Saturday, October 5, 2013

#108 He Puts Me in Awkward Situations

They say that opposites attract.

Note: I'm not quite sure who 'they' are.  Whenever I make a comment referring to the mysterious 'they' I instantly think of the movie "Conspiracy Theory" and Mel Gibson's paranoid character who in actuality had real reason to be paranoid.  Me, I'm usually paranoid for probably no better reason than I'm bored and searching for something for my mind to obsess about.

With that unnecessary comment said, my husband and I are absolute complete opposites.  Here are just a few examples, but definitely far from the complete list:

1. He loves playing sports.  I close my eyes and scream when a ball is thrown my way.
2. I play multiple instruments: primarily violin and piano.  He sat with me once to try and learn piano.  Within five minutes he declared that his hands weren't made for such an instrument.
3. He loves rap, hip hop, punk, and all other kinds of popular music that all the young kids are talking about.  I like oldies and classical.  (*This musical taste difference is actually something that when we were dating he said his uncle told him is an indicator that a relationship won't work.  All I can say is: 11 years strong.  What now Gordon?  Love you.)
4. Football season is heaven to him.  For me, football season is simply: Fall.
5. He hates decorating for Christmas.  I live for it and begin my preparations far in advance of Christmas....or even Thanksgiving.

What is funny is that both of my brothers married women who I think are exactly like them.  They found the female version of themselves and said, "There is something familiar about her.  Whatever it is, she seems pretty awesome".

This post ultimately has nothing to do with differences between spouses.


I just like to set you up on one track of thought and then cut over to a different one real quick and see if you still can stay on board.

One difference between hubby and me is that he will put us in an awkward, unfamiliar situation for the sake of trying something different.  The strange thing is that hubby is something of a introvert.  It makes absolutely no sense for him to do something like this.

His friend/coworker, Drew, invited us on a wine tour celebrating Drew's 30th birthday.  When I was informed about said trip, my first question was, "Who else from work is going?"  To which I found out some guys might have been invited, (key words, 'might have') but he didn't think they were going.

Great.  So we aren't going to know anyone?  And we're going to spend the entire day with them?

Can you say, awkward?

At least, that's immediately what I thought as we sat in a limo bus with a group of people who all knew each other and had been on previous wine tours together.  Maybe it's just me, but being mixed in with a group of almost total strangers makes me start to sweat and laugh really loud at stupid things.

We started at Cedarvale Winery in Swedesboro, NJ.

This being hubby and my first ever wine tasting, we didn't know what to expect.  We quickly learned from our group that this stop was sub par at best.

The room was small, but cozy, making this an intimate tasting (although I did note they had a wine tasting room just through the back doors).  We stood around the bar with our list of wines as the woman in charge quickly went through the different offerings.  I think I would have been okay with the standing if she hadn't rushed through the wines, giving hardly any description of how the flavors came to be or any history on their vineyard.

The ever impulsive shopper that I am, I still had to buy a bottle.  There was a yummy apple wine that I wanted, but since the wines in general were a little pricey (all things considered) I went with only the Strawberry Table Wine.  I have all intentions of giving it to my grandmother as a Christmas gift (shhh, don't tell!). We'll see if it lasts.  As the description says, it literally tastes like strawberry jam.

I walked around the back of the winery to take some shots of their vines, but when I compared them to the ones of the other wineries, they were not worth the space in this post.

Of the four, yes four, wineries we visited, I enjoyed the ambiance of Auburn Road in Pilesgrove, NJ the best.

We had our tasting inside, however, I was tempted to grab one of the outside seats and have my own private tasting as I enjoyed the view of wide open country filled with nothing but rows and rows of grape vines.

With fun names like 'Give Peach a Chance', 'Roxanne' and 'The White Bottle', Auburn Road gives a different turn on the typical bottle of wine.

