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JohnT

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Hi folks.

been a long time since my last post. Let me get you all caught up.

I have now been retired for over 3 years and I have never been so active. We are in the process of moving from NJ to the beautiful mountains of Georgia. We are currently in the process of getting our NJ home ready to sell.

Normally, a move is a heavy task, but we also have to move a winery too. We have industrial space now and are now working out of that location while also in the process of bottling out the old winery at our home. It is so weird to see the winery so empty. we have only 800 bottles (or so) to cork and the old winery is done and over with.

Going forward, I will continue working out of this industrial location in NJ. I will make the trip up to NJ for all of the important events on the winemaker's calendar (crush, first racking, bottling, etc). Fortunately, I have some family members that can babysit the wine while I am away.

The area I am moving to have some of the prettiest country that you ever saw. Oh, did I fail to mention that it is also a burgeoning wine region?? Yes It Is!!!!

My birthday was August 1st. For my birthday, I tell my wife that I want no gifts. We are of that age where we already have too much stuff! Rather than any birthday gifts, I ask that my wife takes me out to visit wineries. Surprisingly, she is very agreeable to this deal.

Things get better....

I just so happens that each year, during the month of August, most of the local wineries come together to form the "wine Highway". The way this works is that you can pay a fee to obtain a "passport" which entitles you to free tastings at all participating wineries and a free tasing glass. This year the passport was $75 with 41 wineries were participating.

WOOOPIE!

This experience so far has been an education on the local wines and not an excuse to get drunk. Before beginning, I purchased a small notebook and have been making detailed tasting notes of each and every wine sampled. I also note on how I was treated at each winery. My experiences ranged from being completely ignored to one-on-one time with the owner/winemakers. I am glad to say that, after Identifying myself as a winemaker, most wineries were quite happy to give me one-on-one time with the winemakers. This was by far the most valuable part of the experience.

In general, my local education was very enlightening. The quality of the wines in the north Georgia mountains is truly world class and on par with any other winemaking region in the world. They are serious wineries with serious product. One of the best wines I have ever tasted in my life was on my month long odyssey. It was a Chardonnay from a winery called Chateau Meichtry. It was complex, soft, buttery (MLF did its job), and had just the right amount of oak notes (2nd use Med toast Hungarian). Its aroma, clarity, mouth feel, and end notes made it a true work of art. And get this, only $26 per bottle! Now, you all know that I am a red wine lover, but this white was stunning. I advised the winemaker to get the wine into competitions and raise the price by at least $10 per bottle. He wholeheartedly agreed with me.

Unfortunately, while at the Chateau, I did not get to talk with the winemaker or owner (one and the same person), but they did have extremely knowledgeable and attentive pourers that could answer technical questions. The venue was so pretty with glorious mountain views that rival the best that Napa has to offer. The whole experience was a true eye opener.

In my travels this month I did come across one thing I have not seen before. It was a Norton that was aged in bourbon barrels. I saw this at two of the wineries I visited. One was aged for a year and I have to say that I did not care for it much, The wine took on a whiskey flavor that carried with it a hint of oxidation. The other example, however, was stunningly good. The wine maker only aged it about 6 weeks, during which time the wine lost all hints of foxiness, and smoothed out to be very enjoyable on the pallet for a Norton that was one 2 years old. A real eye opener!

To date I have visited 13 participating wineries, and sampled 61 wines. We plan on two more trips before the passport "expires" at the end of the month. One of the notes I made was the price of the tasting if I had not bought a "passport". To date, the value of all my tastings stands at $120 with another 5 winery visits planned this weekend. What a bargain!

All in all, I have been a very happy guy. What truly made it all so great was how my wife has been so gracious in taking me around to wineries all month. Hands off fellas, she is spoken for!

Hope all is going well with you kind folks.
 

ibglowin

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Good to hear from you John! Sounds like retirement suits you just fine. Looking forward to your updates down the road!
 

JohnT

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So now that the month of August is over, I ran my numbers for winetasting...

Total cost of the wine highway passport was $75.
Had I not had the passport, and simply purchased the tastings, I would have spent $201.00! Got my money's worth out of it!

I visited a total of 17 different wineries and tasted 90 different wines.

Had a the poorest and also the greatest experience on Monday.

I visited a "winery" that was so bad that I walked out in the middle of the tasting. When I first walked in, there were only 4 people at the bar. They were very drunk and were sipping frozen drinks dispensed from a fountain on the bar. They had two "pourers" that knew even less about the wine then they did about customer service. They spent all of their time with the drunkards. It took fifteen minutes to get my first tasting. When they finally did pour, they presented me with a white that was so acidic and sharp that it would have made better salad dressing. OK, pass on that one. After another 20 minutes, they then poured me a "red" that should have been called brown. After one sniff, I set my glass down and walked out. It was 35 minutes (again, two pourers and only 5 customers) to sample the worst of vile swill.

The second winery I visited was quite the opposite.

I walked into the tasting room and had to stand on line. My mounting fears turned out to be unwarranted since the line was quickly dispatched and I had a seat within 10 minutes. My pourer seemed to know a bit about wine. This was surprising since she appeared to be a rather slender young woman who has been of legal drinking age for only a short while.

As I talked to her, and began asking more technical questions, she introduced me to her uncle, the owner and operator of the winery. I introduced myself and then struck up a conversation about wine that lasted 2 hours. We ended up going off menu to taste wines that were not normally offered, then retired to the barrel room for some barrel tastings. We then played a game of "guess what's wrong with this wine" (it was oxidized), then returned to the tasting room to sample two ports that he was experimenting with. For a young winery (first opened three months ago) The seemed to really have their act together. I have a feeling that I will be hearing a lot more about them in years to come.

By the time I got back to the car (my wife was waiting in the parking lot due to covid fears) I was beaming! It made all of the yelling that ensued well worth it.
 
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