Monday, March 1, 2010

Celebration of the spring

The winter is over, or will be over very soon. Here is the proof: it was nice and sunny both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was a very good day for a wine country trip, and one of our favorite wineries, Beaver Creek, hosted a barrel tasting of their organic wines and a lamb barbeque.

I have a good luck to live within 20 minutes drive from Sonoma and Napa wine countries, and I don't go wine tasting there anymore - too touristy. This winery is different, and it's not the closest one for sure. It took us an hour and a half to get there. All the way through Napa valley, then up into the mountains on a very scenic and very tricky winding road, then going down into Lake County.

We tasted two Zinfandels, estate-grown Lake County and Napa Zin, made of grapes that the owners outsource from vineyards in Napa Valley and bring by a small truck across the mountains. Both have a wonderful aroma of ripe berries and nuts (I want to smell like this), and the Lake County Zin also has this rich and complex flavor that I began to call the "Lake County taste" - somewhat jammy, dried-fruit taste of the red grapes growing in a very hot climate.

I also got to taste a white blend that was only halfway ready, still foggy with the sugar residue and smelling of yeast and fresh bread.

The winery owners, Joseph, Martin and Bruno, all from the former Czechoslovakia, run their winery like an Old World farm. Happy sheep and goats graze on the fresh grass between the rows of grapes (they move them to a pasture in summer).

The llama posed pretty for a picture, then refused my humble offering of a bunch of grass and moved away - he somehow knew that the grass on my side of the fence was no greener.

Charlie, the majestic white rooster, walks his multiple girlfriends in front of us, just as Joseph and I enjoy a delicious paprikash (yes, I got the recipe, but I promised not to publish it) made of one of Charlie's ex-girlfriends, and discuss pros and cons of adding chanterelle mushrooms to the future coq au vin of Charlie.
Charlie is oblivious of hir retirement plan.

Then, as the sun goes down, Bruno builds an oak wood fire, and out comes the rack of lamb.

The lamb's name was Molodets, this means "good boy" both in Czech and in Russian. He surely tasted like a good boy. In fact, he was the best lamb I tasted in many years.

There were music, songs, and stories. My hair and clothes still smell of wood smoke, like a pizza oven.

This time of the year, the little creek runs full and strong like a mountain river. You can kayak on it, if you have the skill and courage.

Welcome, Spring!

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