What a girl won’t do for a glass of wine….It all started with a conversation with a friend of mine about Crushpad, a custom crush facility in San Francisco and the San Francisco Wine Association, whose members all produce at that facility. Of course I’d heard about Crushpad many times before, but had only tried a very few wines from some of the winemakers producing there. He said about 20 members of the SFWA were holding a holiday tasting event at Crushpad and it would be a great opportunity to see the place and meet some of the wonderful and creative people behind the wines. Well it didn’t take too much cajoling to convince me that I should attend this event, check this place out for myself, meet some of these winemakers and taste their wine.
So…I called my dear friend who lives in Fairfax and she said she’d be happy to pick me up at the airport, schlep me to Crushpad, have me for the night and take me back to the airport the next morning. It would be a fun and fast little adventure. Well it did turn out to be fun, but not so fast.
I always fly Burbank to Oakland when I visit SF. Well, because of the short notice and crazy ridiculous rates on that route, this time I would fly from Los Angeles International to San Francisco International. Thursday I arrived at LAX with just a bit over an hour to make my 10:55 AM Virgin America flight. I took a quick look at the departures monitor and learned that my flight was on time. I proceeded directly to the security line where I patiently stood for over 30 minutes before beginning the process of disrobing. Think about it…here in this globally public place and with hundreds of strangers, everyone takes off all coats, scarves, hats, belts and shoes, empties their pockets of all their valuables, keys, wallets, phones, removes large pieces of jewelry, puts their personal sundries in little ziploc bags for public viewing, and walks cautiously across the cold and dirty floor through the screener, hoping all their “stuff” will be waiting for them on the other side - all the while worring if they remembered to take the Swiss Army knife they usually carry in their purse out to be left at home. Travelling sure isn’t glamouous anymore, that’s for sure. Anyway, now I’m rushing a bit to get to my gate and hit the restroom once more before boarding. As I approach the gate an announcement is made that due to bad weather at SFO our flight has been delayed for one hour. Shortly thereafter the pilot comes out, (that’s a first), and says it’s his experience that these weather delays don’t take as long as they say, so sit tight and he’ll try to get an accurate update.
About 40 minutes later we board. I have secured myself an aisle seat and from this vantage point I watch as late boarders scramble to find overhead space and one woman tries in vain to shove her oversized “carry on” in what clearly was too small a spot. After dropping it finally into the lap of the person unfortunate to have the seat underneath, she finally yanked the valise out and moved on to find new digs for her belongings. I introduced myself to my seat mates, and luckily they were very nice people who I would have the pleasure of getting to know…..very well. After we had left the gate and taxied somewhere, the captain said we would be waiting…in the plane for another hour before being able to take off. I call my friend who happily answers her phone expecting me to be calling her from my arrival gate. I explain the situation. I later found out she pursued some retail therapy while waiting for me, and that Sephora would probably be delighted by further delays.
We finally arrive SFO a little after 2:00, to the announcement by someone on the plane who already has their Blackberry turned back on, that the outside temp is 41 degrees! Aargh!! I’m from LA. I don’t have clothes for this kind of weather! My friend is happily waiting for me and we’re finally off, lunch being a priority. We leave the parking lot, paying our $16.00 ransom, off to the Ferry Building in search of warmth and sustenance.
It’s cold and gloomy outside, but at least it’s not windy! As we approach the area where the Ferry Building is located, I notice vintage streetcars that I’m told by my friend are actually working streetcars. How cool - only in San Francisco. We search for 15 minutes for a place to park. Even if we could find a spot on the street, who has $3.50 an hour in quarters just hanging out in their purse?? So we opt for another parking lot, which after 2 hours will cost us another $15.00. And….this lot is a half mile from our destination so we walk…in the cold…by the water. Did I mention I’m from LA. We don’t walk! And especially not in the cold! And in heels!
The Ferry Building turns out to be a foodies paradise. We choose to sit at the counter of a little sandwich shop where we both order the egg salad with tarragon and truffled artichoke pesto on toasted brioche. Ahhh…things are looking up. We then go on to explore the gourmet market, the wine shop, the cheese shop, the mushroom shop, the herb shop, the pork shop,(ha ha), and the antique shop before heading out into the cold, (which I whine about incessantly) and on to…..Crushpad. I am really ready for some wine at this point.
