Holly has always wanted to learn more about wine tasting. She has an amazing palate and has learned a lot in informal settings, but has always wanted formal wine tasting/sommelier training.
One of the places we've looked at is the University of California at Davis. Known as one of the finest Enology schools in the world, they offer a range of classes for winery professionals. And the nicest thing is that some of those classes take place over just a day or two -- certainly do-able for folks coming in from out of town.
One of their classes, Advanced Wine Tasting, trains and certifies judges for the California State Fair wine judging. We're not particularly interested in that certification, but the training is exactly what we'd been looking for.
Yes, "we." Holly and I (and the rest of the crew) decided that it was more beneficial to send both of us. It always works out best that way -- if one person doesn't pick up something, the other does. And you're already paying for the hotel rooms and rental car...
Yesterday was Day 1 of our trip. We decided to take a few days extra to do some winery visits. Visiting other wineries is so educational -- you always pick up great tips about what others are doing. (And it's fun too, of course!) And, honestly, we (and our sinuses) wanted to be over jet-lag before we embarked on the U.C.Davis class.
We decided to visit some smaller, more out-of-the-way wineries (yes, you can still do that in northern California!), and planned the Clarksburg AVA as the destination for our first day. It's south of Sacramento in a lush, beautiful river delta area.
The website looked great -- just what we were looking for, we thought. Unfortunately, the website seems to have been set up before all the wineries were ready.
The first winery we stopped at, California Cellars, looked open. But when we got there, we were told that it wasn't the case. It's a lovely area, pretty much right on the river, with well-tended grapes and a nice-looking facility. We mentioned that we were from a small winery in Michigan and were told that we could drive back and look at the grapes, but nothing else. With no indication on either of the websites (the winery's or Clarksburg's), it was disappointing to drive all the way out there for nothing.
The next winery, Ehrhardt Estates, was vineyards and equipment... nothing for a visitor to see.
We were thrilled to see road signs for the next wineries. Located in a renovated sugar mill, the signs said "5 Wineries, Open Wed-Sun 11-5." But when we got there, only one was open on Wednesday, Carvalho Family Wines.
We had a great visit to the Carvalho tasting room, which included a barrel tasting of their '07 Tempranillo. The tasting room staff were terrific -- warm and open, with lots of information about their wines and where to eat while in Davis. We left there with their off-dry (I'd call it semi-sweet) Muscat Canelli, 2004 Tempranillo, and a dry Pinot Noir rose'.
The renovated sugar mill is a gorgeous building. Lovely high ceilings and lots of wood.
The last stop of the day was Bogle Vineyards & Winery. The largest of the wineries in the area, we were familiar with a few of their wines that are distributed in Michigan. Located along another river in the delta area, the winery and tasting room are beautiful, with a lovely shaded picnic area along side the buildings.
We enjoyed everything we tried, but especially their Zinfandels and Petit Syrahs. Of course, we took a few of them with us to share back at home.
So what's up for Day 2? We have lunch reservations for the Zinfully Elegant Barbecue Lunch at Copia.... stay tuned!
Graphics (from the top):
Clarksburg AVA display
Old Sugar Mill - interior
Old Sugar Mill - exterior
Bogle Winery - interior
Bogle Winery - picnic area & Hollyhocks
Bogle Winery - river