A Taste of Napa

I was always a bit hesitant to visit Napa. I thought it was too fancy, too expensive and not my style. Well to clear it up, its not any of those things. Yes it has it’s touch of class but we found it affordable, fun and gorgeous. We decided to save money by staying at a Hampton Inn and Suites located in Napa versus staying on a property. It is great experience to stay on a vineyard. We have experienced that in Temecula, but honestly you pass out from being wine wasted so you can’t even enjoy the views. 

Our first day we drove ourselves to a few wineries. I was shocked how far away some of them are. The Napa/Sonoma Valley is crazy huge. We hired Ryan from Napa Driver Tours for our second day of tasting. He was very helpful on making our reservations and telling us where to go. He suggested we do the “bigger” wineries and the next time we visit he will take us to the secret spots. What I love about their concept is they drive your rental car, so naturally we rented a convertible. It made the drive through wine country even more breath taking. Below is my breakdown of the wineries we visited. 

Francis Coppola

When you arrive on property you see their sign, a beautiful drive in and a magnificent stairwell inviting you to your adventure. We went upstairs to their First Flight Experience ($25/pp). This tasting showcases some of their specialty wines. We had 4 tastings. This was the first Chardonnay that I enjoyed ever, the rest were reds.  Our favorite was the Archimedes. Our server was very informative. We learned a lot about the Coppola history, how some of the bottle labels got their labels and his favorite movies. The building has a restaurant and fun artifacts from his movies. We then went downstairs for their Sonoma Inclusive tasting ($18/pp) were we tried 4 more delicious wines. Our hostess was so sweet. I have had a few Coppola wines that I have purchase in local liquor stores but we signed up for their wine club to get exclusive bottles only sold at the winery.  Now as a wine club member we get great discounts, wine shipped to us 4 times a year and member exclusive wines. 


Sterling Vineyard

One of my favorites! You can make reservations for your tasting on line day of. We purchase the Silver Experience ($49/pp). The whole tour was so fun. You take an aerial tram up to their property. Our first tasting was a Chardonnay, another one I actually liked, and we were directed upstairs to a gorgeous room. We were greeted by Charlie who served us our tastings. We had 3 more wines paired with charcuterie plate. We had another delicious Chardonnay paired with espresso dusted cheese and dried filet mignon. It was followed by a red blend and a Cabernet paired with manchego cheese, dried fruit and a little pepper. Charlie was great in explaining more in depth about tannins. She also let us try their 2011 Yountville Cab, which we purchased of course. After our pairing, we went along the rest of the self guided tour of the property that had 2 more red tastings and their Malvasia Bianca along the way. The end of the tour had a gorgeous patio to enjoy the views, enjoy an extra glass and soak up the sun. Do not miss this vineyard. 

Cakebread Cellars

Cakebread, what an awesome last name. They offer 5 different types of tastings. We did the Red Wine Tasting ($30/pp). We were greeted with a tasting of rose while we waited for our group to gather. James was our host. He used to be a wine maker and was very engaging and informative. We tasted 7 different reds. Our favorites were 2013 Guajolote Red Blend, 2013 Benchland Cab Sauv, 2013 Vaca Red Blend and 2013 Dancing Bear Cab Sauv. James went into detail his wine tasting ritual he uses to help identify what he is drinking. 

1) Look at the color against a white background. 

2) Look at the legs; the thicker means its most likely a cab. 

3) Smell BEFORE you swirl, this will help you identify the fruit. 

4) Swirl and smell to get different scents of oak or spices. 

5) Taste! Roll in palate to a count of 8. 

Cakebread also has theses awesome pamphlets with tasting notes, vineyards used and winemaker’s process. The best past is there is a recipe to pair with the wine on the back. 


Frog’s Leap

Ryan is obsessed with this wine and now winery. The grounds are gorgeous with a big farmhouse with rustic glam decor. The living room had a grand fireplace with shelves full of the history of the frog including their label designs and their first bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. We were seated out on the porch with views of the vineyard and garden. Frog’s Leap’s vines are dry farmed and organic, which is very impressive. Stephanie was our host and we were also greeted by Abbie, the winemakers dog. Our tasting ($25/pp) began with a delicious 2015 Chardonnay followed by a 2015 Zin, 2014 Merlot and 2014 Cab paired with nuts, cheese and dried fruits. They were all delicious yet the reds can lay for another 20-30 yrs, so cheers in 2037! Stephanie offered us more tastings to take around the gardens and enjoy. Frog’s Leap is the perfect winery to pack a picnic basket and soak up the sun. I am excited to announce that we joined the “Fellowship of the Frog” and brought home a few extra bottles. They had a 1997 collection of 3 reds that came home with us and are excited to taste them. 

