Red-y to go

We’ve been hooked on bright, crisp whites for months. It’s easy to do this in L.A.; three days ago it was 75 degrees. We were sipping rosé poolside in December, I kid you not. But with the change in the weather (Storm Watch Winter 2009) it seems like the perfect time to move on to some reds.

As if He was reading my mind, yesterday He came over with a bottle of 100% Tempranillo Rioja by Viña Santurnia from Silverlake Wine. Truly delicious and a great buy for under $15.00.

Looking forward to trying a whole bunch more while We wait out the storm. Big Mac’s Mondays is going to be fun.

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The Last 10

My history in architecture and wine are intrinsically connected.  In 2000 I was living in Europe, having the time of my life, though admittedly wayward.  I didn’t have a college degree and thought I would become a writer.  I had a few writing jobs that I took very seriously, which meant I was spending about $1000 on stories for which I was getting paid $300.  It soon became evident that, although I love to write, this wasn’t a solvent career choice for me.

I was invited to the wedding of my then-girlfriend’s cousin in the Basque city of San Sebastian.  My knowledge of the Basque Country at that point was that there were ETA terrorists and somehow Picasso was involved.  I had no idea the Basque Country would change my life forever.

Bodega Ysios. Source: propuestas in_consultas

The day before the wedding we all took a hired bus through La Rioja, visiting what felt like every winery in the region.  On this trip I assumed I would drink good wine, but did not think I was about to discover what would become my passion and eventual career.  The bus continued along the winding roads and we stopped at winery after winery, getting more drunk as the wheels rolled on.  We passed the recently completed Bodega Ysios by Calatrava.  I’m not sure if it hadn’t opened yet, or just wasn’t one of our stops, but the bus sped by as the passengers gawked.  Afterward the mother of the bride (who is a sweet, albeit kooky woman who claims to be psychic) turned to me and said, “You should be an architect”.

To this day, I don’t know what caused her to say that, maybe she really is psychic.  My first thought was, “doesn’t it take a really long time to become an architect?”  I was 26 and felt like I was too old to undertake such a daunting education, but the seed was planted in my mind.  We had just come from Florence and I marveled at the Renaissance architecture of that city.  But on this day I was more interested in drinking wine.  The bus continued through little villages and we stopped at wineries that were in stone buildings that had been there for hundreds of years.  I was drunk on wine, ciders and the notion that just maybe I could be an architect.

Two days later we went to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim designed by Frank Gehry.  I had never seen an image of the building and had no idea what to expect.  We picked up my then-girlfriend’s mother at the Bilbao airport, also designed by Calatrava.  We then parked off-site and took the Norman Foster designed subway to the Guggenheim.  All this architecture.  It’s everywhere.  And it wasn’t designed by superhumans like the city of Florence.  (It’s impossible to look at the work of Michelangelo and think, “Yeah, maybe I could do that.  But these strange, new beautiful structures were built by living people, one with an office in the city I was from.  This was an attainable goal).  Once I saw the Guggenheim, my future was clear.  This was what I wanted to do.  I wanted to design buildings.  I went directly to the museum bookstore and bought an architecture book.  That was the moment.  In school, of course, I looked at Gehry and his work a little more critically, but I will always love that building for what it inspired me to do.  My own personal “Bilbao effect”.

My first year of architecture school I discovered the Dominus Winery designed by Herzog & de Meuron.  It is a building that seems to enthrall first year architecture students, and is copied (with varying degrees of success) in many of their projects.  I can’t tell you how many models with little caged stacked stones I have seen.

For whatever reason, I assumed Dominus to be in Austria or France, or somehwere.  Imagine my delight when my new (and current) girlfriend invited me to come visit her in Yountville.  She told me all about her little town and said we should go take photos of the Dominus Winery.  Wait, what?  Are we going to Austria or France, or somewhere?  Instead we went across Hwy 29 and stood outside the fence in the mud as I pointed my camera toward the building I had seen a million times.

I think that is one of the moments that we fell in love with each other, and me with wine as I stared at the beautiful grapes wet with rain hanging on the vine with one of my favorite building in the background.  And my favorite girl by my side.

Dominus Winery in the rain and from a distance.

Dominus Winery in the rain and from a distance.

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