Monday, January 3, 2022

Dan Berger: Unseasonal Touring (Or Get Thee to a Winery)

 By any measure, Ezra Pound was a controversial figure, but it was one of his poems that joined forces with the current inclement weather as I hunkered down in my den to suggest you spend this cold period visiting a wine country area.

That poem, sanitized here (this is a family publication, after all), is dedicated to the inconvenience of cold, wet areas.

"Winter is icummen in/ Lhude sing ---damn / Raineth drop and staineth slop and how the wind doth ramm! / Sing: ---damn. Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us, an ague hath my ham. / Freezeth river, turneth liver ..." it goes on.

So, why would I suggest a wine country visit when the conditions are so chillingly challenging? 

Most people visit wineries in summer, but that means a surfeit of tourists. Driving and parking are tricky, or aggravating; tasting rooms are jammed, and the amount of information you can learn is limited.

The sanest time of the year to tour wine country regions is when the tourists have finally fled to the relative safety of rainy or snowy city streets.

Napa Valley, the most iconic U.S. wine region, is so difficult to negotiate in summer that I routinely hear from those who have tried to do it. Mainly they complain about the difficulty of getting to the tasting bar; wall-to-wall people; the difficulty of getting restaurant reservations.

By now, most such annoyances have cleared out. The relative peace includes the possibility that an actual winemaker may be available for a chat. It's a time when winery personnel can take breathers.

Making wine is a fascinating process, but in summer everyone is swamped with work. The start of the new year in the Northern hemisphere is a time of comparative calm.

And not only at the wineries. All regions' ancillary services are more available. It's easier to get a hotel booking, a dinner reservation, a parking space, and a queue-less restroom. 

To plan a trip for pre-spring periods, here are a few tips:

      -- Hotels are safe, but for a more enjoyable and adventurous time, try a bed and breakfast. At breakfast you'll meet other travelers and can share experiences.

      -- Ask tasting room personnel which wines they have that can be found only at the winery, such as "library wines" -- older releases that are still available, usually limited. Some wineries have little gems hidden away that they sell at fair prices. Also, many wineries make special wines just for tasting room visitors.

-- Rather than lug bottles home, inquire about having the winery ship them for you. Most these days will ship your wines home.

-- Always eat a hearty breakfast before going wine tasting in the morning. Consuming alcohol on an empty stomach can be risky. And don't skip lunch.

-- Make use of the spit bucket. Winery personnel won't think you don't like the wine. It helps to avoid a citation.

-- Plan ahead to see if the wineries you're planning to visit have picnic areas for lunches -- on the off chance that the weather clears. That allows you to try one of your purchased wines with local foods from a deli.

-- Bring a notebook and take note of wines you tasted. Many will be available near where you live and frequently at a discount.

To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



Anonymous said...

You want to profane Ezra Pound for your BS wine column, I'll see yr profanity and raise you:

I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman -
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has had a pig-headed father;
I am old enough now to make friends.
It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root -
Let there be commerce between us.

Anonymous said...

We've done the wine tours in Napa and Sonoma. Sonoma was the best, IMHO. But there's a problem with wineries shipping alcohol to Mississippi. I think it is still illegal here so we just buy a case or two of wine and overnight ship it to our home.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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