But last weekend we did something very exciting. We went to a luncheon. Not a lunch, mind you, a luncheon. And it involved wine. Does it get any better than that?
We belong to to several wine subscription clubs (Husband, not being much of a joiner, has no problem at all joining wine clubs). Hendry distinguishes themselves every year by inviting all members to a luncheon and tasting event at the winery.
The food is fabulous and all, but we're also happy for the chance to check out what's on the vines, since the winemaking group Husband belongs to picks their grapes from these vineyards every fall.
George Hendry is the most amazing source on grapes and wine. Any time we have the opportunity to listen to him, we're grateful. Our winemaking group was originally a collective of retired physicists (Husband was brought into the group through a friend, we think because he is relatively young, strong, and has a big truck). George, also a physicist, has converted the ranch property he grew up on to all vineyards. We knew George before he received his commercial license, when he sold most of his grapes to larger neighboring wineries and his own small winemaking operation took place in an old barn. With the commercial license came professional success, financing, and a beautiful winemaking facility.
George approaches winemaking with the same scientific precision he approached building medical cyclotrons. Old habit die hard though: He still builds cyclotrons on the side in the old barn where he used to make wine.
We were greeted on arrival by one of the staff, who exclaimed "Why, here's Cindy and [Husband] from Berkeley!" What gives? Do these people sit around quizzing themselves with flashcards featuring our faces on one side and names on the other? However they do it, I'm impressed. It's not like we spend thousands of dollars on their wine.
The event starts off with tasty appetizers. My favorites were these chips, which were topped with a mixture of shrimp, halibut, and scallops. Amazing!
Then it's tour and tasting time. Tables are set with bottles to taste (the Pinot table, the Zin table, etc.), with guests free to pour their own.
All tables are staffed with someone to explain the selections. Husband, of course, spent most of his time at George's table.
Everyone is also handed an order form to record selections. Husband always swears not to buy a lot of wine and then always buys . . . well, quite a lot of wine.
I'm all for tasting, but I also like wandering around, breathing in the cool damp rich air. It is seriously the best smell in the world to me. When I was a kid, I used to like to lie on our patio and lick the cement to get that earthy, wet cement smell. This smell is sort of like that. I behave myself though and don't lick anything.
Husband finally nails down his purchases,
and it's time for lunch!
Here's my neighbor's plate. I had already eaten half of mine before I came to my senses and realized a photograph was in order.
I am in hot pursuit of their eggplant recipe. The manager said the caterer would be happy to share it. I'm still waiting and hope I don't have to resort of a campaign of terror to get it. It was the best eggplant I've ever had in my life, and I will die without the recipe.
We'll be back in a month or so to pick grapes, although we're still unsure of what we'll be picking. A hard frost that hit this spring did considerable damage, and George will need all the first crop he can get for his market. Whatever we pick will have to be seconds, which means a long, hard, slow pick. Instead of fat clumps of grapes, it's little clumps of three grapes here, six grapes there. But we always make the best of it, with a potluck picnic, a visit with George, a look at the latest cyclotron, and a pat on the head of the vineyard dog, Buki.