We had just moved into our new house and had begun ripping out EVERYTHING! Carpets, tile, kitchen counters, floorboards. In our compromised mental state that I believe all those who have ever moved have been in, we (read: I) decided to invite the entire family over for Christmas Eve Dinner. This was not well received by my adoring wife, needless to say.
T-Minus 13 days.
With only half the floors completed and some painting done, we persisted. The kitchen sink and oven worked. Perfect to cook my mother-in-law’s “best-you-ever-had” stuffing. Despite our valiant efforts, we epically failed to complete the whole house upgrades like those fine folks on TV always do.
We have a loving and very understanding family.
Christmas Eve arrived. It went off completely without a hitch, except for one glitch. I had forgotten to remove the staples from the subfloor after I took out the tile! After the customary pleasantries, I spent the next two hours taking the staples out so we all could have dinner together. Everything turned out wonderful and we enjoyed some amazing food and wine. The star attraction were ribs smothered in my original barbecue sauce that I’ve been perfecting over the past 8 or 9 years (yes, I wanted something nontraditional for Christmas, hey, it’s my house!). If you want to try it at home, download the recipe here.
Enjoy with ribs (you get to choose!) and a bottle of Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel.
Mmmm…, that’s so good!”
Working the tasting room at Renwood, I hear that a lot.
While the woman on the other side of the tasting room bar is falling in love with the 2011 Barbera I just poured, her husband is frustrated looking at his phone. The game is on and Amador County can be unfriendly to cell phones. I lean across the bar and mention to him that we have free wi-fi running through the entire tasting room and patio and he should log on. He shoots me a look a pure gratitude and in a moment all is right with the world. His team is winning and he is able to put his phone away and concentrate on the glass of wine in front of him.
“Wow, that’s a really good Barbera.” He says.
Again, I hear that a lot at Renwood.
Working at Renwood is a lot of fun. And when I am pouring your flights you know I am having as good a time as you are. Still, when people find out that I live in Sacramento and drive almost an hour to Amador County just to pour wine, I am inevitably asked “Why?” “Especially when it’s so far?”
I respond that it isn’t that far away, the drive is beautiful and Renwood is a great winery to work for.
More than that, I like the community that wine creates in the tasting room. The conversations that are begun over a glass of wine seem more intense. The idea that a discussion over (and about) a glass of Zinfandel can transcend to the deeper truths about life inspires me. Whether my guest is a seasoned wine connoisseur or a first time tasting novice, it doesn’t matter.
It’s as much about the experience as it is the wine. Renwood makes the some of the best Zinfandels in Amador County, and we have the gold medals to prove it. But almost as important is the effort put forth by our staff to make sure that our guests enjoy themselves. Everyday we try to create an atmosphere for our members that is commensurate with the quality of our wines. It’s working. Our members tell me we have the most elegant tasting room in the foothills and I agree with them.
The couple in front of me are at the end of their flight and are equally impressed with our wine and our tasting room. Both have been really nice and fun to talk to. I decide to throw a little something special at them. I reach for my current Renwood favorite: the 2010 Special Reserve Dry Creek Zinfandel (or what I refer to as “Love in a glass”). I pour them a small taste.
Each takes a sip and, almost in unison, reply “That is Fantastic!”
I hear that a lot at Renwood … and it makes me smile every time.