Since we don't traditionally go out for dinner on our anniversary(long story short, I screwed up some timing on our Wedding Night, AND out first anniversary, so we made it a tradition to eat pizza at home), we did decide to run out for a few hours in the afternoon. This being able to run out for an hour or two and leave the girls at home is a welcome addition. It's one of the few not-sad things about your kids getting older.
I had kind of made the decision that we would head out to do some wine tasting...and that we would try some of the newer/smaller wineries in the area that we had not previously hit. There are two problems with that...most of the smaller wineries hide themselves behind terms like 'Estate' or 'Boutique'. To call itself an 'Estate' Winery, you just have to grow all the grapes in the wine on your own vineyards. To call yourself a 'Boutique' Winery, I think you just have to be willing to charge over $40 a bottle. Color me cynical. I like wine, but I'm not a 'Wine Guy'. I'm willing to admit that my unsophisticated pallet often times prefers a $12 drinkable wine to a $40 Fancy Wine. I'm also a sucker for the fact that a lot of these wineries will waive their tasting fee(often a very reasonable $5-$10) if you buy a bottle of wine.
Famous last words from my wife, reassuring me it's okay to go visit smaller wineries: 'We don't NEED to buy a bottle wine at each place'.
Now...in her defense, I know it can be done. I have friends that do it...go to a winery, and happily pay the fee with no real intention of ever buying a bottle. I just can't do it, because I'm a broken person.
The other problem with the smaller wineries is that sometimes their tasting rooms have...inconsistent hours. That was the case with the first winery we tried going to. Their website said they would be open, but the lights were out, and no one was home. Luckily, another of the smaller ones had their signs posted on the road saying they were open, so we dropped into MonteScarlatto Estate Winery.
First things first, MonteScarlatto proved me wrong on one thing...their wines(with the exception of one varietal which is only grown on a half-acre) we very affordable...under $20 a bottle on site. Rumor is, now that they have started being carried in stores, it's even more affordable at Yolks.
It's also very representative of the 'newer' wineries popping up in the Red Mountain American Viticultural Area...this used to be someone's house, that just happened to be on 10 acres of land. Then, with the local growth of the wine industry, it made sense to plant grapes, which they did in 2008ish, with their first bottling in 2011. That's quite a risk...3+ years of investing before getting your product to the people. So far it looks good for them. They converted their garage into a tasting room(with a REAL wood fireplace...nice on a damp day like yesterday), and they have added a nice outdoor sitting area, which is going to be upgraded as the summer rolls along. It was a nice place to visit yesterday, and it will be interesting to visit in 6 months to see how they continue to improve. We walked out of their with a bottle of their very tasty Malbec based Rose. I stated before I'm not a wine snob, but if I was, and you put 'Malbec' on the label...that would hook me.
After that, we decided to head back into town, and stop at Barnard Griffin, one of the 'not smaller' wineries here in town. The crank out about 70,000 cases a year. By comparison, MonteScarlatto produces about 800(with a gold of closer to 1200 as their vines mature) a year.
Barnard Griffin is located in Richland, nestled in between Tagaris and Bookwalter wineries. This can be an expensive road to visit, and while Tagaris is our favorite, it was nice to bop into Barnard Griffin yesterday. The co-owner of the winery is a glass artist, and offers fused glass making classes, and the opportunity to make your own ornamental glass items, and the price isn't bad for some of the smaller things, like fused glass garden flowers. Also, we found out that at the end of April, they are doing an Asparagus tasting...Yes, an Asparagus Tasting! One of the local farms is coming in with TWENTY varieties of asparagus, and Barnard Griffin is releasing their newest Rose at the same time. Who even knew they were 20 types of asparagus.
And yes, we ended up leaving BG with two bottle of wine also.
But, it made up for my wife not wanting me to get her an anniversary gift.