Saturday, December 8, 2007

Montebello Biking and Wine Tasting

I had no route planned for my weekend ride. Earlier in the week, I got in touch with Paul, my former co-worker at Rearden. I had not talked to him for a few months. He suggested we meet again at Ridge Winery on Saturday for some wine tasting. Ridge is on Montebello Road — one of my favorite roads to bicycle on.

I first rode on Montebello Road last summer, and have ridden it many times since then. The road is fairly steep and medium distance. There are wineries at both the bottom and top of the hill. The first time I rode there, I thought it was peculiar that the winery at the top was fairly big yet nondescript. It did nothing to advertise itself.

The Santa Cruz Mountains are not a significant wine growing area like Napa or Sonoma counties. I assumed that the wineries here are small, insignificant operations. I found out later that this is true for most of the wineries, but definitely not true for the one at the top of Montebello Road.

Ridge Winery is actually a famous and historically important one. It was one of the participants in the 1976 "Judgement of Paris" wine tasting that established California wines as world-class. To this day, Ridge produces highly regarded wines. They grow grapes in different vineyards across California, but their premium wines come from their Montebello vineyard.

I had planned to meet Paul at 1:00pm, so I decided to ride the hill in the morning. The days have been getting colder, and this is the coldest ride I have done this season. I was generating plenty of heat pedaling uphill, so I did not feel cold. But I could tell that the air at the top was much colder than it was at the base.

I really felt the cold coming back down. It was warmer and sunny at the bottom, so I warmed up on the flat stretch back home, but I was still feeling chilled when I got back to the house. I had enough time to shower and eat lunch before heading right back (by car this time) to the top of Montebello.

The wines were excellent. I bought a couple bottles (their cheaper stuff).

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