Tag Archives: Wine Tours

Wine Day 2013

Family Wine making day. I was really lazy this year and didn’t take that much footage, had to really stretch it out.

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DME: Frei Brothers Article

( @zanelamprey, #FreiBrothers )

Drinking Made Easy posted the 2nd part of my California Vineyards series. This article is about a visit to the super secret-Frei Brothers vineyard which is not open to the public.

Check it out: Drinking Made Easy: A Visit to Frei Brothers Vineyard

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DME: MacMurray Vineyards

( @zanelamprey, #MacMurray )

Drinking Made Easy has posted another article. This one is about my trip to MacMurray vineyard in California. Check it out:

A Visit to MacMurray Vineyard

Also since the good people at Kress made this article possible, if you are in South Jersey, stop by today and during the holidays to get a nice bottle of wine by good people. You know they are good, I married into their family 😉

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2011 California Vacation

I went on a trip to the California wine country and I found America. I wasn’t looking for her by any means. I wasn’t interested in finding picturesque landscapes that would make pretty post cards, but I found them and in a very American way: in a car and just driving.

As soon as we landed in San Fransisco International, we scrambled to get the rental car and we just went. My wife and I drove almost 100 miles away from the city and then took the whole route back on the iconic Route 1 coastal highway. There are miles of unmolested landscape and ocean. Mountains, fields, and for huge stretches, no people… it was fantastic. We stopped and stretched our legs, checked out some scenic stops and then we kept moving on. We had some authentic Mexican food at little road stop and then we continued to Napa for the night (and got snagged in a few hours of iconic American traffic).

The next morning we headed off to Sonoma for a private tour of MacMurray Ranch. This ranch was owned by Fred MacMurray, star of “My Three Sons”. The scope of this place blew my mind. It is 1100 acres of fields and mountains. The Gallo family purchased the property in the late 1990s after MacMurray died and converted it into a vineyard. Fred’s family is still involved with the property which is a nice touch.

The idea of holding that much property is astounding to me (not in a critical way). Past generations seemed to understand that you can’t over manage the land. Fred MacMurray left hundreds of acres alone (Gallo actually has a policy about that as well which is very cool). After we toured the ranch, we were taken down the road to see one of Gallo’s other non-public vineyards that was massive. I am going to do an actual write up about these places for Drinking Made Easy, but for the sake of this post, just walk away with the idea of land as far as the eye can see with mountains, trees, and in some cases grapes. I think I understand the imperial-land-grabbing-blood-lust of our forefathers.

The primary reason we went to California was to see Ryan Adams. I covered that already (read here). The show was great and the venue was small and intimate. It was a perfect night.

The next day we headed to San Francisco. We spent most of the day walking around the city without an objective. We went to China Town and Little Italy. We ate a nice dinner recommended to us by one of the local bakery owners (Michelangelo’s if you need to know). By the time we finished it was dark, so we took a cab back to the hotel and called it a night.

Tuesday morning we found ourselves on Golden Gate Bridge. We walked across as far as we could but didn’t get to the end because it was closed. We spent some time in the Golden Gate Park, walking up and down hills before it was time for lunch. We wanted to do Dim Sum. We went to an authentic dim sum place. Too authentic. I was excited when we walked in and saw only Asian people – I knew this place was the real deal. But then I noticed no menu and servers walking around with carts. Nobody really spoke English and I didn’t know what I was ordering. I managed to get my hands on some beef soup during the 30 minutes we were in there (one bowl), before we decided to split (paying was also interesting, I don’t think I was supposed to get up and pay myself – oh well). We ended up back in Little Italy which was not the plan at all, but we had a nice lunch at the Stinking Rose and we were served by Count Dracula, who was very nice (no I will not explain any further).

We walked around the city some more to burn off lunch and then went back to the hotel to clean up. I booked dinner reservations at “The House of Prime Rib” and decided that I needed to get in an extra run to burn off what I knew we going to be a calorie fest in the evening. I managed to get the gym completely empty and it overlooked the city in a small panoramic room. It was dusk and I was able to overlook the city which is a nice way to spend time on a treadmill.

Dinner was completely insane. This place served only one thing: Prime Rib. Salad, two sides. That’s it. It was perfect. Going back to my ghosts of America, this place was a call back to another time. Martinis and red meat. Baked potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. Classic.

In the morning, we found a nice little place (Honey, Honey) to get a simple breakfast and got ready for our flights home. Of course the flights were delayed and we ended up in Vegas, but that is all part of travel in the modern age. It is hard to get mad when you look down and see hundreds of miles of untouched landscapes and realize that there is still room to grow.

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DME: King Family Vineyards

( #KingVineyard, @drinkingmadeeasy )

Drinking Made Easy was kind enough to publish my story about a visit to a Virginia Vineyard, check it out:

Drinking Made Easy: A Visit to King Family Vineyards

Update: It looks like DME’s new website broke the links to the articles, here is the whole story:

The term wine country might invoke visions of the French country side or the sunny hills of Napa Vally… now allow your mind to think about Virginia. Not following? I recently took a trip to Charlottesville, VA to visit family. Knowing that I write for this blog, they suggested a trip to King Family Vineyards to sample the local wines and have a nice day in the sun, how could I resist?

Like most of you, Virginia is not my first thought when it comes to vino. But why not? My home state of New Jersey is making excellent progress in wine production and quality (another article for another day – I promise), why should Virginia be ignored? When I pulled into the vineyard, it looked like a massive outdoor picnic was taking place: families had blankets laid down with baskets of cheese, crackers, and (of course) bottles of wine. Children were playing ring toss and throwing around bean bags. Several dogs were lazily dozing under a large tree enjoying the sun.

A lovely picture, but what about the wine? It was very good. I introduced myself to a young lady presenting a sampling and she gladly allowed me to join the group. She handed me a glass of their Roseland 2010 and I was on my way. I don’t typically drink white wine (preferring red), but the Roseland had a pleasant sweetness that was not overbearing. Making my way through their entire series of whites, I was impressed with the variation and flavor. Another stand out was the 2010 Crose which was light and tangy.

I feel like I need to state that I am not a wine expert by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoy wine and I even make it yearly with my family, but I do not have the most refined palate: if I like it, I like it. I was ready for the red wine by the time the hostess opened the first bottle. The standout of the red sampling was King’s 2009 Meritage. It featured hints of sweetness with an undercurrent of spice. Around this time my father-in-law walked over with cheese and crackers and informed us that he had found a table. I attempted to make contact with a vineyard representative for an interview, but they were really busy that day (I called ahead, but they warned me it would be tough). Instead of stressing about it, I walked over to my father-in-law’s table and he greeted me with an open bottle ready to be poured. He filled my glass and I sat down thinking I couldn’t find a nicer way to spend an afternoon.

King Family Vineyard is located in Crozet, Virginia and is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Charottesville. If you happen to find yourself in the area, I recommend you take a drive to the vineyard and enjoy a nice glass of Virginia wine.

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Wine Day 2009

Made some wine with my family this week. Here is the video….

Here is the whole day in high speed:

Here is a special episode of the Grape Crusher falling off the fence:

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