inflated expectation

Joshua bought us a Groupon to visit the Presidential Culinary Museum in Grover, NC, followed up by a wine tasting at the Baker Buffalo Creek Winery, 20 miles away. Yes, for some reason these two places must have gotten together and offered this Groupon, which makes no logical sense, with the distance in between them. However, it is more understandable once you drive through those 20 miles of rolling green hills and cow patties: these people are practically next-door-neighbors.

I think the Culinary Museum, located in Grover’s Inn of the Patriots, definitely used some poetic license in presenting themselves to the unsuspecting public as a “museum”. Rather, the Inn is a renovated large, old house with somewhat garish decor and corny accents, like a revolutionary uniform and pistol slung over the banister. The “museum” consists of all of four or five 6-foot glass display cases with shelves littered with a handful of purportedly White House plates and myriad Clinton campaign buttons. There are many recipe cards scattered throughout, claiming to be John Quincy Adams’ clam chowder and Zachary Taylor’s pork roast, or what-have-you. These look as though they were probably bought in the White House gift shop in DC.

When Joshua called for information/hours, etc., the man told him that the hour-and-a-half guided tour was much better and worth it, because without the guided tour, he averred, it was really rather depressing. One has to wonder how or why a man would declare his own display “depressing”. Perhaps the guided tour – $7 a person! – would have made things more understandable, but how they could have made those handful of display cases last longer than twenty minutes is beyond me.

From there we traveled on to the winery. It was started by Charles Baker, a chemist who worked making the adhesive for Scotch tape, and his wife some three or four years ago. After doing a few different chemical-based jobs, Charles retired, had a heart attack, got bored, bought a book, and started a winery. His daughter currently lives a bit north of San Francisco at a vineyard there and, after visiting her at some point, Charles said that if they could grow grapes, so could he. Granted, he can definitely grow grapes. His vineyard is a lovely landscape of verdant vines and beautiful, antique structures. The winery hosts weddings throughout the summer, and offers several areas to take a load off and enjoy the view. However, their wines are not anything to write home to mom about.

The Chardonnay was my favorite, and it wasn’t particularly spectacular, although solid. They offer one aged in stainless steel, and another aged in oak barrels. It is interesting to note the differences in flavor. Their muscadine wine is also quite excellent, probably because muscadine are indigenous to the South and we do make notoriously good wine out of those grapes down here. Sweet, but good, if you’re into that (which, unfortunately for Baker, I’m not). Their handful of red varieties, including a Cabernet Sauvignon and some blends (merlot, pinot verdot, chambourcin, cabernet franc, etc.), tasted like burnt tire. It was unfortunate that they had put Cabernet Sauvignon in every red blend, because we think that was the bad grape. The aftertaste was…not something I’d like to come in contact with again.

So. The consensus was that a road trip in North Carolina can be quite pleasant, especially on a day like yesterday, and wineries are almost always delightful places to visit. But beware of the wines. 😉 Or of smalltown rednecks claiming the title of “museum”.

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