Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Taste Of My Vaca-hic-tion--The First Two Cases (Or So)


Now that I've gone and told you that I crossed the border with over 50 (FIFTY) bottles of wine, some of you are curious as to just where I got all this vino, and if all I did on this little vacance of mine was to simply go meandering about the Ontario countryside, swishing and not spitting.

If only!

Of course, I jest.

Our primary focus when we jaunt off to Canada is The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, (NotL from here on out, because it is such a bitch to type!). Click that hotlink when you get a chance and check it out; there are short previews of a couple of the plays available to watch, lots of information and plot synopses, and the Festival runs through Nov. 2nd. There are many great deals on tickets available, especially for students and those 30 and under. We saw two productions this time, Mrs. Warren's Profession and Belle Moral, which is a new play submitted under the newly-expanded rules of The Shaw. Heretofore, The Shaw Festival only put on those plays written during the era of George Bernard Shaw, but now they have decided to include plays that are set during the era of GBS. Both plays were extremely well done, but we vastly preferred Belle Moral, due to the preachiness, long-winded speeches, and lack of comic relief in MW'sP.

Our second reason for the trip was to score some more of Caroline Cellars' Pinot Cherry wine. We discovered this gem on our last trip up to NotL in December. And we REdiscovered it on Independence Day when we had our now infamous Liquid Dinner To Celebrate The Birth Of Our Nation. It's a gorgeous light red with a cherry finish that is lovely when barely chilled. Caroline Cellars was one of the first wineries we hit on Saturday in NotL because I wanted to be sure we could get a case. While we were there, of course I thought it prudent and only polite to taste all of their offerings. They also had a terrific new rosé, very aromatic and pretty, so we bought some of that as well, and headed out to our most favorite winery of all. This one actually was the sole reason for our road trip back in December. I know, how sad.

I had emailed Rosi at Cattail Creek that we were coming, and she emailed me back immediately. She was thrilled that we were on our way--they had a bunch of new reds she wanted us to taste with her. But she was sad to inform us that our all-time favorite wine, the 2006 Off-Dry Reisling--an award-winner for them!--was completely gone. (Ha ha! Not for us! We still have almost a case! ) We zipped over there for a huggy reunion and got down to serious business. Rosi does very generous pours...of all the wines...and we bought another case. This time a split of half Chardonnay and half Gamay. The Chardonnay....oh my. So buttery and lightly oaked and smooth that it was like biting into a piece of morning toast. Mmmmmmm. And the Gamay was like a round, plummy Beaujolais, only crisper, with a small spice note in the background.

This was our third tasting because we had started at another winery to allow Jared's girlfriend Ali to go on a full tour of a winery. By now, I've had...oh, let's just say a lot of wine. I've only dumped probably two. And we've already bought 28 bottles. It's amazing how it just adds up!

Then we simply had to go to Reif Estates Winery to visit our buddies, Carol and Dawn, two sisters in the wine boutique and tasting bar there. We met them in December and they fell in love with Jared and wanted to fix him up with Carol's daughter. (They also shamelessly flirted with Rick, which is understandable--they are in his demographic. All women over the age of 55 adore my husband, and the older they get, the more they love him. In this case, it is absolutely okay because it means free wine tasting. I'm no dummy.) Astonishingly, we see both ladies and they remember us immediately without us even saying anything! Carol is now the manager of the boutique/tasting bar, and she tells the bartender "Give these people anything they want" and shoots them The Look. We taste everything on the tasting menu at no charge. Both ladies stop by often and chat and flirt. Carol tries to fix Ali up with the young man in charge of our tasting in order to free Jared up for her daughter "who is on Facebook, by the way." As we leave, Ali is presented with a free box of icewine chocolates by Carol, who explains, "Since I was a little bit mean." Rick and I buy...oh, I forget, but I think two...three bottles...? Some. (Just kidding. We got a couple of bottles of their Gamay Rosé, which is not only pretty to look at, but has a very beautiful bouquet of strawberry and rhubarb. The finish is not tannic at all, and it is only mildly sweet. As you can tell, we're going in for light reds a bit, and rosés.)

At that point, basically, I was hammered. I'm not going to lie. We had taken along some food in the car, but I had drunk quite a bit of wine, and because we had gone back to very familiar wineries with staff we had developed a relationship with (or as Jared so eloquently put it "we rolled VIP"), we had been treated to some...extremely generous pours. We decided to call it a day after we ran into one last winery merely to pick up a bottle of wine that the vintner likes to call Darth Vader--it's a sinisterly dark and smoky 2003 Cabernet that, for some reason, I really enjoy even though I normally do not like big oaky reds. Rick and Jared have a major aversion to this winery, and admittedly, I'm not a fan, either. It smells musty and doggy, and seems sort of like it's for The Old Folks. Just gives off a really odd vibe. But that Cab--nice.

It was definitely time to pack it in. We were seeing a play that night, and we had to get cleaned up, find a restaurant, and get some dinner. We had succeeded in our Plan For The Day, which was to get a case of Pinot Cherry, take Ali on a winery tour, and go back to visit Rosi and her new reds at Cattail.

On Sunday we had the Entire Day To Do Wineries, and we had A MISSION. We had heard of a Winery & Meadery in a town about 40 miles away. For years, I had read about and taught about knights and lords and ladies drinking mead. I wanted to try it! Sunday would be the day. And while we were there, we'd investigate the other wineries in that area, known as "The Bench".
I'll take you with me in the next post. Bring a bottle of your favorite--excuse me, that'd be favourite--vintage, and a lovely glass.


