The US – Welcoming You To Death

I was greeted at breakfast by a sign hanging above the breakfast bar that read:

WARNING

Chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm may be present in foods or beverages sold or served here.

It is interesting to note that, despite this advance knowledge, there weren’t further signs, on individual foods (or beverages), stating, ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger (and this will kill you)’, or, ‘Tumour on toast’, or, ‘Coffin Cheerios’. Or even, ‘Safe!’.

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I had to conclude that the creators of such peculiar notices were not intending to be funny…instead preferring to throw out a vaguely placed risk of death in an otherwise innocuous looking hotel breakfast bar (if you ignore the slightly odd colouration of the food itself). No gallows humour, only gallows.

The whole experience was like casually playing Russian Roulette over morning coffee and was rather fun, in a nervous kind of way.

I haven’t died yet. But there’s time, some of the options being slow burn.

Anyway, being welcomed into the United States is never that great. Between villainous, humour-free immigration staff, armed with plenty of long latex gloves, and food that promises to kill you, it’s a relief to meet someone you know, to understand it not all that bad.

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Tom Rappé was that person. Tom is half Norwegian and half Japanese, although he is really a Yank now when all is said and done. He is my man at Bear Creek Winery in Lodi and has a number of other wine interests that help us to find what we want when we are across the pond.

He chaperoned me or kept me from harm for my whistle-stop tour in January. The plan was to get in and sort out what we need from the new vintage (’13). And there was some beautiful stock to be found.

Between Bear Creek and Langtwins wineries, both family owned affairs, in the super-promising Lodi region, we reckon that we can cover a lot of bases that the more illustrious regions cannot do. Napa, Sonoma etc cannot do it because the wines are ridiculously over-priced. You may buy a bottle of Cabernet from Stag’s Leap, of course, but you won’t do that from us. And it’ll cost you $150. Daft.

Instead we are using all of the winemakers we know out there, and the knowledge we have, to carefully blend high quality, great value wines from California that you can drink every day. And we are going to start doing a range of very low volume, discreet parcels wines, at a higher (but still affordable level), that promise to get close to the quality standards set by the $100+ brigade nearer San Fran.

Watch this space people. And if someone else announces the arrival of the aforementioned wines, not me, then you know what’s happened. And I still want some credit, not least for predicting my demise

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