I am embarrassingly overdue for providing an explanation for my absence.  Seriously.  I’m ashamed.  But! I have a few really good excuses – and in case I haven’t been evil enough this month, I’m not going to give them to you all at once.  I mean, wouldn’t that just be too damn easy?  I thought so.

I digress – let’s talk about something awesome.  You know what’s awesome? San Francisco is freaking awesome, especially when you go with your five best girlfriends.  And, especially, especially when you go wine tasting. In a limo.

Yes. And. Please.

The weather may not have cooperated, but that didn’t mean we didn’t take advantage of Sonoma County’s Barrel Tasting Weekend. Evidently this is a big deal – we just happened to be there for it (…no, seriously. We didn’t plan this trip around wine tasting. I swear.  Just a happy coincidence!).  But what trip to Cali would be complete without a little vineyard tour – particularly because it was my first time in California.  I know. It’s pathetic that I’ve made it this long without seeing the west coast of my own country, yet I’ve been to Europe three times.  I know. My priorities are clearly skewed.

I don’t know what I was expecting out of wine country, but it so far surpassed my expectations that I can’t even begin to explain it to you.  There are just grapevines literally everywhere you look.  I can only imagine it green and lovely in the spring and summer, without the rain that persisted through most of our day.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, barrel tasting is a pretty unique thing – it’s sort of like tasting beer halfway through the brewing process: it tastes delicious, but it’s not done yet.  The vineyard essentially cracks open a barrel or two of each type of wine and offers a tasting before it’s ready – meaning that you can drink it at the winery, but you can’t bring it home with you until it’s finished months later. It also means that what you’re tasting at the vineyard that day is an unfinished product used to determine what the finished product will taste like when the process is complete.  You can purchase bottles and cases, called futures, that you then return to the winery once the wine is bottled.

Obviously, this was problematic for me for several reasons:

1) I am, and always will be, unwaveringly impatient.  I can’t help it.  I want to do things now. What can I say?  I don’t have a lot of self-control.

2) Um, I don’t live here. Yes, this wine is fantastic, but I can’t exactly come back for it in October or next year.  That might be the least economical decision ever.

3) Fortunately, wineries allow for such a predicament, and will ship the wine to you.  Unfortunately, New Jersey, in a fit of puritanical zeal, has refused to make this legal.  Thus, no wine futures for moi.

However, to offer nothing but futures would be silly when you’re attracting the kinds of crowds that Barrel Tasting Weekend does, so most wineries also offer bottles of their finished wine for sale as well.  And if you think I paid to check my carry-on luggage all the way back home to New Jersey because it had several bottles of wine in it carefully wrapped in sweaters…then you are absolutely correct.  Congrats!  Looks like you have been listening closely all this time!

We visited the following Dry Creek Valley vineyards:

Armida Winery

David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery

Mazzocco Winery

Pedroncelli Winery

Rued Winery

Wilson Winery