Auberge du Soleil

This was a quick stop to grab a bite to eat in between wineries. Our driver told us it was very expensive to stay but worth the views. We sat outside and enjoyed a glass of wine with calamari and truffle fries. Their service was great, the view was worth it and I would come back for a delicious dinner. 

Del Dotto

Del Dotto has 2 properties and one on the way. We visited his Venetian inspired winery and caves located in St. Helena. The architecture is spectacular; cathedral like ceilings with Italian marble and ancient tiles surround you. It felt like we were in another country. We upgraded to the Delicacies by Del Dotto tasting ($95/pp) which included a private cave tour, barrel tasting and lunch with wine pairing. Upon arrival, we tasted a white and were greeted by Simon, our entertainment for the next 2 hours. He took us into the caves, siphoned wine from the barrel and tasted. We had 6 2015 variations of Cab Sauv and one 2015 Merlot. At this point in the tour the multiple reds were hitting me. Simon took us upstairs to our private table where our food adventure began. OMG amazing food and wine pairing. Joshua Schwartz is the executive chef and I highly recommend this experience. For  those of you who follow my IG or blog, know I’m a foodie. Listed and pictured (except for dessert; I was a wine-wasted hot mess at that point).

Maine Lobster Roll on Toasted Brioche   2013 Piazza Chardonnay 

Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crab & Osetra Caviar Butter   2016 Piazza Rose 

Garden Kale Lasagna, Sweetbread Sugo & Fiore Sardo   2013 Syrah

SRF American Waygu Beef & French Black Truffle Slider   2011 Villa Del Lago 

Bleu d’Auvergne Brûlée, Beets & Valencia Orange   Dolores

This was the perfect way to end our day in Napa. Simon was so fun and really got to know us and he was very patient with us. Do not skip Del Dotto. 

Castello di Amorosa

We stopped here on our first day but I don’t recommend it. The Tuscan castle is what caught my attention from the Sterling patio and it is absolutely breathtaking with lots of detail but too crowded and overwhelming. It’s a tourist trap winery with too many wines and too much going on. Ryan wasn’t going to taste but we still had to pay for him to enter ($25/pp). Our host was way too busy to pay attention to us because he was trying to sell the guest next to us crazy expensive wine. You could tell they worked on commission. We purchased a sweet white wine for my sister and spent 15 minutes waiting to check out. Please skip it, not worth your time. 


This was my first and probably last visit to New Orleans. Let me clarify why. The culture was inspiring, the food was delicious but it is dirty, sketchy and questionable. I do still suggest visiting and experiencing the city for what it can offer. That is the purpose of this blog, to inform you!

The Courtyard Brewery

 This gem was recommended to us and I’m glad we stopped. We couldn’t get into our Air Bnb for a few hours so we sat outside, soaked up the sun and “drank all the beers”. I typically dont enjoy beer but they had a delicious pear sour that was refreshing and their cider beer wasn’t overly sweet. Their offering on tap varies but they had over 15 options. The tables we over sized spools, with comfy chairs, hanging lights and lots of greenery to hide the rest of the neighborhood.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a food truck when we were there, which would have completed the perfect afternoon, but they do feature them.

Bourbon Street 

Interesting. Dirty. Drunk. Wow this street was “memorable”. We arrived early evening after dinner and daiquiris are the common theme. The building are full of character and history but are covered in beads, booze and fluorescent lights. I think everyone needs to experience the $h!t show that is Bourbon Street! You can listen and watch some local talent on the street but watch out for peddlers. Drinks that are a must along this street are Hurricanes at Pat Obrien’s, a frozen hand grenade and of course a frozen daiquiri. Oh and ladies, wear closed toed shoes!!!

