Over the years many people have asked us how we got started with this "wine thing". We are members of the American Wine Society and Board members of the Las Vegas chapter. We also are proud members of Tex and Gigit's " wine crew " as well. If you have read Irene's blog you know who they are !! Believe it or not this "wine thing" started by fate, chance , whatever you want to call it.
A few years ago Elaine and I were at a Jazz concert and saw this group of people with matching shirts having a great time. They had two tables of food ( all homemade ) and one table just for the wines ( about 15-20 bottles) We saw that these people really knew how to have fun. Elaine talked me into going up to see who they were. It turns out they were all members of the Amercian Wine Society Las Vegas Chapter. They invited us over and offered us to share in their party.
We joined the group and our eyes were opened to a whole new way of eating and having fun. A few months later there was a Monterrey County wine tasting event at RM Seafood in the Mandalay Bay. We had some great wines and food and also met several wine makers and vineyard owners. One was Luann Meador owner of Ventana Vineyards and the other was Dan Tudor of Radog and Tudor wines. By the end of the evening many of them offered us tours when were were in their area. That one night changed everything for us. No more Sutter Home type wines for us.
We planned a 10 day wine trip in June of that year. We called our new friends and told them we were coming. When I called Dan Tudor he said he would be out of town but gave me the name of a friend of his in Lompoc. I called Peter Work owner of Ampelos wines and explained who we were. Even though he had never met us he invited us to meet him at his home for a tour of his vineyard. So we packed up our car and golden retriever (Daisy ) and headed west. We planned to drive to Lompoc and stay a few nights. The next day we met Peter at his home. he was very hospitable and placed a glass of Ampeloes Viognier in our hands and were headed into the Vineyard. Before we knew it Peter and I were down on our knees looking at grafting sights of his Syrah and Pinot Noir. He gave us a real education in a very short amount of time. We went back to his house and tasted some Ampelos Rose. We started to thank him but he informed us that we were not done yet ! We must follow him to the winery. When we arrived we met Rebecca his wife and toured the winery. We barrel tasted the entire Ameplos line ! We were so amazed all of this was happening and they didn't even know us. We were getting ready to go but then were were told once again the day was not done. We were to follow Peter and Rebecca to Sissy's Uptown Cafe in Lompoc for a late lunch. That was one amazing day and that was only day 1 of the trip. Peter and Rebecca are very special people with an incredible story. They have become our close friends.
We met other amazing people on that trip and drank some great wines. Dan Tudor also asked us to call Doug Margerum who owned the Wine Cask in Santa Barbara. We called Doug and he insisted we drive down for Dinner. One look at the Wine List and I found Tudor Pinot Noir ! I had to order that with my Salmon and the rest was history.
We continued up the coast to Monterrey and Carmel Valley. We were treated well by all the wineries that we had contacted. We started south and headed for Paso Robles. Paso was great and we reluctantly headed back to vegas with a whole new way of viewing the world.
We got home with 23 bottles of our first "real" wines but now we had to change they way we eat so we could enjoy them ! Our old pots and pans were tossed and a "high end" set of professional cookware was now in the house.
With our new found interest in food and wine we started watching Giada on the Food Network and got some great recipes. We shop at Trader Joes and Whole foods as well as growing some of our own vegetables and herbs. We share wine every night and continue to travel, read, and of course taste to increase our knowledge.
So there your have it. That was how we began our trip along the wine trail, somehow we think this trail is along one and hope it will never end