While in Napa Valley, we decided to do some wine tasting. The area is filled with vineyards (and the hot air balloons are usually launched from the vineyards!) and wineries. Most of the larger wineries allow you to come in and sample their wines.
A true wine connoisseur will likely have a heart attack reading this, so if this be you, go ahead and call 911 now!
But here's what you do--you stand at a bar, look thoughtful, and order a "flight." A "flight" could be something like a 1-ounce taste of 4 or 5 different wines, for $10 to $25. I like when they put out a different glass for each of the different wines (which they only seem to do at the end of the day, if the "pour" is ending.) I like this because then I can move the other glasses around to keep better track of which ones I like, which ones I don't, by moving the glasses forward or backwards like a game of chess.
You smell the wine, swirl the glass around, stare thoughtfully into its swirl and color, and then take a sip. You squish it around in your mouth, and swallow (if you're me, because you paid for the wine, after all!), or spit it out into a little spittoon bucket if you're serious and anal about wine tasting. For added credibility, you nod and talk appreciatively of tannin and acidty and chocolate and fruit flavors. And twice, we actually bought a bottle of wine. It was actually quite a bit of fun, and reminded me very much of Sideways, which still makes me laugh out-loud whenever I think about it. Personally, I think the little bucket thing on the counter is just gross.
A road along some vineyards.
The three of us tasting the wine. This was at the Hess collection, which also has an art museum on the 2nd floor. I would have loved to take photographs there (not allowed) because it was so interesting and creative. This winery is worth going to for the museum alone!
And a few more Hot Air Balloon photos because this adventure is just not out of my system yet! These are the memories that I'm storing up now to weather the long winter ahead in ND!
And this photo was shot through the front window of the chaser van (I was in the 2nd row of seats in the van) as we raced to follow the balloon to a landing spot.
If you're ever in Napa and see odd driving behavior by groups of 3 vehicles each, dashing off in one direction, suddently pulling over to the side of the road and just sitting for a few minutes, and then racing off in another direction. . . they're not necessarily psychotic: think balloons!