Back now to the Bridlewood Estate Winery (actually in Santa Ynez, 30 miles from Santa Barbara), where Phil and the racers are showered and changed after their bike ride, which totally took place just now on the very same day. They all meet on a wide green lawn for Phil's welcome to the racers. He makes the usual speech, including the bit about the Express Pass, which can still be used to skip any challenge, but now only up to the end of the eighth leg. I think that eighth-leg bit is new after Ernie and Cindy held onto theirs so long last season. "The fact is I will be eliminating most of you," Phil warns, prompting a mock-pout from Rachel. "But if you make it to the final leg and you cross the Finish Line first, you will win The Amazing Race, and one million dollars." Big round of applause from the racers, and a loud yell from Bopper. You'll be noticing that about Bopper.
Phil points up the hill behind them, where a sprawling vineyard has an armada of a hundred red-and-yellow balloons tethered overhead. They'll have to run over, start pulling them down, and looking into the baskets, only eleven of which contain a clue. After finding one, they'll hop into one of the product-placement-mobiles waiting nearby and drive it to LAX, which I know from experience is a good two hours more from Santa Barbara. Phil raises a hand to give the signal, and everyone drops to the standard half-crouch facing him. Which is weird because the place they have to run to is behind them. Sure, there's also a small pond between them and the vineyard that they'll have to run around anyway, but it still looks odd enough that I don't get the usual chills from Phil's, "The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe." No eyebrow pop, either. "Go!" The racers scatter like the old Monty Python sketch about the hundred-meter dash for people with no sense of direction, but everyone soon finds their way up the hill and into the vineyard, where they start pulling down empty baskets. Clowns Dave and Cherie are the last to reach the plateau, so clearly karma is a bitch. An ungrateful one. Twins Elliot and Andrew are the first to find a clue, closely followed by Vanessa and Ralph, whom the subtitles describe as "Dating Divorcees," and Joey "Fitness" and Danny, who are shown as "Trainer & Club Promoter." So there's the first non-surprise from them.