The bay looks foreboding as we travel south past the new baseball stadium. AT&T Park just sits there in the middle of everything without acres and acres of parking lot buffering it from the rest of the city like our beloved Dodger Stadium. But what this stadium lacks in parking, it more than makes up for in personality. It’s vintage brick veneer reminds me of the old stadiums in New York that used to draw their fans from the surrounding neighborhoods. The sun has set by now, and all of San Francisco seems to be lighting up. I’m told that all those lights are always up and not just for the holidays. And since we are downtown amongst all the tall buildings, the lights seem to ascend straight into the heavens. We can see the lit bridges in the distance. Gorgeous!
Crushpad is located in an inconspicuous warehouse building, with, you guessed it…no parking! At this hour we are able to find an un-metered spot on the street and only a couple of blocks away. Finally at “the event”, we were delighted to see the vast area with the perimeter lined with racks and racks of wine barrels, was decorated in the holiday spirit, a lavish cheese buffet had been set up, and of course the tables were set with the wines, their proud winemakers poised and ready to delight us with their wares. We picked up our glasses and the list of offerings and decided to start at the beginning.
Aver Family Vineyards was first, and his excitement and enthusiasm were immediately contagious. We clicked glasses and toasted his Rhone Blend and Syrah. Bartz-Allen had an 07 Pinot Noir, Split Rock Vineyard, that was wonderful. Their were more Pinot Noirs at this tasting than any other I had previously attended. And represented by so many different styles. Jazz, Joelle and Think Tank Wine Co. were just three more of the many vineyard designated Pinot offerings. I particularly enjoyed the 06 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley from Guy Riedel Wines, and the 08 Sauvignon Blanc, Galleron Road Vineyard, Napa Valley from Damian Rae Winery was deliciously unique and the bottle my friend took home for later.
My family would later ask me if I thought it was worth the trip to attend this event. I answered emphatically, yes. A bold statement, considering that I was in for yet another long journey the next day to get home. Much to my chagrin, my Southwest flight scheduled to leave SFO at 12:00 pm was delayed, due to weather and construction, for 2 hours. We were told that if we wanted to go on standby on another flight scheduled to leave at 11:30AM, we’d have to hustle over to another gate and get in line. Well, before the announcement was even finished I was already on the move. There was no way I could wait for 2 more hours! Well I was third in line and was thrilled to be handed a boarding pass with a B-2 boarding position only to find out shortly thereafter that this flight had been delayed until 1:00PM. At 1:00, we finally board and I am once again on the aisle with a “front row center” position to watch the female flight attendant do the lifejacket and oxygen mask demo. We pull away from the gate and then…..we stop! Where is the female flight attendant? She’s….leaving with the paramedics?!!! Our captain announces that our attendant is unable to complete this flight, and apparently they travel in pairs, because I see two sets of luggage carted down the aisle and off the plane. We are to wait for a plane to land from which two of their flight attendants will be re-directed to our plane. At 1:26PM my cell phone, which is supposed to be turned off, rings. It’s Southwest calling to inform me my flight’s updated time of departure is now 1:30.???? At this rate, my original flight will probably leave before I do. Two new attendants arrive at 1:40 to a rousing round of applause. At this point I am becoming really grateful for the large bagel I had eaten for breakfast, as lunch was once again going to be late. By 2:00 it looked like we were good to go, but alas, it was not to be. By 2:10 the plane had moved but only into a queue that would leave us on the tarmac with fuel fumes filling the cabin until about 2:30. Finally with the now falling rain running in sideways streams along the windows, we are wheels up.
By now a good many of the passengers had fallen asleep, including, thankfully, the 2 year old boy sitting to my right. He has been a real trooper through all this, eating his french fries, playing with crayons, and now sleeping with his head on his mom’s lap and the red soles of his black sneaks turned up on his dad’s lap. The girl in front of me, although she looks about 18, has sudccessfully convinced the flight attendant that she is old enough to order a Bloody Mary - it looks really good. The young couple next to me are headed to Las Vegas to celebrate their 8th wedding anniversary and are now confident they will indeed arrive in time for the 6:00pm event they are scheduled to attend. The little boy awakens and is not happy to discover he is still confined to the seat and restricted by his seat belt. Out comes Dr. Seuss and the crayons. I keep my fingers crossed.
After the obligatory gold bags of honey roasted peanuts and drinks are passed out, we begin our descent. The chilly cabin air is now punctuated with the mingling aromas of nuts, food and……. And since we are now back in the clouds, turbulence. It just keeps getting better. I’m back in LA by 4:30 and thrilled to see my husband waiting for me. But it would be another hour and a half until the San Diego freeway would release me from my travels. I was clearly back in LA again.
What a girl will do for a glass of wine….I’ll Drink to That!