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White Oak Zinfandel

At Home with White Oak Zinfandel

We live in a modest house on White Oak Court.  The journey to here for Carol and me has been a long one and I won’t tell that tale just now.  But I want you to know that of all the places we’ve visited and of all the homes we’ve seen, I’m living precisely where I want to live in the house in which I’d like to see the end of my days – no hurry on that, by the way.

Our Home on White Oak CourtWhen Carol and I moved home to Peoria, Illinois from the UK in late 2003, we looked for a house with characteristics similar to our home on South Forest Trail, the place we lived in just prior to our move abroad.  But after three months of looking and with Caterpillar’s generosity for putting us up and storing our stuff just about at an end, we “settled” for our house on Eastvue Court.  And although it had very few of the things we were looking for, we became quite comfortable there and enjoyed the area and neighborhood in the end.

We knew, though, that we wouldn’t be living in that house the rest of our lives and after about a year, we started to look at real estate ads and contacted a realtor to help us find that “dream house.”   And after nearly three years of searching, sometimes quite intensely, Carol and I finally decided that maybe we would need to build that house.  So I designed something on Excel and we took it to a local contractor who put it in his software, made it look like an actual house and completely gutted my design because of the price cap we had given him.  But at that point, we were ready to compromise if the location was right -- a wooded subdivision with a private deck off the back, overlooking a ravine.  So with that design in hand, we asked our realtor to keep an eye out for a suitable lot somewhere in the Peoria area.

Only a few weeks went by when Carol received an interesting house posting via her e-mail one Saturday morning.  While our realtor was looking for a lot to build upon,  we were still getting automatic listings of any new houses that came on the market in our price range.  And as it turned out, there was a listing that morning for a very interesting sounding place in the Germantown Hills area.  We were going to be passing right by the subdivision that afternoon as we returned from visiting my parents in Roanoke so we decided to swing by and have a look.  It piqued our interest, to say the least.

We called our realtor that early afternoon and we were actually able to arrange a viewing for later in the day.  As we walked through, it occurred to me that in 1981, someone had built the house I originally designed on Excel some weeks earlier.  It had all the elements we wanted and it sat in a perfect location.  I knew it the instant we walked in that Saturday that this was the house we’d been searching for.  I was ready to make an offer that afternoon but Carol, keeping her head about her, suggested we sleep on it and maybe take another walk-through the next day.  So that’s what we did, arranging another viewing at 2:00pm on Sunday.  Our realtor called us Saturday evening to confirm that and to tell us not to come early because there was another potential buyer looking at the house at 1:00pm.

So we arrived just before 2:00pm and parked at the end of the cul de sac to wait for our realtor to arrive and for the folks looking at the place to leave.  As we were sitting there, Carol began to panic.  She said, “What if they make an offer? What if we don’t have a chance to make a bid? What are these people doing in our house!?!?"

Well, we were able to make an offer that Sunday evening and after only a little negotiation, an accord was reached on Monday and we began to plan for our move to our dream house on White Oak Court in Far Hills.  And because wine is such an important part of our lives, it should come as no surprise that we found White Oak Vineyard wines to use in the celebrations of the various steps in the process -- the closing, the actual move, our first dinner in the new place, etc.  In this way then, we felt a true kinship to this winery, even though it developed from a simple coincidence.

So while on our California wine country adventure in April 2010, a visit to White Oak seemed like a must-do and I think the time we spent with Jennifer Payne (pictured here) in the tasting room serves as one of our favorite memories of our time out there.  We did a complete flight through the White Oak offerings including their Alexander Valley Zinfandel, a varietal that isn’t available in retail outlets and therefore, the only White Oak wine we hadn’t tasted.  It was wonderful, one of the best zins I’d ever tasted.Dan crafted this trivit from wine corks and a coaster.

While it would be fair to say that we enjoyed all the wineries we were able to visit in Napa, Sonoma and the other wine-producing areas in Northern California, there are a couple that really stand out.  White Oak is certainly one of those and though we had a coincidental connection before we visited the winery, we feel a real bond now having spent some time with the folks out there.  I know we’ll have White Oak wines for many years to come.  If you’re at the wine shop and spot one of their wines, consider this a hearty endorsement and give one a try.You can check out all the White Oak varietals and order their wine at www.whiteoakwinery.com.

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