Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Day Two of Post-Conference Vacation

After packing the car, we headed out to the "gold country" about 9:30. Instead of going to the more famous, but pricey and farther away Napa Valley, we opted for the closer and more inexpensive (none of the places charged for the wine tastings) area to the west of Sacramento, in what Tom and Dianne referred to as the "gold country," because of the famous discovery in the 1849. We drove for about an hour, then stopped at the Amador Vintage Market in Plymouth, CA, for some sandwiches to round out the picnic basket, and asked for some suggestions from the local residents.

From 11:00 to about 12:30 we visited our first two wineries, the Tosca winery,) where the wine expert behind the counter had a set list, taking us through five wines in a particular order without much flexibility. A big highlight was the prominent sign in the beautiful gardens ("Beware of rattlesnakes and attorneys.")

The second place was more conducive to experimentation and information. The Terra 'Doro also had Betty, who was a congenial and knowledgeable server, allowing us considerable latitude in what we tried. My top choices were the 2008 Terra 'Doro Barbera ("rich ripe dark cherries, spice & toast, the reference to the oak barrel's characteristics) and the 2010 Terra 'Doro Moscato ("swirls of apricot & honey dance out of the glass and sweeten your palate with a clean finish") . Betty also explained why white wine is chilled to help the flavor and reassured us that room temperature or chilled is a matter of individual taste, although the temperature will affect the exact taste. She also said that grapes are the only fruit that take on characteristics of other fruit (e.g. the Barbera I had). I also bought some souvenir corkscrews (green and purple), and a new corkscrew knife, multi-task gizmo, to replace the Target one which broke a few weeks ago. I also bought some magnets with the Terra 'Doro logo on them.

Then we had a leisurely picnic lunch with the sandwiches we bought and the soft drinks Dianne had packed in the cooler. After lunch, from 1:00 to 2:00 we visited our third and fourth wineries, both owned by the same person, the Sobon Estates. The last had a little "museum room," with spindles, a spinning wheel, and an old-fashioned manual typewriter (an omen from the AP conference?).

The small sips of wine never made us too inebriated. We typical had about five tastes at each place, but spread out over three or four hours, it wasn't over-powering, but a fun, tourist thing to do.

We returned to Sacramento around 3:30. After supper at Tom and Dianne's, we drove to downtown Sacramento, where we attended a 7:30 performance of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, at the state theatre. It was in the round, and the circular stage revolved, and had three different concentric parts, which could rise and lower independently. It was a very imaginative and enjoyable performances. I had forgotten how many extraordinary songs came from the play.

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