Author: Cornish, Phil

Fine Wine
Last March, CBA members Kenny and Carol House invited us, (me, Phil, plus my wife Ivona = Philvona), to their annual cioppino feed in Cloverdale. We drive through Cloverdale all the time to get to Mendocino or Upper Lake or other points north, but we've not spent much time there. Apparently it's not a bad place to grow grapes because after driving grapes around in a giant truck for several years, Kenny decided to buy some land and grow his own. I don't know all the gritty details, but he ended up growing Zinfandel grapes and selling them to Rosenblum, a well established winery with a bottling factory in Alameda. I assume something is well established when it is the wine of the month at the Beverages and More (aka BevMo) in Willow Glen, which is where we live in San Jose.

Anywho, on our way to Cloverdale, we stopped in Healdsburg, a fancy little town with shops and restaurants and hard to find freeway entrance ramps. One of the first things we noticed there was the Rosenblum tasting room, which we decided to check out. We knew Kenny's grapes had been used in previous Rosenblum Zinfandels in previous years, and we also knew that this year, due to the success of previous years, Kenny and Carol House were given their own label by the powers that be at Rosenblum. This means that instead of blending their grapes with a bunch of other grapes, this year they made a batch of Z with only House Family Vineyard grapes. This meant that an additional label got placed below the Rosenblum label that said "House Family Vineyards," and then on the back label there was a well-written description of how awesome these grapes were and where they came from, which in this case was exactly where we were going later that day.

The House Family Label, by which I mean that batch of wine, had just come out that day, and they were tasting and selling it right there in that tasting room. We didn't bother to buy any or taste any since we'd be visiting the grower of the grapes who made the wine in a few short hours...surely he would have magnums of it. So after struggling to get back on the freeway out of Healdsburg (seriously Healdsburg, what is up with that? Seems like you are AOL'ing people to stick around longer), we drove to Cloverdale proper, took a residential street up a hill and then took one of curviest, most winding roads straight up a mountain I have ever seen.

By now, based on my previous foreshadowing, you have figured out that the House Family Zinfandel was in fact so hot off the shelf that the House Family themselves did not even have a bottle and we felt completely horrible that we had had a chance to buy and bring them a bottle. Turns out, they had some other wine so it did not matter all that much in the big scheme of things. We tasted the House Family Z a month or two later and it was by the far the best tasting wine I have ever tasted. But as Ron Thomason of the Dry Branch Fire Squad would say, "I told you that to tell you this..." Lou McClannahan, from the bluegrass super-couple, Sunshine and Lou, ate too much cioppino, broke the chair he was sitting on and ended up like this.
The moral of story is, since this is the daily message on the front page of the CBA web site, your message better be slightly related to bluegrass. To that end, I threw in the Dry Branch reference, and now bring it all home by saying that after we picked Lou up and finished dinner, we played music all night and it was fun. How'd I do for my first daily message?
Posted:  7/19/2007

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