Vacation Epi-blog, and a great week of birthday wine begins!

First of all, I apologize to those of you who were following along with the vacation blog, which ended abruptly. I had every intention of doing both the blog and vlog, but as the week went on, I got more and more tired and something had to give. In this case, the blog suffered.

Here are a handful of pictures that we got from the last couple days of the incredible trip:

Now, those of you who watched the vlogs might remember that I was expecting the “travel day from Hell”, as we were driving home from Seattle through the border and then taking an unfamiliar (and long) route home, as Hwy-1 was closed because of the epic flooding that we completely missed while we were away.

We encountered the most friendly border guard in history. Even though there were only 8-9 cars in the lineup when we arrived, it took about 45 minutes as the new restrictions means that most cars required a lot of time to get processed. It had just been announced that they were closing Hwy-7, our ONLY route home, for further repairs at 7 PM. We got to the border around 2, and we were hearing stories of people who had taken 4-5 hours to get home, attributed to the fact that the winding highway was currently operating with single-lane alternating traffic. Obviously, doing the math, we didn’t have a lot of wiggle room, needing to get past the closure point (and we had no idea where that would be) before 7 PM, or we’d be turned around and unable to get home at all that night. Ack!

Well, we arrived home at around 4:30! No delays of any significance. We got to a road said that indicated “single lane alternating traffic”, but that was never the case. It took us, probably, only about 45 minutes longer to get home than it would normally take us on Hwy-1. Bullet dodged. Another example of how incredibly lucky we were on multiple occasions this trip!

Now, one of the reasons we chose these dates for our trip was to celebrate my 52nd birthday. We try to avoid going to Disney on my actual birthday, as it always falls very close to US Thanksgiving and I lack the patience to deal with Thanksgiving crowds, so we were actually home 3 days before the official date. You know what that means, though?! BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!!!

For my actual birthday dinner, I needed 1/3 of a bottle of Chardonnay to put into the sauce. I went to my wine fridges to find a Chardonnay where I wouldn’t mind losing 1/3 of the bottle, and I pulled out this one, which was the “worst” Chardonnay I could find. And let me tell you, if you have a bunch of wine at home and this is the worst Chardonnay you can find, you are doing something right.

For the second Chardonnay of the evening, we upgraded a bit to the most reliable Chardonnay house in BC.

For my actual birthday meal, I was making Prime Rib, and I ran into the same situation. Needing 1/3 of a bottle for the Jus, I went into the cellar and pulled out something that I thought would be drinking well, but maybe didn’t have a ton of time left in it. This was a pleasant surprise.

For night three of “birthday week” we had a couple of Quails’ Gate wines that we have previously enjoyed and rated, along with another episode of their “Virtual Culinary Series” which is a lot of fun.

That’s it for today! Coming up, if we have any more great wine during “birthday week” I will be reporting on them. As well, we have a ton of great stuff to report on, including some wine that is going to show up on my “best of the best” list, and also on my annual “best of the year” list which is fast approaching. Stay tuned!!

Disneyland Day 5! Another huge day, with a special ticketed event: Mickey’s Merriest Nights!!

6:30 AM – I slept in!!!! Yes, this is sleeping in for me these days.

7:30 AM – The wife is up, thanks to an emergency text from work, probably related to the intense flooding going on in and around the lower mainland right now. No exaggeration, if today was our travel day home, we would not be able to get there. Floods have cut off Chilliwack from all roads, including Highway-1. Hopefully they are able to get that sorted out before we return home on Saturday!!

9:20 AM – We arrive at the Plaza Inn for our breakfast with Minnie and Friends. It’s a buffet that isn’t really a buffet…..they have cast members serving you at the buffet stations. The characters don’t come for individual pictures anymore, but we still get video of the whole gang (Pluto, Pooh, Dale) and pictures with (near) Minnie Mouse. The food is really quite good for this sort of buffet, and the biscuits and gravy are some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s well worth the $40ish price tag.

After breakfast we head into Critter Country where Splash Mountain is a walk-on. I have NEVER seen that before. We get pretty wet, I gotta say, and although it’s much cooler today than it was the first couple of days, it’s still warm enough to dry us off without much worry. We also take a ride on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, do a bunch of Xmas shopping, and then head for the exits. We are going back to the hotel to rest for a few hours before we begin our big evening, where we have tickets for Mickey’s Merriest Nights, a private event (“private, just us and thousands of our closest friends”), that begins at 8 PM, one hour after the park closes. Very much looking forward to that! It runs until Midnight, features 6 different Xmas parties in the various lands, and we will have the opportunity to ride any ride that we want from every land that is open. The only lands not open tonight are Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Critter Country and ToonTown.

