Gift of the Magi
Wine touring with children is different from wine touring without them; it’s worse. Over the recent Thanksgiving holiday, we were brazen enough to attempt this suicide mission with not only our three children but also an additional 5 kids ages 6 and under. We were joined by two other families, other parents with equally barbaric thresholds of pain tolerance and self-destructive tendencies. We started at Mauritson, which seemed a reasonable choice given the beautiful green swath of front lawn where the kids could joyfully frolic while we adults savored the Rockpile bounty. As you can guess, nothing with kids is ever quite as idyllic as you envision. At one point, just my babysitter and I were left to corral the herd of children while the other adults (who are obviously much smarter and babysitter savvy than I) enjoyed a leisurely winery tour. She and I just stood there, horrified, as the boys sabotaged the defenseless foliage decorating the periphery of the lawn. One boy after another dove head first into the flowering bushes, their wild arms opening and closing in a primitive chomping motion. For well over 15 minutes they entertained one another by repeating the same frenzied crunching, like the teeth of hungry lawn mower killing anything in its path. And I just stood there, frozen, unable to rally from this fog of awe and bewilderment. There they were, ages 6, 6, 6, 5, 3, 3, 3, and 2, the physical embodiment of birth control, ready to scare any leaf-peeping, love-blinded honeymooners into immediate celibacy. Luckily the winery was low on tourists that morning. Sometime after the plants were near dead, my son ambled over to me, bow legged and visibly uncomfortable, picking at his bum. “Mom, I have rocks in my underpants,” he whined. And that about sums up our experience; it was as prickly as sitting on a cactus – naked.
But still we adults begged for more self-flagellation and deeper emotional canings. We wanted to taste at Papapietro Perry, an absolutely wonderful, small production, boutique label specializing in pinots and zins. Their tasting room is simple, a single tasting room absent any winemaking facility or vineyards or grounds beyond the gravely parking lot. It is one structure among the many mom and pop producers comprising the aggregate “Family Wineries” on Dry Creek Road. In addition to the tasting bar, their facility is brimming with wine country mementos, t-shirts, and house wares, sparkly doodads beckoning chubby preschool fingers to grab and touch. Miraculously though, they provided family entertainment, a glass bowl of crayons and paper. (As a quick aside, I am always reinvigorated to discover another winery that recognizes the elementary school set. It doesn’t require much effort to finance some coloring books, markers, paper or Otter Pops. It’s incredibly generous, and impactful on us consumers, when a winery demonstrates such thoughtfulness. Obviously Child Protective Services may be alerted should we leave our wee kin tied to a stake in front of a winery. Pleasant or not, we must tote that baggage along. If you’d like a list of more kid-friendly wineries, please drop me an e-mail). So yes, Papapietro Perry is equipped to deal with children, but not the entire kindergarten. Of course the glass bowl shattered, and my twins started to howl. What could I do but grab as many handfuls of touristy trinkets as I could palm? I hoped compounding my wine purchase by several hundred dollars worth of useless ornaments would assuage my guilt, for I was responsible for a path of destruction piloted by 8 kids amped up on fruit rolls and no nap. For me, the crash of the bowl was like an alarm, signaling the end of a long, trying day. It was time finally to head back home, relax, and open a couple of bottles of wine in our backyard, where our neighbors don’t mind when we duck tape the kids to a tree (or at least they don’t say anything to us about it). Sitting outside, I sifted through the Papapietro loot. Nestled among the trinkets was the niftiest wine cork key chain. What cheap and genius advertising! Immediately I swapped out their cork for a Bruliam one, a project requiring no skill, tools, or hot glue gun. It’s a craft that even you can do at home, with some 29 cent eyes from the hardware store. What better way to preserve the memory of your first Bruliam experience than with a brand-new-for-the-holidays keychain? Twenty times a day, every time you schlep to the grocery store, dry cleaners, soccer field, or drug store, you’ll be reminded of our label. And who knows, if your kid tosses your electronic car keys into the toilet, maybe they’ll bob to the top before the fetid water shorts the circuit.