in the plans. I know AniChe is one of his favorite local wineries, so he was on board within a text.
Of course, it’s the coldest fucking day of the year so far…getting progressively colder on the 50-ought mile trip out the Gorge to Hood River, but we lucked out with the snow. There was a lazy, idyllic, dry snow passively falling when we arrived; the forecast tomorrow calls for “abandon hope, all ye that enter” snow. So there’s that.
We were meeting LB and her boyfriend at a coffee shop right across from the tasting room, and we hopped out of the car and made for the a warm cuppa. The Fox had managed to get both curbside wheels on the curb while parking – and I was enjoying his chagrin when I should have been watching out for that cold bitch, Mother Nature, since she has it in for me for some reason and expertly placed one of those idyllic, dry, drifting snowflakes on my eyeball while I teased the Fox. Oy. Oh well, beats what I’ve been getting from her in the city recently, which is surprise deluge without a hat, hood or – gasp! – umbrella.
Being the first table to arrive for tastings seems to have its perks. Aniche is a small enough outfit in a tight wine community that the Little Buddy was recognized when she entered. The Silver Fox, being the Silver Fox is a former wine club member and was remembered by the host, the daughter of the vintner. Also, the Ani in AniChe. Che being her brother. Would you expect a name any less “Aaaawwww!” inducing from a winery in a tight wine community. there was a little catch up small talk about the biz and the present offereings…maybe even something about a new human that Ani is presently gestating, but you know me – I’m not that warm and fuzzy, so I just let the folks that knew each other do themselves.
We settled in to our six flight tasting with whites, obviously, which I powered through. Donating only one of them to the Fox, but only after trying it. Gotta make mom proud by at least trying. The whites were good, but reds are where my tongue hangs its hat. I’ve tasted three or four AniChe reds in the past and love them. I wasn’t surprised to find that two of my close friends here are or have been wine club members. I was kind of jealous, actually, since now driving tends to limit my opportunities to pop out to wine country for an afternoon.
Then again, I am quite the lightweight, so I appreciate being a passenger versus driving.
Speaking of not being the driver, my offset service was to run up the street and feed the meter when our parking time ran out. Ok, I ran up the street conveniently between the fourth and fifth pours, but I still went.
Me being the worst person on the planet, Mother Nature threw another snowball into my eye as I left the tasting room. In my mind, I was giving my best Nancy Kerrigan “Whyyyyyy?!?!?!” impression. Seriously, though, blinking is an autonomic feature versus a conscious effort…it seems like quite a fail for this to happen not once, but TWICE within an hour. Plus, ice in your eye is pretty much like a needle sticking into your eye. If you’re listening, Mother Nature, I’ll pass in the future.
Somehow – remember the perks I mentioned earlier? – our flight of six evolved into eight tastes. The Fox also ended up rejoining the wine club and a trip up the Gorge to pick up four bottles turned into 24 bottles leaving the tasting room. Those extra two pours were rather shrewd investments on the host’s part, no?
We leave, for my part I’m wishing I had deeper pockets and a hand truck because I am kind of lamenting my involuntarily semi-retired budget limitations. I want a case of wine, too! <foot stomp>
But I got to carry a case, at least. Hey…wait a second. Oy.
On to winery number two, where we all swear we’re just doing a tasting flight. The Little Buddy loves this particular tasting room, and just wants me to see it. I can see why she likes to visit whenever she’s in the neighborhood. It’s snowing, after all, but the patio has vinyl drapes hung, propane patio heaters blasting and baskets of lap blankets around for people to sit and enjoy their flights. Marchesi winery has definitely got their winter game figured out because the Fox and I are amazed at how may cars are in the full parking lot as we pull in. Being the Fox, he still finds a place five from the door. If only he could channel that Fox Luck into a winning lottery ticket…
It’s 1:45 on a Saturday afternoon, it’s snowing and the LB and her boyfriend cozy up under a throw together and get their cozy on. The Fox has his hat pulled down low, gloves on, coat and scarf cinched tight and a throw blanket on his lap and is looking like a nursing home denizen that was force-wheeled outside for some fresh air in the middle of Spring.
I’m waiting to see icicles form on his nose.
Personally, I have my booze jacket on and sit there sipping contentedly. It’s all about maintenance with booze jackets. Until someone leaves and kindly offers me their blanket. I begrudgingly accept, thinking “I guess, if you’re too lazy to just put it away on your way out”.
Grumpy. Old. Man.
We enjoy our flights – complete with only a cursory single white offering – and the complimentary antipasti Little Buddy gets as a wine club member and go to town on some breadsticks that are positioned on each table in a cute vasey-type-container.
Then LB retrieves another from a neighboring table.
Carbs. So good.
But not good enough to sustain us on our journey home, so back toward Hood River proper to burn a gift card for Double Mountain Brewery that the Fox has been carrying around for about a year. Plus, he brought his growlers to fill. Little Buddy and her bf – fine, his nickname is 2.0…not sure why I didn’t just tell you that in the first place except that it’s not my nickname for him, it’s hers so maybe I felt like it was stealing her clever thunder – swear to their pizza prowess at Double Mountain, too, so it’s a win-win-win.
And there’s a 45-60 minute wait. Seriously, I could get pizza delivered at home in 60 minutes, why would I wait that long just to get a table? I could probably order pizza from the parking lot, drive home and get there before the pizza arrived. Plus, I actually did do that last night and I still have half of a Straight From New York pizza leftover, so I’m not that invested.
There’s fPriem Brewery right down the road. I happen to really like their IPA and there’s apparently pizza there, too. I’m a real giver, you know, so if pizza is what the rest of our drunken-Donner-party-esque group wants, I’m willing to tag along. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we’re off.
After filling the growlers.
And forgetting to use the gift card to pay.
Layering in excuses for a return visit…
…and it’s another 30-45 minute wait for a table at pFriem. Seriously, these people have a problem. It’s 3:30 on a Saturday. I check in via text with LB and 2.0 and they are ok with the wait, but by the time they park, the Fox has moseyed down the street a block to a non-brewery pizzeria called Solstice and they can seat us immediately.
In the kid’s section.
This is fucking nicely with my grumpiness.
Upshot: there’s coloring.
And bacon roasted brussels sprouts.
And rosemary french fries.
And we all still had room for pizza.
None of us finished our drawings, though. Can our stomachs have ADD?
Then it was time to make a break for the cars and ease on down the road back toward civilization. Or consistent cell coverage, anyway. Plus, Little Buddy’s youngest young ‘un was due back from a birthday sledding adventure within the next few hours, so we packed it in and called the mischief managed.
Another great thing about not driving? I took an all-too-rare nap on the way home. But I deserved one, saying “Yes” really takes it out of ya.