While the wife has a little nap, I am sitting on the patio editing the vlog from last night and enjoying a cheap but half-decent Chardonnay that I bought from the hotel gift shop.

Nothing to write home about, but for the $20 I paid for it, it’s about what I’d expect.

Another restful day for Little-Miss-Naps-A-Lot while I spend most of the afternoon editing the vlog, drinking the Chard and just enjoying the time on the patio. Also watching the news from back home, which just seems to get worse and worse. Man, I hope we are able to get home on Saturday.

6:30 PM – Back into the park to do a few things before the party starts at 8. Disneyland at night, at Christmas, is spectacular.

In the hour between the closure of the park and the beginning of the party, we ride Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland and the Matterhorn Bobsleds. All walk-ons.

8:00 PM – The party begins and we wander around the various lands to see the six themed mini-parties which all include food and entertainment, including character sightings

9:30 PM – “A Christmas Fantasy” Parade begins. We are in front of ‘It’s A Small World’ waiting to see it. The cast member who is standing around us says this is the biggest parade they’ve ever had. It starts on Main Street, and weaves it’s way through the park to the finish at Small World. She wasn’t lying about the size of this parade, as it’s nearly 10PM by the time it comes around the corner into view. It really is a spectacular parade. Disney does this stuff so, so well.

11:00 PM – OK so I am way too old for this. It’s been a great day, but time for us to start meandering down Main Street and head for the exits. The party doesn’t end until Midnight and by the time we hit a few shops on Main Street and hit the exits, it’s not too far from that. We are both totally spent at this point. Another spectacular day!

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, sleeping in, a relaxing morning, and dinner reservations at Wine Country Trattoria in DCA. Stay tuned!

Vacation Blog, Day 4! DCA and some great food and wine!

4:45 AM – SIGH. So much for “us” sleeping in.

Sitting on the patio, before the sun has risen, and there is a calm that washes over me that I have not experienced much recently. Certainly not in the last 18-or-so months. I am sure that I am far from alone in that feeling.

7:00 AM – Back on the patio after heading down to the pool bar which is basically the only place here I can get something to eat at this hour. In the olden times (pre-COVID), I had been able to walk down Downtown Disney to Earl of Sandwich or La Brea Bakery to pick up breakfast, but these days those places don’t open until 9 AM, and I cannot wait until 9 AM to eat. I’m able to grab a croissant and some cheese, and together with leftover plane cookies, this should suffice until Tracey wakes up and we can get our day started. Still several hours until that happens, for sure.

8:30 AM – Well, whatcha know, the wife is up early! One thing we both agree on: the beds here are just as comfortable as they are at the Grand Floridian, and those are the greatest beds we’ve ever experienced. We have a very nice, comfortable bed at home, but nothing like these. This is what it feels like to wake up refreshed. I had forgotten.

9:30 AM – We are into DCA, through the special “Grand Californian only” entrance and head right to Soarin’. If you are interested in a full ride-through, it’s in my latest vlog here. We’ve decided that this will always be our first DCA ride, in the same way we always start our Disneyland days on POTC. It’s tradition and shit!!

Hmm what movie is that line from…..???? I can hear it, but can’t picture who says it…. Can’t Buy Me Love, maybe? It’s going to bug me now until I remember.

It’s busy but not insane here, we knock a few rides off our list before our lunch, including our first-ever ride IN ROW ONE on the Incredicoaster. Pro tip: Wait longer to get in row 1. It’s worth a little extra time!

12:40 PM – We arrive at Lamplight Lounge for lunch. This used to be Ariel’s Grotto, for those of you who haven’t been here in a while. They transitioned it into a non-character restaurant/lounge a few years back, and although we loved the Grotto, this is better. They have a fairly small menu, but the food is top notch. I have one of the best pork chops I have ever had, and Tracey goes nuts for her braised Short Ribs. I also have a little “side-by-side challenge” of two California Chardonnays – one that I am very familiar with, one I have never heard of. Both were good. I didn’t catch the vintages so I am not doing a full rating, but they were as follows:

Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($13/glass) – Oakey, toasted brioche, citrus, hints of tropical fruit. This is Hartford’s entry level Chardonnay, and it’s delicious as always. 90 points.

