The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

That California Trip Part 6: We Eat Giant Sandwiches and Taste ALL the Wine! June 9, 2014

It was day 6 of our encore flitterwochen, and it was time for some, or rather, more wine! As Ian put it, “You have to love a situation where drinking before 11:00 am is not only considered acceptable but actually kind of classy.” Napa Valley wineries are numerous and mostly located along a couple main roads, which made things easy and difficult at the same time. On one hand, there were plenty of options that were easy to find. On the other hand, neither one of us being overly knowledgeable about Napa wines made choosing somewhat difficult, especially since geography wasn’t much help in narrowing down potential candidates. Our choices mainly came down to what looked prettiest and most interesting and which wineries had special offers available through the wine country app.

We headed up Route 29, first stopping at Domaine Chandon, mainly because I just love bubbly so much. The grounds are also really beautiful, and the tasting room offers a lovely view.

BottleWall

Wall of bottles at Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon

Domaine Chandon

During our tasting there, we learned a bit about the glassy-winged sharpshooter, which I mainly remember because its name conjured up images of insects outfitted in Western-style attire with cowboy hats and tiny gun holsters. The actual pest is not nearly so cute and has been a significant threat to the California wine industry.

This is pretty much how I pictured the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

This is pretty much how I pictured the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

Our next stop was Grgich Hills, another estate with absolutely beautiful grounds. We had gotten a preview the day before when we’d caught the wine train there, but we came back for a proper visit and tasting. I, apparently like many others, had assumed that the “hills” in Grgich Hills referred to the hills (and accompanying valleys) of the vineyard. In fact, Hills is a name, as in Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. coffee family. The Grgich, refers to Mike Grgich, who caused quite a stir in 1976 when his Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was chosen in a blind taste test by French judges as the finest white wine in the world. The 2008 film Bottle Shock was inspired by this story, but apparently, Grgich himself did not sign off on the movie.

Grgich Hills

Grgich Hills

From there, we headed to St. Helena, where we lunched on giant delicious sandwiches at Giugni’s Deli. Well fed and ready for more wine, we continued on to Beringer Vineyards. In my opinion, the wine at Beringer is really nothing all that special (not bad, just not outstanding), but the beautiful estate makes a visit worthwhile.

It's educational!

It’s educational!

Beringer Vineyards

Beringer Vineyards

More of Beringer Vineyards

More of Beringer Vineyards

Rhine House at Beringer Vineyards

Rhine House at Beringer Vineyards

Stained glass window on Rhine House

Stained glass window on Rhine House

We took Silvarado Trail back toward Napa and stopped at Chimney Rock winery on the way. We chose it because of its lovely grounds and because the aforementioned wine app promised a free seasonal treat with the purchase of a tasting. The treat turned out to be an extra taste of wine. Actually, we got several extra tastes of wine. It was getting near closing time, and servers often become a bit more generous since whatever is left in open bottles by the end of the day has to be consumed or is wasted. Actually, our server even opened another a bottle of wine because he was just so giddily excited to meet people who were into Cabernet Franc. “Taste ALL the wine!” he demanded. Well, he didn’t actually say that, but he did offer us additional tastes that we turned down as our palates were a burnt out.

The vineyards at Chimney Rock

The vineyards at Chimney Rock

 

Chimney Rock selfie

Chimney Rock selfie

We returned to the inn, where we relaxed in the parlor for a while and pondered dinner possibilities. There we encountered some fellow Midwesterners–visitors from St. Louis. Despite stark differences in baseball allegiance, Ian found common ground with them when it came to light that they were all home brewers. As they shared thoughts on yeast and hops, I made the startling observation that, although they were Cardinals fans and Ian is a Cubs fan, they are all Brewers. Wah wah wah. See what I did there? Yeah, well, you had to be there…

We wrapped up the evening with dinner at Carpe Diem. If the wine industry conjures mental images of grey-haired men in sport coats and Oxford shirts, I should tell you about the bartender at Carpe Diem. This young, heavily tattooed guy told us how he had moved to Napa from Southern California to pursue a career in enology and viticulture and was part of the winemaking team at Crocker & Starr.

We returned to the inn for our final evening there, on the way passing a vacant building with this sign in front of it. What really gets me is not that the sign was blank, but that, despite its blankness, had lights shining on it. Was this actually an art installation serving as some sort of commentary on society? Probably not, but it did kind of make me wish I had been carrying a dry-erase marker.

Tabula rasa

Tabula rasa

 

Vertigo August 5, 2012

Filed under: movies,Reviews — lizardesque @ 10:48 pm
Tags: ,

In a recent poll, Citizen Kane was dethroned as the best movie ever by Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Although I can appreciate the cinematography in Citizen Kane, particularly in the context of the time it was made, I have always thought the story was weak. For starters, no one was in the room to hear Kane say, “Rosebud,” and if you’re going to base most of your movie around that, it seems like it would have been an easy thing to fix. But anyway, this post is not about Citizen Kane. It’s about Vertigo.

Wait, you mean hair and clothes DO matter to women??

I’ve long been a Hitchcock fan, but I never thought Vertigo was his best. I feel that Dial M for Murder and Rear Window are superior films, but it occurred to me that it had been a long time since I’d watched Vertigo and maybe I should give it another chance. So, I watched it again.

Nope, still not my favorite Hitchcock movie.

Of course, this is all rather subjective, and in the end, it really doesn’t matter whether I agree with the poll results or not. The movie has some great shots, and even though the dream sequence seems a bit cheesy by today’s standards, I have to imagine that it was pretty cool for 1958. However, watching Vertigo again made me realize that there are a few things about it that I need to say. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know some critical things about how the film plays out.

  • When John tails “Madeline” to the McKittrick hotel, we clearly see her in the window of the hotel. However, when he goes in, the desk lady insists that she hasn’t been there that day, and she is not in her room. When John looks back down at the street, Madeline’s car is gone. I will concede that Madeline could have hidden undetected in the hotel room and that Gavin could have driven the car away, but what would be the point of this? The plot was to make John believe that Madeline was insane and on the verge of suicide, not to make him believe he was following a ghost.
  • After “Madeline” jumps into San Francisco Bay, John fishes her out, puts her in his car, and takes her to his home. When she wakes up, her car is also at his home. How did it get there?
  • In the latter half of the film when John is making Judy change her hair and her clothes so that she looks more like his beloved Madeline, he keeps saying to Judy, “It can’t matter to you!” Um…has this guy met a woman before? Her hair and her clothes can’t matter to her? I can suspend disbelief for all sorts of stuff, but come on. Perhaps some men don’t understand why hair and clothes matter so much to most women, but is any man dumb enough to suggest that they don’t or can’t?
  • What ever happened to poor Midge??

Maybe I’m nitpicking. It’s still a pretty good film. Best movie ever, though? Not in my book.