Jazucci Wine

Drink what you like.

I’ve said it so many times in my wine career, I’ve lost count.  Well into the millions, if not billions.  I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t inwardly cringe a bit whenever a customer just loooooooved their $5 bottle of cloyingly sweet because 500lbs of sugar were dumped into the barrel red wine.  Do you have something else?  Just like it, but in white or blush?  A nice crisp sparkling muscato hinting of peaches and apples?  A beautiful rosato bursting with so much fruitiness that you don’t realize no sugar has been added?  Nope.  They were all about the $5 bottle of sweet red.   They liked the taste and they loved the price point.

And red wine is good for my heart, right?  Well, maybe not that red.  It has too much added sugar.  Let me introduce you to something my cousin likes to call jacuzzi wine.

Jacuzzi wine? They were hooked simply on the moniker.  Something fun.  Absolutely no trace of snobbery that the wine world has projected as it’s façade for decades.  Plus it wasn’t White Zin.  They didn’t know a lot, but they knew to stay away from white zinfandel–at least in a fancy wine shop.  White zinfandel was for purchasing at the grocery store where you could hide it in the bottom of your cart and drink it at home without judgmental eyes watching.  No this was a much more sophisticated choice in wine: it was a Cabernet Blanc. Granted, it too was sweet, but not quite so cloying.  However, it had something that the sweet red didn’t: it was light and delicate and offered flavors other than “sweet”–like peaches.  It was light and fun and peachy and wha–$16 a bottle?

Silence.  Of course, you can always buy a glass of it for $5–walk down the street, do some shopping.  Think about it for awhile.  Buy a glass and then buy a bottle of sweet red to take back to your hotel.

You see, what I learned very early in my wine career is that wine can be scary and it can quickly get expensive–and thus those in the wine world quickly learn what their wine values are.  Are they a $300 bottle of Dom?  Or a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck?  The truth is, they’re both.  To my palette, it’s definitely a bottle of good quality French champagne, but I don’t need Dom Perignon–Bollinger or Krug will do nicely thankyouverymuch!  Or a bottle of Artemis.  Or an elusive cabernet franc or petite verdot.  But to those just starting out, $5 bottle of sweet red is everything to them.  I know.  I’ve seen their faces alight with glee as they walked out of the wine shop.  They want so badly to like wine but big-buttery California chardonnays and spicy-in-your-face Australian shirazes and dry-despite-saying-semi-dry French champagnes don’t taste good.  And they’re expensive and why throw $20, $50, $100+ down the drain when it tastes disgusting?

They want to like wine…and they don’t want to spend $100 a bottle.

A fair assessment. I love wine and I don’t want to spend $100 on a bottle. I mean, I will splurge from time to time, but not often–not when you can spend much less and still get a great bottle. So to me, values in the great big world of wine come down to two things: do you like it and can you afford to drink it whenever you like?

Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion and that is blatantly obvious when dealing with wine. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many varietals or styles of wine available. But the one consistent is that we are all seeking that holy grail of wine that is the perfect combination of delicious and affordable. So you when you find yourself introducing people to wine, you suggest Muscato and Riesling and Gewürztraminer and then fall back to Jacuzzi wine and sweet red.  And when you set aside your values and focus on their values, they leave happy.  Sometimes it was with a case of Jacuzzi wine; other times with a glass of reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. But they were happy. They fell in love. They found their wine values and victory was oh-so-sweet…or spicy…or buttery…but always delicious.

A Winey Day!

I’m not sure about you, but my picture taking tendencies definitely ebb and flow.  There are some trips where I have hundreds and hundreds of pictures and others where nary a roll of film was used (and yes, I realized I just aged myself!).  Unfortunately, this trip to California was during a lull in photo taking–and with the exception of the Golden Gate Bridge, I really didn’t get many pictures of anything else.  I’d like to think I was trying to be more discerning with my photography or perhaps enjoying myself way too much to even think about stopping to take a picture, but probably the most accurate reason is that I couldn’t be bothered taking out my camera and taking the shot.

While the pictures aren’t so reflective, Napa Valley was amazing.  I will grant you that it’s a bit different than I imagined, in that I imagined rolling hills covered in rows of grape vines with tasting rooms tucked away, like little hidden treasures waiting to be found.  You know, something like this:

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But that was not Napa–that was Sonoma.  Napa was a lot more….in your face.  Go here! Try this! No this! Buy that!  Not that I minded, it was wonderful rambling from winery to winery without much trouble or effort.

