Pocketed away in the least likely of places, along a winding, sloping north Georgia mountain roadway, is the town of Tiger, Georgia.  Tiger is the sort of place where Sunday afternoon drivers are welcome any day of the week and no one seems to mind–or notice–the snail’s pace.  With a population of less than 400 in a county that boasts 16,000 residents, Tiger is not the town you’d expect to find buried treasure.

Then, again, because it is not expected, perhaps it’s the perfect setting.

Over the long Labor Day weekend, my family had opportunity to enjoy quantity time with my sister’s family as they hosted us at their lake shack (and by "lake shack", I mean glorified, indoor camping…story to follow eventually:) ). 

Sixteen months older than me, Lora and I never have enough time together; since the birth of our children, visits don’t materialize without road-to-hell-avoiding intention and cat juggling our calendars.  Demands of home and work and family and L.I.F.E. make spending time with each other a luxury, and the older I get the more I realize my need for it.  With our parents gone now and no physical place to return, my childhood "home" lives only in memory and sibling relationship.  Our husbands understand this, so they didn’t blink an eye when we announced we were headed "out"…alone.

Out…f r e e d o m…away from taking care of others.  Do I dare admit I left with a maniacal gleam in my eye?  Sure, our children are old enough to take care of themselves, husband and child can find their way around the kitchen, but when we’re there, I guess default mode is wife and mom.  There’s something wonderfully liberating about escaping with my sister…just to be sisters…with no responsibilities beyond enjoying the company of shared blood…common DNA…a history no one else can possibly understand from our having lived it side-by-side. 

Time together trims years off our ages; we see the girls we were when we shared a room and a double bed and spooned to stay warm in the winter and were each other’s biggest cheerleader and understood much without a word spoken.  I don’t think anyone has ever thought I was funnier or smarter than my sister, her own family questions whether or not it’s true we used to sit together in our downstairs bathroom (because it was the warmest room in the house), me entertaining her for hours (not really that long) by finding ways to make her laugh.  In her eyes I was a perfect Lily Tomlin mimic (both the "gum-chewing, wisecracking, snorting telephone operator Ernestine and the bratty five-year-old Edith Anne"), and I vaguely remember a mean imitation of Jimmy Carter.  Then, again, maybe that was just a nightmare dream after eating an order of Changs spicy chicken gone wrong. 

On this particular Saturday, I thought we were headed out to explore kitschy antique shops and art galleries with a scrumptious lunch sandwiched in between.  Instead we made it to just one shop and one gallery.  But then we discovered a treasure in Tiger.

Tiger Mountain Vineyard
.  Offering daily free wine tastings for each of their nine vintages, Tiger Mountain Vineyard is liquid diamond in a sea of rolling countryside rough.  Generous "tastes" equal about three glasses, translating to an enthusiastic Tony-ish g-g-g-g-reat time!

ITiger_vineyard_award_winning_wine_2t’s no secret that in addition to being an OPI Color Namer, another dream job of mine is to be a sommelier.   1)  I just like to say the word, and 2) it’d be cool to be trained to understand the subtleties and complexities and diversity among different wines.  I wonder if it would taste better if I understood more; the way a trained musician can hear every note while I just hear a song, or an artist wrangles color to produce stunning image, or even the way a mother hears the cry of her own in the midst of a crowded room.

Pretty much everything I knew about wine tasting up to this point involved what Hollywood had taught me–first, as a child, when watching one of my favorite movies, Gigi (instructed by Gigi’s aunt, "On your
first sip, hold it on the roof of your mouth for a moment and breathe
through your nose. Then you will feel the flavor. … A bad year will be
sharp. A good year, which this is of course, will waft."
)(which incidentally, would NEVER make it to the screen today!); then, more recently, when I was thoroughly disturbed by Sideways (no matter what the hype!).  Even with my very limited knowledge the ability to distinguish red wine from white, we swirled and sniffed and sipped and swallowed every wine in their celler–two whites, seven redHappy_wine_tasterss.  I’m not sure by the end of our tasting I was very credible about my impressions, but each sip was smooth and easy and left me wanting more.   Even though I live three hours away, I was ready to become a "Tigerwine Taster".  All it involved was purchasing a case (12 bottles) now with the promise to buy another case over the next year; when they dangled a 20% case discount carrot, as a bargain shopper, I got a little warm and tingly, and I’m pretty sure I felt a twitchy credit card ready for action.  All
it took was a call to Tad to bring me back to earth; as soon as he realized I had just finished our wine tasting, from experience, he knew all the right words to talk me off the ledge…;).Robin_and_john_ezzard

Before we left, John Ezzard, one of the vineyard owners, wandered in, so of course I grabbed him for a shot.  Wine drinkers and wine makers are a friendly lot and the latter enjoys educating the former about the process (especially when asked a thousand questions).  Between Doc Ezzard and our friendly pseudo-sommelier, Rhonda, we learned maybe not everything but a whole lot about Tiger Mountain Vineyard. 

To sober up After our tasting, we toured the vineyard itself and it felt just like we had walked onto the set of the final scene in French Kiss.  S i g h…this WAS a great sister-escape! 

To top it off, when I suppose I was occupied with Mr. Ezzard, my sister bought a surprise surcie for me to commemorate our day (which it turns out, had only just begun…another story for another day…).  Any ideas what it could be?

For the record, Steve DID guess correctly (it was bound to be him, he had the most guesses, followed closely by Karmyn), but I unpublished it with the intention of leaving a trail of clues to SPOON FEED it to the rest of y’all!  If you haven’t read the "contest" comment thread, it’s pretty doggone entertaining…and imaginiatve…or scary…or a little of all three :).

Just a few more pictures….




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