Acme Oyster Company

Acme was one of the top rated on Trip Advisor but unfortunately its a tourist fail. We didn’t have reservations but they sat us right away. Acme has a great vibe but I wasn’t blown away by the food. As we walked to our table, you can see the seafood bar and the grill where they chargrill the oysters.  We started off with fresh oysters and chargrilled, those were the best part of the meal. I was unimpressed with the soft shell crab po boy, it was bland and plain (maybe it’s supposed to be but we had Killer Po boy the day before which set a high standard). Side note, we didn’t know you ate the whole crab, shell and all! Oops! The fried oysters were sub par as well. Once again I was craving some sort of flavor in the breading or a unique sauce. I was impressed with the prickly pear mojito. Worth a shot but for an $80 lunch I feel like you have much better options.


Highly recommend. We found this place off of an IG account that posted a photo of the crawfish mac and cheese. We stopped here for lunch during our walking tour of the Garden District. I ordered the watermelon margarita, perfect, simple and refreshing. Our table ordered the following which were ALL AMAZING! Crawfish mac and cheese, crab and corn chowder, octopus ceviche, crab and crawfish beignets and the catfish po boy. Nothing disappointed us. Everything had great flavor and good portion size. My fellow diners really enjoyed their beer selection! A great spot to stop after exploring the Garden District!

French 75

French 75 is part of Arnaud’s restaurant. Arnauds has been around for almost 100 years and has a ton a of cool history. Paul was a great bartender! He told us a few stories about the history of the restaurant and recommends we go look at the museum upstairs full of Mardi Gras costumes worn by Germaine Cazenave, the daughter of Count Arnaud. So cool to see. The drinks were delicious! We enjoyed the Contessa, Honi Makai and Candelabra. The bar and bar back are vintage and decorated with class. The atmosphere was relaxing and you don’t need to be super dressed up to sit at the bar.

Cafe du Monde

Whoever said these weren’t good, needs a new set of tastebuds, We went twice! Once on the weekend…crazy, seat yourself and during the week…much more relaxed! The beignets are better fresh and warm. They come 3 in an order but are a decent size where one will fill you up. Watch out, they get messy but this is a MUST when in NOLA. The chickory iced caf a lait was good, but still a little too strong for me.


District Donuts

OMG the best place to start your morning, especially before you walk the Garden District. Their flavors change from day to day but I enjoyed the white choclate mocha donut. It wasn’t overly sweet and had great texture. They also had a amazing pork belly breakfast burrito you can not miss.


Garden District

My sister downloaded the map for the self guided tour via bigboytravel.com and it was easy to follow. We started with breakfast at District Donut and walked to see 28 spots (I think). Lafayette cemetery no. 1 was neat to see. A caretaker gave us a bit of history for a donation. The self guided tour also had a bit of history written about each stop. The streets, homes and gardens were so pretty. The history linked to these homes are really fun to read. My favorites were the “Cornstalk Fence” house, the Koch-Mays house owned now by Sandra Bullock, and “Seven Sisters” homes.


World War II Museum

I’m not a history buff nor would I ever think to go to a museum on vacation but it came recommended by a few people and I am so glad we went. We could have spent the whole day here but we saved it for our last day since it was rainy, so we only had 4 hours. We purchased general admission, the 4D movie Beyond All Aoundaries with narrating by Tom Hanks and the interactive submarine Final Mission. It was worth it. Every person receives a dog tag that you scan on your “train ride”. You are assigned a solider and use that dog tag to learn what he did on either the Road to Berlin or the Road to Tokyo. It brings you closer knowing this was real. The movie went into great detail about the events leading up to the war and every battle our men went through. Most of it I had no idea, 1. Because I was never taught or 2. I never paid attention. There were interviews of surving soldier you could listen to, the huge Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress on display and so many other small details I loved. Do not miss this.


Killer Po Boys

This little hole in the wall had the BEST poboys in NOLA. We ordered the shrimp, pork belly and braised beef. There was so much flavor in each sandwich! Their greens were really good too! Yes that is boxed sangria in the photo and it was great. They also have beer as well. It’s hard to find but set the standard for po boys for the rest of the trip.


NOLA by Emeril Lagasse

Great date night for couples, but its a louder restaurant. The food was delicious. Beware of the Aviation cocktail, its a 1916 recipe and its all booze. I had to choke it down, but I have had one elsewhere and its delicious. We started with BBQ shrimp and our main entrees were hickory roasted duck and New York strip with crispy oysters. Phenomenal taste. You can’t miss the trio of creme brûlée!!!


