Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Month of Traveling . . .

Ok, so this month is almost over and I feel like I haven't been home much, not that I am complaining. It's been a fantastic month and I have LOVED every minute of it (even all the laundry and waiting at the airports!).

We started the month by hosting our annual 4th of July party (photos "borrowed" from my mom's blog since I did not take any because I was busy eating and drinking hosting!).

This is a large bucket my sister made for me.
I absolutely love it (thanks again Jen!)!
We used it to hold a bunch of ice and our wine bottles.
The four oldest girls (2 are mine, two my sisters) jumping into the pool.
This is one of my favorite photos. I love that their
legs are all bent the same and they got so high.
Only took about 10 tries to get it though!
I adore not having to drive anywhere, we just watch the fireworks
from our pool - easy peasy!
The girls having fun with sparklers.
Isn't this cool?
The next day, my sister took my girls, my parents took the dog, and Rich and I had one day to clean up and get organized before we hopped on a plane to Sacramento. My hubby had to go there for work, so my ears perked up and I found my USAir $99 voucher and tagged along, not because of Sacramento (no offense capital city) but because Napa Valley is only about 45-60 minutes away!

We headed straight to one of the vineyards we were dying to try.
We had booked a tour but because Hertz (maybe they should steal
Avis's motto and "Try Harder" themselves!!), kept us in line for a full hour,
we missed our tour.
Luckily, it wasn't a big deal missing the tour at Stag's Leap. We ended up meeting one of the main sommeliers and he spent over 30 minutes with us going over our flights of wine. We even got to sample a 2006 S.L.V. Block 4 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that is only available to it's Wine Club members - talk about a nice wine. You can really tell the difference between it and the $2 Buck Chuck at Trader Joe's!

Marcus at Hopper Creek. He personalized a bottle for us!
Hopper Creek is one of my favorite vineyards. They aren't pretentious, just a whole lot of fun! I have now been there twice and had a great time both of them. During the tasting, you get invited into the back where you sit looking at vineyards and sampling great wine at reasonable prices. Plus, the company of Dan, Marcus and Chili Dog are totally worth the trip!!

Not enough hands to hold all our bottles!
Hanging out at Chateau Montelena.
The setting here is beautiful. It's almost castle-like. The young man in charge of our wine flight however, was a bit pretentious and snotty (apparently dating the owner's daughter) but I quieted him down when he said there never, ever, never were any discounts at the Chateau for the tasting and I proceeded to pull one up on my iPhone on my app. Then I went on to share it with the couple next to me who downloaded it before their bill came! They do have nice wines though and since we bought a couple bottles, no tasting fees for either of us!

My hubby and I watched Bottle Shock before heading to Napa.
We highly recommend it. 
We had many great meals at some well-known restaurants starting with Press (fantastic steaks!).

Check out Suze Orman in the far right position in the back of the photo!
FYI - the lady she was with picked up the check!!
We also ate at Gott's Roadside Diner (fab burgers, garlic fries and blueberry milkshakes) and a really great pizza place across from Merryvale Winery (named has escaped me at the moment.).

Here's the cheese board I got at Merryvale.
It's made out of an old wine barrel lid.
I love that it has the original stamp from the cask makers.
This is the room at Merryvale I plan to have a party in someday!!
They were setting up for a wedding and the room literally took my breath away!
Isn't it stunning??

We also bought 2 cases of wine (which just arrived safely) and a map of Napa Valley that I need to get framed. The other vineyards we tasted at were Bell Vineyard (wines were ok but we didn't buy any, our tour guide was from Chicago but talked like a valley girl and it was so distracting and kept making us laugh!!); V. Sattui (very commercial but fun, we loved their Gamay Rouge and if I wasn't so stuffed from Gott's, their huge deli and cheese section would have done me in; the server was also serving several other groups so not much information about the wines but still a fun atmosphere), and I think that's it! We did buy a couple bottles of Two-buck Chuck's at Trader Joe's to compare (first one I opened was slightly acidic so not real sure about those.

All-in-all, it was a great trip and I can't go wait to go back to celebrate my sister's 40th birthday - with or without her!

Off to upload my Virgin Island photos but that is for another post!

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