At the time, I ran a wine bar which focused on Texas wines but offered a few California selections, so I wanted to be sure to hit some of those wineries.  Our first stop was St. Supery Vineyards & Winery, followed by the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, followed by Cakebread Cellars, followed by Silver Oak Winery.  There may have been a few more thrown in, but those stand out the most because:

  • St. Supery was one of the wines we carried at the wine shop.  Even more impressive is that they had heard of our wine shop located smack dab in the middle of Texas. ImageImage
  • Coppola was stunning.  Absolutely stunning.  It was so picturesque and looked like you stepped into some gorgeous movie set version of Tuscany.  Plus they had memorabilia from all of Coppola’s movies upstairs from the tasting room.ImageImage
  • Cakebread was another wine we sold at the wine shop.  And we got a special tour, complete with a barrel tasting.  Even Matthew was impressed…and slightly annoyed that he was the designated driver and could only take small sips–I graciously and selflessly finished all his wine for him!  No pics because…well…we were barrel tasting!!
  • Silver Oak.  Sigh.  I just adore Silver Oak wines.  Alas, because Cakebread took up most of the afternoon, we got to Silver Oak about 10 minutes AFTER the tasting room closed.  I may have had a slight meltdown in the parking lot.  But I’m sure I was just hungry.  I did manage to get a picture of their iconic white tower.  And honestly, we had such a great time at Cakebread that I couldn’t be toooooo upset.  Just know that Silver Oak will be my first stop on my next visit!Image

Our day in Napa went by way too quickly!  If you want to visit (and you should!), I would plan out your day a little more–at the very least know tasting room times of your favorite wineries because they can vary greatly and you definitely don’t want to miss out and cause a scene in a parking lot!

Go to Napa (or Sonoma).  Drink wine.  Eat amazing food.  And send me a postcard!! 🙂

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Napa Valley, Circa 2004

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since my trip to Napa Valley, CA!

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like a scene from a movie–out front of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery

It definitely serves as a reminder that I need to go back and soon!

Hungover.

Well, Turkey and Greece are, for all intents and purposes of that specific trip, done.  Of course, I could continue to write ad nauseum about the trip, but I need to move on because I have other great things to share and well, I need to leave some hope that I will return to both places someday.

To me, it is always bittersweet writing about a particular place that you’ve only visited once.  When you write about someplace that you live or have lived or visit frequently, there is always a sense of nostalgia for what is familiar and what is comfortable.  And when you write about someplace you haven’t been, it is with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm.  But these in-between places that you just pass through are–for me–the most difficult to write about because once your story is told, it’s done.  It gets put into a box and you may revisit your pictures or your stories about it, but the likelihood you’ll actually return to that place is fleeting.  Or, even worse, that you’ll go back to visit and it won’t be as magical.

As such, wrapping up a big trip (like Turkey & Greece) leaves me feeling a bit lost–a bit hungover, if you will.  Drunk off reminiscing about 3 amazing weeks in such an astonishingly beautiful place and how could I ever find beauty elsewhere in the world?!?!?  Which of course, is ridiculous because beauty is everywhere and sounding like an angsty-emo teen is not going to win friends or influence people…

With some inspiration from Uncle Spike’s Adventures, who has been posting pics of Hawaii in the 80s, I started perusing through some of my older pictures that I have on my computer and came across a few of my first vacation to California to visit my friend Matt.  Since it’s been 10 years, I think it’s definitely time to share!

As I wasn’t there for very long, we hung around in Matt’s ‘hood: the Palo Alto/San Jose area.  If you’re unfamiliar with California geography, it is about an hour-ish drive south of San Francisco.  We did get one day to drive north, but Matt made me pick between Napa Valley and San Francisco–as if that was a choice (no offense, San Fran!).  Of course, since San Francisco is in between Palo Alto and Napa Valley, I still got to see some of the sites 🙂

And with that, off to Cali we go!

dipping my feet in the ocean in Santa Cruz

dipping my feet in the Pacific in Santa Cruz

ooops...didn't see that wave coming!

ooops…didn’t think the wave would be that high!!

Matt on the boardwalk while we were walking around waiting for my shorts to dry!

Matt on the boardwalk while we were walking around waiting for my shorts to dry!

