Saturday morning we left around ten. Stopped at Beckmen Vineyards for a tasting. The tasting room would have been hard to find if one of us hadn't been before, but there are small signs along the road indicating direction if your group isn't as lucky. From the outside the tasting room looks rustic and clean. Inside there's a counter along one wall where visitors were crowded, high ceilings -- it's an overall light, open space. We bought several bottles of wine based on the tasting. And I pointed out typos in their promotional materials. It's a sickness.
Following Beckmen, we stopped at Gainey for a tasting. Gainey had an established, professional feel. The gift shop -- which sold Gainey products from Artichoke Garlic Salsa to Olive Tapenade to Mulling spices -- was tastefully integrated into the front area which opened onto trellised patios backed against the vineyards. Red and white tastings had been set up in two rooms, the whites in the barrel room, the reds near the gift shop. Visitors flowed in and out of the building swirling their glasses and taking pictures of themselves against the property. We couldn't have asked for better weather. The sun was out, the clouds were few, and the wine wasn't bad. They had a dry Riesling which, without being too sweet, was quite refreshing.
Since there was still an hour before our hotel check-in, we ate brunch at the Chumash Casino. We got tricked into valet parking since there only appeared to be one entrance (next time VEER LEFT). You enter Chumash and the first thing you see, besides security, are escalators going up. On the main floor, you can almost pretend it's Vegas. Bright, blinking lights, tacky patterned carpet, cigarette smoke, and the sound of a thousand slot machines going ker-chunk-ker-plunk-brrrring! Skirting the action, I found another escalator and it took us to the buffet. When we were paying at the register, we saw a person trip and fall off the escalator. I tell ya, they went down like a sack of bricks, a comparison I had never actually seen until that moment. Wait staff and security crowded around the person so I couldn't tell you if they lived or died. But doesn't it make a better story if they died?
I was pleased to see Eggs Benedict at the buffet. And, by the by, egg rolls dip quite nicely in country gravy.
We didn't gamble. Stuffed to exploding, we drove out to the Buellton Rodeway Inn (on the Avenue of Flags, we only saw one flag) and checked in. While the boys waited for me to magically transform into breathtaking, they opened a bottle of wine and watched some television. My only complaint about our room -- and the price was definitely right -- was that the sink and mirror were in the main part of the room. Meaning, in the bathroom itself, with the toilet and shower, there was no sink or mirror. This wouldn't be a problem until the morrow, and only for the ones in our group who weren't morning people. Mwahaha!
Driving out to the wedding at Fess Parker Winery, we hit a squirrel. It got smooshed. Those damnable squirrels and their damnable death wishes! It's a good thing I don't believe in omens or portents, because if I did, I would have had to stop the wedding.
It was an outdoor wedding and it was a beautiful day. The wind was stronger than you'd generally like wind to be, but besides that it was a very nice wedding.
At the reception, there was wine. And dancing. And a bartender named Ramon who knew just what I needed.
The next morning we went to the Firestone Brew Pub and drank a few pints of beer. I may have bought a t-shirt. Many, many pretzels were put to death for the sake of a hungry traveler. Pretzels whose heroic valiance shall be remembered forever.
McDonald's figured prominently in our future. And that evening, after we got back to our respective homes and took naps, there was more wine drinking. I skipped to the end pretty quick, but I sort of lost my taste for it halfway through. It's kind of you not to notice. I guess I should take a shower or something. Or eat. Maybe there are Girl Scout cookies left. Mmmm, frozen Thin Mints.