Wednesday, November 17, 2010


A reader asked me the other day if I had any good recommendations for champagne.  I can't believe I've gone this long without giving a shout-out to my (our) favorite sparkling wine, Schramsberg

And the fact that it is called Schramsberg and was started by a man named Jacob Schram in the mid-1800s has no influence on it being our favorite. 

Okay, yeah it does. 

A little.

Obviously, the name was what turned us on to it in the first place, but it really is an excellent wine.  While we have no known connection to Jacob Schram, it is quite possible there is some family lineage to him since he immigrated here from Germany close to the same time period as Aaron's ancestors.  Maybe winemaking really is in Aaron's blood!

Not only do we feel like Schramsberg is kind of our own special wine label, it is a very highly regarded sparkling wine.  Upon visiting this vineyard in Napa, we learned this wine has been served alongside Dom Perignon at functions at the White House.  On that note, it might be worth noting the difference between champagne and sparkling wine, to those who may be wondering or never knew there was a difference.  It is a common misconception that champagne is a style of wine used to describe sparkling wine. Champagne is actually a region in France and sparkling wines made in that region are referred to as "champagne," where as sparkling wines made anywhere else are just called...sparkling wine.  Thus, Dom Perignon is a champagne because it is made in the Champagne region and Schramsberg is a sparkling wine as it is made in Napa Valley, CA. 

Nevertheless, Schramsberg is not your cheap New Year's Eve libation.  Prices range from just under $20-$30 on the low end to over $100 for some of their Reserve wines.  They are relatively easy to find at a wine and spirits store and I even saw them at Trader Joe's!  Aaron has known about Schramsberg for years and I was introduced to it when we took our trip to Napa three years ago (when we were still just dating) and we scheduled a tour of the winery. 

Now, granted we were traveling with another couple, I couldn't help but think that Schramsberg Winery in beautiful wine country would be an ideal place for Aaron to propose.    What more appropriate location than at Schramsberg could there be for him to ask me to become Mrs. Schram?

Alas, the proposal didn't come until four months after that trip...and it did include Schramsberg.  I'll get to that in a moment.

I remember taking this picture of Aaron and our friend Mark by the Schramsberg sign in Napa and thinking that I should be the one in this picture with Aaron, instead of his buddy.  In my mind, this could have been his opportunity to ask me to take a picture by the Schramsberg sign and say something like, "Hey, maybe this can be our Christmas card...or our engagement announcement!  Ashley, will you marry me?" 

Or something like that...

Clearly we were not on the same wavelength and Aaron was not thinking how "cute" it would be for us to have a picture together by the Schramsberg sign.  And I didn't want to appear too presumptuous by asking to be in the picture with him.  Instead, Mark jumped in the photo with him and the two of them posed together.
But, whatever. I'm sure Aaron and Mark will cherish this picture of them together forever.

We took the tour of the winery, which was in a cave!  They had bottles among bottles and wine tanks stored under ground providing optimal storage temperatures and conditions for storing wine.  At the end of the cave was a room lit with candles for our wine tasting.  It was a really intimate setting.  Our tour guide gave us about 7-8 of their sparkling wines to try, ranging from a rose to dry to sweet.  They ALL were delightful and you can imagine we walked out of that cave feeling pretty good after 7-8 healthy "tastings" of sparkling wine. 

I remember our tour guide saying how he would often bring a bottle of Schramsberg to a restaurant for a nice dinner with his wife and just pay the corking fee.  Although Aaron and I never talked about it, I think he  noted that from the tour as well. 

Because when he finally did propose, he managed to drive us to one of my favorite nice restaurants with a ring in his pocket and a bottle of Schramsberg in the back seat to uncork at the restaurant, all to my complete oblivion. This was especially impressive considering my "engagement ring" radar was on. 

Could this be the night?

It doesn't look like there's a ring in his pocket...

He's not acting weird.

If he were about to propose, he would be nervous or anxious.  He's acting too normal...

So you can imagine my surprise when the waitress came to our table after we were already seated and presented us with a bottle of Schramsberg.  We both nodded enthusiastically as if to say, Yes! We'll take a bottle.

"Oh, my gosh!  They have Schramsberg!" I said to Aaron.  "Wait...did you order that?  How did she know to bring THAT of all wines to our table?"

Little did I know when he dropped me off at the front door and I went straight to the bathroom, that he entrusted the valet with the bottle of wine and my engagement ring and told him to make sure they got safely to our waitress.  It all worked perfectly for his plan! 

My suspicions weren't kept in suspense too long as the waitress was only gone for a few moments before coming back to our table with two glasses of bubbly and a beautiful ring sitting in the bottom of one glass.  So my ring was christened with Schramsberg before it was even put on my finger.  And before I knew it, Aaron was down on one knee. 

Nicely done, Aaron.  Nicely done.

Now on special occasions, it seems only appropriate to pop open a bottle, like we did on our honeymoon, when we ordered up a bottle on ice at our hotel to toast to being Mr. and Mrs. Schram.

All this sparkling wine talk is making my mouth water!  I might just have to pop this bubbly when we have our next reason to celebrate--the arrival of our newest little Schram!  

That will taste, oh, so good!