 Side Notes:

A few more MUST DO’s are stop all the Gallery Burguieres if you love animals. Walk through the French Market near Frenchman street (also a must do, it’s where the locals play). We liked Courtyard Restaurant and Bar/RareForm bottomless mimosas and live music. Note that when you sit somewhere and listen to live music they come around with a bucket to get a tip from you. I found this odd and rude. We had one group come up to us after we just sat down.  Jackson Square has a huge tree full of beads but beware of the guys with horses pulling carts. The horses looked mistreated and thirsty. The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone has great cocktails but get there early to get a seat at the bar, we had to watch from afar. My favorite drink was the PIMM’S CUP.  Royalton Street has really cool shops to walk though and be sure to get a macaroon from Sucre.

Highlights of Fort Collins

As you all know I am a huge foodie and most of the times a “drinkie” as well. The main reason I love to travel is to find new palate pleasures and fun adventure. I traveled to Fort Collins and its surrounding areas with my family and stayed with my aunt so unfortunately this blog won’t suggest any hotels, but it will be full of experience.

Hike Lory State Park

We had a 10 month old with us so we could not handle the long trails. We decided on the Well Gulch self guided trail. The hike was pretty easy, gave you a great glute burn and filled with gorgeous sights. You could see the Horsetooth Reservoir  filled with boats at each cove. We also “hiked” the .1 miles to Waterfall Trail, well worth it. The water was crisp and clean. We drove the rest of the path through the park. Lory welcomes dogs, horses and bikes. Cost:$7/carIMG_8411

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

So gorgeous and I have now added “seeing a concert at Red Rocks” on my bucket list. Your legs, glutes and calves will thank you after climbing the 380+ stairs it takes to get to the top. Trust me the view is worth it. The amphitheatre was bursting with people working out and tourists taking selfies. There is plenty of parking (there is a lot up at the top if you want to skip your cardio) and a restaurant at the top. Cost: FREEIMG_8412

Breweries: Fort Collins Brewery/Odell/New Belgium

I am not a beer drinker at all but these breweries were a great place for me to taste. My favorite out of the 3 was New Belgium. I tried the La Folie Sour and the Blackberry Barley Wine. I actually semi enjoyed them (I’m a wine snob).They had a very open space with plenty of seating, games and food trucks. We ate at The Waffle Lab. We ordered the Voo Doo Monkey; waffle, peanut butter, bananas and raspberries and The Spicy Professor; waffle, jalapeños, cheese and bacon.

We went to the Fort Collins Brewery for lunch. The locally source a lot of their ingredients. I dined on the Asian duck salad. Ryan and I “shared” a flight of beer. I only enjoyed the first beer; Hefeweizen. They included their Mexican chocolate cake stout and being that I live for chocolate, I would love it…negative.IMG_8154

Our last stop was Odell. (Fort Collins brewery and Odell are about 2 blocks away) The patio was a perfect place to catch some UV rays and cool off with their many flights of beer; the Classic Tray, Pilot Tray and the Locals Tray. Each tray allowed you to try 5 different beers with a card explaining each one. We split these trays between 4 people! This non-beer chick was 3 for 15!!! My favorites were Food for Thought, Mishawaka and Bobby Kolsch.IMG_8164

Estes Park Aerial Tramway

The tram was so fun but so scary. The views you get during the ride and once you are at the top are well worth it. You can see the snow capped mountains, the adorable town below and trees, rocks and more trees.  Fun facts about the tram; it was built in 1955, the upper terminal is 8708 ft and the highest point off the ground in the tram is 200 ft! The top has a cute gift shop,coffee shop, rocks to climb and places to explore. Pack a jacket and/or scarf, it is cold and windy at the top.Cost: $12/adult


Nuance Chocolate

This small batch bean to chocolate bar shop was one of the better chocolates I have ever had. When we traveled to the Caribbean, we learned about the cocoa bean process, but this shop explained it even further. Different cocoa-growing areas of the world have diverse soil types, temperatures, and humidity levels, further influencing taste and texture.
Chocolate made from cocoa beans of different origins can taste deliciously unique, just like red wine! No wonder I love both of those things.

