Blair Fox Cellars in Los Olivos


Blair Fox Cellars - Los Olivos | Wander & Wine

If you remember my post on wine tasting in Los Olivos, you’ll know how much the town has changed. Once a dusty little western town, Los Olivos is now what I like to call a wine-lover’s Disneyland. There are over 30 tasting rooms (all within walking distance) in this quaint little town, with a plethora of good wine to choose from. It goes without saying that with so many options, it’s hard to decide where to go. A safe bet? Blair Fox Cellars, owned by winemaker Blair Fox and his wife, Sarah (both Santa Barbara natives).

Postcards of Carmel, CA


It’s that time of year when everyone I know seems to be getting sick… and I am no exception! Since there are two sickies in our household, there’s no wine being drunk anytime soon. In the meantime, I’m sharing some pictures from a visit to Carmel this spring, also known as Carmel-by-the-Sea. Located less than 2 and a half hours south of San Francisco near Monterey, Carmel is a must-visit California coastal town.

Carmel-by-the-Sea | Wander & Wine

Carmel is full of European-style Inns and B&Bs…

Carmel-by-the-Sea | Wander & Wine

And quaint bakeries selling pretzels and pastries…

Carmel-by-the-Sea | Wander & Wine

Santa Barbara Wine Collective


SB Wine Collective - The Funk Zone | Wander & Wine

Just when I thought Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone couldn’t fit in any more tasting rooms, new places keep opening up! Even though they’re all different, each new place contributes to the funky, urban vibe that’s transformed the aptly named Funk Zone from an abandoned warehouse area to a bonafide wine and art destination. The SB Wine Collective, next door to Les Marchands and The Lark, opened up in early July and is the area’s first communal wine tasting location. Here you can taste small production wines from several different producers in an industrial, bright, and just plain cool spot. Not a bad addition to the neighborhood!

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake & Wine Pairing


Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars | Wander & Wine

It’s been in the 90s around here in SB so it doesn’t really seem appropriate to be thinking about fall staples like soup, scarves and boots quite yet. Pumpkin spice? It’ll have to wait. It’s true – Southern California is still very much in summer mode and you wouldn’t know it’s October except for the fact that there’s football on. Before the weather turns and it ‘officially’ feels like fall, I’m still taking full advantage of my summer favs – from Sauvignon Blanc and picnics on the beach to light and zesty desserts, like these Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars I made the other night. The recipe, which is adapted from Tyler Florence’s, is an easy to make, not-too-sweet dessert that will leave you feeling like it’s mid-July (even if you’ve already whipped out the sweaters and leggings).

Great views and caves at Cade Winery


Cade Winery, Howell Mountain - Napa Valley | Wander & Wine

With sooo many wineries in the Napa Valley, it’s almost impossible to choose which ones to visit, especially if you have a limited amount of time. Do you go for the biggest names or most grandiose? The best or most exclusive wine? The off-the-beaten track wineries, or the ones you can get to on a tour bus? Tough choices, for sure. For me, I always enjoy a mixture of it all, but you can never really go wrong with a great view. CADE Estate Winery, located on the hillside of Howell Mountain just northeast of St. Helena, definitely has the view covered, but it’s the overall experience that makes it memorable.

JCR Vineyard: Small Winery Big on Pinots


JCR Vineyards - Lompoc | Wander & Wine

Well, it’s now Fall (how crazy is that?!) and my second publication in the SB Sentinel is out on news stands. I guess I can now officially call myself a wine columnist! Hooray. Since the goal for my column (called Behind the Vine) is to introduce readers to lesser known local wineries and/or to the people behind SB’s favorite wines, I was happy when I stumbled upon JCR Vineyard, a relatively newer small-production winery just south of the Sta Rita Hills AVA.

Round Pond Winery


Round Pond Winery Terrace - Napa Valley | Wander & Wine

I just got home from a quick trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (so glamorous) and am happy to be back to this gorgeous California Fall weather. In fact, I want nothing more to do than sit by a pool or lazily sip wine while overlooking a vineyard… is that too much to ask?? :) I guess I will just have to settle for reminiscing about my recent trip to Napa – at Round Pond Winery, specifically.

Recap of LA Food & Wine 2014


LA Food & Wine 2014 | Wander & Wine

The end of summer has certainly kept me busy with a lot of fun events which, sadly, has caused me to totally neglect the blog. What can I say, I like to have fun! MIA no more, though… Fall is around the corner and I am pumped for cooler weather, football, wedding planning and of course, sharing more of my wine experiences with you! After all, the Governor has just declared September ‘California Wine Month’ so I have no more excuses!

Happy National Cabernet Day!


National Cabernet Day - August 28 | Wander & Wine

I love how all these National so and so days have taken off on social media. Yes, sometimes they can be a bit much… National Corn Dog Day, National Tapioca Pudding Day (for real!?), and National Sewing Machine Day (let’s see how much traction that one gets on Twitter). I do think that I need to note National Lasagna Day, though, since it is Nick’s fav food (July 29, for the record).

Nickel & Nickel – An Old School Napa Valley Experience


Nickel & Nickel Winery | Wander & Wine

In the aftermath of the damaging earthquake in Napa, my recaps of my recent Napa weekend couldn’t come at a more pertinent time. My heart goes out to all my wine friends whose wineries have been affected, and especially to those who were badly injured in the quake. So scary. Hopefully my posts will entice you to make a special visit to Napa Valley and support the wine business during this trying time. Napa strong!

Over the years, I’ve had numerous friends visit Nickel and Nickel winery, but despite hearing only good things, I had never been there. Since Nick and I love a good sit-down, personalized wine tasting experience, visiting Nickel & Nickel during our engagement-celebratory getaway was a no brainer.

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