We planned to have a light lunch at this winery, and light it was.  For a foodie like myself, it didn't cut it.  For a wine and cheese type person, it was probably a thrill.  (Yet, my fellow limo bus inhabitants also made comment to the lack of variety on the menu.  The choices were basically between a panini or a cheese and bruschetta platter).  We were given a better tour of the wines during this tasting, however, it took forever.  Which would have been totally fine with me, but we still had two more wineries to get to.  Each wine was described in detail.  Hubby and I left with a bottle of 'Rosalita' which is a 'bright candy apple red blush'.

The owner/proprietor was on the premises and was giving a group tour of the property as our group was on our way to the next winery.

My future home?

Oh yes, please.

While I loved the mood of Auburn Road, our third stop, Heritage Winery in Mullica Hill, NJ, offered more than only wine making.  It was a spot that could be visited and enjoyed for several hours.  Within minutes of walking through the doors of their gift shop, hubby and I spotted apple cider doughnuts.  We bought one to split and instantly realized our mistake.  We should have bought two.

An hour tour of the winery (generous tasting of three of their different wines included) was $10.  Plus, we got to keep our glasses.

I learned much more than I ever expected to at this winery.  So much so that now I know a grape vineyard is much more profitable than a vegetable/fruit farm.  Heritage started as a peach/apple orchard.  Now, it is primarily a vineyard, still with patches of apple and peaches growing.  They also have a pumpkin patch and offer hayrides during the fall.

In growing grapes, I learned they need to struggle to survive.  Rather than nurture the vines, the farmer needs to allow nature to take its course.  We drove around the 150 acres of farmland, viewing grapes that had just been planted within a few months.  These looked mangled, and certainly not like the grape vines that I've taken pretty pictures of.

It's an incredible process.  One that not only involves clever farming tactics, but also a lot of expensive machinery.

Unlike the grape stomping of that all famous 'I Love Lucy' episode in Italy, grapes are pressed in the above machine.

The huge machine behind our tour guide is the bottling machine that we were told when bought new costs $70,000.  When bought used (as Heritage did), it only costs $15,000.  Not to proud to own a used machine when it looks as good as new and saves your pocket $55,000.

Ever wonder how corks are made?  No?  Me either.  Not until we were shown this and my mind was completely blown.

Their wines are fermented in 3,000 gallon stainless steel vatts as well as...

barrels.  Very expensive barrels from France and Italy.

Not that we had any on hand, but this little area outside was cute.

It took about ten pictures before I realized hubby just won't take a nice picture with me.  Believe it or not, he looks best when he's not looking at the camera.

We were just a few feet away from live entertainment.  I was ready to skip the last winery and stay at Heritage for the next hour or so with half a dozen apple cider doughnuts.

Okay, hubby and I did split another one.

These signs were simply adorable.

Long before out last stop, Monroeville Winery in Monroeville, NJ, I was glad hubby and I had gone, even if it was a little awkward at first.  I learned so much, tasted so many different varieties of wine, and branched out from my usual Saturday routine.

Monroeville Winery was a lot like the first winery.  Very small and intimate, but a little more friendly and inviting than Cedarvale.

With only having been up and running for a few years, they seemed to have a smooth production going.  The owner, originally from Brooklyn, runs the place with her mother-in-law.  She did our tasting for us and talked about each wine she served.

Hubby and I bought a cherry wine.  We learned that cherry wines are hard to come by because cherries are so expensive.  However, Monroeville was fortunate that a local crop of cherries had some issues and they were able to scoop them up to use in their wine.

The birthday boy...

and my hunk enjoying the view.

The experience was certainly worth the initial awkwardness that hubby put me through.

A word about wine:  There are tons of different opinions out there on wine/alcohol, especially in the communities that I frequent.  For me, I had my first glass on my 21st birthday, with my older brother.  If you've got a good Italian grandma, you were probably given wine as an infant.  Some people drink every day, some people drink only on special occasions, and some people never touch the stuff. Personally, my thoughts are: to each his own.  I don't drink to excess, I can honestly say that I never have.  In fact, I don't drink often at all, but I do enjoy it on occasions.  I especially enjoyed the novelty of wine tastings where one can experience the vast differences produced by something as simple as a grape.  It was certainly an educational experience for me, one that I would definitely do again (next time though, probably only one or two at a time).

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