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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Your hairdresser wants you to know…

1. Just a Job.

I have quite a few stories about how clients don’t quite understand our profession. They think this is a part time job and are still in school, that we need a boyfriend/husband to support us or that its a short lived career. This couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, there are stylists who do this as a hobby, but the serious ones build a business. All of us can support ourselves and have flexible schedules to be with family or pursue experiences. It can be a short lived career if you don’t continue with advanced education and don’t take care of your body. It’s a career that I plan to stick with for life.

2. We value our relationship with you.💇 

I am very close with a majority of my clients. I know their secrets, listen to their stories and support them. We share family experiences, laughter, tears and gossip. In return, they support me and I let them into my life. My clients know WAY too much about me but I want it that way.  I build trust and a lasting friendship. I love seeing my clients around town and love hanging out with them.  If your stylists doesn’t show appreciation, I suggest you find someone who shows gratitude to you. You are part of their business and without you, they don’t have a clientele.

3. TRUST US. 

You are our walking advertisements. We wouldn’t do anything that would make you look pale, heavy or old. We are experts in trends, skin tones and shapes. We have a highly trained eye and will make you look and feel good.

“If you don’t look good, I don’t look good”

4. We love visuals. 

I love it when my clients bring in photos because it helps us get on the same page and I can point out things visually. Some hairdressers would disagree and complain that everyone brings in Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Secret models hair-inspos. They claim that it gives the client an unfair expectation. To me, its not any different than bringing in the “pretty girl” photo off Instagram. Most people look at the photo as a whole before they focus on the hair. I recommend putting your thumb over the face and really look at the hair. A great stylist will explain what works for your hair type and give you a realistic expectation.

5. Sick days

I don’t want you coming in ill,🙅 let alone, do you want me up in your personal space when I’m sick? At the beginning of my career, I came into work many times when I was really sick. I was afraid my clients would be upset if I cancelled and never come back. This could not be more untrue. Now in my career, if I’m not 100%, you don’t deserve less than that, so I am listening to my body and calling in.

Most of you may not know that hairdresser’s do not get paid sick days. At my salon, we are lucky and earn 2 paid weeks off but they aren’t worth using when we are gone only a day or 2. So please realize, we don’t “fake” sick like some people do or can. Clients rely on us to be there.  Understand that we know you have plans and are crazy excited to get your hair done, so we cancel only when its absolutely necessary.

6. Schedules 📆

Most stylists have flexibility, but with flexibility comes lack of respect. For the first 8 years of my career, I was a YES girl. I stayed late, skipped lunch and worked my days off to accommodate my clients. This did help me build the biggest clientele in the salon, but I missed out on self care, events with friends and time with my husband. We understand that your life gets busy and once in a while we can help you out but if you are a repeat offender and constantly ask for special favors, it’s hard to want to keep you.

I let my clients know that if they have difficulty getting an appointment, to book the soonest available and then reach out to me to get on a cancellation list! You never know when it could be your lucky day. Depending on your relationship with your stylist, you might be able to reach out to them personally.

7. Etiquette

 A few little tips…

-Please close your eyes while we are shampooing your hair, unless we are having a conversation. 💆 I don’t need you to see if I have any bats in the cave and its creepy when you stare up at me and it’s silent. Trust me, a shampoo is much more relaxing with your eyes closed.

-When we offer you a beverage, please actually drink it. I throw away so many bottles of water that have been sipped twice.

-We love gifts but don’t expect them.

-When we are done with your relaxing shampoo and condition, please use your core to sit up. I have had so many people dead weight me without warning. Doing this will shorten our relationship due to my massive back injuries. Unless you have a back injury or are uber pregnant, you are all capable of sitting up. Congrats, I helped you do your one sit up for the day.

-You can’t rush hair. Don’t over schedule yourself around your appointment. Most color and cuts, you can expect to be in our chair for 2 hrs.

-If you want a major change, reach out to your stylist before you book an appointment. My clients send me photos for their next hair idea, which is great since some of these colors need more time to achieve this look.

-We understand it if you are late, because we run late. But when you are late and show up with a Starbucks ☕️ and didn’t even get us one…NOT COOL! (P.S my summer order is a Venti iced 1/2 green 1/2 passion tea unsweetened)

8. Products

We recommend products for you because it’s our job. We know your hair needs so why buy from someone who doesn’t know your hair or purchase from a random drug store with “salon quality” products? There are hairdresser’s out there who definitely oversell just to make extra $$, but most of us with integrity sell you what you need. You invest a lot into your cut and color, we just want to give you insurance on your new style. You insure your car and home, why not your hair? Most products last MUCH longer than you think, when used correctly.  Your hair is the most noticed accessory you own, protect it!

Have an honest conversation with your stylist about your needs and budget. Most salons carry various product lines. YOU get to decide how much you want to invest. We won’t judge, but no complaining when your drug store brand product doesn’t achieve your desired look.

