This site evolved during a mission to try all the unoaked Chardonnays because it is our favorite variety of wine. Besides, everyone needs a hobby.
A basic list of what we had tried soon included photos and comments about not just what we thought of the wines, but also what the wines made us consider or what we were doing at the time. It was a kitchen list; a way to avoid re-purchasing something we didn't like. It was personal.
Then one night while searching the internet for news about what we should be sampling since we had already run through every unoaked Chardonnay in the local shops, we discovered that no one owned this web address. So we poured another glass of chilled unoaked, laughed ourselves silly, and bought this URL for a place to put our notes.
We aren't connoisseurs. We don't swoosh or spit or pair wine with this meal or that. We simply drink the style of wine we like the most, the way most people drink wine; we taste it against ... itself. And we just want to know what tastes good.
So although Unoaked Chardonnay started as a silly list of our sips and samplings, it's grown into something more.
The site itself has had several design incarnations to accommodate the growing list, and to make both inputting and viewing less cumbersome. We have included ads to help pay for sharing the mission. It is finally and truly mobile-friendly on the majority of smart phones and tablets.
Today it's a fully part-time job to find and procure the wines, drink the wines (awww, poor us), photograph, write about and post, check for typos, stew about the grammar, plus select appropriate advertising products.
We did have a food page, then we didn't have a food page. But it's back because wine and food are best friends, and it just adds to the fun. Still, we don't pair them up because there is no way to compare the infinite possibilities, to our way of thinking.
At this point, who has tried more unoaked Chardonnays than Tom and I? Probably no one. Does that make us experts? Jeesh. Maybe. But still and probably always, we're only experts about what we like and what we don't. It's still personal. It's that simple
We are not affiliated with the wine or spirits industries (Tom is a carpenter, I'm retired from the ad biz), nor does anyone in our family work for any production or distribution arm of the wine and/or spirits industry, unless you count restaurant work. When we tell you on this site that we like something, it's because we like it.
You may not agree with us, but please know that we are sincere about the opinions we share.
What follows is the long story about how we found ourselves here, and what inspired our passion. Enjoy!
99,000 Bottles Of Beer
On The Wall...
There we were, an ordinary couple who loved our family, friends, pets and home; down-to- earth and upwardly mobile folks who enjoyed sitting on the porch of a pleasant evening, appreciating our time together, appreciating the lives we'd built and sharing the calming ritual of discussing our day over a social beverage.
And by "social beverage" I mean beer. We were beer drinkers.
Monday Night Football. Beer.
Chopping onions for the meatloaf. Beer.
Got a raise? Beer.
Bad news in that branch of the family. Beer.
Boating? Beach? Barbecue? Beer. Beer. Beer.
There wasn't a moment that we couldn't find a way to weasel beer into the occasion. The only restriction was that we couldn't crack a sixer until after five. Except when we could.
Wine? It's Nothing Like Beer
Wine hadn't evolved as our social beverage of choice because it was red, which gives me a migraine, or white, in a creamy, velvety, sickening way, or it lifted from a punch bowl with rafts of fruit which created a recipe for a hangover like no other recipe I knew.
So that embodied everything I knew about wine -- it was red or white or fruity. And also that there was some vague battle between France and California over who made the best wine. Who cared? Not me.
Tom enjoyed an occasional glass of wine, or champagne when there was a celebration. But I did the shopping, so when it came to social beveraging, we were beer enthusiasts, loyal to the beverage of our youth! Old reliable. Often refreshing, if a little bloating. Affordable. And available! From fine restaurants to filthy convenience stores, beer was at the ready.
Then one day a label piqued my interest.
The shopkeepers at my favorite market had expanded their wine department and for some reason that rearrangement of the racks I had always ignored occasioned my eyes to land on the one collection that stood apart. I moved closer to see if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing.
This label was different. It was -- there is only one word -- whimsical. An amusement on a wine bottle. Funny. They made a funny in the serious, if pretentious, world of wine.
To a beer drinker, this was an awakening: wine could be fun! The in-store wine connoisseur stepped over to make a sale. He rambled on about bouquets and noses and hints of this herb and that flower, and all I knew was that for a few dollars I could change everything at the dinner table. The taste? The blend? The special quality of blah blah blah...? The salesman was interrupting a startling moment of clarity.
"No, Dude. It's all about the label!"
"Of course, this label represents blah blah...""No. I mean the label! There is a toad on this label, a toad in a vest enjoying a glass of wine. Now that's comedy."
The salesman refused to appreciate my enthusiasm for the comedic arts, not when he was so serious about discussing the levels of piquancy. He didn’t get the joke. But I did.
That was several years ago. And I probably haven't had a sixer's worth of beer since. With the first pour from that first bottle I committed whole heart to the subtle, yet assertive flavors of this amusing wine, the refreshing embrace of cool nights in northern California, the morning sunshine beaming along the vines.
Oh, the irony!
The brand was Toad Hollow. And it turned out that my husband and I both enjoyed this Chardonnay because of the humor, true, but mostly because of the simplicity of unoaked fermentation, which meant that production occurred in steel vats instead of oak barrels. So New World. So crisp. That infusive wood component banned from overwhelming the delicacy of the grape.
Dude. We liked it.
We quickly learned that Toad was not always available, so we found another “favorite” and then that one, too, would float in and out of the shops. We quickly learned that wine, which had turned us from swillers to sippers, would create complications in our lives not experienced as beer guzzlers because brand-by-brand, beer is reliably same -- no surprises, and no problems short of the temperature control in our refrigerator.
We understood why people "collected" wine. We began feeling a kinship to those people who lovingly caressed their favorite bottles. Do you know why they do that? Because, once that production vintage disappears, it’s forever gone. How wildly confounding!
The availability issues brought us face-to-face with the real World Of Wine: the enjoyment of wine is actually about the enjoyment of treasure hunting.
For all there is to know about the wide world of wine and the many varieties therein, we simply love the unoaked Chardonnays,
find them interesting and multi-layered and therefore worth the trouble generated.
So the game is on thanks to those vintners from around the world -- their soil and sun, their grapes and rain and timing and tastes and steel vats. Their interest in the process. Our interest in the availability. Save an oak tree, increase jobs in steel production. We're in for the long term.
This is a treasure hunt for favorite social beverages and the satisfaction of finding something great to share with others.
And as we share this passion with you, let us also share that Toad Hollow Chardonnay will always be our real favorite, fondly remembered, even still often presented at our table with love. Because, of course, it not only goes with everything, but we could never forget our first.
Tom and Meg Gerrish
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