Thursday, March 1, 2012

On the Trail

October 1st
Stop #14: 5 Trails Winery

We stayed in North Platte at Katherine's parents' house. Although I've never met her dad because he's always on the rails when we stop by, Katherine's mom is a great lady and is fun to be around. We had originally planned on this being a mother/daughter day, but my mom was recovering from knee surgery and wasn't up to going. Katherine's mom was free, so she was still able to come along.

5 Trails Winery in Paxton was our first stop of the day. After much discussion about whether Mountain Time began before or after Paxton (I was right, it was just before), we took of towards the west. We arrived pretty early, so we went past our destination to Ogallala, where we drove by Lake McConaughy because Jenna had never been there.

If only my shower had this kind of pressure.

After our scenic detour, we drove back to Paxton and went to 5 Trails. The tasting room is located on the main street in Paxton, so we found it easily. We were greeted by Pat and Lori Gamet, two of the winery's owners. As soon as we walked in, Pat knew what he was in for. "Here comes trouble," he said, grinning.

Between the four of us, we managed to taste all seven of the wines that were currently available - some wouldn't be ready for a few more weeks. I wasn't a fan of their Edelweiss, which is something I never thought I would say since it's usually my favorite. I did greatly enjoy two of their reds, though, so I'll be adding a few more reds to my list of favorites.

5 Trails Winery in Paxton

I once bought a bottle of 5 Trails wine when it was on sale at Boogarts. I had never tried their wine before, so I jumped at the chance. The wine itself was good, although I can't remember which one it was, but the cork that came with it is probably the handiest thing ever. It's plastic, and the shape of it makes it perfect to use on any bottle of wine I open. When I told Lori about how I guard my 5 Trails cork, she laughed, and informed me that corks like that are called "zorks."

New favorite word? Yes, I think so...

When we had finished our tastings, we walked across the street to one of the most renowned restaurants in Nebraska - Ole's Steakhouse. Ole's is pretty much your average steakhouse - except for the decor. In 1938, Ole bagged a deer and decided to mount it in his steakhouse. The buck was just the beginning. An avid hunter, Ole traveled to every continent over 35 years, and the bar is now the final resting spot for over 200 different mounts, including moose, big cats, a polar bear...

And a jackalope.

I pointed the jackelope out to Jenna, and Katherine and I teamed up to convince her that although rare, jackalopes roam about the sandhills. We almost had her going, until Katherine mentioned that they fraternize with snipes, and I couldn't keep a straight face anymore.

Still laughing, we said our farewells to the polar bear and headed back to North Platte.

Favorites: Passenger and Frontenac Blush

5 Trails Winery's Website

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Love is in the Aerator

It's that time of year again - Valentine's Day. Like it or not, it's not a day that can easily be ignored. Having previously worked at a Hallmark store for two years, I'm a little cynical about February 14th. That's a rant for another time, though I'm sure my story about having to call a lady five minutes before delivering flowers from her boyfriend to make sure her husband wasn't around would provide both entertainment and insight into the joys of bringing people Valentine's happiness...

When florists snap.

With four days left until "the most romantic day of the year", I'd just like to suggest breaking away from the tired flowers and chocolate bit. Any gesture is appreciated, but if you're looking to do something a bit different this year, I would highly suggest looking into events going on at local vineyards. Many of the vineyards I've been to on my tour are hosting special Valentine's Day events, such as five course dinners, murder mystery parties, and wine and chocolate pairings. One of the benefits of going to a local vineyard instead of a restaurant is that the vineyards only allow a preset number of people attend these events, resulting in a much less hectic and more romantic atmosphere.

If staying in is more suited to your taste, a wine gift basket could be a great addition to the evening. Pick out a wine that each of you will like, add in two sexy-stemmed wine glasses (our term for wine glasses with tall, skinny stems - like stiletto heels for wine glasses), maybe some dark chocolate for pairing and voila! Let the love affair begin.

The sexy stem.

Or, you could celebrate the way I plan on celebrating. I'm scheduled to work the open to close shift, so after work I'm going to grab one of my favorite bottles of red - I have it narrowed down to Mac's Creek River Valley Red or Glacial Till's Frontenac Rose - put on some Micheal Buble, and dump an entire bottle of bubble bath into the tub. Bliss.


Whether you're celebrating solo or spending time with someone you love, wine is the perfect addition. Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To the Mac's

September 30th
Stop #13: Mac's Creek Winery and Vineyard

When the hot summer days began to cool off, I realized that Katherine and I needed to have another wine weekend before winter set in. We were lucky in our timing - I discovered that one of our favorite vineyards was having their harvest party on the weekend we had taken off.

In my very first post, I described my cork ritual. I try to keep the corks from all the bottles I've enjoyed. I recently had to upgrade to keeping them in a bigger vase because the old vase was beginning to overflow. As I was transferring the corks, it became obvious that I've enjoyed more bottles of wine from Mac's Creek than from any other vineyard. My first taste of Nebraska wine was from Mac's Creek.

I even crashed a Christmas party there a couple years ago.

Laughing about our shenanigans at the Christmas party, Katherine, our friend Jenna, and I set out to experience Mac's Creek again. Mac's Creek is located in Lexington, about a thirty minute drive from Kearney. There were already several groups of people there, so we didn't get a seat around the new fire pits. We were able to grab one of the last picnic tables, which had a nice view of the band, and we each got our first taste of wine and some hors d'oeuvres.

 Mac's Creek in Lexington, NE

The Kearney-based two-man band played music from several genres, and almost everyone sang along at some point. A few people stared at our table as we joined the band in singing Sweet Caroline. Formerly Three put on a great show... but while Katherine, Jenna, and I came up with a few theories, we never did figure out what their band's name meant.

 Currently Three.

The harvest celebration had a great turn out. Two new wines were debuted that evening: Pinkys 2010 and Frapple 2010. A third wine, Manzanas Dulces, was supposed to make its debut as well. Unfortunately, the labels were not delivered on time and it hadn't been bottled yet. Max MacFarland, one of the owners of Mac's Creek, came out and poured wine for his guests. The rest of the MacFarland family each did their part to make their guests feel welcome as well.

 Max MacFarland serving up some Buffalo Wallow.

After an evening of great wine, music, and friends, we headed further west so we could visit a few more vineyards the next day.

Favorites: River Valley Red & Buzzard's Roost

Mac's Creek Winery and Vineyard's Website