They offered different taster flights ($7 each). We enjoyed the Single Origin taster; favorites were Ghana and Madagascar and the Flavored Taster flight; favorites were chili pepper and sea salt. It is a must to purchase some of their truffles as well. IMG_8147


Dancing Pines Distillery

I was bummed that we discovered this right before we had to get to the airport, so I was the only one that tasted. Dancing Pines uses natural and local ingredients to create small batch liquors. They offer 3 different trays to taste along with a really fun cocktail menu. I ordered the sweet tooth. I sipped on Cherry tart liquor (and purchased it), Chai liquor, Zoranj (orange and super strong) and Brûlée. Brûlée was my favorite with really sweet caramel notes but I would use Cherry more! When you purchase a bottle you are offered a free cocktail or a token for the next time you visit.


Downtown Estes Park

Anyone from Minnesota will understand this analogy. Estes Park shops are adorable and very similar to Stillwater, MN but with better surrounding views. You will find antique shops, candy shops, ice cream parlors, places to purchase blown glass, jewelry and other souvenirs. I was on the hunt for the best taffy and old school bubble gum ice cream (the pink stuff with colored square gum pieces). My favorite Taffy was the Estes Park Taffy Company. I purchase one of every flavor that sounded good, you have around 60 flavors to choose from. As far as the ice cream, all the shops had the new “kid” friendly blue bubble gum ice cream and of course I don’t remember which parlor had the good kind. I was in ice cream heaven and completely lost to remember such an important detail.


Stanley Hotel

I have seen 3 mins of The Shining, so this stop was a little lost on me. The hotel was stunningly beautiful but according to Ryan, very different from the movie (which keep in mind was filmed YEARS AGO). You are surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains, the gorgeous building and great landscaping. Cost:$10/car


Blue Skies Winery

Go figure I find a winery in downtown Fort Collins and even more shocking, I brought home 2 bottles. Blue Skies had delicious reds and really yummy ports. I tasted their Sangiovese, Barbera, Malbec, Cab/Merlot blend (amazing), Raspberry Pinot Noir (great for sweet lovers) and their Under Canopy (Blackberry Port). The tasting shop was quaint and full of local artists work. They also offer chocolate from Nuance and local cheese.  Cost: $5 for a 3 wine tasting.



Fort Collins is a wonderful part of Colorado to visit. Very different from exploring Denver and Colorado Springs, but this area is not to be missed. I am excited to go back in the winter and explore the ski slops and more restaurants.


Day 1:

Ryan left the house at 7 am to get all of his work clothes from the dry cleaners. Well somebody there couldn’t get out of bed and open the store, so he waited almost 40 mins for the girl who said she was coming to show up and decided to come home. He was pissed. Our plane left at 9:55 am and he needed his suits.

We left for the airport deciding to stop at the cleaners to see if we were lucky and hooray she was there and “kindly” gave us 20% off for the inconvenience. Now off to the airport(8:15am).

Traffic wasn’t too bad, thank god and we entered Terminal 1, extended stay parking FULL. FML. We haul ass to terminal 2, park, wait for the damn light rail and finally get to terminal 1 security(9:12 am). Luckily we made it!!!

We checked into the hotel and started off to explore the North End! We first went to the Old Church and read the history of Paul Revere. We were able to see his house and tour through it.

Next up; dinner at Giacomo’s Ristorante, recommended by both of my sisters. This little Italian place already had a line 20 people deep before they opened. We were sat at the bar, which was a great view of the kitchen and the restaurant. There were lulls in the hustle of this place and I loved watching it. The culture was very friendly.

We enjoyed buratta, lobster ravioli and linguini. Oh and a delicious bottle of red wine!

Dessert!!! Mike’s Pastry was another place that came recommended. I was overwhelmed with the selection of cannolis. We picked strawberry and Oreo and walked to enjoy our treat on the bench by the water. Discovery: I dislike cannolis.

On the way back to the hotel, we found a supermarket. We stocked up on red wine and snacks and watched Pitch Perfect 2.

Day 2:

It was a pretty crap-tastic day. The hotel staff at the Boston Marriott Copley place is incredibly rude, their fitness center is sub par and the Starbucks doesn’t take my drink rewards. The weather is like a monsoon today. We stopped for lunch at Luke’s Lobster and had their Noah’s Ark which had tasting of lobster, crab and shrimp rolls. It was delicious. They use traceable, sustainable resources.

