Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mark's Birthday Weekend

We decided to go back to the Yadkin Valley for one day/evening (this is where we went in January for a long weekend) to celebrate Mark's birthday.

We left home around 10 on Saturday and, after a pit stop over at brother Jon's to check up on their cat Raz (who came out for food, must have been because Mark was with me as she'd been ignoring me up to that point), we were on the road!

All told, it takes just about 2 hours to get to the start of the wineries (at least coming from that direction). We'd planned on stopping for a late breakfast/early lunch but didn't really see much that sounded good. We finally decided to eat at a Cracker Barrel. Hey, not my favorite but you can usually find something worth chowing on. Forget it! The place, at 11:15, was overflowing with people waiting for a table. 45 minute wait; no way! What IS it about this place, anyway?

So, instead, we went through a nearby Wendy's drive-thru (it seems we only eat fast food when on road trips) which meant we got to our first winery RagApple Lassie, a lot sooner than we'd thought we would.

We signed up for their wine club back in January. All told, they have really nice wines. We did a full tasting (over 15 wines; good thing they were not pouring huge tastes). Most of them we'd tried before but there were several new vintages and a new dessert-y wine called ZinSational Zen, which, although too sweet to drink a lot of, would be an excellent choice to serve with either a rich chocolate torte or a off-sweet hazelnut cake. After chatting with the folks who were also tasting (a trio of youngish women), we bought six bottles of wine and headed over to Raffaldini, about 30 minutes away.

We'd signed up for a tour with the wine maker at 2:45 (really, the impetus for our trip). We experienced a pleasant enough 45 minutes listening to him talk (no free wine samples, boo!) I always learn something. This time, it was that grapes produce better wine if they are cold when they are pressed. Apparently, the same goes for olives, hence why you typically will see "Cold Pressed" on nice bottles of olive oil.

After the tour, we went to the tasting room to pick up our wine shipment and do a tasting. The place was CRAMMED full of other tasters. Also, a wedding was about to start at 5:00 so there was some spill over with that. One of the women tasting with us was a dead-ringer for the actress who played Prissy in Gone with the Wind. I didn't feel like I could tell her that, though. They'd just released their Pino Vino II; not the best of their wines (they have a reserve Sangiovese and a Montepulciano that are both fantastic) but they'd had a recent contest regarding the label. People submitted pictures of their dog. I had seriously considered submitting Lucy but the day the winner was announced was the day The Kid graduated from high school and I knew we couldn't be there (assuming she would have won, which, given her total cuteness, she probably had an excellent chance). The dog on the new label looked like an English sheepdog.

Raffaldini routinely has some pretty decent sounding events, including fancy dinners with local and seasonal ingredients used to prepare the meal, all paired with four different wines. However, they never have any of this going on when we are there. We noticed the next one is in early October; we may try to go to that one.

Anyway, after leaving Raffaldini with our wine shipment plus a few more bottles, we went in search of the B&B. I'd reserved the room about a month earlier; not the same B&B we stayed at in January (although that one was certainly nice); rather, one a bit closer to both Raffaldini and the restaurant we planned on going to for dinner.

First, for whatever reason, Yahoo's directions were wacky this time. They had us going through someone's field to get to the main road from the winery! So, it took us a while to find the B&B, even though it is not as though Elkin, NC is a huge place!

Home Coming B&B was touted as a "Christian B&B". Frankly, that did give me some pause at first. But, we decided to chance it. What do I mean by that? Mainly, we don't like religion, any religion, thrust in our faces. I was wondering if attending church might be required before they'd feed us Sunday morning (just kidding). In the end, we figured we'd give it a try and now I'm really glad that we did as it was a perfectly delightful place, even though there were bibles all over the place and gospel music playing in the background as we ate breakfast. Their only request was that no alcohol be consumed in any of the public areas. No problem. The room was large and clean; complete with a vanity area and a good sized bathroom with a nice sunken garden tub (which we took of advantage to consume a bottle of wine out of the public eye; wink-wink).

Anyway, after checking into the B&B, we decided to try and move our dinner RSVP up since we were about 2 hours ahead of schedule. This we were successful in doing and headed off to Twenty One and Main for a excellent dining experience. Read my review on TripAdvisor here.

Mr. B at Twenty One and Main

After a huge breakfast Sunday morning (which we were able to pre-order the night before), we were on the road home by 10 or so. On our way back to Durham, we stopped at The Kid's college (Guilford) and drove around so we could get a visual. Very, very quaint; a small campus with several brick buildings and beautiful crepe myrtle trees in full summer bloom. We didn't contact her, figuring she'd be busy bonding with her new dorm roommate (turns out she wished we had told her we were there; she would have liked to see us; oh well).

So, a pleasant weekend for the B's! But, I didn't take many pictures. Here are a few of the B&B.
Nice king-sized bed. That sign on the table contained the "no drinking in public" request. Also, there were TONS of "No Smoking" signs. No cigars on the porch here.
Goodly sized room. That's an excellent bottle of Sangiovese Riserva there on the chest!
Vanity area; site of one of the three bibles found in the room.
Mark checks out the evacuation plan; I'm in the mirror (somewhat!)

Mrs. B

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