Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ghetto Speak

Every year, E and I try to take some time off for our Anniversary.  Sometimes we just stay home. Other times we go somewhere for a few days. This year we chose to re-visit Solvang, California. It is one of our favorite escape destinations. We go to Lake Cachuma and picnic. We go over to No Jokey (Nojouqui) park and walk to the dry water fall. We stop in at Village Spinning and Weaving for a visit. And we eat interesting meals and delicious cheese danish rolls. In the past, we have visited wine cellars and vineyards. This time we did that again, stopping at our favorite Kalyra Vineyard.
We also took a long drive through the country side on the west side of Highway 101 in Lompoc. This brought us to a rather strange destination. A Ghetto. But first, there is a bit of history to tell.

In our wine tasting travels, we have visited Wine Shacks. Part of the ambiance of the wine tasting road is to make the wine tasting experience as rural and unsophisticated as possible. You drive down a winding country,  narrow lane road until you pass a barn/shack with a wooden sign near the street. The shack looks like an old horse pen- no windows, barn type double door, dirt floor, strewn hay, portapotty, wine barrels with a board over, bare light bulb. A jolly, slightly annoyed man, clad in overalls greets you eventually and you ask for a wine tasting. They have 4 offerings and you have to keep the glass because they don't have washing facilities. The wine is bearable, but not great. They tell you all about the movie, Sideways. We look blank. We have never seen this movie. On to the next shack. Same thing. Finally, we find a regular looking tasting room/vineyard, with a reasonable selection. This scenario is for the people who want to get out of the main town and go to a real vineyard. Most of the in-town wine tasting venues are a mix of different wineries with one Cellar to be the seller. The prices are high regardless of where you go, but sometimes you just want to get out of town.

Kalyra Winery is on a real vineyard, even though most of the wine comes from grapes grown in Australia. They have a fun atmosphere, several great wines and dessert wines. Most of the time it is not really very busy. The people have always been great. There is a place to picnic. And they have never said anything about Sideways.

So after visiting our beloved Kalyra, we went on a driving tour of scenic Lompoc and the road ended in the GHETTO. This is a WINE GHETTO. So, what is this place? It is an industrial park, cum storage facility smack up next to a housing tract, off the main road, in a tangle of parking lots. We got there on a Saturday and the place was totally dead except for a few small places, huddled together, that offered wine tasting. We selected "Flying Goat Cellars". If Pigs can fly, then why not Goats? We were exploring the concept of Wine Ghetto, so I chose the goaty one.

There was nothing interesting about the environment. No trees, landscape, interesting signage, wall textures or colorful decorations. Next door was a machine shop that was closed for the day.  The entire Ghetto looked like this, not just the Goat. The windows had a sign and blinds. Inside, the floors were bare linoleum tile, walls white with pictures and stuff. Black painted crates to hold wine and items for sale. Industrial counter, no chairs. There were two women at the counter and a couple of people sitting near the wall in the only chairs. This cellar specialized in Pinot Noir wines. The cellar represented several small wineries. The choice was 4 Pinot varieties or The GOAT BUBBLES.

I chose the Pinot group. The ladies called it a "FLIGHT". This was not a wine tasting, it was a Flight. We took off. One marginal wine after another, one sip and we tossed the rest. The last one on the list had a slight fragrance of skunk. One of the ladies said that true Pinotphiles loved that one. She kind of spat "Pinotphile" like you might say, pedophile. In my limited life, I always associated the "phile" ending with a negative context, even though it meant to love. It is a physical type of love that the word refers to, not a higher love. Definitely not what I would think of for a wine. But then, I am not a vinophile, either.

After we decided that none of the wine was any good, I went to the bathroom and the ladies brought out one more wine that was not on the list. E was drinking some when I returned and he surprised me that it was "not bad". We bought one bottle, to remember the Flying Goat and paid for our flight.

So, Wine Ghetto speak? It is a bit hard to explain. It insults you and expects you to be happy about it. It takes a possibly pleasant experience and makes it as uncomfortable as possible. It tries to convince you that a really crappy wine is great because everyone else likes it, even though there is no one else there. Really, we got the goat end of the experience. But, that is part of the experience. Sometimes, wine cellars have crappy wine and they have to do their best to make you think differently. There were other Cellars there in the Ghetto, but we didn't try them out. One goaty wine was enough for us.

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