Yesterday I was the designated driver on Andrea's annual winetasting trip to Amador County. This trip is a family affair that normally takes place in June near Andrea's birthday but was postponed until July as we were waiting for Clare's birth. In addition to Culley and Andrea, my brother Andy and his wife Connie are enthusiastic participants. Andrea's sister Gina and her husband David come up from Sacramento as does Adrian, a dear family friend. This year Stacy and Tim, friends of Gina and David, joined up. We borrowed the Tippett's Sprinter so all the tasters could fit in one vehicle with a designated driver. After dropping the children at Andrea's mother's in Somerset, we set out, spilling out of the Sprinter at selected wineries along Shenandoah Road.
The gardens at many of the wineries provide a lovely waiting space for me the driver who is not partaking in swirling the ruby liquid or sniffing the diverse bouquets. I sit on a bench and enjoy the setting while collecting ideas for my own garden. This year we had our picnic lunch at Deaver Winery in the deep shade of an ornamental plum tree.
My favorite part of these trips is the lively conversation that ranges from wine considerations to economics to construction projects to radio programs like "This American Life." The Sprinter was a buzz with spirited talk as it slowly filled with cases of wine. For me, the trips are a delightful opportunity to enjoy the company of family and friends in a fresh, vibrant context. I sip my water and drink in the gardens and the conversations.