Karlsen Chardonnay ($20/glass) – Unoaked, unfiltered and unfined. Citrus, tropical fruit, just a hint of vanilla. Delicious. A bit off the beaten path for California Chardonnay, but one to look for if you can find it ($50 bottle from the winery). 92 points.

After lunch we are tired and are expecting a lovely dinner and big evening, so we head back to the room for a little nappy-poo. Tracey gets a solid nap, I get a nice rest but don’t actually fall asleep. Will I pay for that later? We’ll see…..

4:50 PM – We arrive at Carthay Circle for our dinner reservations. I recommend checking out the vlog for full reviews of the food, but suffice it to say it was another great meal here. Our server convinces me to try their Signature Pork Chop, as it is, in his words, “way better than the one at Lamplight”. OK, so I do that. Tracey orders a chicken salad dish, which is much, much better than it sounds.

My pork chop is absolutely fantastic. Better than Lamplight? No, it’s probably a tie. Very different, but each would make my “top 10 all time pork chop” dishes.

The star of this show, however, is the wine.

Oh wow, that was fantastic. It was the last bottle they had in their inventory, so don’t go running down there to try it…..but hopefully at some point they re-discover their fabulous wine inventory. Hope so, because as amazing as the food always is here, it’s the wine list (and the PRICES of the wine here) that makes this a must-do every trip.

After dinner we hit up a whole bunch of rides, and get some nice pictures as well.

Clarabell the Cow! They are pulling all of the rare characters out of the woodwork!!
The man. The myth. The mouse.
DCA Christmas Tree is up!

We get to see Avengers Campus for the first time. I see a lot of people online complaining that it’s not impressive enough for them….makes me wonder what they are smoking. Good grief. They have taken the useless “A Bug’s Land” and turned it into something very impressive. Would it be even more impressive if they had more space for it? OF COURSE. But given the amount of room they had to work with, this is just fabulous. There is only currently one attraction here – Spider-Man’s Web Slingers, which is fabulous – but there is still a lot to see and do.

The little Spider-Man show is terrific, but there are also shows featuring Dr. Strange, Black Widow, Black Panther and Captain America, if I am remember correctly. Rumors have it that you can encounter Shang-Chi, Loki and Zombie Captain America as well if you time it right. We saw Thor on top of the Avengers Campus building, next to the Avengers QuinJet. That building is going to house the second E-Ticket attraction, coming in the next year or two.

Before we call it a night, we get through all three rides in Cars Land. Radiator Springs Racers is still one of the top 2 or 3 rides in all of the resort, IMO.

I am tired, but determined to make it through the evening. The park closes at 10, and Tracey (little miss nappy-poo) is raring to go and wants to park-hop to Disneyland for the last couple hours. OK, I can do that. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

9:00 PM – WHEW. The wife hit a wall. Thank GOD. 🙂

9:30 PM – We are heading out of the park when I notice that the Grizzly River Run is a walk-on. Well, this will be the last ride of the night, who cares if I get soaked?? I get Tracey to carry everything I am carrying and she heads to the room, while I get in a nighttime river rapids adventure. I get my own ride vehicle! I have never been on this ride at night, and it’s exhilarating to not be able to see where you are going. I get pretty wet, but not obscenely so. Tons of fun to experience an old attraction in a very new way.

That’s it for tonight! We hit the sack, with plans to be up early again tomorrow for breakfast with Minnie and Friends! Stay tuned!

Vacation Blog, Days 2/3, as we arrive at our destination: Disneyland!!

Day 2

Not too much exciting during the travel portion of our second day. We got up, had a nice breakfast, drove to SEA-TAC, yada yada yada.

It actually took us longer to find a parking spot than it did to get through security.

Flight was fine. We are used to great service and food when we fly Alaska in First Class. The service was still excellent, but the food has been “COVID-ED” down to cold plated. I had pre-ordered a Pho plate, not realizing it would be cold. It was still fine, but I would have preferred it warm. Tracey’s cheese plate was really good. High quality cheese and delicious crackers.

