Thursday, September 8, 2011

#35 - Winery Daytrip

I grew up in a family that almost never drank alcohol.  I'm not sure why ... there wasn't a family history of alcoholism, it wasn't against my parents' religion, and we certainly used plenty in the favored family holiday dish of sauerbraten ... my Dad even made wine from grapes on the farm starting when I was in my teens, but the family joke called it "cough medicine" and other than a small glass when someone had a cold or a taste test on a holiday, it wasn't served.  Consequently, when I hit adulthood, I didn't know much about mixed drinks, wine, or even beer.

Most of the time, this hole in my knowledge isn't a big deal - I've found a store that gives accurate shelf labels on the beverages they sell and feel confident using their serving suggestions.  Dinner guests at my house always have a choice between beverages and generally I'm drinking lemonade or sparkling juice or whatever rather than the wine on the table.  My close friends know that I am vehemently opposed to personally driving after having even a small glass of wine, and I'm okay with drinking water even if everyone else is having something "more adult" so they don't feel offended when I pass on a glass of something.  However, a couple of times, I've been embarrassed by my lack of knowledge ... a reader's theater session where I tripped over names of every single wine variety in my lines, some more casual friends who seem a bit perturbed when I stop after one glass, a fancy dinner out where I <gasp> reached for the wrong type of wine first and got teased.

The main building of the winery
So, I've started keeping track of wines that I try ... mostly to find out what I like but also to educate myself.  A perfect way to try a bunch of wines seemed to be to visit a winery and do a tasting.  So, my friend Nina (as designated driver) and I set out to the Forestedge Winery.  This winery is a bit out of the way (in the Cass Lake area), but they make fruit wines rather than the more common grape wines, and I wanted to try something a little harder to come by. 

Bistro seating area at the winery
The owners offer a free tasting and tour of the facilities to visitors.  Unfortunately, they only offer wines, so if you go and one member of your group is not drinking, that individual will not have options to try.  I got to taste far more varieties than I expected ... 10 in all.  And, since I admitted to not knowing much about wine, Paul also gave me a general lesson in tasting wines.  There was only one that I didn't particularly like - the Chokecherry variety ... which tastes like chokecherries right off the tree.  Since I grew up loving chokecherry jelly, I was expecting something much, much sweeter and less bitter.  The most unexpected variety was the Rhubarb wine; I don't like rhubarb and didn't expect to like the taste, but it was light and crisp and I think it would taste excellent with the white chocolate fruit tart that I sometimes make.  Two varieties tasted just like I expected ... Apple and Strawberry ... while I did purchase a bottle of the Apple; I left the Strawberry for someone else since I like my strawberries as fruit and not liquids.

John and Nina share a laugh by the bottling machine.
A monarch on the flowers
Look at how much he has in his cheeks!
After the tasting was over, we also were given a brief tour of the production area by John (another of the owners).  It was smaller than I expected, but everything was gleaming clean.  Then we wandered through the little gallery and took a look at the gardens.  The zinnias were in full bloom, and there were several butterflies basking on them.  A chipmunk was also busily collecting fallen acorns from the nearby oak trees. 

I did purchase some wines before we left ... my family will have the opportunity to taste the Rhubarb wine at Thanksgiving, one of my other goals is to host a tasting for friends and some will show up there, and the rest can wait in my basement for just the right occasion ...
A rainbow of fruit wine choices


  1. Thanks ... this was a fun one, and I have some great ideas for working on my goal #26 (hosting a wine tasting party) because of it!

  2. They're so fun! I'm thinking about hosting one myself...maybe combine it with a harvest theme? :)

  3. I think I'm going to wait to do mine until late fall or winter (when I'm done with rehearsals). However, my idea was to do a blind tasting and add one of the fruit wines in with the more typical grape wines just to see how many people pick it out.