9. Advanced Education

If your stylist is raising their prices, you have the right to ask how they earned it. I never get nervous to raise my prices because I have advanced/continuing education to back it up. Not only do I attend classes my company offers, I invest my own money into color or cut classes in NYC, Miami, LA, Nashville and Chicago. Last year alone, I invested thousands of dollars into learning new techniques for you! I have had the chance to learn from the best.  You deserve the best from your stylist. If they don’t care about learning, getting re-inspired and adding more tools to their toolbox, they don’t deserve your business.

10. Cancelations / No-shows

A majority of hair dresser’s are paid commission, meaning if there is not a warm body in our chair, we aren’t making money. Life does get in the way, so we recognize and respect that. Do understand when you do not show up, you are taking money out of our pocket. If this becomes a repeat pattern, we have the right to warn you.

The service industry is a fun, yet crazy business. Just because it is our job to serve you, doesn’t mean we don’t have any rights. We can and will fire you if you disrespect the craft or us. Luckily once you are a seasoned stylist, your clients are almost perfect.

I appreciate you!

A thank you to my clients,

               I truly appreciate every single one of you. Month after month, year after year, you continue to support my business and career. You push me to be a more passionate hairdresser. You deserve the best version of me every time you sit in my chair, and I hope you feel it.

              Thank you for being patient with my schedule this year, allowing me to travel with Ryan and take some time for me. I appreciate your flexibility and planning in advance so that we can continue to create and build our hair-relationship.  In return, some of those trips, I took the chance and invested in my career building on my color expertise at Wella in LA, grew my advanced cutting skills at Bumble and Bumble University in NYC and Oribe in Miami and was taught how to build my career on the business side at Styling your Career at Bumble and Bumble.

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             2015 gave us a lot of laughs, tears, connection, drama and great gossip. I love hearing about your families, travels, great shows and restaurants and most of all, YOU! I’m honored to be your stylist, therapist and friend. I’m excited to see what 2016 brings us.  Cheers to another year of amazing hairdressing!

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Friday Favorites!!!

Every Friday I am going to post and talk about some of my favorite things, places, food and subjects! These are all things I’m obsessed with! I guess just like Oprah and Ellen, I want to let all of you know about the things I love!

My first Favorite Friday is…

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I know its so cliche, but there is something about holding that cup and sipping on its goodness that pure bliss. I do admit I need to be better about not going almost everyday…put that CA$H in my 401k, but at the same time life is short, I work hard, so gimme that $3 cup of joy!

My favorites there are a grande americano with 2 pumps white mocha and now they offer coconut milk so add a grande coconut milk latte with 1 pump caramel to the roster! Yup, Im that picky B**ch with the crazy selective order.

I know Starbucks is a giant corporation and we should support the small coffee business and sometimes i do, but being as picky as I am, I like consistency and Starbucks offers it.

FUN FACTS:

  • 22,551 stores in 65 countries
  • First Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 30, 1971
  • Starbucks has agreed to a partnership with Apple to collaborate on selling music as part of the “coffeehouse experience”.
  • In 1999, Starbucks started “Grounds for your Garden” to make their business environmentally friendlier.
  • In 2008, Starbucks was ranked No.15 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Top 25 Green Power Partners for purchases of renewable energy.
  • Offer a college achievement plan with ASU

*source: WIKIEPEDIA

“Starbucks Company Profile” (PDF) (PDF). Starbucks Coffee Company. July 2014.

Time Out (2011). Time Out Guide San Francisco. Time Out Guides. ISBN 978-1-84670-220-4. Retrieved 9 April 2013.

BIG SIS

Recently both of my younger sisters have had major events happen in their life and its just fun to reflect on your relationship with them. My sister Monica, just had her first baby 3 weeks ago and Vanessa just married the love of her life. I couldn’t be happier and more excited for them.

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As the oldest of 3 girls, you tend to take on a lot of responsibilities. You are in charge of being the leader, role model, rule breaker, protector, trend setter, ring leader and voice of reason. Your sisters are your best friends by choice and like most friendships you have your ups and downs, but you will always love and support each other.

Growing up with my sisters was a blast. I was 2 when Monica came into my life and the thumb-sucking chubby cheeked monkey wanted nothing to do with me. She was content by herself, so naturally I would pick on her just to get attention. She was so laid back and I needed to be in the spotlight, so it was the perfect balance. Then came along Vanessa. She was my human doll and did everything I told her to. Monica and I would pick of her but to Vanessa, that meant acceptance, so she just put up with it. She was a mini me! We have so many great memories and whenever we talk about it, we laugh so hard we cry. We weren’t always nice to each other. Between the 3 of us it was always 2 against 1 and just rotated. Now as adults, we always get along.

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I was and still am very protective of both of them. If anyone every tried to mess with them or talk about them, the claws came out. As a sister, you are allowed to make fun and tease your sisters but for anyone else, its off limits. Monica was always the shy, quiet sister, so it was harder to tell if something was bothering her. Yet, she is so strong and resilient that if something was on her mind, you never knew. Vanessa was a pocket size little sister and had her drama with boys, so insert crazy big sister. Vanessa had struggled with Chrones when she was younger and that was a hard on Monica and I. My parents had to focus on her health, which as kids, you feel left out. Now I see how crazy it was to think Vanessa was faking it. As a child your parents shield you from the seriousness of most things. Im glad they did and I am so happy she is in remission.

