Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wine and Company

A hundred thousand acres of ranchland gave way to hillsides lined with vines. Copper-colored ribbons flicker warnings to next spring’s birds. Another winery with “stunning patio views” announced at every highway exit. Trendy tasting room/galleries dot the newly revitalized down town core. The wine country was unmistakable. We, were lost.

We circled the cemetery three times before stopping at a Honda dealership to ask directions. Certain roads were missing from the map and intersections could not be expected as they appeared in the 2005-06 Paso Robles visitor’s guide. For all our efforts, we found ourselves off the beaten track with a winemaker who ignored us until the preferred customers, women wearing foundation and men in loafers, asked about our kids. We joked with the other customers while Mr. Wine worked to project nobility, and poured with some hostility.

Our next stop was a tasting room for hipsters. Aslin skipped "zinbitch" and opted for the complimentary "Biker" tattoo. Stylish baby-doll tees, $15, hung behind the bar. Here the pours were hurried. The "wine pushers" did slow for a bit of gossip on wineries to avoid and told touching stories of three-legged cats. We waved thanks and followed their directions to a small organic winery.

Up the drive, past the horses, past the rings of lavender, we parked across from the goats, facing a small sing posted at the end of the row of vines. “Sustainable.” Other signs gave brief descriptions of grape varieties, soil conditions, and incorporating feng shui and farming practices.
Pipestone Vineyards makes an extraordinary fist impression.

Tasting room introductions led to the easy sharing of stories. Jeff and Florence run a family farm, open to the public. For 10-years, they’ve received the loud talk of LA liberals who support organic farming and leave empty handed and welcomed Orange County conservatives who are unconcerned with the environment, and buy cases of the wine they enjoy. We left with a bottle Rhone Style Red and a little California wine-world enlightenment.

Last night we joined the Pipestone family for dinner. They fired up the cob-oven and Ukiah built an olive and mushroom pie. We talked schools, agriculture, politics and travel and enjoyed their Grenache, especially well paired with the wood-fired pizzas. A welcome party for Brad’s birthday.


dawn gotlegs? hc said...

I look outside the window, white; white everywhere. So far the skies are clear, the imminent sunrise and a stiff cup of coffee are pragmatizing my mind for the day. Ice=no bike and highly variable bus service at best. Snow on bamboo, I fall into a dreamy reverie. Get off the roads you idiots! I'm probably going to take the day off. Everyone should... just...effin' relax before someone gets hurt. Maybe I'll walk to work. And laugh all the way.

nora said...

It's cooled off a lot here too- more like 50 today. Burr. But we only have to walk a few hundred yards to work, and may not even really get started until after noon. I feel entirely confident we won't encounter anyone on the gravel road suffering from post-snow-idiot-stressed-angry-driver syndrome.
That's some winter ya'll are having. Can't say I'm sad to miss it. I'll sympathize though.
Sending warm wishes...

Anonymous said...

a little late, but happy bday brad. the trip should keep you young at heart!

dawn iditarod hc said...

Nora, Kailin wants to go to Hawaii. Shell expressed that he would like to get closer to the equator, even going so far as to get a job at the mall petting zoo to pay his way. Yikes! it is cold 'round here. The cats have a winter pact to share the bed, in spite of their ceaseless enmity. Misty has acclimated well, in our snow bunker. Siberia will be annexing Seattle soon. When you get back we will all be wearing elephant seals, swilling vodka like water, ruddy faced and running red lights on our dog sleds.

nora said...

There are a few wwoof farms on Maui- including at Twin Falls- which is fantastic. Dig yourselves out and head for the beach. Skip Hawaii for now and instead, fly out to meet us in San Diego in a couple weeks. I know how you love southern CA.

Maybe you could find a nice used tanning bed for Shell. Bring in some sand, mud extra and worms. Whatever it takes to get through this. We're counting on you not to let him sell-out. Unless, of course, his petting zoo gig could cover the cost of a new transmission. hmmm.