Wine Tasting with Kids: THE REALNESS
WARNING: This post contains tales of poop and vomit. If you are a parent, this is all so totally ordinary. But if you are not, consider yourself warned before reading on.
Our family has just returned from another, seemingly annual, trip to California! We had grand plans for visiting wineries again and with last year's success under our belts, we were confident that we could pull it off again. Well, let's just say it was a stark contrast to our last visit...
Since I'm fully on the natural wine train now, I researched a few options for biodynamic wineries. Our first stop was Scribe Winery in Sonoma. I was already familiar with, and a fan of, the wines from working at a wine distributor, so this was an easy choice. Everything about the property is gorgeous. The hacienda is beautiful, the landscaping is stunning, the food is delicious, and the wines are interesting and so tasty. We were greeted with a glass of their 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé. If you recall from one of my posts about rosé, I have yet to find a rosé from outside of Provence that has truly impressed me. UNTIL NOW! It was amazing. It was a pale salmon color and boasted notes of crushed fresh strawberry, raspberry, blood orange, and white flowers. It was delicate, it was fresh, and it was so good! I couldn't stop smelling it and I sipped and spit my entire glass.
Here's where things started to get dicey. While all of us were enjoying our rosé and the small plates that came along with it, my children were happily exploring the plants and rocks that were right by our table. They had some snacks and some toys; all was well. They began to grow more bold and started inching toward the entry walkway. No big deal - family members took turns corralling them and luring them back to the table so that I could take notes and pictures of the experience, which was really thoughtful. Then my daughter grabbed a cactus. It was the kind that was covered in tiny, hair-like spines so they were stuck all over her hand. She tearfully held her hand out to me while I pulled them out with my fingernails, my poor babe. Once the spines were removed and the hand kissed many times, my girl was feeling better and it was back to their antics in full force. My son approached every dog that was in his vicinity, which freaks me out because you never know when one will be feeling bitey. So I got up to retrieve him and give him a warning or two before he finally returned to the table. Then he took off running to the front of the hacienda when I went inside to use the restroom. Four year olds, dude. More on that in my upcoming Mother's Day post.
Juggling glasses of wine, a pen, a camera, toys, and snacks (I think I've evolved 4 invisible hands) I managed to squeak out some short notes for the remaining wines. We tasted through the 2015 Estate Chardonnay, the Skin Fermented Chardonnay, and the Estate Pinot Noir. The Estate Chardonnay is matured in concrete tanks rather than oak and does not undergo malolactic fermentation, which is the process of the malic acid being converted to lactic acid. This mellows out the wine and gives it a softer texture, so in the case of this wine it retained its freshness and was not creamy like many Chardonnay are. It tasted of minerally green apple, pear, and lemon. It was lovely and I purchased a bottle of this as well as their Riesling Pet-Nat which wasn't part of the tasting, but I was feeling its vibe from the menu. I'll report back once I open it! My post-baby stash has now reached epic proportions. Oops!
Next was the skin fermented Chardonnay, which falls into the trendy orange wine category! This wine is really cool because it's in contact with its skins during fermentation, giving it body and tannin. Pretty unique for a white wine. The Pinot Noir came out last and it was delightful as well, showing notes of strawberry, raspberry, and baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. It was pretty fantastic. I find myself reaching for Pinot Noir of this style during those summer to autumn transition days, so that's what it reminds me of - a crisp early fall evening. I wish I could have taken every one of the wines home with me, but alas, money. Notice how I didn't make note of the vintages for the last two, or even have tasting notes for the Skin Fermented Chard? Things were starting to get messy with the kid situation.
My daughter worked up a huge, smelly poop that we later learned was a blowout, which hasn't happened in about a year. The "cherry" on top, as it were, was that it got on my husband's arm during our family pictures after the tasting. We hustled to the car to change her diaper because I didn't want to stink bomb the Scribe bathroom for the other guests. That would definitely linger in the nostrils and lend some additional tasting notes to their wine! I didn't bring a change of clothes for her, which was silly of me, so she toddled around in her new diaper while we tried to sanitize ourselves with antibacterial hand wipes. I'm sure we were a spectacle and may have inspired some people to hold off on any immediate plans that they had for children, but we really did have fun despite all of that. We left with great wines, some nice photos, and a few kinds of memories, so I wasn't the least bit disappointed!
I had more plans for wine for the following days too: a tour and tasting of Frog's Leap, a quick jaunt over to Berkeley to check out Donkey & Goat during the kids' naptime, and hopefully meeting up with an Instafriend in Santa Barbara on our way back from a mid-week road trip to Los Angeles. Nope. All derailed by....a stomach bug. My son was the first to get it. A quick puke in the morning and totally fine the rest of the day. Was he even sick? Maybe he ate something that didn't agree with him? Sometimes kids just puke, I guess. Then my daughter got it the day we left for LA. Girlie was wolfing down pizza by dinner, so she quickly recovered. But I had been cleaning up vomit during the entire drive and later scrubbed out her car seat, so by the time we rolled up to our Airbnb I was practically radioactive. I knew I was doomed. The night before we drove back to the Bay Area, I got nailed with the bug, but felt almost normal the next morning. However, hubs wasn't feeling too hot now. Frog's Leap was scheduled for the next day, so knowing that my other half would not be up for it and not wanting to ravage anyone else with the virus, I canceled our reservation along with the rest of our plans.
This year's tastings did not go at all how I imagined they would, but that's life, yes? We'll try again next year and this time I'll be sure to add a change of clothes to my checklist for wine tasting with kids ;)