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The last few years have been crazy for all of us. We all got married with in 5 years, our parents got divorced, Monica had a miscarriage and then a new baby joined our lives! Through all of it, I felt that it was my responsibility to make sure they were ok through it all.

Monica and Vanessa’s wedding were both so fun. Watching your little sisters exchange vows with a guy you totally trust, takes a little weight off you. They were both so happy and the day was filled with smiles. These guys were in a way, taking them away from me but it was ok! My sisters have never looked more beautiful or happy. The annoying little girls that followed you around, stole your clothes and tattled on your for years are now a Mrs.294405_10150363160159839_657346955_n

Our parents divorce was hard, even though we were adults. Each of us went about the healing and dealing process in completely different ways. We each decided that no matter what our stance was, if we picked a side, or needed time to figure it out, we wouldn’t judge each other and be openminded. That day we found out was gut-wrenching and being the person that I am, I set aside my feelings to make sure my sisters didn’t feel lost, sad or alone. Since they were told separately I was able to squeeze them tight and try to take away the pain. I was a care-taker through it all. I didn’t want anyone to feel pain, so I spent all my time making sure both my parents and my sisters were ok. 4 yrs later, I am happy how I handled everything and focus on the relationships I have had with my parents. My mom is a caring, kind, fun, loving mother and my dad is a goofy, supportive, hardworking father and that is how my relationship will still be with them. Their marriage was not mine, therefore I found a way to keep the drama separate. I think this event in our lives, have shown us how to focus on ourselves and each other and that marriage is hard work for both parties. This could turn into a whole separate blog, so on to the exciting story.

3 weeks ago JELLO (nickname) entered our lives. This was such a blessing because Monica has always wanted to be a mom. when we ere little, we watched my mom breast feed Vanessa, so naturally Monica and I copied. I fed my doll and Monica breast fed her panda bear. Watching her with her baby is heart warming. I am so proud of her and excited to watch him grow. Jello has brought Monica and I closer. We never really had much in common, but now the love for this little pooping, drooling, sleeping human is what we have in common.

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Sisters. See-stars! I hope they both know that I am so proud of them, so happy for them, and cant wait to see what else awaits our futures! Love you both!

Self Sabotage

Sabotage: the act of deliberately damaging, destroying or obstructing something.
This is a hard one to write, because I’m openly admitting a fault, and it’s harder to post because now you all know my secret.

It’s funny, I don’t sabatoge myself on everything, it’s just a few things. When I was younger, I was a competitive swimmer and always did stupid things so that if I didn’t place well, I had excuses. I acted like I didn’t care or said I didn’t care. The more I said it, the more I convinced myself. This was all to protect myself from disappointment. I had excuses to suck, so then I didn’t have to feel so bad. I look back on this and want to kick my 15 yr old self, I could have had more accomplishments and had more confidence in my swimming abilities. But there is nothing I can do about it now, but learn for my future and pass this advice to others.

I also sabotaged my health/goals for my fitness. Its almost a sickness. When I did my bikini competition in 2013, I followed my lifting and cardio plan, followed my macros to perfection EXCEPT I would sneak chocolate covered acai berries. I stashed those things like a squirrel and would straight binge. Now I had an excuse if I didn’t place well. I was still very proud of how I placed (5th out of 7 ), because honestly I just wanted the experience, but reflecting back I want to smack myself for not giving it my all.

Unfortunately I still sabotage my “body” goals and its purely emotionally based. I think eating naughty food will make me happy, but it only makes me happy for a moment. When I stick to my plan, stay driven and don’t fall to my old habits, my happiness lasts so much longer and there isn’t any regret! I highly recommend ready the book Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. I keep re-reading this book because she also struggled with self-sabotage and emotional eating. I need to re-set my thinking and re-train my mind into knowing whats good for me and what gives me balance.

What’s so funny is that in other parts of my life I totally kick butt and accomplish and crush goals. Why is it that I can be a rockstar in my business, but not in certain personal goals? In my yoga practice last week, my teacher spoke of one’s own possibilities and not getting in your own way. I know that I set goals or there is something I want so badly, but I can’t picture it so I paralyze myself. Self doubt can be one of the scariest things. We all have enough haters, obstacles and negativity surrounding us, the last thing we need is to get into our own heads and find excuses. I think sometimes we set goals with low expectations to escape failure and defeat. But what if we knew for certain that we would get there? Would we set the bar higher?

What is in your way of reaching your goals, finding your full potential and creating your amazing life? I find that it’s easier to reach my goals by taking baby steps. Its crazy how much we can celebrate the little accomplishments. Who said everything needs to be big, great and huge? My take away is to think small and have faith. Know that I can accomplish ANYTHING!!!!

Temecula

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.

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!

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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

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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.

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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.