It started as all great Saturdays tend to do -- sleeping in. Our kids each had their own plans (or were out of town), so our only responsibilities were attending to basic hygiene and feeding our zoo of pets. We then brewed some coffee-to-go and launched ourselves toward the expectation of some exceptional wine tasting in the Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg.
Our son's high school baseball game started at 2pm, so we headed up somewhat early with the intention of collecting our wine and finding a bite to eat in Healdsburg before heading back for the game.
As I maneuvered up the beautiful winding Armida driveway, we quickly realized that it wasn't "business as usual." Turns out, it was the second weekend of the Wine Road 37th Annual Barrel Tasting event. Our complete cluelessness worked in our favor. We would've been too intimidated to actually plan to be there on a big event day. A concentrated number of drunk people jockeying for the limited road and parking spaces feels like a recipe for disaster. Or at the very least, someone is going to end up spilling their wine. Probably me.
The other factor working in our favor is that we got there early enough that the crowds had yet to descend. We got front row parking and were greeted by very enthusiastic workers. (I think they were pre-tasting for breakfast to ensure they were knowledgeable. And friendly). As Wino Club members, they handed us logo'd wine glasses and sent us in search of the barrels.
In Armida's case, we also had the opportunity to chat with the winemaker, Brandon. Which really was us gushing about how much we loved their wines and Brandon thanking us while wondering how much wine they were pouring in the other room. Though he did reward our effusiveness with an extra special reserve tasting. Like we needed it.
After tasting way more wines than we expected, we loaded up our club order and headed to lunch. I wisely "let" Kimber drive.
We didn't have a lunch place in mind but drove towards Healdsburg square where we knew we could find a quality lunch. I think practically every restaurant in Healdsburg uses some secretly addictive ingredient, because we have yet to find a less than stellar meal. Turns out, we didn't get that far because we impulsively pulled into this place:
We were seated at a picnic table outside and given the task of choosing from among a menu of traditional specialties such as the muffaletta, po'boys, gumbo, and jambalaya.
Just in case you were wondering, I have in no way been paid or sponsored by Armida for this post. But as you probably gathered, we were served a lot of free quality wine. It was such a great day that I'm pretty sure we'll be attending the 38th annual barrel tasting next year followed by lunch at The Parish. I can only hope it'll live up to my very high expectations.