Grapevines and Switchbacks and Mountains, Oh My! – Wineventure Day 2 of 4

Welcome to day 2 of our wine country trip. Yes, I know I’ve been slacking. Please accept my apologies.

We woke quite rested in the morning, feeling good about tackling the day ahead. With only one appointment on our calendar, we were open to adventure. And adventure we had! After breakfast (avo toast with grilled bacon, or maybe just the bacon) and coffee, we headed up to Pride Mountain Winery. Let me tell you… driving up (and down) mountain roads is not for the weak at heart. At the advice of our friends Melissa and Jim, we made this trek last trip. I was white knuckled the whole way there and definitely needed the glass of wine handed to me upon arrival.

https://youtu.be/bIDrklEDjWk
A portion of our drive up to Pride Mountain

This time, I divvied up my attention between navigating and taking video on my phone. For whatever reason, being behind a lens distracts me perfectly from the potential of impending death via careening of the side of a mountain. So I was not quite as tense as last time, and before I knew it, Hubs had expertly maneuvered the car to our destination.

The front of the welcome center and tasting rooms at Pride Mountain

The vistas at Pride are quite possibly the most incredible I’ve ever seen.

As if the views were not enough, the wine is ah-mayzing! We booked their top tier tour, the Summit Experience (so named because Pride sits literally at the summit of Spring Mountain). It included a private tour of the winery, the caves, and time in the Summit tasting room. 

As soon as the clock struck 10:45 (our appointment time), we were each handed a glass of Chardonnay and walked over to the wall where the soil examples and maps are situated. We reviewed the different terroirs that comprise the Pride vineyards. Then, we went down to the caves to partake in some barrel tastings. Our guide, Nikki Lamberti, didn’t tell us what we were drinking until after our second splash. We knew it was Cabernet Sauvignon, but didn’t know what we were comparing. Both tasted so very different (one more tannic than the other). It turned out that they were the same Cab grape, planted and harvested on the same dates, but grown in two different blocks of the vineyard. Surprise!

As much as I love walking through the cool, humid caves (especially on such a hot day), I adored the tasting room portion. As Nikki said, this is where we got nerdy about wine. This is the part that some people think is pretentious. The thing is, wine is like anything else – there’s a surface level to enjoy on a daily basis, and then there’s learning about and understanding the science behind it – the part people think is all la-di-da, nose in the air BS. WEll, it’s not BS, but these kinds of details (like the differences in our barrel tastings) definitely come more into play with the more luxurious wines, compared to the average value wine at the grocer. 

I’m sorry I didn’t get photographs of the Summit tasting room, because it was so beautiful. Clay walls extended from the caves into a cozy, yet spacious area with plenty of room to get comfortable and enjoy the wine.

I may not have captured the tasting room, but I did get a silly mirror selfie in the loo. It was really a cool powder room, literally because the walls were clay like the caves, and figuratively, because it was just purty.

We sat on super cushy couches and enjoyed a variety of cheeses with our wine. Nikki was great and fun to talk with. Along side her, we enjoyed some of their Vigonier, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Last trip, I fell in love with the 2015 Syrah. This trip, it was all about the 2015 Merlot for me (and Hubs too). Of course we love the Cabs, but the Merlot really got our attention. And, because when you do a tasting like this they tend to also pour the tippy top shelf wine to subtly up-sell, we got to taste the 2015 Vintner’s Select Merlot.  Both Merlots were delicious enough that we bought some to take home. As a bonus, we bought a bottle of the Mistelle de Viognier – a blend of viognier juice and white brandy. It’s a super yummy dessert wine. Truly, it can be dessert all on it’s own!

The obligitory photo of us holding (nearly empty) glasses of Pride wine on the patio that overlooks the vineyard. Photo credit: Niki Lamberti.

On our way out, we took a stroll through the educational vines outside the main building.

After a more relaxed (well, for me) ride back down the mountain, we returned to our house for a lovely lunch of cheese and crackers (and wine). What? Don’t judge!

No white knuckles on the way back down the mountain after a fabulous 2.5 hour tasting experience.

After a bit of chill time, we grabbed an Uber to the Enkidu tasting room in Sonoma Square (at Nikki’s recommendation). It was a cute though sparse storefront tasting room. The gentleman plying us with Pinto Noir was able to talk to us on our recently revived level of wino-nerdiness, so that was fun. Hubs very much liked the Pinot Noir, and decided to purchase a couple of bottles. Wouldn’t you know it – if we bought at least three bottles, the tasting was free. Well, what would you do?

After tasting and buying, we decided it was time to get some dinner. We opted to channel Bart & Robbie (Hubs’ brother and his wife), and head to Murphy’s (they try to go to an Irish pub at every one of their travel destinations). We were able to snag a table in the shade and have a nice relaxing meal outside. Now, you’d think I’d have documented dinner, but I think we were so hungry by then that I forgot to snap pics or write it down. And, since it’s been a few weeks (again, I apologize for being such a slacker-blogger), I can’t remember. I think we shared some mussels and I had a burger. But I could totally be making that up.

Once we paid the bill, we ordered an Uber to take us back “home” for the night. Somehow, we got on the topic of weed becoming legal there, how it’s taxed, and such. In case you were wondering, if you have a medical marijuana card, you only pay one tax, but if you don’t have a card, you get taxed twice. If the tax money went to schools and health care, I’d be so on board with that in Illinois.

Anyway, we made it back safe and sound. And by 7:30, I was in my PJs and ready for bed. Of course, I stayed up for a bit, making notes about the day and reading, but I was probably asleep somewhere close to 9:30. I am definitely not cut out for so much day drinking without an afternoon nap!

Coming soon eventually, Day 3…

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