4:00 PM – We’ve landed, got our bags, and one quick shuttle later, arrived at the Disneyland Hotel! And we are really overdressed, as we are dressed for Seattle cold and rain – not the 91F we have landed to. The first three days of our trip are forecasted to be crazy hot for mid-November. We are at the DLH just for one night, as tomorrow we transition to the Grand Californian for the balance of our stay.

After check-in we head up to our room, a perfectly comfortable Standard room overlooking Tangeroa Terrace Restaurant and Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar. We try to check those out but they are just crazy busy. Today is “Dapper Day’, when guests are encouraged to dress in their best “Dapper” outfits. We see a lot of people dressed like that, having a lot of fun. Good for them pushing through with those outfits in this heat.

5:00 PM – After a little shopping (Tracey has already purchased two sets of ears), we wait in line to get on the walk-up list for Naples Pizzeria. This is the only night of our trip that we don’t have dinner reservations. The lineup only takes us 4-5 minutes to get to the front, where they take our name and phone number and tell us they will text us when our table is ready. They say it will be around 35 minutes.

We head to World of Disney to do a little more shopping, and they are pretty close on their estimation as it’s about a half hour before we get that text. They are testing out a new ‘Shop in Store’ system where guests can use the Disneyland app to scan their own goods, pay securely online, and then go to a desk to have your items bagged up. No lineups! We use it and absolutely love it, as this place is busy and the lineups not insignificant. Anything they can do to keep people out of lineups and enjoying the resort (ie spending more money) is a positive thing.

We get a very comfortable ‘high-top’ table outside and enjoy a very nice meal. Our server, Hannah, is top-notch. We order a couple glasses of wine, one white (Sauvignon Blanc) which is very good, one red (Nero d’Avola) which is awful. With dinner we have a nice bottle of Barolo. Full details on the meal can be found on the vlog which you can see here.

After dinner we meander back to the room, taking in some of the live entertainment and just enjoying the evening. Downtown Disney is hopping tonight. We notice that the Xmas decorations have not yet arrived at DD (they have in the parks). Hopefully that changes very soon.

10:00 PM – After editing the vlog and trying to upload it (not sure why it is taking so long), I join the wife in bed. We are going to be up early tomorrow to do something we’ve never done here before: open the park! Rope drop! Stay tuned…..

Day 3

5:30 AM – Well that’s a little earlier than planned but whatever. I think Tracey has her alarm set for 6ish. I have lots to do, even though we didn’t really unpack for our one-night stay in this hotel, I have to get all of our new purchases into our suitcases and re-pack all the electronics as we will have to check out before we head to the park. The Bell desk will take all of our luggage and transport it to the Grand Californian so it will be waiting for us when we return later this afternoon

I’ll tell ya, there is no denying that rooms at the Disneyland Resort are pricey. But one of the things you get for your money? A good night’s sleep. The beds at the Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando are the most comfortable we have EVER slept in, in our entire lives. And we’re really old, so that’s a lot of nights of comparison!! IIRC, the Grand Californian beds are just as good or really close, and this bed at the Disneyland Hotel was just a tiny notch down. SO comfortable, and I feel really rested. Even the wife seems rested, and the last time she got up at 6 AM was during the Nixon Administration.

I’m going to pay for that comment. Chances are when she reads it we are going to see the emergence of Grouchy Bear, fresh from hibernation and full of piss and vinegar.

7:00 AM – Gotta be on the ball to get into a ‘Boarding Group” for the Rise of the Resistance ride. You get two chances: 7 AM and Noon. I am on the ball, but apparently not enough so, as it starts at 7 AM and was sold out before it got to 7:01. Oh well, I would imagine today, being Sunday, is the busiest day we are going to experience while we are here, so we will try again later.

7:30 AM – Our bellman arrives and we explain to him we need them to take our bags and move them over to the Grand Californian, where we will be checking in later this afternoon. He understands and agrees to do so, no problem, as you’d expect Disney is very accommodating to this sort of thing.

We’re off to the park! Through security and into the park, and we both have goosebumps. It’s been around 3 years since we’ve been here, but given the state of the world in the recent past, it feels like 3 decades.

First things first, we talk to a cast member about their Disability program. We used this at Walt Disney World last year but have never used it here. It’s a different program, basically it amounts to the same as a Fastpass, where we get a return time to certain attractions so that Tracey doesn’t have to stand in long lines. Another bonus is that we can use our ‘waiting’ time to do anything we want, including other attractions with shorter lines.