  1. Wow, you guys are SERIOUS when you go wine shopping! Sounds like a very lovely weekend, however. Glad you had fun, and I hope you didn't feel sick in the middle of the night. That's what always happens to me when I drink one or two too many.

  2. You should visit me once I have a job on the west coast. I'll only be an hour or two away from Napa...

  3. A liquid vacation. Right up my alley. Now, do you actually have a wine cellar? Because I think you need one, lol. And pass me a glass, please. I can almost taste it with those descriptions.

  4. Anonymous7:58 PM

    Mr. V-Grrrl is the wine lover in the family. He loved living in Europe. He traveled all the way to Normandy, France, and handpicked a selection of wines for his enjoyment. Then when we did the house swap last summer, we told my niece, the HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER, and her best friend, also a TEACHER, to help herself to whatever we had in the house while we were gone.

    In a four week period, she and her friends went through ALL the wine, FOUR bottles of Bailey's Irish Cream, our Bacardi Rum, and various other spirits.

    I thought Mr. V-Grrrl was going to cry when he found his wine cellar empty....

  5. Mr. V-Grrrl is clearly naive. :)

  6. I loved reading this post, Nance, especially about the great wines and generous pours. Wine tastings and tours can vary so greatly--from pathetic to fantastic. I don't consider myself a wine connoisseur, by any means, but I do enjoy some wines very much. So, I can see how you can get very carried away, and have done so myself! LOL

    You might want to check out Noble Pig's blog ( She has a great post on wine today, and often has ones that make you want to hop in the car and find what she's recommending immediately. (Her side bar of recommendations is very helpful any time.)

    V--It was very, very painful for me to read that your niece and her friend went through ALL those wonderful beverages. I would have wanted to cry and scream for days. But, I admit that I can't keep a bottle of Bailey's in the house. If it's here, I must drink some daily until it's gone (and, depending on the size of the bottle, we might only be talking about a day or two!).

  7. shirley--thanks. and i'm no connoisseur myself, either, by any stretch. it's like they say with art: "I know what I like." and i'm always open to trying new wines. i love the Niagara, Ontario wines now, though. they really concentrate on aroma, and the alcohol level isn't so high as it is in some of the cali or chilean wines. i like a more fruit-forward wine with a "good nose", and there's just something about meeting the people who actually make it.

    v-grrrl--education is a hard-drinking profession, but i can't be an apologist for their lack of basic manners. that's just inexcusable any way you cut it. how horrifying for your husband. knowing the two of you just by blogstuff, i'm guessing you made no remark, and i'm not sure i'd have said anything either, but it's really a shame. my heart goes out to Mr. V. Give him a hug for me. P.S.--the bailey's...feh. to me, it's so much shite.

    ortizzle--well, we ate at some lovely restaurants as well. honest, we did! AND, don't forget the 2 plays we saw. but the wine tastings were the Day Fun of our trip. and wait till next post--i get to describe some really interesting wines from The Bench area!! As far as a wine cellar, we have A CELLAR, as in a basement, and the wine is stocked all along the bottom pantry shelf.

    mikey--i've always wanted to do the Napa Valley Train thing. now that I have someone to visit out there, too, you never know. "be careful what you wish for!"

    j.@jj.--"serious", how? as in how much we buy or how many wineries we go to? because believe me, there is nothing serious about us at a winery. oh, sure, we do the glass tilting, sniffing, air intake first sip, all that stuff, but we have a downright JOYFUL time. we do love learning about wine and winemaking, but when we get down to it, it's the drinking of it we enjoy. and no, no headache or hangover for any of us. we noshed on stuff in the car, had a nice Italian dinner before the play, and were ready to go at it again the next day.

  8. What the hell...I KNOW I left a comment here earlier!!

    Anyway...the next time you go I would love to play the part of Jared's girlfriend :)

  9. Nance I just love hearing about your trips to Canada and how you bring all that wine back! In fact, I'm still waiting on you to send me a bottle from the last trip!

  10. Anonymous10:24 PM


    Normally I sit down and read your blogs with a good trusty miller lite but I have a bottle of wine I have been saving for some "occasion", I think I might have found the perfect occasion, I can hardly wait.

  11. hey's Halley!!

  12. halley--oh my! how very flattering! hey, look, everyone: I have an "occasion" blog! it's like a Destination Spot! Thanks! (yikes. should I be worried that my blog is driving Halley to drink? LOL)

    tera--hey, you were in Ohio! you should have had Nina bring you over or call and arrange a meet-up. I would have brought you a bottle.

    nina--psssst...there's a little yellow bar on top of the comment box that will say "your comment has been saved" if you did it right. LOL. Jared is way too high-maintenance for you. You already have a baby. LOL LOL LOL.

  13. Oh Nance, there WILL be a next just save me one!!! ;-) We've already agreed that she will bring me to meet know, so I can "look at you (LOL!)." I just had a bridal shower to attend, so I was time crunching :)

  14. I forgot to add, I think it will be such an honor to meet you (cool points enough for 2 bottles???)...LMAO!

  15. tera--an honor!? what a load of bullshit. sounds like you're already into some wine...!


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