Last week I set out from Annie and Simon’s house to see the Arizona wine country before heading over to San Diego. When I first left St. Louis these stops were not on the itinerary, but the first week on the road had instilled a more leisurely mindset that continued through the second.
On the way into San Diego, I spent my first night sleeping in the car at a rest area. This will take some getting used to. My second night was at a campground on a beach north of the city. It was pleasant, but not worth the $35 per night price tag. The last night I met up with Doug to share his room US Grant Hotel, which made up for having to sleep in the car two nights before.
I could tell that San Diego is normally a beautiful town, but the weather did not cooperate with me much on my visit, save for a sunny afternoon on the cliffs just south of the pier. Most of my time was spent in Ocean Beach, a surfing community to the northwest of downtown. On the last day in town I traveled to the eastern hills to check out the relatively new Ramona Valley AVA.
I brought Doug from the conference back to his home in Los Angeles. This is my first L.A. experience. It had never been high on my list of places to visit, and I was sure that I was going to hate it when I got here. Thus far I love it. The weather is always sunny and at a temperature comfortable enough to wear a jacket, but you don’t have to. It begs you to get outside. I have been hiking at Runyon Canyon Park in West Hollywood, which provides great views of the city. Healthy food is more accessible than junk food. The traffic is horrifying, but I can avoid it. AND the radio stations here are actually worth listening to!
The vast number of people allows for a comfortable anonymity similar to New York or Chicago, but people here smile and are open to making conversation. Everyone is from someplace else. The only two natives I met in San Diego were the guy who brought my bags to my hotel room and the guy who cleaned my windshield at the gas station. I have yet to meet an L.A. local.
We checked out the Beverly Hills shopping scene. They have a store that exclusively sells macaroons. So dangerous, but so delicious. These were almost as good as those I became addicted to at the Loire Valley chateau.
The Beverly Hills wine scene did not disappoint, with their own version of The Wine Merchant demonstrating how to cater to the cost-no-object rich. The selection consisted of the greatest names in wine and included the world’s most expensive bottle. The Jeroboam (Three-Liter Bottle) of 1929 Mouton-Rothschild was thought to be destroyed in World War II, only to be unearthed in Ethiopia in the early 1970s. A gift from Phillipe Rothschild to Wine Merchant owner Dennis Overstreet.
Doug and Pam are providing me with a base for conducting operations in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties over the next few weeks. Up to now, my path has led through the obscure vineyard land of the southwest. As I prepare for the next leg, I am excited to see the homes of the wines I have been drinking and selling for the past five years.
For more photos from my second week on the road, click here.