We couldn’t do any sightseeing, so I went with Ryan to help him set up his booth. As we were on our way, we decided to run so we didn’t get totally soaked.  My flip flops were too slippery, so I ran barefooted. FAIL! The side walk was polished and I slipped, feet flying over my head and landed hard on my nicely cushioned left cheek. It hurt like hell and was just as scary. We were drenched and my pants were soaked.

That night while Ryan was at work, I decided to venture out and take the “CHARLIE” to Core Power Yoga. Let me just say, their subway made me miss NYC’s. It was packed like sardines. I literally had 7 people touching me at once. It goes street level so it’s really slow. I almost missed my hot power fusion. But I made it to my mat! Thank God,this no good, kinda bad day was over.

DAY 3: 

Please refer to COASTAL MINI-VENTURE blog! And a bruise is starting to form on my left cheek!

DAY 4:

I hate hurricane Joaquin. It’s raining and freezing, which means no sight seeing for us today, hence this blog being written at this very moment. I’m listening to the Presidential News Conference and I’m not going to lie, this world scares me. Earlier I watched the news about the Oregon shooting. This country is messed up. Our political system is run by $$ and I’m over it. Rant done.

We had dinner reservations at Island Oyster Creek Bar. I have learned that oysters taste like ocean unless covered in sauce!!! The restaurant was close to Fenway so we walked down an ally, saw the sign and called it good. Too windy and rainy and dark. Oh and my bruise on my butt is a great shade of deep purple.

DAY 5: 

Last day here; still freezing cold but no rain. I got my body kicked in yoga sculpt, at least it was better than sitting in my room. Ryan got back from his conference and we debated on walking around…yeah nope. I think we were both over being cold and bored. It was a nice balance to just lay in bed together. If anyone knows me, that’s like pulling teeth. I could tell Rysn needed to decompress, so I compromised.

We ended our last night in Boston with our anniversary dinner at Deaxave, an amazing French restaurant. Go figure next to our romantic table for 2 was a group of IT college guys; loud, cocky and clueless. They were cute little dorks, I mean you could tell how they were raised. It’s a Saturday’s night, you’re in college and you go to a fancy French restaurant? Oh well. The food was rich and amazing and we had great conversation!  Cheers to 4 yrs!

Dear Boston,

You didn’t quite meet my expectations, but that’s OK. I still like you and would consider returning, if you have better behaved weather.



Coastal Mini-Venture 

This little day trip was almost a full adventure but we had time constraints on the rental car and Ryan needed to get to his conference. Scary part is I was the driver…in a Fiat 500…that was lime green…driving in downtown Boston. Dang I should’ve gotten a picture.

We started in Boston and took the Tobin Bridge to Revere Beach Blvd. The Revere Park right at the roundabout. It was such a windy day so hardly anyone was out. We continued to drive on Revere a Beach Blvd through the cute little town until we jumped onto 1A to Salem.


Once we arrived in Salem, we went to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and walked through the cemetery. Most of the names were very familiar; Bishop, Nurse and Good. The witch trials were so sad, yet walking through that cemetery was creepy. If I were any of those men or women who were executed, I would for sure come back and haunt those people, witch or not! There were some interesting buildings around town. Due to time, we only explored for about 30 mins. Next stop; Gloucester. IMG_4422

We took hwy 128 into Gloucester, the city were the Perfect Storm took place. The Fisherman’s Memorial was beautiful. It sat right on the water with gorgeous views. It was such an interesting town with winding roads. Next we drove to the Eastern Point Lighthouse. The road to get there states PRIVATE PROPERTY, but we drove through. I am so glad we did. Holy crap, were these homes beautiful. It was like driving through Pebble Beach 17 mile drive. Gorgeous coastal homes with magnificent views. The lighthouse was really pretty, but it once again was so windy, we didn’t stay long.


I really wanted to go up to Rockport to Halibut State Park but it was another 20 min drive up hwy 127 and at least a 20 min hike to the coast. It would’ve been beautiful, but I picked going to the apple orchard instead. If you have more time, I’m sure its worth it. So you either continue on 127 after Rockport to meet 128 or stay on 128 from Gloucester, once on 128 take 133 though Essex and Northgate Rd to Argilla Rd.