Getting to the park for rope drop is the way to go! I mean, who needs sleep? Or breakfast??

We start our vacation as we normally do, on Pirates of the Caribbean. We also ride Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Indiana Jones….all before 10 AM!! We tested out the ‘return time’ system on Indiana Jones, only to save not that much time at all. Just like with Fastpasses, you end up joining the regular queue at some point, and it varies ride to ride. On Indiana, you join the line at the point you enter the building, leaving a lot of queue left before you get to ride. It’s not that busy now (the posted 30 minute wait time was high), so no big deal, we don’t have to wait that long anyway.

We also use the service at Space Mountain, to avoid the 45-minute wait time. We get our return time (there is about an hour’s grace, so we can return anytime from 35-minutes to one hour and 35 minutes from now) and while we are waiting do a little shopping and also hop on Buzz Lightyear, where Tracey beats me again. I am shaking my head, because I even watched a YouTube video on how to beat that damn ride and I STILL CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT!! It’s like I know which targets to hit, but still can’t manage to hit ’em. Epic fail!

10:10 AM – We arrive at the French Market to pick up our food, which we had Mobile Ordered from the app. Tracey has a corn chowder sourdough bowl which she describes as very much like creamed corn. My beef po’ boy is really, really tasty. In addition, we pick up our first Holiday themed treat of the trip: This monstrous (in more ways than one) cookie.

It’s really good, but really sweet. Probably too sweet for a lot of people. My sweet tooth loves it, but only in moderation. It’s so huge we can only eat about 3/4 of it between us.

2:00 PM – We are tired and it’s time to head out for now, we are going to take the Monorail out of the park and head to the hotel and see if we get lucky and get into our room a little before the 4 PM check-in time. Well, that WAS the plan. How hot is it today? So hot that the Monorail is shut down due to the heat. In November. The cast members say they can’t remember it ever being shut down in November before.

So, we leave the park the old-fashioned way, with our feet. It’s already been a great day, a great trip, and there is so much more to see and do.

I hop into the check-in line but a cast member notices I have already done the ‘online check-in’ so he pulls me out of the line and finishes the check-in details with me in just a minute or two. Our room isn’t quite ready yet, so we sit in the lobby to relax and enjoy the live piano player for a little while. After an hour and a half, we get our room number via the app and head up to our room! They have just implemented a new system where you can access your room via the app on your phone, which we used on our last trip to Florida. It works great.

Well, it worked great in Florida.

This is where things start to go off the rails a bit…..

Doesn’t work here, for us, at all. Luckily there is a kindly maid in the area who lets us into the room so we can drop off the stuff we are carrying. We’ll have to go back to the front desk later to get that sorted out so that we can get back into the room!

4:00 PM – We call down to Bell to get our bags brought up, only to be told it will be about a half hour. Since we have dinner reservations at 4:30, and we have to be in the room to accept the bags, we decide to leave them there and call back later.

4:30 PM – We arrive at Splitsville, the new (to us) sports bar/bowling alley in Downtown Disney. We figure if dinner takes longer than normal, we’ll watch the start of the Chiefs/Raiders Sunday Night Football game here. Not necessary, though, as we are done so quickly that we are able to get back to the hotel around kickoff time.

Tracey has a pretty pedestrian burger. I have “macho nachos” which are really quite good. What makes them “macho”? Well, they have the normal stuff on them, plus black beans and corn, and they are covered in an avocado ranch crema. It’s a big odd, but really good!

5:15 PM – Tracey heads to a shop to pick something up while I go to the front desk to try to get some physical keys to the room. I have to stand in line again, but it doesn’t take too long until a nice cast member helps me out and gets me some keys. I get up to the room shortly after kickoff and Tracey arrives shortly thereafter. Remember my comment about things going “off the rails a bit”? Not over yet.

We call down to Bell and are told that it will be 30-40 minutes for our bags to arrive. The lineup at the bell desk was very long, they are obviously having quite a day. No big deal, we are just going to relax in the room for the rest of the evening anyway.

About an hour later, our bellman arrives…..with someone else’s luggage. Hmm. He has our tag, our name, our room, but not our luggage. He seems totally perplexed. I describe our luggage to him, and he heads down to solve the issue.

