Transportation – The Theme

24 Jun

streetcarA fellow blogger, The Drunken Cyclist, threw down a challenge by way of a theme for the rest of the wine bloggers out there. We are to write a post (1100 words or less) based on a theme. This month, the theme is ‘transportation’. There have been some great imaginative and well-penned posts already by bloggers I follow. You can see the others by clicking through on the links below. 

First, let me say that I feel a bit like Ralphie and his theme in The Christmas Story. It’s harder than I thought it would be. It has been awhile since I had the restrictions of theme. I usually just sip wine and type. So here goes with my theme. It’s about transporting wine cross-border.

Theme: Transportation by Duffswines

A few years ago, Arlene and I traveled to San Francisco to ________________and _____________­­­­­­fill in the blanks with what every tourist to San Francisco does. At the end of our shortened week, a friend, Susanne, from Toronto joined us. We picked her and our rental convertible up at the airport. We were promised a Mustang and received a Seebring – a bit of a comedown, with apologies to Chrysler fans. Undaunted by that, I still had visions of driving top-down along the Silverado Trail, cases of Flora Springs, Montelena and Caymus crammed in the trunk, feeling all the part of major cool. I mean I had purchased a pair of Ray Bans for the occasion. Qualification: prescription progressive Ray Bans (read: old man Ray Bans) – but Ray Bans nonetheless.

But first, the three of us drove to Napa where our friend’s husband and our friend too, Marty (consulting in Modesto at the time), met up. That makes a foursome for Napa and Sonoma. Being a somewhat intense travel planner, I already had an annotated map of both Sonoma and Napa with wineries identified and prioritized for our weekend. Wineries rated on a 60 point scale and colour coordinated with page references in my copy of John Bonne’s The New California Wine. OK, I kid, but wineries were prioritized on the basis of street cred, what we’d already had and loved, what we hadn’t but wanted to try, and shamefully those spectacular pictorals in Wine Spectator (which I still subscribed to back then – I’ve since stopped reading about unaffordable wines and stopped smoking stinky cigars). ‘Somewhat intense’ travel planner, you say?

pineridgeWell, it rained or was cool the entire time; frustrating a ride in a convertible. I did put the top down in the car port but that somehow doesn’t count. We did, however, fit in a whole bunch of wineries. I won’t bore you with all the winery names and wines (my fav, Pine Ridge at right). Suffice it to say that we didn’t spit a drop and returned weary and with a great buzz to our villa (not really a villa but not sure what else to call it) every night. Then, way too soon as is always the case, it was the night before we trundled off to SFO for our flight home and, therefore, time to pack.

Marty simply packed up his bottles of wine to take to his apartment in Modesto for transport 2 at a time back to Toronto on his weekends home. The important thing to note in the sentence above is “two at a time”. In our excitement to purchase the great wines we were tasting, we had purchased a few more than two each – the allowable amount for return into Canada. I’m lying – we purchased a lot more than two each! We could wrap some of them up in dirty clothing and cram into the suitcase. I’d done that before on a trip back from the Languedoc – we call it Bill’s Broken Back Meets The Angry Baggage Handler story. But, that still left a few bottles. We couldn’t transport all our finds to their eventual resting place. Sob. What to do?

problem solvingHmm. Well, we decided that the best way to deal with this was to drink up the excess wine that last evening. Now, I’ve been known to drink a lot of wine (OK, stop the guffawing, please). But this was a task that appeared to exceed even my prodigious appetite. Despite the impossibility of the challenge, we all dug in, pulled corks, poured into hotel room tumblers and borrowed-from-front-desk wine glasses and proceeded to get under the Canada Customs limit. We didn’t want to do it but we were forced into it; Arlene with chardonnay that she deemed disposable, the rest of us with cabernet sauvignons that were a bit young and a lovely pinot that I wish we had back. But, we were up for the challenge and by the wee hours we had met our objective, albeit with some pretty sorry singing, purple teeth, frequent “OK, that’s enough. No more……..ummm, well, maybe a half”, great laughs, and, well, I don’t remember much else. But, it might have been the highlight of the trip.

The next morning we left for SFO and eventually cleared customs the following day. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful really. But, I do remember what wines we saved for transport home and why – and I loved them when I opened them knowing that they were the ones deemed to be special. But I have to tell you that they didn’t surpass those sacrificed at the altar of not-so-free-trade the night before we left Napa. Those were even more special. Which goes to show you that all that careful decanting, swishing, sipping and spitting (oh yeah, and forgive me if I didn’t keep notes) isn’t any better than popping, glugging, and chuckling if you do it with great friends. Even if you have to burn through a lot of irreplaceable wine. I’ve never regretted not having those bottles of wine for a certain occasion or that label in my cellar, once. Well except for the pinot. I really would have liked that with something other than pretzels and trail mix.

And, what does the TTC streetcar at the top of this post have to do with my story, you ask? Nothing really. I just think that they look cool and I thought it might entice my Toronto readers to continue to the bottom of the page pitifully looking for a connection to their own lives. It’s a literary trick.

The other posts are:

The Armchair Sommelier

The Drunken Cyclist


The Winegetter

14 Responses to “Transportation – The Theme”

  1. talkavino June 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    This is one story to remember! Clearly fitting the subject of Transportation : )
    By the way, I don’t know the Canadian rules, but in US, you also can’t bring more than 3 bottles of wine (2 liters) – but it only means “without declaring”. I brought back a case from Portugal, I put wine into my declaration, put in 12 bottles, approximate cost – and had no issues at all at the customs. May be you can try it next time… And thanks for the mention, of course!


    • Duff's Wines June 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      Thanks. I’ll read the fine print because we’re going to Puglia and Campania this year and want to max out my opportunities to bring some home. I liked the gadgets that you mentioned and will see if there’s some chance that they may help.


      • talkavino June 25, 2013 at 5:43 am #

        the gadgets will help – except if you will have to drink the wine again : )


  2. the drunken cyclist June 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm #



  3. mwwcblog December 19, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Reblogged this on mwwcblog.


  4. June 11, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.

    I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.
    I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to
    be wasted just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thanks!


    • Duff's Wines June 11, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      I follow the philosophy that you just write what you feel you want to say. A brain dump kind of. Then, you revisit after awhile. If it’s got any redeeming content or style, you work with it. If it’s garbage, trash it. When I try to be readable on first draft, I get in my way. My style is sort of a stream if consciousness which may lend itself to this approach. I had to find my voice.
      Thanks for the comment. I look forward to following your blog.



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