Growing up in Santa Barbara, the majority of my childhood was spent at the beach. I did, however, spend a decent amount of time in the Santa Ynez Valley, where my dad had grown up on a ranch. I just remember expansive rolling hills, horses, cattle and cowboys. It’s true – before Santa Ynez was planted to acres and acres of vineyards, the valley was very much a ranching area. No more is this rich history in the ranching world evident than at The Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort. Here, the majesty of the ‘Old West’ still lives on… in fact, there are almost as many horses as guests!
When it comes to Valentine’s Day, my idea of the perfect date night is staying in. Forget the fancy prix fixe dinner and crowds — I’d much rather cook a nice meal with my husband at home. But, since Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday this year, that meal has to be special without being time consuming. And the wine? Well, it can’t break the bank either. So, in order to help you nail your Valentine’s Day dinner at home, I’ve collaborated with fellow blogger Robin of CaliGirl Cooking on the perfect Valentine’s Day Wine Pairing Dinner.
Although I don’t drink many Cabernets from Napa Valley, there are a few producers that I admire and would gladly drink their wines any day. Larkmead Vineyards — located in the Calistoga area of the valley — is one of those producers. I first visited Larkmead back in 2008, just a couple of years after the tasting room first opened. So, when I visited Calistoga a couple of months ago, I was excited to return to Larkmead to taste how these wines and the winery as a whole have evolved. Bottom line, it did not disappoint!
Tasting rooms aren’t hard to come by in Sonoma’s downtown square. Wine tasting is one of the main draws of the area, after all. What you won’t find, though, is anything that compares to the charming and historical Adobe at Three Sticks Wines. Step inside The Adobe and you’ll be transported back in time… quite literally! The building is from the mid-1800s. Of course, it’s since been renovated by the Three Sticks folks, but is such a unique place to taste that you won’t want to miss it!
Is anyone else feeling like 2016 flew by faster than ever? It’s really hard to believe we’re just days away from ringing in a new year! While 2016 definitely came with some challenges, one of the best things about having a blog is being able to look back on all the great experiences I’ve been fortunate to have. From honeymoon adventures in Belize to staycationing in Santa Barbara and amazing wine and food experiences, here are some of my favorite blog moments of 2016 in no particular order.
Indian Springs Resort and Spa may be one of the oldest continuously operating resorts in California, but don’t expect it to feel old and dingy. The Bohemian resort, located on the main drag near downtown Calistoga, is charming and casual with a retro vibe. Although I had passed by Indian Springs on numerous occasions over the years, I was excited to experience the resort firsthand during my last trip to Calistoga. It was just as relaxing as I expected!
Last month, my friend and I took an impromptu trip up to Napa Valley for a couple of days of exploring to kickstart the holiday season. Although we spent a little time in Sonoma, the majority of our trip was in the Calistoga area of Napa Valley. Brand new to Calistoga is Davis Estates, a beautiful winery on the Silverado Trail just a few minutes from downtown. Since Davis Estates has only been open for a couple of months, we couldn’t wait to check it out!
Not many people realize that Alsace is one of the few wine regions in the world devoted to mostly white wine. In fact, about 90% of production is dedicated to whites! From Riesling to Pinot Gris, Muscat to Pinot Blanc, those Alsace winemakers know a thing or two about white wine. One of the most well known wines coming out of Alsace is Gewurztraminer, an aromatic white wine known for its fruity, floral and spicy notes. The name may be hard to pronounce, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting to know Gewurztraminer from Alsace!
It’s no lie that Santa Barbara County–specifically the Sta. Rita Hills–is making a name for itself when it comes to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. I may be biased, but I think some of the best Burgundian varietals out of California are coming from the Sta. Rita Hills. It’s been fun to watch this region blossom in recent years, but I can only imagine what it must be like for those who have been in the business for 20+ years. No doubt a lot has changed! One of those wineries established back in the ’90s is Melville Winery, a beautiful winery and vineyard located between the towns of Buellton and Lompoc.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good game night with friends? My friends and I have been known to have some seriously fun game nights. There’s usually wine involved, but we’ve never actually played a game centered around wine. That’s why when I heard about the new wine game Bottle Bracket, my interest was piqued. Especially when I learned that it’s a game/wine club hybrid!