 

The Palace of Sultans

Built between 1460-1478 for Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, Topkapı Palace is definitely one of the crown jewels of Istanbul’s glory.  The sprawling grounds have amazing views of the city, but with every amenity available inside, there would have been no reason to leave the grounds! Sultan Mehmed spared no expense in building his dream home–complete with a church, a library, audience chamber, and a harem.  Of course wanting to contribute the grandeur, subsequent Sultans since Mehmed have built, rebuilt, and added to the palace grounds and structures.  The result is varying architecture throughout the palace grounds. Again, there wasn’t enough time to see everything, which meant picking and choosing.  The only thing I’m sad we didn’t get to see was the Sultan Robe collection.  There simply wasn’t enough time, as the line for that exhibit was approaching 2 hours, and so we decided to use that time strolling the grounds and visiting all the other exhibits.

The Imperial Gate and main entrance to the palace

The Imperial Gate and main entrance to the palace through the outermost wall

The Gate of Salutation that separates the First and Second Courtyards.

The Gate of Salutation along the inner wall and entrance into the Second Courtyard

looking across the courtyard at the Hall of Justice

looking across the courtyard at the Hall of Justice

Imperial Divan

Imperial Divan

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the detail of the ceiling of the Imperial Divan

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tile detail along the walls and ceiling

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The Gold Window behind which the Sultan would sit when he wanted to hear the affairs of state, but not be seen

all the doors along the Imperial Divan were decorated...

all the doors along the Imperial Divan were decorated…

...and the windows too!

…and the windows too!

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Kubbealtı, where the Imperial court was held

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The Gate of Felicity and entrance into the third courtyard, which were the private areas of the palace and entry through the gate was only with approval by the Sultan himself.

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the doorway of The Gate of Felicity

outside of The Audience Chamber

outside of The Audience Chamber

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main entrance to the Audience Chamber, where the Sultan received visitors

detailing of the tile of the entrance to Audience Chamber

detailing of the tile of the entrance to Audience Chamber

a look down at the cafe on the palace grounds--with stunning views of the Bosphorus

a look down at the cafe on the palace grounds–with stunning views of the Bosphorus

The Conquerer's Pavilion, which housed the Imperial Treasury

The Conquerer’s Pavilion, which housed the Imperial Treasury

of course, I loved the decorative sidewalks!

of course, I loved the Pavilion’s decorative sidewalks!

one of the water fountains around the palace grounds

one of the water fountains around the palace grounds

wash basin in front of the Enderûn Library, aka Library of Ahmed III

wash basin in front of the Enderûn Library, aka Library of Ahmed III

inside the reading room of the Enderûn Library

inside the reading room of the Enderûn Library

nothing like a selfie while in a palace!

nothing like a selfie while in a palace!

potted plants and flowers lined the sidewalks...

potted plants and flowers lined the sidewalks…

the huge tree lined sidewalks

…along with huge trees

walking back to the Salutation Gate

walking back to the Salutation Gate

I know I could have stayed there for hours exploring, as there were a lot of areas of the palace grounds that we didn’t get to visit.  Unfortunately and all too soon it was time to go–after all, we had much more to see!

the view from across the Bosphorus

the view from across the Bosphorus–pic courtesy of Istanbul Top 10 (click pic to go to their website!)

Walkabout in Istanbul

We did a lot of walking around (and there were like 30 in our group, so I’m sure we were quite the spectacle!), but it meant for a lot of great shots of the city.  I could babble on and on about all the things we saw, but really the best part about it was just taking in the sites of this amazingly beautiful city.  And since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let them do the talking!  Enjoy 🙂

colorful houses

colorful houses

A view from an overpass

a view from an overpass

down the streets we go!

down the streets we go!

the obelisk at the Hippodome

The Obelisk of Thutmose III, originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor around 1490BC–Theodonsis The Great had it brought over to Istanbul in 390AD.

base of The Th Obelisk

the base of The Obelisk

The German Fountain, commemorating the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898

The German Fountain, commemorating the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898

In the Hippodrome--although there wasn't a chariot or horse to be seen!

in the Hippodrome–although there wasn’t a chariot or horse to be seen!

what's a trip to Istanbul without a magic carpet speech?

what’s a trip to Istanbul without a magic carpet speech?

one of my favorites, however, I wasn't interested in schlepping a big ol' rug around for 17 days!

one of my favorites, however, I wasn’t interested in schlepping a big ol’ rug around for 17 days!

One of the 3,100-ish mosques in Istanbul

one of the 3,100-ish mosques in Istanbul

A street sign on the way to the palace

a street sign on the way to the palace

An information booth

an information booth

Tulips...

tulips…

...tulips everywhere!

…tulips everywhere!