Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Bubbles and Bites – Oh, My!

If I had to label the Summer of 2019 for this artist, I might call it my “Summer of Great Escapes,” where I focused on realigning my health and creative center. Instead of a one- or two-week long vacation this year, I took what I refer to as mini vacations to see family and friends and to experience something new. These escapes help clear my mind so I can proceed with recalibrating my priorities and direction. After my miraculous escape from a determined tree followed by a mini Florida escape, my third escape was to Wine Country California, a wonderful way to combine family visit and vacation – closing one season and entering another with a fresh outlook, new memories, and a lot of good ideas for new paintings.

Elaine Weiner-Reed – Gloria Ferrer Vineyard and Winery 2019

Part 2: Sonoma – Sedately, We Roam

Nirvana of the senses: Two days, two vineyards, two tastings. One winner.
We had found the perfect balance.

     Part 1 (Napa) and the Wine Trolley behind us, my sister and I arrived in Sonoma late Saturday afternoon, having made our way sedately through the glorious countryside from Napa, calmed by never-ending vineyard vistas. I admit that we left our Napa spa resort hotel behind us with some regret, but we found our Sonoma city hotel a block from the town square to be comfortable and in a perfect location to begin our multi-sensory explorations of Sonoma.

     My sister and I would always joke about the fact that “wine time is anytime,” but the fact is, we normally do not partake before 5:00 PM in our current time zone. Consequently, it was with some trepidation and lingering memories of wine-trolley-day that we reserved the only available time slot remaining – morning – for the one tasting we could schedule for our only full day in Sonoma. That 10:30 AM Sunday reservation was for the Gloria Ferrer Vineyard, specifically for their “Bubbles and Bites” sit-down tasting. Not only was the wine time slot taking us out of our comfort zones, but so was the focus of the tasting, namely sparkling wines, or American “champagne.” Generally my preferred wine is red and not bubbly: Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Merlot.

     So, tired and dubious at best, at 10:30 AM sharp we were welcomed by our vineyard hostess and hastened to the private dining room, the last party to join the four wine aficionados already seated at our table. Large picture windows offering views of the vineyard lent warmth to our bespoke table, elegant in its floral arrangement and crystal place settings. Pretending to be on East Coast time, I surrendered myself to the experience, intuitively knowing this would be the piece de resistance of all wine tastings to date. I was not disappointed (none of us were), for our last-minute reservation had teamed us with kindred tablemates with whom we conversed, laughed, and toasted amiably throughout what evolved into a sublime two-hour tasting.

Elaine Weiner-Reed – Gloria Ferrer Bubbles&Bites Sept.2019

     We each learned much more than ever before about wine-food pairings as hostess Becky alternatively regaled us with highlights of wine-making processes and specific historical or viniculture points of interest. Explanations of our exquisite plate of gourmet treats was provided by the Chef, who had artfully designed each hors d’oeuvre and placed them on the plate to align with each bite’s companion wine. Specific ingredients were selected to perfectly pair with a specific wine – which they did, resulting in us requesting recipes as selective refills allowed us to explore a varietal in more depth. As a bonus, we were treated to several additional off-menu prime wines, each served individually in tailor-made wine glasses designed to bring out the flavor of each wine. As we reluctantly prepared to leave, we were treated to a quick peek in the wine cave, home to the large steel vats nursing future sparkling wines. So engrossed was I in the entire tasting experience, I unfortunately took no photos of our delectable bites or wines, but the photo of our menu (above) will give you a good idea of our gourmet treats. Each wine was superb, and the Pinot Noir was among the best I have ever had. My additional notes regarding specific food bites include: 1) the caviar was Sturgeon roe; 2) the strawberries in the trifle were bourbon-soaked.  

Elaine Weiner-Reed – Gloria Ferrer Vineyard Terrace

     Gloria Ferrer’s Bubbles and Bites experience was my first tasting in which food had been created specifically to pair with wines, definitely tantalizing our taste buds as we took sips and tastes as directed to unleash flavors. Good cooking is an art form I greatly appreciate. It isn’t common knowledge, but I am a foodie, and as such appreciate good food – especially good food artfully presented. I cook, often creating original dishes which generally cannot be repeated because I use what is at hand and add spices and ingredients alternatively based on instinct, taste, and experience. Being able to cook many foods pretty well makes going out to eat a challenge because I find most restaurants to be lacking in the imagination, taste, and spice departments. In all categories, however, Gloria Ferrer excelled. As we completed our purchases and said our good-byes, my sister and I moved out to the terrace to eat a bit more and soak in the timeless beauty of the vineyards on that beautiful fall afternoon. We had one more vineyard on our day’s agenda, but Gloria Ferrer remains my all-time favorite, epitomizing what a tasting should be.

     Our second and final Sonoma vineyard visit was to the Gundlach Bundschu Vineyard and Winery, recommended by one of my sister’s friends as being one of the oldest vineyards in the region. This time, we chose to share a late afternoon tasting on the windy terrace of Gundlach Bundschu, referred to as GunBun. There we sat, sharing a sandwich and wine flight as we watched people, dogs, and butterflies traverse around the terrace. It was another lovely setting in wine country, and it was here that we got a glimpse of a real wine cave tucked into the Sonoma hillside – a surprise treat to end our day in Sonoma. The following day, back to Sacramento and I was soon heading home to Maryland, certain I would be reading my next Kate Carlisle mystery with visions of the real Napa and Sonoma dancing in my head.

Elaine Weiner-Reed - Gundlach Bundschu Wine Cave

   Elaine Weiner-Reed - Gundlach Bundschu Terrace 

Gundlach Bundschu -  Love Lies Bleeding (Flower)

                                 Cheers! Until next time, live creatively and fully.  
                                                           Yours in Art,


© 2019 Elaine Weiner-Reed (EWR)
      All images and content remain the property of the Artist. No reproductions or prints are authorized. All rights reserved.

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