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Swirl n' Spit
Tasting Room of the Week

Bacchus and Venus Tasting Room

By Heather Irwin

Lowdown: After a long week of driving around Italy, knowing neither the language nor how to interpret a map, we were desperate for a little bit of home. We found an "American" bar, an oddly romanticized mix of Hollywood, Levis and New York that felt as foreign to us as, well, Italy.

That's sort of the same weird feeling I get when I visit wineries and tasting rooms that romanticize wine country as some sort of Tuscan paradise where wine flows through sunlit vineyards, all the women wear sheer sundresses and all the men are either burly farmworkers or tuxedoed waiters. Wine country is great and all, but huh?

The vibe: Located on the main tourist strip of Sausalito, Bacchus and Venus Tasting Room can hardly be blamed for trying. It's a trendy little tasting room/art gallery that aims to bring wine country to tourists (and others) who don't have time to make the exhausting trip north. Bacchus features wines from a pretty stellar collection of wineries, including Cakebread, Domaine Carneros, Etude, Caymus, Silver Oak and Rosenblum Cellars--these are some of the creamiest of the cream of the crop wineries.

Smartly outfitted with an undulating wood bar, big windows and a bay view to kill for, the wine shop offers various prearranged flights that currently range from the Spring Sampler ($9 for four tastes)--a sort of starter flight of several reds and whites--to more upscale reserve tastings ($25 for four), a Purely Red slate ($14 for four) and a slate of dessert wines ($25 for four). Very lovely.

The staff are very friendly and helpful, aiming to inform and educate tasters who are often more curious than savvy. It's a nifty idea, bringing tasting rooms south to harried tourists, at least exposing folks to some very lovely pours while looking at the pervasive art shops. As I scraped mud off my shoes, I had to wonder if drinking some of the most premium wines in wine country is necessarily a good primer for what the region is really about. Then again, I'm just a local.

Spot: Bacchus and Venus Tasting Room and Art Gallery, 769 Bridgeway, Sausalito. 415.331.2001.

Huh?: Is Sauvignon Blanc disappearing? Recently I've started hearing rumors that Sauvignon Blanc in California is a dying trend. A few local wineries have plans to or have already stopped production on the their bottling of this wonderful varietal. Sad news, indeed. Because when Sauvignon Blanc is good, it is so very, very good. Perhaps the Froot Loops-like quality of some vintages (so tropically fruity, it hurts your teeth!) may be contributing to its mixed reviews.

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From the May 11-17, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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