Beer and Bike Tour

Being in San Francisco doesn’t mean you’re only near wine country.  You are also around some good craft breweries.  I came across a tour that was worth checking out —  Small-Group Craft Brews and Bike Tour.    You get to taste local stuff, check out some of the city ‘on foot’ and attempt to burn some of what you enjoyed with exercise. Can’t go wrong, right?

So you get to the tour office and get quickly fitted for your bike.  The small tour is max of 8 people, we had 6.  As we were leaving, one of the best parts was seeing the tour guide’s helmet — a hockey helmet!  He said he just couldn’t find a bike helmet that really worked for him so this was best.  Loved it!

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So our first stop was 21st Amendment.  It was a about a 5 minute ride from the start/office.  The tour included one free beer and this is where we got it.  I took some quick sips of a couple before deciding on the 5 South (this is a different beer, so mine was a different color/look).

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Then we had about a 10-15  minute bike ride.  Next stop was ‘just’ a bar that tapped local brews (all of CA), Zeitgeist.  The staff was a bit arrogant and we only found out when we arrived that they only take cash.  After snapping a picture of the board, I also was told you can’t take pictures after the sign just said no phones.  I took that as no using phones to talk.  Anyway, I went for the Baby Daddy.  Nice beer.  Good and bad on the bar, though.  We went outside to the patio to enjoy our brews.  You can smoke at this place…and you can smoke anything…

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To get to the next stop we had a very fun 20+ minute bike ride getting to see more of the city.  The we arrived at Cerveceria de Mateveza.  Great place to try a flight.  Opted for the Yerba IPA, Morpho, Local Honey and Spring Bloom Single.  All were very good but it was the end of the tour and all were starting to blend.

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We then got to ride back to the office and most was downhill.  It was a 30+ minute effort but very relaxing.  Fun day in San Francisco!

CA Wine Day #2

When in CA, one must cover as much territory as possible.  Time to tackle another region.  Sonoma, here we come.

#1 Jacuzzi.  We’re not talking hot tub here.  This vineyard is one my friends insisted on visiting and I am very happy that was the case.  It was a free tasting of 5 wines — can’t go wrong with that!  And jumping forward, the guy kept pouring more wine (than 5).  I didn’t really want that many as this was the start of the day, but wow, they were so good! Very friendly (and informative) staff to say the least.

Pina Prosecco — light, crisp, perfect, $20
Nero D’Avolo — raspberries all around, $28
Cabernet Sauvignon —  wow for a cab, sweet, good, $25
Barbera — smoky, cherry, $28
Bianco Di Sei Sorelle — marginal, $18
Guiseppina — WOW!, $21
Pinot Noir — fruit, chocolate, spice, $22
Nebbiolo — dry, the Pinot was better, $30

Left this place with a bottle of Cab and Guiseppina.  Nice start to the day.

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#2 Sebastiani.  This one is distributed nationwide so nothing too special about it (I don’t want that to come across wrong), though they do have stuff special available only at the winery.  The tasting room was very nice and another great staff.  The tasting fee for the not-as-high-end stuff was $10 so we opted for that.

Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma Country) — sweet, $14
Zinfandel — smooth finish, $?
Pinot Noir — pepper, smoke, cherry, chocolate, $19
Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma County) — coconut !?!?!?, $19
Cherry Block (this was a special pour because it was open from a private party the night before), it’s aged long, 2010 and from a cherry orchard from the Great Depression.  Nice dessert-like wine.  95 points from Robert Parker.  Also $158/bottle.

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#3 Bartholomew Park Winery.  We came across this one by accident after another one we were going to check out was by appointment only.  It’s on this gorgeous park-like area and is an organically farmed estate vineyard located at the birthplace of California viticulture.  It was a former hospital, and a woman who works there (and was pouring for the group next to us) was born there. Another winery with very information and helpful pourers.  The tasting fee here is $10.

