The best treasures in life don’t cost much

Pietra Santa Winery. Photo by Kat Teraji

My husband Steve and I were shocked by this week’s episode

Rich Bride, Poor Bride

, which featured a supposedly budget-conscious couple’s wedding.
The total bill? $69,314!
My husband Steve and I were shocked by this week’s episode of “Rich Bride, Poor Bride”, which featured a supposedly budget-conscious couple’s wedding. The total bill? $69,314!

When Steve and I got married, neither of us had much money for a wedding. However, my future mother-in-law came up with a list of 100 of her family’s closest relatives she insisted would be insulted if not invited to our wedding. I had four relatives.

So I decided to invite 96 friends to balance the list.

Fortunately, our friends and family pitched in to give us gifts that made our wedding more economical, such as decorating the reception hall. Friends played guitar and flute, and others made my bouquet. My mother bought my dream cake, which had a working lavender fountain in the middle.

It was on our honeymoon while opening gift cards that I had a startling realization. I had counted beyond the $1,500 we had spent on our wedding.

“If only I had known,” I lamented to my husband at breakfast that morning. “I would have bought a more expensive dress!”

On Jan. 12, we celebrated our 19th anniversary. Looking back on our wedding, we wouldn’t have changed a thing. And having our friends there to give of their own talents made our wedding more meaningful than any amount of money we could have spent.

Now it seems that life and the current economy have dictated the need to cut corners once again. So rather than go on a trip, we decided to make our anniversary a “staycation.”

We heard about a wine trail just south of Hollister, and although we have lived in Gilroy almost 11 years, we had never explored the community adjoining the southern edge of Hollister. We decided to hit Highway 25.

As we drove through the gently rolling hills and lush green countryside five miles south of Hollister, we discovered the “Cienega Valley Loop,” made up of six San Benito County wineries: Donati Estate, Enz, Calera, Pietra Santa, Flint Wine Cellars and DeRose Vineyards.

Outside DeRose Vineyards, we spotted a man walking two dogs. When we asked him about the winery, he said it wasn’t open weekdays, but he invited us in for a tasting anyway. It was winemaker Alphonse DeRose, and after unlocking the wine cellar, he said winemaking there dates back to 1854, making it what wine historian Charles Sullivan considers to be the oldest existing winery in California.

DeRose Vineyards is a Natural Landmark due to its being built right on top of the San Andreas Fault, which dissects its main building. DeRose said the main wine cellar is made up of one room of nearly four acres. He pointed to the sign over the bar that reads, “The world’s largest covered wine cellar,” Guinness Book of World Records.

He served us a selection of wines (for free). We loved the 2002 Port the best – its black cherry flavors were complemented by walnut and a hint of chocolate. It was fruity, with just the right amount of satisfying sweetness.

Another winery we enjoyed was just down the road – Pietra Santa Winery. Located in a setting of palm trees and vineyards, this winery is named for the fertile surrounding soil made from limestone and granite – Pietra Santa means “sacred stone.”

While the tasting room charged for samples, they gave us a bottle of organic artisanal olive oil. Lemon- and rosemary infused extra virgin olive oils are their specialties.

We came off of the wine trail loop at a landmark – established in 1873 – known as The Inn at Tres Pinos, where we stopped for a meal of filet mignon, chocolate mousse and crème brulle. With all the money we saved by discovering the treasures right here in our own backyard, we have a head start on saving for our 20th anniversary next year.

One 1991 wedding: $1500. One anniversary close to home: $100. Nineteen years together: priceless!

DeRose Winery

9970 Cienega Road

Hollister, CA

Phone: (831) 636-9143

Wine Tasting: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Santa Pietra Winery

10034 Cienega Road

Hollister, CA

(831) 636-1991, ext. 202

Leave your comments