Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wine Tasting in the East Bay

(One of these days I will actually post about San Francisco...)

Living in the city is nice for the most part, and I love my crazy hectic Mission neighborhood, but it's nice to be able to get away. I got to do that last weekend with a trip to a couple East Bay wineries.
Westover Vineyards
It was my first time going wine tasting outside of my beloved Finger Lakes, and I was happy to learn that the East Bay's Livermore/Castro Valley wineries are just as lovely and unpretentious as the ones in upstate New York.  I have heard that in Napa and Sonoma, you pay upwards of $20 for a tasting with a pretentious wine snob, but in the East Bay, tastings were free, casual, and fun!

Barrels of Port
Once we befriended our Westover Vineyards tasting room pourer, he happily poured us extra samples, including 14 year old tawny port straight from the barrel (retrieved with a turkey baster!). At Westover they specialize in flavored ports, including white chocolate, strawberry, peach, and vanilla. It had never occurred to me to flavor a port, and these were pretty sweet, but some were tasty. My favorites of these were the fruit ones. At Westover tastings are $5 for 7 or 8 pours, but you get that credit back if you buy a bottle. Which I did- a tasty Ballet de Vignes, a red table wine.
Despite a striking resemblance, this is NOT Dionysus, Greek god of intoxication,
but is one of the owners of Westover Vineyards
Sparkling Rose at Westover
Next we went to the Chouinard Winery. The staff here were less friendly than at Westover, but poured free tastings, and a very interesting granny smith apple wine. They also host monthly movies and concerts on their outside patio.
Chouinard Winery Tasting Room
It was really nice to be able to visit some wineries and get a glimpse of the big, bold California reds that elude the Finger Lakes' colder/cloudier climate. Then again, California Gewurtztraminer and Riesling have got nothing on the ones from New York!

Both wineries were not too crowded for a Sunday afternoon and I had a great time. Unfortunately it's not so easy to visit these wineries without a car, which is inconvenient for city mice like myself (oh how I miss my 1999 Honda Civic...).

But hey, that's what friends are for.

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