Just like most of my trips to my favorite place on Earth, my trek started early in the morning. We headed out at 8am, but that’s not the earliest I’ve ever left. The record time is 5am. I like leaving around that time because the drive is typically 6 hours. About halfway through, there are stockyards for miles and a smell that comes along with them that will make your stomach turn. I usually have to McGuyver a mask. Anyway, leaving at that time gets us right into town around lunch time, and hitting one my favorite restaurants, Rutherford’s Grill. This trip, we didn’t have time to stop and eat there, though. We had to drive straight up Spring Mountain to get to Pride Mountain Vineyards to taste their absolutely perfect wines. Typically we take the tour of the caves, and this time would’ve been my 5th tour of this one in particular, but because we were late we just did a simple tasting in their massive tasting room. Which was fine, it’s a great atmosphere and the people that work there are always so pleasant. I had gone back in July, so the wine tasting menu was still the same except for one new ’09 Merlot that they opened for us. I happened to like it better than the ’08, but that’s just me. Aside from the awesome cave tours, great wine, and cool people, Pride offers the BEST picnic spot I’ve ever been to. It sits right on top of the property and over looks the valley. We picnic’d there in July, and it was amazing. So we stocked on some wines there, and it was off to the next place. Here are some pictures of Pride and A link to their site:
Next up was Behren’s and Hitchcock, who recently changed their name to Erna Shcein. I hadn’t been there since my very first trip in 2009, and I was looking forward to their excellent wines. They don’t grow their own grapes. They buy from multiple growers in the area, and some closer to the sea, so their wines (all blends) have a very unique flavor. They don’t have a tasting room, so if the weather permits you sit outside on the patio that they have all fixed up with everything you’d need. If the weather sucks, the tasting room is a 1920’s movie trailer that the owner bought on eBay. It’s so rad. Since I hadn’t been there in so long, the wine offerings were all new. And they were all SO good. My favorite was the Resurrection which you can only buy from them directly. That’s actually how a lot of their wines are because they usually only make 12-24 cases of their wines. Which is an absurdly low number considering. I have several bottles of their stuff from my first trip still, including Cemetery, Blender Boy, 14, Spare Me, and St. Fumee. But this time I picked up of course the Resurrection, a couple of magnums of the new ’09 St. Fumee, and a reserve from made from the grapes they get from Kinefic Ranch. So good! What I also love about this Winery is that they get the artwork from their bottle from starving artists. For instance, the story behind the label of the Resurrection bottle is that the owner of the winery was visiting New York City. And in a little coffee shop he bought a picture from a guy who had drawn this masterpiece on a post it. He bought the actual post-it drawing from him for something like 2000 dollars, copied it, and framed it. And every label has a story similar to that one. So cool! Here is their site so you can check out some of the other artsy bottles, and some pictures of their property and original post-it masterpiece!
That was the last stop of that day. It was getting late and we had reservations at the Wine Spectator Restaurant inside the Culinary Institute of America called Greystone. It was excellent. All the chefs there are being trained with utmost skills. We had an olive oil tasting, corn soup, and a beet salad to start. Then I had the chicken confit with salad and I absolutely inhaled it. Didn’t get any pics of the place. But it was great! You can check it out here:
So the next day was the big day. I was looking forward to this for a while. First up, at 10am, was Alpha Omega. A definite favorite, also. So far all three stops had been my favorite wineries. Alpha Omega was throwing a harvest party where members of the club could come, enjoy a tasting, help with the pressing of the grapes, and then enjoy a gourmet pizza lunch. They split us into two groups, and our group was second to get in on the “work” part of the day. it was really cool to learn how it all works. My favorite wines of theirs are the chardonnay, rose, and their 08 Proprietary Blend. Here are some pics from Alpha Omega and a link to their site:
After being there for 4 hours and stuffing my face with pizza, it was time to head to Roy Estate. It would be my first time going there, but I had heard a lot about it! The winery is owned and operated by a lady and her husband who has recently passed away. They have 117 acres of vines/grapes and in the middle of the winery is their humungous house. And that’s where they do the tastings. It’s be select appointment only, but their kitchen is their tasting room. To be honest you never know what to expect when you go to someone’s home. But it was comfortable, and the wines (only 2 were offered at the tasting) were great! So I got a few bottles of her wines, bought her cookbook that she signed for me and took a lot of pictures! Here’s the site and pics:
After Roy we hit a few random places (because you’ve got to do that sometimes). They were Hall and Chimney Rock. Wish I had good things to say about them, but they were less than average, in my opinion. At Chimney Rock, however, I did buy a wine glass that holds a whole bottle of wine. Not that I would ever be THAT ridiculous, but it’s really cool to have. And then we called it a night.
The next morning we started at Flora Springs. This is a place I was VERY skeptical of bc the tasting room looked just like an office that sits right off the street. I like the more conventional wineries, and ones off the beaten path. But we stopped in anyways. And to my surprise, this place was very good. First of all instead of crackers, they served popcorn and you know how happy popcorn makes me! But the wines and the history of the vineyards were both very rounded. And the rose was excellent. Ended up getting two cases. Which I’m sure barely put a dent in their 1/2 a million cases/year.
Next we finally made it to Rutherford Grill! I was beyond happy. We always sit outside, and they offer really cool dining out there. There was a tv at the bar where I was able to watch parts of the games that were on, as they kept switching them around.
After hitting a few more random wineries, we ended up at BV to do their reserve tasting. That was a neat experience, but again I don’t like the bigger more commercial wineries. They wines in the reserve tastings were great, and they produce something like 2million cases total every year. That’s insane. And their property is absolutely ridiculous. Paula Deen’s sons were there shooting a Christmas Special and signing their book after. We went over and said hello and wrapped up our visit there.
We ended our day/evening at my 2nd favorite restaurant ever, Mustards Grill. This place is beyond words. It’s always so cram packed and you have to make reservations at least a month in advance to get the time you want. I had the world famous Mongolian Porkchop, of course. And it comes with mashed potatoes and pickled cabbage. To die for. It was the perfect end to a nice little trip. And we headed out the next morning.
Here are the links to Rutherford Grill and Mustards Grill in case you want to check them out:
Thanks for reading. I really hope you enjoyed!