|This Will Be Our 11th Trip!!|
I really don’t remember how it all started, but somehow, eleven years ago Joe, Gwen, Gale and I decided to take our first trip to the California wine country. Gwen is Gale’s sister and Joe, well, Joe is Joe and our brother-in-law. What’s funny about the decision to go wine tasting is that at the time, Joe didn’t drink wine. And that’s how he became our designated driver!
|Joe Drinking Wine!!|
Like all good pilgrims making their first trip to the motherland of US wines, we decided to go to the ultimate of wine regions…Napa. I wish I had known at the time that Napa would turn out to be my least favorite of the wine areas. But eleven years later we have gone to Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake County and Paso Robles, and much to my dismay, Joe has started drinking wine!
|Amateurs Not Allowed!|
We always use frequent flyer miles and fly Southwest. It takes a little longer but they have never broken a bottle of wine and they don’t charge for bags. Both major pluses since we check our wine as baggage. We carry our luggage on the plane, which means Gale and I can each check two cases of wine.
|Our Wine Boxes!!|
And because we are…frugal, we take four empty wine shipping boxes with us, as well as tape, scissors and markers. Southwest will supply “fragile” stickers if you ask for them. We fill the boxes as we go, which helps us keep track of how much wine we’ve bought. If you don’t have empty wine boxes, you can buy them at the wineries. You can also save them from wine you may decide to ship home, but shipping is a lot more expensive.
|Checking in Outside!!|
Fly into Oakland if possible, it’s less crowed than San Francisco or LA. On a trip to Paso Robles we once flew into LAX…big mistake. I thought we’d never get out of the airport and I still have nightmares about the bumper to bumper highway traffic. It took about twice as long as it did when we left from Oakland. And check your “wine luggage” out front, and if possible never fly home on Sunday. It’s way too crowded. The lines for checking in are long, and you will end your trip on a bad note.
|Packing Our Large SUV!!|
And if you plan on keeping up with our marathon tasting you will need a designated driver! In fact almost any tasting of wine at more than a couple of wineries will require a driver, unless you are doing the unimaginable, and spitting it out. And that’s a waste of good wine…see the movie Sideways!!!!
|Join A Wine Club Or Two!!!|
Be prepared to join a few wine clubs. If you really like the wines it’s a great way to continue receiving them long after you’ve returned home. Besides, you’ll get a discount on the wine you buy when you’re there. We join a few each year and drop them before our next trip.