“I’m going to be consuming an unGODly number of calories today. Need. To. Run.”
I peeled myself out of bed bright and early Saturday morning while the rest of the fam was still snoring and marinating their pillows with saliva…and slowly made my way through the dark cold to the gym. Of COURSE today had to be THE coldest damn day of the winter…it's WINE TOUR DAY!!! The frigid temps would likely work in our favor, however, as we typically find ourselves getting somewhat toasty with 8+ people sharing the quaint, cozy space of a limo. Fine. I’ll take it.
The morning was as festive as a childhood Christmas Eve…the gentleman and I pleasantly bustling about, intermittently gathering the children’s belongings for each of their overnight assignments, preparing treats for the ride and primping for a rare night out amongst adults. With an uncharacteristic lack of grumbles, eye rolls, or animosity:
"Hey sweetie, did you pack Timmy’s shoes for church?”
“Sure did, babe… did you pack Ben’s medication? OH and did you get the cheese sliced up for the snack bag?”
“Abso-freakin-lutely! Does Libby have her coat? ”
“Yep, the kids are all set…but could you grab that cooler bag? Thank you SO much for helping me!”
“No, thank YOU. This is gonna be so much fun. I love you!”
(Please take this time to gag/puke/roll your eyes, etc. I am as I type this...it’s okay.)
Time to go! Cute shoes, nice jeans, and straightened hair (yep… that doubled as my arm workout!)…no yogas or Uggs as promised. My lips are fully lined and glossed (no one looks good with purple-winey lips). We’ve practiced proper wine variety pronunciations: “Marechal F-O-C-H is pronounced fosh...NOT fu--. You get the picture.” We have our assorted cheese and crackers, wine slushy, smiles on our faces and we’re good to go. Hit it.
We dropped our 5 year old off at my parents’ house, headed toward the first winery on the tour, chatting about the afternoon to come. “Ben will be okay, right? I mean, it’s just one night. He doesn’t stay with my parents that often so this is good, right? He had his medicine. He had a good breakfast and lun…wait…did you feed Ben today? I didn’t feed him. Did YOU feed him?? I thought YOU fed him! Holy shit…we forgot to feed our son! I know he slept in late but how the hell did we forget to feed our child? I’m a horrible mother…I chose wine over my baby! My God I need rehab.” And then came the tears. My husband is accustomed to my periodic self-defeating breakdowns before such outings and in his calm way reassured me that even if we had assembled a buffet fit for a king for our son he would likely not have eaten a morsel. This we know from his perpetual waste of a packed lunchbox each and every day. Besides, he is in the presence of grandparents. Need I say more? Fine. True.
With make-up reapplied and my red-swollen face finally resuming a normal tone we arrive to find our friends and several bottles of loveliness lined along the counter, just waiting for our taste buds. It’s here. We glanced through the tasting list, checking those that we know are favorites and trying a few that are new. I always try a white…just in case…but my heart is in the red. Always. It’s the Italian roots.
After getting our taste of five or so variations, we selected a full glass and made our way to the heavenly buffet of chocolate. It is titled The Chocolate Lover’s Wine Tour and this particular winery (http://www.mallowrun.com) truly takes this designation to heart. I have never seen such a display or selection of chocolate covered deliciousness: Nuts, cookies, petit fours, pretzels, Rice treats, and strawberries as big as your head. With a view of the wooded rolling hills on a comfortably heated veranda, we sipped, snacked and laughed, getting to know some new faces on the tour. Once our group was complete, we drained the last drops from our glasses, cleaned the choco from our fingers and hopped into our sweet ride.
As is typical, the ride from winery #1 to winery #2 is generally muted and conservative…a get-to-know-you session as we usually welcome at least one or two new faces each year. A few awkward silences soon turned to laughter, jokes, and great conversation.
After a couple of wineries, the tastes began to jumble a bit…pinot noir, chambourcin, foch, cabernet each so different depending on the winery. There were seven locations on the tour but only time for five stops.
Each winery provided five or so tastes of our choice as well as one full glass of wine and a variety of chocolate treats. During our taxi in between, we shared some wonderful finger foods: deli sandwiches, spinach dip, assorted cheeses, individually prepared 7-layer dip, chocolates…the works! Between the snacks, winery desserts, tastings, the full glasses at each stop and the wine slushy shared en route, we likely absorbed the equivalent of an Old Country Buffet as well as a solid two bottles of wine a piece. Damn. I’m pretty sure my liver was cussing me out and my kidneys were transforming into jumbo –wine-soaked Kalamatas but it was all so worth it.
Our evening was winding down, trading the setting sun for the city lights. A little Amos Lee and Mumford and Sons set a comfy ambiance as we pondered the wonder of a trip to Napa someday. A true wine country tour…aaah, we can dream, can’t we? We say it every year. Someday we’ll do it. For now, this is what I look forward to. This is our sweet saving grace in a season of bitter temperatures and gray skies…a trip after which we always sleep well. Could be the satisfaction of spending comforting quality time with great friends. Could be the lack of children waking us with nightmares/potty problems/sickness. Or could quite possibly be the 2+ bottles of wine coursing through our veins. Whichever. It's fine. I’ll take it.