The wine tasting tour went well yesterday. There could have been some improvements made (I could've gotten more than 3.5 hours of sleep the night before), but all in all, it was a good time! (I'll put picture up later, when I'm at my own computer and can save them to the desktop instead of just stealing them from my mom's facebook page.) Our group was made up of 12 people, including myself, my bro, our friend Jake and his friend Pamela, my mom and step-dad, and some of their co-workers. Traveling in style, we were in a stretch H2 (that's Hummer-2, not to be confused with anything else [I'm looking at you, H]). This was my first real experience being in a limo, the only other time I had been in one was for my mom's wedding to Bruce (my step-dad), when we went from the wedding ceremony at our house to the reception hall half an hour away. Only I didn't ride in the "stretch" part in back, I sat up front with the driver. So this was a fun change of pace.
The first stop was Lavender Crest Winery in Colona, Illinois. They had some purple (fiberglass) pigs outside their building, I thought that was neat. The wine was very good, especially at 10 in the morning. Their wines included one made from blueberries and another from raspberries, both delicious. I sampled 6 wines, (the first three were free, the second set cost a dollar), and enjoyed them all. Jake and I enjoyed them a little too much, I think, we started getting a little buzz on. And of course we opened some bottles of wine after leaving the first place, I think we went through about 3 (not just between us, everyone was enjoying them) pretty quickly. Our next stop was in Galena, IL, an hour or so away. The passage of time gets kind of hazy here for Flenker... We stopped at a gas station so people could use the restroom, and my brother and I decided that we needed to continue drinking, so we went in and found the cheapest alcohol we could: 24 0z of this "beer" called "High Gravity". It was going for $0.94, and had 8.1% alcohol by volume. And tasted like pure, unfiltered ass. We each got one, and split it with Jake and Pamela. By the time we reached our lunch stop, we were feeling alright.
We had lunch at Vinny Vanucchi's, an Italian restaurant in Galena. It was good. My brother and I ordered an $8 bottle of champaign from the menu, not noticing that it said split next to it. So we got a small bottle of champaign, enough for a glass each. And it was not the best I've had. I feel like we overpaid. Oh well. The meal was good, the garlic bread they gave us was quite possibly the best garlic bread I've had in my life. I don't know what it was, but it was seriously amazing.
We briefly stopped at a winery in town, but they were charging for tasting, so we didn't stay long. We left for our next stop, Park Farm Winery near Dubuque, IA. It was a little drive, so we popped Shrek into the DVD player and watched and chatted and drank some more wines.
Park Farm Winery was by far the most beautiful winery we stopped, complete with a huge house and a spectacular view. (Just wait for the pictures, I can't do it justice in words.) It was a little out of the way, and not on a paved road, but that just added to the atmosphere, in my opinion. The wine was good, they had an apple wine that I liked. But the best part was just lounging about there. There was a sweet dog laying around that I sat next to and pet for a while, and just a great, relaxed feel in the air. Again, the pictures will show more.
Our next stop was a little bit of a detour, but one that made my day. Not far from Park Farm, about a 10-minute drive, is the Field of Dreams!! Now I've stated on here that it was one of my goals to go there before I leave Iowa, so this was a big deal for me. I had a big dumb-bastard grin on my face the whole time. I stood at home plate. I sat on the bleachers. I ran the bases! It was wonderful. But we didn't really have much time to spare, so I will have to go back there and enjoy it more thoroughly. Maybe Bill and H can accompany me, and I can take them to Park Farm. It will be delightful.
After running the bases and being outside for a little while, I was basically spent. I tried to nap on the drive to the next winery, but it wasn't working that well. Jake was in especially rough shape, he was sweating pretty hard and looked completely wiped. He and Pamela and Travis all stayed in the H2 while we went into our last stop, Daly Creek Winery in Anamosa, IA.
This was a nice little place in a small town. I was a little burnt out on alcohol, but had to try a couple wines, just because. Their Gothic White (named for Anamosa's own Grant Wood and his American Gothic painting) was wonderful. They also had some homemade pralines, and I couldn't resist. It was one of the best pralines I've ever had, I'm serious. This was a day for superlatives, apparently, between the garlic bread and praline.
We then headed home, tired but satisfied, after a long day of fun. It was quite the experience to ride around in the stretch H2, watching people gawk at us as we drove by, holding up traffic as we got out, and watching our driver Jimmy trying to maneuver it through some tight spots.
Well, that's it for now. I'll post some pictures when my "internet" is working. Who knows when that will be, though.