Anyone who has read the book or seen the movie Sideways should be very familiar with the story portrayed, a sort of extended, multi-day bachelor’s party with broads and booze. Only in this case, the booze was California wine partaken on a road trip at a number of Central Coast wineries. But how many of you have actually lived the story in real life…sort of?
On a recent trip to San Francisco to visit my oldest son, his wife and their two children, parallel events kept reminding me of our visit and the movie/book.
The occasion for my trip was to allow my son and his wife to attend his close friend’s destination wedding set in the Sonoma Valley wine country. If getting the chance to spend time with my newest grandson was not enough incentive alone, my son’s additional enticement for me to fly out there to act as the “nanny” for their less than 2-month old was the opportunity to get to do some wine tasting.
Only after enduring some pretty heavy traffic through San Francisco did we finally cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head for our destination. For the two-night affair (rehearsal dinner and wedding), my son had rented a house right next door to a winery.
My accommodations were quite comfortable and the home came with this very nice private sitting area with views of vineyards close by.
And with the house being next door to a winery, it even came with its own complimentary bottle of wine (which was actually very good).
Before the rehearsal dinner, we got a chance to try some of the wines that we purchased at a local grocery store, all wines from the region. And after my charge was down for the night, I got to continue my tasting while his parents were off at the rehearsal dinner, partaking in their own tastings.
The next day, the day of the wedding, was our opportunity to visit some wineries. We decided to stay close to our lodgings in case our little friend didn’t enjoy the days’ activities so we drove to wineries just down the road from our rental house. Passing field after field of grape vineyards on the way kept conjuring in my mind images of the beautiful scenery from the movie.
Our first stop was VJB Cellars. Here, on the mountaintops in the distance, you could see vestiges of the devastating fires that roared through the area just last fall. But thanks to the efforts of many of the fire fighters, the valleys and many vineyards were saved (although many of the un-harvested grapes were lost due to the smoke damage).
This winery exclusively featured grape varietals from different parts of Italy, most ones I had never heard of before. My son really enjoyed trying wines from some of the regions of Italy he and his wife had previously visited. The tasting included five wines, all of which we liked very much.
Our next stop was the tasting room for Sunce, a winery that my son and daughter-in-law actually visited on their first date, but at a different location.
Here, the wine tasting was complimentary and we were told we could try as many as we liked, including some barrel tasting. Seeing the spit buckets (spittoons) on the bar reminded me once again of the scene from the movie when Paul Giamatti guzzles from one and if the movie connection was not clear, it was clarified when the bartender said we could use the spittoons all we wanted as he planned on drinking from them after we left.
But the wines were so good; I just couldn’t bear to spit out such great tasting wines.
I don’t know how many wines we tasted but many of them were superior award-winning wines, so much so that we had to purchase a couple of bottles to take home with us.
We returned to our house and had some cheese and crackers with a bit more wine. Following lunch, I sat down on the couch to hold my grandson while he drifted off for his nap; only he wasn’t the only one who napped.
When I saw this photo my son took of the two of us, I said we should caption it “Tried to drink each other under the table.”
Fortunately, I woke up before the lovely couple headed off for the wedding, both looking very nice.
The next day, as we drove back to San Francisco, the parallels between the movie and our trip kept running through my mind and I smiled to myself thinking about them. While for us, there were no histrionics like some of the scenes from the movie, the themes of weddings, a road trip, bonding, and wine tasting kept paralleling in my mind—sideways…sort of.