Sauvignon Blanc — lemongrass, marshmallow (?), citrus, crisp, fruity, light finish, $24
Rose, Sonoma Valley — from Syrah, cranberries, strawberries, has body to it, $21
Zinfandel — dark chocolate, espresso, WOW!, $45
Syrah, Estate Vineyard — blueberries, $45
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon — marginal, $48

I splurged on a bottle of the Zin.  Now, how long will I wait to open it?

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When we were leaving, a tour guide suggested one more winery we had to try.  So we capped off our day at…

#4 Loxton.  Small and growing.  Fun little place to visit where you feel very welcome because you can tell they are really trying to make you feel at home.  It was $5 for a six wine tasting.  They were all very dry.  Nothing I really loved but was very glad to check them out.

Chardonnay, Hawk Hill Vineyard (Russian River Valley) — light, light oak, dry, $28
Rose (Sonoma Valley) — Strawberries, dry, $18
Pinot Noir, Griffin’s Lair (Sonoma Coast) — dry, $35
Zinfandel, Sonoma Hillside Vineyards (Sonoma County) — dry, $25
Syrah, Cuvee Ellen (Sonoma County) — nice, $28
Cabernet Shiraz, Grandfather’s Cuvee (Sonoma Valley) — smooth, very different from all other, $32

IMG_4087[1]Just love visiting wine country.  Can’t decide if it’s good or bad not to live close to it.

CA Wine Day #1

While in CA one must visit wine country!  I was fortunate to have two days to tackle wine land and cover both (main) areas of wine land.  On Day 1 we hit Napa and visited 3 wineries.

#1 V. Sattui Winery.  For $15 you get to taste 6 wines of your choice.  A few of us split a couple tastings to get a good feel for the wines.  They were decent but for me, nothing to purchase.  The unfortunate thing is that the pourer/employee was just somebody who worked there and did it all from the book.  We were only supposed to taste one thing and nothing else.  He didn’t care if we found different notes than what the bottle said.  He told us we shouldn’t.  Whoa!  That’s odd.  Overall, we had small sips of their (no prices mentioned on their tasting sheet):

-Sauvignon Blanc, Carsi Reserve — bland but crisp
-Chardonnay, Sattui Famil — buttery, light oak
-Pinot Noir, Los Carneros — peppery, smooth
-Zinfandel, Gilsson — dry
-Zinfandel, Ramazzotti, Old vine — fruity
-Syrah, Napa Valley — powerful
-Entanglement (GSM) — buttery
-Cabernet, Napa Valley —  sweet, in a good way
-Muscat — thick, super sweet
-Madeira — sweet, not as thick as port

IMG_4015[1]#2 Hall.  For $35 you get 5 tastings, plus a little more…  It was night and day compared to the first one.  WOW!  So great to share with friends, too.  The pourer was so helpful on info, background and more.  The tasting starts off with a nice bubbly.  Can never go wrong with that.  Next they give you (and we got extras of) — these are in random order because of their menu and my notes:

-Hall T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc – crisp, a tiny bit of oak — $35
-Hall Darwin Syrah — pepper, garlic — $50
-Hall Coeur Cabernet Sauvignon — dry (least favorite)  $70
-Hall Ellie’s Cabernet Sauvignon (92 pts WS) — jumps all over!  $80
-Walt Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir — fruity, nice, light  $40
-Walt Rita’s Crown Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir – heavier, nice  $75
-(?) Dutton Chard — Light Oak (sold out so don’t know which it was or the cost) — light oak

Loved this place and the wines!  Would totally go back!

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#3 Louis M. Martini.  Third up, and at this one we opted for the Celebrated Reds Flight for $25, splitting the joy again.

-Cellar No. 254 Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, 2014 — dry, fruit, nice –$28, left with a bottle.

On the next 3, we were suddenly in a hurry to get somewhere and none were very impressive to either my friend or me.  Notes were not worth taking.

-Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012, $35
-Monte Rosso Vineyard, Mountain Red, 2012, $65
-Cellar No. 254 Meritage, 2011, $65

IMG_4031[1]Great day one of wine tasting, always exploring places, and wines, I did not know.