About 40 minutes after he leaves, he calls us to tell us that they found our luggage, and that it was never moved over from the Disneyland Hotel! Good grief. Anyway, they are having it rushed over and will bring it up ASAP.

8:00 PM – Our luggage finally arrives. Our bellman is very apologetic (not that HE had anything to do with this screwup). By this time we are pretty exhausted from a very long day, so it’s nice to be able to finally unpack for our 6-night stay and get to bed. We are sleeping in tomorrow (well, ONE of us is sleeping in..more on that in tomorrow’s entry) before hitting Disney’s California Adventure for some rides, a couple of meals, and general merriment.

9:00 PM – BANG. BANG. BANG.

FIREWORKS!! And we have the best room in the place to watch them from our patio. This was unscheduled although we had heard rumors they might happen. It is their “Believe in Holiday Magic” show, which I am pretty sure had not yet returned since the park closed for the pandemic. Very exiting.

For a full viewing, check out the vlog, volume 42 (as I post this blog, that vlog is not yet up).

That’s it for tonight. That was a big, long day, and it’s time for some sleep. Five more big days to come!

Vacation Blog returns with a trip across the border, some great food and wine, and one of our favorite hotels!

10:00 AM – Bellies full, we are off! Headed to Aldergrove to drop off the dog, who is not allowed to come with us on this trip. Since the border just opened up a couple of days ago, we aren’t sure exactly how long it’s going to take us to get across, although early returns are suggesting that few people are very excited to drive across the border and pay $200ish for a PCR test to be able to come back to Canada.

11:00 AM – We arrive in Aldergrove and drop off the dog at her second home. We inform her that she has a “two bite” maximum this trip, and urge her to try to stay close to that. We know she will fail.

11:30 AM – We arrive at the border to a lineup of…..zero cars.

11:35 AM – Our border agent is friendly and efficient. He asks a couple simple questions, then asks about our vaccinations. We show him our cards, he glances at them before saying “we are not the vaccination police”. Yikes. I think he is LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO BE THE VACCINATION POLICE.

3:00 PM – I nod off in the car (I know, shocking) and Tracey drives us to Cedarbrook Lodge where we are staying tonight. It’s our go-to hotel in Seattle, for all trips out of SEA-TAC and also just when we come down here to visit Seattle. The dog loves this hotel, we feel bad that she isn’t with us, but we will bring her here in the spring if COVID allows.

I’m going to try to balance the blog and vlog this trip, so all of my reader and viewers can get a feel for the trip without duplicating everything on each platform. For details on this hotel, check out the vlog where I take you on a little video tour of the room and the grounds. You can see it here.

We have two lovely bottles of wine tonight. One of the great thing about this hotel is the great selection of wines, particularly from Washington and Oregon.

6:40 PM – Our room service dinner arrives and it’s delicious. We pair it with the Counoise and it goes very well with the chicken in Tracey’s salad and also with my steak. What a lovely wine to find! If we see it in any stores this trip, we are buying a few bottles. I can’t imagine we could possibly find it back home.

7:30 PM – Wife is in the bath. It’s a beautiful tub, much better than the normal tubs we have encountered here in the past in the standard rooms. In fact, I think it is exactly the same tub that we’ve enjoyed in the higher-end suites we have stayed in here in the past. I was tempted to have a bath too, but she’ll be in there for hours and I will probably want to be in bed before 2 AM.

3:45 AM – She is out of the bathtub.

OK, kidding (probably). But I went down the hall to get some of the free ice cream that lives in the common space living room, so now she has wine, a bathtub, and ice cream. I may not see her for the rest of the trip.

8:20 PM – She’s out. Jesus. Time must work differently in this reality or something.

BATH TIME FOR ME!!!

That’s it for tonight, stay tuned for Episode 2 as we arrive at our mystery destination tomorrow (I mean, I sure HOPE we arrive there tomorrow!).

People who live @GlassHouseWine shouldn’t throw stones.

I mean, that’s not to say that if you go for a tasting at this winery you are going to get stones hurled in your direction. Quite the contrary, they’ll bring you delicious wine and food to nibble on. But the famous saying isn’t “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw charcuterie”, amiright? Right.

We are greeted by Rob, our contact at Glass House (Rob is in charge of the beverage program for Joseph Richard Group, who runs the winery). We’ve known Rob for quite a few years, he was actually our WSET teacher when he worked at Everything Wine! He’s a great guy and always takes excellent care of us.

