I awoke groggy and spent from the night before. My mother had organized a mini-high school reunion to see her friends during our Mother-Daughter trip to Southern California and after having spent most of the previous day in direct sunlight soaking up as much Vitamin D as this New Yorker could handle, not to mention the Mai Tais I had used to quench my thirst at the reunion party, I was dehydrated. Needless to say, I was not in the best shape to enjoy the day’s activity — my first wine tour ever.
My mother, Betsy, had been planning this trip to California for years. It was originally a trip she and her mother had planned before her mother’s untimely death and now, almost thirty years later, she was finally taking that trip with me.
Our destination — Santa Ynez Valley — was located near another one of my mother’s high school friend’s homes who, along with her husband and senile dog, were acting as our tour guides.
Tucked along the Foxen Canyon Road, Santa Ynez Valley wine country glides on a winding road with truck drivers narrowly missing bikers and impromptu family picnics in vacant fields. The one vineyard that stood out for me that merry day was Demetria Estate. Guarded by a large iron gate, those who want to enter must call before to schedule an appointment. As we drove through the gate and climbed up the dirt road, we passed pomegranate trees and wild flowers leading up to the yellow building that houses the wine.
Having already harvested the season, no workers were visible except for one man walking through the vines. I presumed it was the owner himself who established the vineyard in 2005 with his family. We took our seats along an old picnic table and were quickly greeted by a handsome host. Our tour guides ordered us a bottle of 2011 Pantheon, a blend of mostly Grenache and Syrah, and quickly pulled out a spread of crudités, hummus and fresh fruits from the area.
That day I tasted what would soon be my favorite wine of all time. This medium-bodied wine full of juicy cherry and cassis notes soothed something in me. I kicked up my feet and just stared out into nothing. No skyscrapers, no ambulances driving by, just nature and drinking wine from the very spot the grapes were gathered. It was the first time that day I had felt energized and awake, and no longer lagged from the previous night’s adventure.
I’m not sure if it was the view of rolling hills with vines scattered throughout, the handsome server who poured my wine with a devilish smile or seeing my mother bask in the sun with no worries of what’s going on at her business back home, but I quickly established this vineyard as heaven on Earth.
Weeks later, after much research in the New York area to find the wine locally with no success, I called up the vineyard and ordered three bottles of their 2011 Pantheon blend. It was spring by now, so I went to Central Park and poured a nice size glass with a friend while stretching out along the Great Lawn. The experience wasn’t exactly my heaven I had found back in Santa Ynez, but sitting there with the wine, all of the memories of that day came back. Now I know I can carry the memory of mine and my mother’s simple happiness from that day trip to Santa Ynez whereever I go. All I have to do is open a bottle of that wine.
Patricia Selznick freelances as a brand ambassador for wine and liquor distributors and promoters throughout the New York area. She has a soft spot for Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the Russian River Valley.
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