Once again due to timing we skipped taking Argilla Rd to Crane Beach, boo. But we stopped at Russell Orchards. I finally, in the 10 years that I have been with Ryan, got him to an apple orchard.  We didn’t walk the orchards, but we had some delicious apple cider and walked through the farm. The kids there were so rude to the animals, just screaming and yelling at them. Both Ryan and I were crossing our fingers that the animals would bite them, yeah, yeah, yeah we are so horrible. But I’m sorry, stupid kids don’t need to be all up in the animals face.


The shop had a lot to offer. Fruit wines, various apples, cider donuts and fudge. I refilled my cider and we hit the road. Enjoying our donuts and caramel apple fudge, Naughty! It was a fun little coastal trip. We were a bit too early for the leaves to change, so looks like we are going to need to repeat!


April 2015:

I stumbled upon this gem while trolling Groupon for things to do near San Diego. A wine tasting in Temecula popped up, so I jumped on TripAdvisor and started to research. I was able to book us a wine tasting tour on the Grapeline Wine Tours, (www.gogrape.com) and found a really nice hotel at the Hampton Inn and Suites.

I had Ryan take the “scenic” route from San Diego to Temecula. As we came into wine country, the views were fabulous. We checked into our hotel around 2:30 pm and decided,  with 41 wineries in Temecula and the fact that we were only going to 4 on our tour tomorrow, we probably should go try one! We freshened up and started our on adventure to Europa.


IMG_1956This winery was AMAZING! They have three wineries featuring wines made in the styles of French wine, C’est la Vie Wine Chateau, their Spanish wine, Bolero and Vienza, which has a Tuscany southern French influence. Our sommeliers’ name was Dr. Doug. He was so interesting. He is a retired professor, who was working on his third level Sommelier certification. This guy knew his wine and I looked like a fool.

IMG_1968He taught us to look for the “legs” after you swirl your wine, how to check out the color and I added my own “trill” that my sister taught me. We had such a great time and since they had such an extensive selection we joined the club, 3 bottles every 2 months! Now we were part of Société Europa and Dr. Doug gifted me a coveted autographed cork! We selected a glass of wine and went out to the vineyard!


Grapeline Wine Tour

Quick little review on them! They pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. They had an amazing day planned for us, warned us of how much we would be consuming and Melissa was our tour guide. Please request her, or come with me the next time I go! We booked the Picnic Tour for only $109 a person, yes please!

Leoness Cellars

Leoness means “village of dreams” and WOW this place was like a dream. We started down by the process plant and received our first taste. Our tour was perfect because as you are touring the grounds, you were given tastes along the way. The barrel room was beautiful, the vineyards lovely and the views were breathe taking. My favorite part of the tasting was the dessert wine at the end, 2007 Cinsaut Dessert Wine paired with a dark chocolate truffle. We really enjoyed their wine and loved that they had different tiers. We joined the club! 3 bottles every 3 months. I am most excited about this winery due to their Signature Collection Club. These wines must mature for 7-10yrs, which means we could enjoy them in our 40’s! FUN!IMG_1986


Danza Del Sol

Now that we have a nice buzz going, lets cover stop #2. Danza Del Sol was the first winery to grow the Gewürztraminer grape, which is the wine they are known for. One of their most popular wines is the Orange Muscat with of flavors of vanilla and apricot and smelled like oranges. The reason I love to taste, is sometimes you find a gem and tis worth it. Luckily we didn’t join the club, but did grab a few bottles to take back to MN.


Cougar Winery

Can we talk about the views at this place? They are located on top of a hill and have 360 views of the vineyards. Thank God this was our lunch stop, my buzz needed some carbs. The winery had lunch set up for up in their barrel room. The food was great and we were served a half glass of wine. Their wines here weren’t my favorite. They have a lot of sweet wines and table wines, so I brought a few of those. 3 down, 1 to go…and I’m just a little wine wasted!IMG_1997

South Coast Winery

This winery is huge and we are wine wasted for sure. Honestly I don’t remember much from this winery, except that it was beautiful and has an amazing spa and hotel. They also had 80+ different wines. Due to the fact that they have so many, we joined the club. Yeah, no that was a lie, were were just drunk and made a bad decision. IMG_2006Our tour dropped us of at our hotel and since were couldn’t drive anywhere, we ordered pizza and passed out. I am so happy I stumbled upon this gem. I am obsessed and can’t wait to go back.