The Life of Afrodite “Things To Do In Cali” Mini-Series.
I used to watch that show, Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, on VH-1 back in the day. Did you? In his British accent, host Robin Leach would break down the cost of some celebrity’s lifestyle, and then end the half hour segment sending viewers “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”
Those exact same words came to mind when Mr. Ex and I spontaneously dropped by the Korbel Champagne Cellars and Winery.
I come from a family of non-drinkers.
When my parents were part of the corporate world, they entertained a lot. They kept a fully stocked bar in the houses we lived in and my Dad was the bartender. Even though their friends drank, my parents never did. I myself never liked the taste of alcohol after two separate “tasting” incidents.
We’d moved to Reno when I was little (Best. Childhood. Evah) and lived there for 5 1/2 years. One of our next door neighbors, Susie, had become me and my sister’s godmother. She was a bit of a hippy (she owned a blue VW bus) and a lot tomboy (some days you would find her mowing the lawn). One day, she was sitting on the porch drinking a can of Coors Light. I wanted to know how it tasted, so I asked her if I could try some.
My mistake was gulping it like she did, like I was drinking a can of soda.
“That tastes like pee,” I remember telling her, while pulling a Yuck Face.
For the record, I have no idea what urine actually tastes like. But if I had to guess, it would be beer. To this day, I still don’t like the taste—or smell—of beer. Which was unfortunate for Mr. Ex, since he’d made a hobby out of drinking it (not brewing it).
The second “tasting” was when my Aunt Cozie (God rest her soul) had gotten married and her and my Uncle Jessie had honeymooned in Aruba. When they’d returned, they’d sent my parents a large bottle of Kahlua. I remember my Dad cracking open that bottle and taking a couple of big gulps, like he was drinking soda from a bottle. And he hadn’t made a Yuck Face, either.
I’m sure you can see where this is going.
I asked if I could try some and he allowed it.
I’d learned my lesson the first time and had been more cautious. The tiny sip I’d taken burned like fire going down, making me catch my breath. I’m pretty sure I thought my next exhalation was going to be actual fire. It had settled like a warm, bubbling cauldron in my stomach. It didn’t taste like pee, I can tell you that, but it pulled another Yuck Face out of me and reinforced my decision to stay away from alcohol.
When my former supervisor introduced me to Moscato Rivata and I was like, “I can handle this.” It’s sweet as fuck and reminds me of Martinelli’s Apple Cider.
The less alcohol I taste, the better. And for God’s sake, don’t give me a full glass. Because I won’t finish it. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and that shit makes me sleepy.
So, on the rare occasions when I do drink (and no, I don’t keep bottles at home because they would just sit there forever), it has to be Moscato Rivata or something similar.
But I digress.
Mr. Ex and I were on our way to check in at our hotel, when we drove past this place. We had been driving through wine country, passing vineyard after vineyard.
“I wouldn’t mind tasting some champagne,” he’d said.
And I’m all: “Really?”
“Yeah,” he’d said with a shrug.
Here’s the thing: I can’t stand the taste of champagne. It’s too dry.
We’d toasted with Korbel on our wedding day. I’d taken a quick sip, grimaced, and promptly gulped a water chaser.
Split second decision and we were turning the car around to go taste some champagne.
A Little History About Korbel
The Korbel Winery was established by Bohemia-born Francis Korbel and his brothers, Joseph and Anton, in 1882 and is the oldest continually operating champagne house in North America. Nestled in California's Russian River Valley, Korbel has always followed the time-honored methode champenoise tradition, and continues to build upon its legacy of innovation and quality. - Source: Sonomacounty.com
For the record, public tours and tastings are complimentary for groups of less than 20 and are conducted at certain times.(https://www.korbel.com/winery/); they offer private tours as well, for an affordable price of $20 per person. We just happened to be there on a day and time that complimentary tastings were going on. You show them your ID, they give you a menu of champagnes and you get to try four (maybe three?).
These are the ones we tried.
Notice that they’re all on the sweeter side. That was my doing. At first, I thought he was going to be the only one trying champagne and didn’t think they had anything sweeter.
I was wrong.
If I’d known this when we’d gotten married—and had a choice of toasting liquid—I would’ve chosen one of these! Dammit!
The first one, the Sec, wasn’t as sweet as I prefer, but as you can see, the further down the list you get—in that particular section anyway—the champagne gets sweeter. Which is probably why I liked the final three. They conveniently have an on-site store, so if we’d wanted to buy a bottle, it was possible.
But I passed.
Because, you know, wasting away in my fridge only to be drunk hardly ever.
Korbel Champagne Cellars also has the Korbel Delicatessen & Market. You can sit inside or out and enjoy lunch and a glass of their wine.
We decided to eat lunch there,for which I was glad, because it gave me an opportunity to counteract that champagne. I told you, it doesn’t take much.Fun fact for any craft beer people out there: the owner of Russian River Brewing got his brewing start at Korbel before branching off on his own. And the Delicatessen and Market actually serves Russian River beer, so Mr. Ex had really loved that.
Despite the fact that this was an unplanned and impromptu stop, I liked it. Korbel Champagne has always left a bad taste in my mouth—literally—but they have since been redeemed in my eyes. Cheers!
IF YOU GO:
Korbel Champagne Cellars and Winery
13250 River Road
Guerneville, CA 95446
Black goddess musings on life and becoming a sustainably-conscious human being.