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Appreciating What's Around You

I went to college in San Diego.  There's probably some great beaches, wonderful restaurants, lovely hikes, and interesting culture there, but I couldn't tell you.  I spent most of my time in my apartment playing video games, smoking cigarettes, and eating Domino's pizza.  When I graduated I left because I was bored.  Later on of course I felt the pangs of regret as I cleaned myself up, lost the pizza weight, and quit smoking.  "All the opportunities I wasted!" I still think sometimes.  For that reason, I want to stress to everyone living in Northern California: Do not take what we have for granted!

I decided to open two bottles of local wine last night because, although I taste many domestic wines as part of our staff training program, I show little enthusiasm beyond what's necessary - and that's a shame.  It's a shame because, while I'm geeking out for the French Arbois or a small Burgundy plot, there really are many outstanding wines close by that we have access to.  I could visit these places on the weekends, take a drive to Sonoma, enjoy the landscape and its inherent beauty, but I don't.  No longer.  I will not relive my college apathy!!

It's not just wine either.  We've got St. George distillery, Charbay, Germain-Robin, Old World Spirits, and others still making their mark.  You can visit these places and sample their products, see how they're made, and embrace the local community.  When I traveled extensively through Europe as a young adult, I found all cultures enjoying and taking pride in their local wines and spirits.  Yet, here I sit, ignoring so many outstanding local vintners, lusting after products from afar that have no special importance or significance in my life. 

I vow to appreciate my Northern California alcohol community now by learning more about the wines from this region.  I work in the best wine store on the West Coast, located in NorCal, but I can't tell you details about the local wines?  That's pathetic.  No More!!

-David Driscoll

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Reader Comments (7)

Good post David! What Germain-Robin has done with U.S. brandy (and independent cognac bottling) is awesome and terribly underappreciated. They are to California Brandy what Stitzel-Weller would be to Kentucky Bourbon if it were still an active distillery today. So I'm envious of anyone whom lives close enough for daytrip visits. While he'd certainly not recall me, I met Ansley Coale some years ago and was blown-away by how understated, mellow, open, and WISE he is about all things Spirits. I was already a fan of their (he and Hubert Germain-Robin's) XO, Viognier single barrel, and Pinot Noir single barrel brandies; and after sharing my enthusiasm for fruit-driven brandies, Ansley also politely recommended some Maison Surrenne XO 1972 (Cognac they'd independently bottled). I was very reluctant as many old cognacs taste like chewing on soggy oak staves, and I matter-of-factly told him so. His reply, "Know what you mean, but I think you'll like it." He hugely undersold it! It was the first Cognac I ever bought that didn't make me feel slightly-to-totally ripped-off. And speaking of regrets; now that it (MS 1972) is nearly impossible to find, I regret not buying more.

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRN

I try and sell a bottle of GR XO to anyone who will listen.

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid D

I'd love to introduce you to two college friends of mine I just spent the weekend camping with...

They reminded me to not ignore wine completely and I passed them bourbon around the campfire.

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa W.

I do get very enthusiastic about my favorite wineries--and often bend people's ears about them and the wines they produce.

BTW, UCSD, SDSU, or one of the several other colleges/universities of repute there? I'm willing to bet you did NOT go to USD. I lived in San Diego between 1961-1965, and again from 1967-1972. Left for college and never wanted to move back--bad job market for anything but government/armed forces/aerospace and tourism, and way too conservative for me. I do have favorite restaurants there, a couple from youth, and some I've discovered since dealing with the aftermath of my younger sister's stroke.

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterA. Marina Fournier

GR XO remains ahead of its time... in the U.S. at least. I'm just glad I listened to someone like you years ago.

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRN

UCSD - I was stuck in La Jolla, getting fatter by the minute

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid D

What, no biking or walking up and down canyons and mesas?
I seem to recall a Samson's Deli, in a La Jolla mall not far from campus. I'd certainly have gained weight if I frequented that, or DZ Akins downhill form SDSU! Their poppyseed hamantaschen is the best my MiL and I have ever had, so when I go to SD, I pre-order two dozen of them and bring a Rubbermaid container tha fits that amount just fine.

I can't seem to find poppyseed hamantaschen up here, much less year round!

May 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterA. Marina Fournier

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