I had my first big chance to do some real sightseeing in America yesterday. I got invited to spend a day tripping around some wineries in Somona Valley just outside of San Franscisco. The day was rainy and overcast which, on the down side, meant I got a poor view of the Golden Gate bridge as we went across it, but on the plus side, the crowds were down at the wineries.
Our fist port of call was Gundlach Bundschu where we thought it was free sampling but in fact that was not the case. However, after forking out the fee we were able to sample a few nice drops and were informed of their sister winery, Bartholomew Park Winery which we headed to next. This stop did serve complimentary tastings, five in all. We had a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cuvee (blend) and finished with a Cabernet Sauvignon. Bartholomew Park also has a museum that perhaps I would've been able to explain in more detail if I had investigated it BEFORE the tastings. It seemed interesting though.
Our third stop was the Buena Vista Winery which does have a tasting fee but you get to keep the glass, which has the winery's name on it. A further bonue was that the serving lady appeared to have sampled the goods quite liberally herself and was quite generous in the servings and number of servings. Ever appreciative of such high customer service we made most of our purchases here. I myself got a 2000 Zinfandel but it was a close call to get a bottle of Cream Sherry. Tastings included the Zinfandel, Sherry, 1998 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine and a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon.
After tottering out of the Buena Vista we loaded up and headed for our final winery of the day, Cline Winery. Here we got complimentary tastings and I indulged myself with a 2002 Marsanne described as being "bold, rich and luscious with a bone-dry finish; 2002 Red Truck which is a blend of Oakly Mourvedre and Sonoma Country Syrah (shiraz) plus small amounts of other varietals; 2002 Ancient Vines Mourvedre; and finally finished with a 2000 Syrah.
After such a great day we headed back into SF to have Clam Chowder in a bread bowl at Pier 39 which was perfect for a rainy day. We finished off with nutella crepes and coffee by the water before creeping through the cities darkened and dangerous streets thanks to the blackouts.