Saturday, November 17, 2007

Off the Beaten Path

I took a little break from editing today, just to get out of the house. It wasn't my idea - my mother shanghai'ed me. Well, I guess shanghai isn't really correct. She told me about two weeks ago to keep today clear. She figured that will all of the ups and downs of the last three months, I needed a day completely to myself.

Always listen to your mother. She's usually right.

So, the Boy stayed home with his dad, my mom and I dropped the Girl off at a birthday party, and then off we went...

Off the beaten path.

A few years ago, my husband and I and a group of friends flew the coop for the weekend, sans kids, to go to upstate New York. The Finger Lakes region. We went on a wine-tasting trip. Discovered some terrific New York State wines. Came back refreshed (and a little tipsy - no, just kidding) and with a new appreciation for regional wines. A wine doesn't have to come out of California or France to be good. Or Chile, or Australia.

So, where is this going?

There are several really nice little vineyards almost right in my backyard. Whodathunkit?

Our first stop was Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington. There I discovered a lovely little wine called Chambourcin - which was a delicious red, very soft and light. I bought a bottle for my empty wine rack in my recently furnished dining room.

From there, we went to Unionville Vineyards, about ten minutes away. I didn't try anything, but I did buy a bottle of their pinot noir. It's one of my favorite wines, and I loved the label. Not a great reason to buy wine, I suppose, but I also collect bottles that I think are cool-looking, or that signify special occasions. I have the Dom Perignon bottle my in-laws opened when my husband and I got engaged, I have several Kenwood Jack London series bottles (which have a wolf emblazoned on the bottles) - things like that. Well, Unionville's logo is a fox - and their labels are different foxes.

After that, we stopped for lunch. At the Dutch Farmer's Market in Flemington. What a great place - they have everything and it's soooo fresh and delicious. We ate lunch, wandered around, and I found some Christmas-y type decorations for the new house. I love going there and it's always well-worth the trip and the slightly higher prices for their meats and veggies. And almost nothing beats Amish bacon...

When we finished wandering the farmer's market, we stopped at the last vineyard on our itinerary. Amwell Valley Vineyards. It was crowded, but when we sampled a few wines, it was easy to see why. Delicious. Absolutely wonderful. I tried a Marechel Foch - which is a heavy red along the lines of a Cabernet. I'm not crazy about heavy wines, but I bought a bottle for my husband, who prefers them. Then I tried a Landot Noir. Wonderful. Light and soft. Perfect. Yep - I bought a bottle.

The woman working there suggested a chardonnay, but since I don't normally drinks chards any more, I thought about passing. On a whim, I decided, why not?

Oh. My. God.

It was the best chardonnay I've ever tasted. A lot of them are heavy on the oak, but this wasn't. It was soft and mellow, without all that oak. I should've bought a bottle, but by then I'd spent enough. But I may yet go back. There are still a few empty spaces on that wine rack. =)

All in all, it was a wonderful day and different from the usual wander around Flemington (which is a great way to spend the day, but this was by far better.) I never realized there were some truly wonderful wines produced almost right in my backyard.

Sometimes, off the beaten path is the only way to travel.

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