Monday, November 17, 2008


Today we started with a tour of the Jelly Belly factory - the only jelly bean worth eating. We weren't allowed to take any pictures inside the plant but I did get a shot of jolly Jelly Belly Santa out front. We learned a lot of various, useless things. For example, I've always wondered how they make the bean shape. Answer: They fill trays with corn starch and push this shape-press thing down into it. Then they fill the resulting 200 or so jelly-bean shaped depressions with slurry which cures over a couple days. Out come the jelly beans guts. And how do they make the coating not have a settling spot on the bottom where it sits as it's coated. Answer: They tumble it in a huge vat that looks like a personal sized cement mixer. 250 lbs of jelly beans get coated at one time. They knock the edges off each other as they tumble. It takes 10-21 days to make a Jelly Belly jelly bean from start to finish. It was such an interesting tour that Devin and I talked about going on it again tomorrow but that would cut into time for other things. AND that would give me the opportunity to buy ANOTHER SEVEN POUNDS of candy.

So we headed out for wine country. Our first stop was the Gundlach Bundschu winery just outside of Sonoma. I chose this relatively at random because there were literally hundreds of possibilities. Okay, the truth is, I was captivated by the name. I was an exchange student in
Germany for a year after high school and Gundlach Bundschu sounds really cool when you say it out loud. Devin proceeded to call it Gundschu Bundla, Bundlach Gunda, and, finally, "that Gunda Bunda one". Kinda ruined the magic :) . Anyway, the lady doing our tasting was very nice and helpful, especially when she found out we were wine-tasting virgins.

We scooted out of there after a half-hour or so to make it for a tour about 35 minutes north at the Benziger winery. This tour was recommended by our guide book as one of the more informative ones. We rode in a tram through the fields and the guide explained all the things that go into making a wine the way it ends up. For example, how the amount of sun and nutrients in the soil affect the taste of the final wine. We also got to go through the cave (man-made) where they store the wine in barrels. There were dozens of these tunnels leading off to the sides filled with stacks of barrels. I've never done any other winery tours but I can highly recommend this one, especially for beginners. They were friendly and informative, giving us a much better idea of all that goes into making a good wine. After the tour, we went in for the tasting. We really liked several of the wines here and, as we were deciding which ones to purchase, Devin suggested we join the wine club. Devin is a beer drinker, not at all a wine drinker, so I jumped at the chance. Now we will be getting regular shipments of a few bottles of wine at a time to try out at home. Yummm!

Tomorrow - San Francisco!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Im jealous! I want to see the Jelly belly factory - every christmas and birthdays the only thing I ask for ( well that I know I have a hope of getting!) is a box of Jelly bellys!