I never thought I’d rave about a wine, but this one deserves it. Now I understand Paul Giamatti’s love of Pinot Noir in the movie Sideways a lot more. I’d rate Hirsch up there with everything magnificent: a breathtaking sunset, majestic mountains, a field of wildflowers, and crystal blue seas.
It’s a wine with earthy tones of forest floor and wood smoke, and undertones of fruit and oak. (I lifted that sentence from their website.) It’s a wine with depth and complexity. It’s like a good conversation. You leave satisfied by the experience.
We decided to visit the winery. The directions led us up a mountain. We drove miles of curves past redwood and pine trees. Then the road narrowed to a single dirt lane with enough ruts in it to destroy an army tank.
“We better turn back. This is ruining the car,” Alf said.
“It can’t be that much further,” I said.
The curves and the holes continued from mountain to mountain. Eventually we emerged from the dark canopy of trees into a blazing sunlight washing over green hills.
“We’re nowhere,” Alf said.
He was right. Not a soul. Not a house. Just the sound of wind and red-tailed hawks gliding over the landscape. It was beautiful even if we were lost.
“There!” I said.
Finally there appeared a hillside with rows of vines that ran to the horizon. We kept driving. There were vines in front of us, behind us, and everywhere we looked. All in straight rows running up and down mountains and slopping hills.
We continued on and arrived at a metal building. There was no identification on it. The door was shut. The only sound was the silence.
A cat appeared out of the bush and meowed.
Suddenly a white truck came from the opposite direction. Alf rolled down his window and leaned out.
“We’re looking for the Hirsch Winery. Can you tell us where it is?”
The driver laughed out loud. “You’re on it,” he said.
“Oh. Where can we buy some wine?” Alf asked.
“You can’t,” said the man. “It’s by appointment only.”
“Oh…Ah…I see,” said Alf.
We turned around and drove back down the way we had come. By the time we reached the highway, we felt like we’d been on a poor man’s safari. We hadn’t seen any elephants.
That night at dinner, as we sipped our bottle of Hirsch, and in spite of our failure at the winery, we had a feeling of satisfaction. We had visited the birthplace of the grapes we were drinking.