The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sonoma at its' Best

Preparing for the onslaught
Traveling with best friend, Bridget, we knew the weather was as good as it was going to get when we arrived at Arthur and Sandy Milberg's on Thursday before the Sonoma Wine Country Sheepdog Trial in Santa Rosa, CA. Sandy's top-notch crew was assembled for lunch with lots of head shaking, worried looks and weather warnings on their lips. There was a sense of forboding, more than justified as it turned out, and they were deep in preparation. None of us had any idea how really bad the storm would be.  

Ready or not...The Trial Sheep
Bridge and I got to the Calistoga Fairgrounds RV Park around 4am after a blessedly uneventful, overnight trip that found us ready for a nap before venturing out. After setting up the trailer, it goes quickly between 2 experts, a stop at the trial site, and a long dog walk, we went in search of a meal and a world class glass of grape.  Hoping our mud-spattered outerwear would be overlooked, we chose by name a place off the beaten path in St. Helena, called Cyndi's Back Street Cafe' looking for simple fare. Not simple. I was treated to a mouth-watering selection of thinly sliced Ahi drizzled with wasabi sauce over udon noodles and told to drink a particular red blend wine because "it's good!" was so good, and after being seated at the back of the restaurant in a room by ourselves, we got away before offending crowd trendy too badly with our sheepish appearance.

Castello di Amorosa Winery
We were determined to wine taste and knew that Thursday would be our only opportunity. After perusing the wine map, we decided on an architectural edifice that would satisfy both our tourist and wino sides, and we were not dissappointed. At first look I thought; "oh, it's just some creative designer's whimsy," and then I read the guide pamphlet. The land has been in the Sattui family for 4 wine-making generations and construction began in 1993 after decades of researching medieval castles in Europe. Encompassing 121,000 sq. ft the 8-level castle was built with over 1 million blocks imported from Tuscany that date from the 14th century. No whimsy this, it was a multi-year labor of love. We toured, we ogled, we photographed, and then we tasted.

Great Hall at the Castle
For $5 dollars more you can add chocolate to the $17 wine tasting experience, and who could resist that? We  were expertly served a flight of 5 wines starting with a Sangiovese and culminating at Cabernet with 2 stops for chocolate along the way. As it turned out, the 1st two wines were my favorite, but none good enough for me to invest, and I got out of the castle relatively unscathed. Bridget bought only olive oil, so she did OK too, and with a dazzling array of product available in the gift shop, it wasn't easy.

Bridget and the wine guy. Notice the ceiling.
Next up, "The Flat Field"

1 comment:

  1. "Two stops for chocolate" - I approve of that idea!