I went wine tasting today.

It started out like an ordinary day, waking late and smearing cream cheese on one of the bagels I bought from Headlands last night, reading a book and drinking tea. In the early afternoon, I decided to amble to the library, and that’s when the adventures began.

First the phone rang and it was Brendan.

“Let’s go wine tasting,” he said, as I negotiated the packed dirt which passes for Franklin Street these days.

“Ok,” I said. “Wait, I need a ride. Shit.”

“I’ll get you if you need me to,” he replied.

“Let me see if I can call in a favor.”

And then I remembered that I was supposed to hang out with L today, so I called her to see if she wanted to go wine tasting, and she happened to be in Fort Bragg, so we were off, swooping into Mendocino to meet Brendan and S and romping into the Anderson Valley to meet up with C for our wine tasting adventure.

Our first stop was Zina Hyde Cunningham, in Boonville, where we paid $5 for a flight of five wines. I forgot to bring a notebook so I didn’t take any tasting notes. I apologize. The wines were…not terribly distinctive, though. There was a Zin that I rather liked because it was robust and rangy and spunky. But everything else failed to wow me, especially the Pinot, which was lacking in awesomeness.

On the recommendation of the lovely lady behind the counter, we went to Esterlina, which is by appointment only. I don’t know why they bother with appointments, since the winery is up a long, winding road and we thought, briefly, that we might be lost.

But it was worth it. And we saw why they were all about the appointments, since it was busy and the tasting area was small.

The winery is on top of the ridge, commanding a formidable view of the entire valley. We were set up on an awesome patio looking over sweeping vineyards, and the lovely lady gave us generous pours of an assortment of wines. I liked the Sauvignon Blanc, which is what we led with. Fruit forward and fun, very refreshing. I also rather fancied the Merlot, which was very mellow and simple, but kind of nice. She gave us two different pours of Pinot, one estate grown and one Russian River pinot…the estate was splendid, like walking through a murky redwood forest on a foggy day.

Sadly, they had some questionable crackers. But we were reluctant to leave the beautiful view and the nice, laid back staff, despite their cracker selection. It had a very homey feel, like we were at a house party and we arrived just before the food was being served, so the host was giving us some wines to taste while we waited for the party to really get started.

The afternoon was wearing on, so we dashed down to Navarro, which was packed with people. It felt like a party already deeply in progress, but one of the staff went through high school with us, so he poured for us while we bellied up to a bar tucked in the corner, and it was great fun. We tried…er…rather a lot of wines, actually, and most of them blend together. I like the Edelzwicker rather a lot, we tried some of the Deep End, and the White Riesling was groovy as well. I also picked up some Gew├╝rztraminer grape juice. That stuff is the bee’s knees, and I really should just buy a case. I resisted the temptation to buy wines, although I might succumb in the near future. I just don’t entertain enough to justify purchasing wine, although I do like to be able to bring wines to dinners, so maybe I should keep some on hand.

Afterwards we wound back to the coast through the redwoods, ending up at Viraporn’s, where we had a lively and tasty dinner, talking about wine and knitting and an assortment of other fascinating topics. Mere moments after arriving home, a friend from the city called, and told me that she was spontaneously visiting, so she popped by for a few minutes to say hello, which was excellent.

A tiring, but illuminating and rather fun Saturday. It really is enjoyable to spend the day with friends.