Anyhoo, let’s dive right into the wine!

That’s it for today! Next up: I still have the third installment of my rosé series to publish, but that might have to wait a little while. Why? Because we are on the road in a couple days, and will be blogging and vlogging from a secret undisclosed location. After a lengthy hiatus, it’s the Return of Vacation Blog!! And yes, there will be wine, and there will be food, and a general sense of merriment. Stay tuned!!

Finally wrapping up the Okanagan trip report with a terrific seated tasting @exnihilowines!

Up the road to Ex Nihilo for our last winery visit of the trip. We have been here several times, and are always treated well and often find some real gems. Would this be another great visit? You bet!

Our seated tasting features 8 wines, which becomes 9 after we ask for a sample of the rosé as well.

And to finish off the tasting, a little Icewine. I love me some Icewine, when it’s done right, and this is done right.

That’s it for today! FINALLY that wraps up our Okanagan trip, but it does not finish off our BC winery visits for 2021. Next up: The last BC winery we visited this year, a late-summer visit to one of our favorite wineries in the Fraser Valley: Glass House Estate Winery! Stay tuned!

The penultimate entry in my Okanagan trip report takes us to a lovely tasting @PeakCellars!

We arrive at O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars and are promptly seated at our table outside, with a lovely view of the mountains and vineyards. We haven’t been here in a couple years…in fact on our last visit, this was still called “The Chase”. Apparently C.C. Jentsch didn’t love that name (given that their signature Bordeaux-style blend was named “The Chase”), so they changed it to “O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars”, and are in the process of dropping the “O’Rourke” so it will just be known as “Peak Cellars” going forward.

Speaking of C.C. Jentsch, I was very sad to hear of the untimely passing of founder Chris Jentsch. His widow has decided not to go forward with the wine business, so this brand will be extinct in the near future. Very unfortunate.

Anyway, back to our tasting at Peak. They present us with a gorgeous charcuterie board that we had pre-ordered, and our guide, Tanner, starts to bring us some wine and he notices I am taking notes. When I tell him about my blog, his eyes light up. THIS is the best part about writing a blog; you can almost instantly tell when someone is passionate about wine and their brand. They LOVE it when they find fellow wine geeks, and, usually, the tasting gets bigger. This one got a LOT bigger.

Shoutout to Tanner, who was a fantastic representative for the brand. Now let’s see how the wine stood up!

And they saved the best for last…..

As you can see from the scores, all the wine ranged from good to very good. They still have a bit of work to do to get to a place where everything is reliably excellent year after year, but I believe they will get there.

That’s it for today! Next up, one more entry in the Okanagan report, as we have another seated tasting, this time at Ex Nihilo! Stay tuned!

Day 4 of our Okanagan trip begins with a fabulous lunch and some wine in Lake Country, @graymonkwinery!

This is our fifth or sixth time eating at the Lookout Restaurant (although it has undergone some name changes), and we have never had a bad meal. Never.

Well, OK, one time I mistook “Steelhead” for “Sablefish”, and ordered the trout. I hate trout. So I had ONE bad meal here, but that was an idiot with the wrong order, not the restaurant’s fault.

This trip I had a delicious lobster roll, but the star of the show was the Onion Soup that came with it! Just spectacular.

My wife ordered a salad and sandwich combo. I honestly can’t remember what kind of sandwich it was (might have been a BLT?), but she very much enjoyed everything.

Since we didn’t have a ton of time between this lunch and our next appointment, we decided to taste some of their wines during lunch, through a couple of flights. We had an interesting experience this time around: Many of the wines we have loved in the past (the sweeter ones) were slightly underwhelming in comparison to past vintages, while the ones we have not been so impressed with in previous vintages (the drier ones) were better than we expected. Here they are!

That’s it for today! Next up: A seated tasting with a simply fantastic guide at O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars! Stay tuned!

Five unusual wines from France, reviewed on vlog and blog!

ICYMI, I posted a vlog recently where I reviewed five “off-the-beaten-path” wines from France. You can check it out here. Below are full reviews of the five wines, many of which I will endeavor to find again.

That’s it for today! Next up: The Okanagan trip report continues as we start Day 4 with a beautiful lunch and tasting at Gray Monk! Stay tuned!