Tag Archives: country

Good Morning Sonoma!

We wake up and the boys cook some eggs.  A nest egg, as Brett calls them.

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We giggle and catch up on the deck.  Overlooking the mountain and unreal landscape.  All of a sudden, the limo is on it’s way and we are rushing to pull ourselves together.
The limo pulled into the gravel driveway and the driver hops out to introduce himself.  He opens the back door and we all pile in.  Champagne, soda, water… there were glass champagne glasses and bottle openers.  Living the life!
On our way to the first vineyard, our driver recommends we pull into a Whole Foods-like grocery store and pick up some lunch, since we were headed a little into the countryside and wouldn’t have many options.  We all hop out, grab sandwiches, pasta salads, hummus, and in Brett’s case, head cold materials.
Our first vineyard stop was Ferrari-Carrano.  This place looked like it was fresh out of Alice in Wonderland.  The grounds were landscaped to perfection.  Freshly-cut grass, sculptures, fountains, and beautiful vineyards as far as the eye could see.  The building itself was a marble, cream-colored structure with ornate railings and large windows.  The tasting was held in the basement, a spot called the Prevail Room.
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Our directions were to choose 4 or 6 different wines on a small paper menu.  The wines were poured and the 8 of us sat at a large table underneath beautiful black, exotic lighting fixtures.  Downstairs is where the large room of wine barrels are located as well.
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After Ferrari-Carano, we hop back in the limo and head towards Bella Vineyard & Wine Cave.  Both Katie and I had great reviews from friends about this vineyard and really wanted to make it work.  We pulled into Bella and the limo driver popped the trunk.  In the back he had flatware and every other material needed for a picnic.  Cool!  He spread out a tablecloth and we all munched on the grocery store grub.  It was nice (& necessary!) to get something in our stomach.
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A dog that lives on the grounds begged for food : made the experience that much more welcoming.  AJ gathered wine glasses so we could have some vino while lunching.
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After eats, we walked into this cave-style area that was nestled underneath a hill.  Towards the back it was dark and cold, but lively and filled with people tasting wine around a little bar area.  We grabbed a small table and tasted our way through the menu.  This was a really cool little place with lots of personal touches. I could picture a gorgeous wedding reception being held on the grounds.
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We all hopped back in the limo and headed back towards Oliviera.  Some of us weren’t feeling too hot and took a cat nap while the vineyards rolled by the windows.  Brett got a head cold and was desperately trying to sleep it off (or was it too much Zin?)
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Back in Glen Ellen, we lounged and rehydrated.  The boys jumped in the hot tub and the ladies mixed some drinks.  Towards the evening time, we dressed up and headed towards The Girl and the Fig.  A small, local restaurant with high ratings.  I was impressed that they were so conscious of wasted water & drought in the area.  Fresh olives (pitted & non) were waiting as a starter, yay!  We dined on Fig and Arugula Salad, a Cucumber Soup, Burgers and Pork Chops.  The food was delicious (& expensive!), but worth the splurge.
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I cannot remember what was so funny, but Carley almost giggle / choked to death.  Luckily, nurse AJ was seated next to her.
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We headed back towards Oliviera, in a food coma.  Driving up the dark, steep, winding mountain towards home.  We gathered enough energy to play a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity before turning in for the night.
xo,
e
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Next Chapter Vineyard

photo 1-1 photo 1-2 photo 1 photo 2-2 photo 3-1 photo 3-2 photo 3 photo 4-1 photo 5-1 wine dog photo 4 wine photo 2 wine photo 5We have found an excellent little vineyard.  Next Chapter Vineyard in New Prague, MN ran a LivingSocial a few months back.  We choose a weekend for the Vine Pruning Experience.  This vineyard was a super small family operation out in the middle of nowhere.  We took a road trip and fell in love with every aspect.  The tool shed turned wine-tasting space.  The wall of mismatched odds and ends that Tim, the owner, uses for his wine creating.  The beautiful German Shepard puppy that followed us around everywhere, and of course, the delicious wine!

We spent a few hours in the early morning all bundled up with our pruning sheers.  Tim showed us how to properly prune the vines for optimal growth.  It was an almost therapeutic movement, row by row, moving so much that our freezing bodies were soon warm and comfortable.  We drank mulled wine as we worked and enjoyed the winter silence around us.

After we pruned for what seemed like hours, we had a lunch in the large tool shed.  There were about 6 large barrels, some of which used to be filled with Jack Daniels, filled with fermenting wine.  We drank red wine and white, straight from the barrel as well as from wine bottles.  Tim was charismatic and happily shared his thoughts on the wine industry and how Next Chapter Vineyard came to be.  He explained how vines don’t really show for the first four years.  There are four or five years of nothing but picking weeds – hearing that almost made my small dream of one day having my own vineyard, sour.  Instant gratification doesn’t work too well in this industry, eh?  The best comes to those who wait.

It was refreshing to hear Tim talk about the crazy world of wine and how there is such a snobbery, pretentious air around it.  He spoke about the wine spectator and the judging of different wines, where sometimes a glass of two buck chuck wins over a glass of $200 wine.  I agree with him that it’s very much so a scam.  It was such a fun experience to bullshit with him in this giant shed where the wine he has created over the years sits fermenting.  We’re all drinking wine.  He’s opening new bottles.  He’s explaining the process, the bottling process, his thoughts on wine in general.  He’s wearing a one-piece winter getup as his baby German Shepard is curled up as his feet.

Many glasses of wine later, after length conversation and laughter, a lot of the other LivingSocial voucher-holders parted.  They had other things they wanted to get done.  The four of us stayed back and soaked (literally) the experience in.  At one point, Timothy thanked us for coming and that was the end of our LivingSocial adventure.  He went back out to the vines to keep pruning.  We decided to clean up the lunch mess the dozen or so left behind and then we filled up our cups with some more of that delicious wine and headed out to the vineyard to find him.  He helped us trim some vine pieces to bring home and plant on our own land.  What a great experience – and we all got to take 2 bottles home with us!

In September they have what’s called a harvest, where the grapes are picked and the great stomp happens.  We hope to be a part of it and to stomp grapes classier than this lady does.

Wine does the heart good,

another day, another macchiato

Our two hostel mates (sisters from Canada) packed up loudly and left this morning pretty early. It was pretty rough trying to sleep while that went on so we started the day.

Another macchiato at the coffee shop to pair with our hostel breakfast. Fuel for a long days travel. We develop a secret code to use in case we need to dip out of a situation without offending who we’re around. (we would tell you, but then we’d have to kill you).

We pack all our belongings and hiked to the light rail. Before hoping on- we checked to see if ticket checkers were on board… nope. We rode free (scandalous!) like bandits fleeing the city.

The light rail brings us all the way to the Heuston train station. A one-way ticket to Galway (€20) and we’re off to platform 4. I looked everywhere for platform 9 3/4… nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, trains absolute rock. I love speeding past the countryside watching the rolling hills fly by. Dublin to Galway is clear across Ireland. Look it up if you’re curious!

Our trip takes about 2 and some hours. I plug in my earbuds to the iPad and the first song plays, “If I Die Young” – the Band Perry. This absolutely matches my mood. If I die young, I feel so blessed for all of the experiences I’ve had. It’s surreal to have that song play first as I’m rolling thru beautiful Ireland landscape. I can be proud that I’ve made this happen. I’ve worked hard to get here. I’ve accomplished dreams and made my life what it is. I wish more would make the most out of their time on this planet. *steps off soapbox

Halfway thru the ride, a lady rolls this giant 4-story snack cart down the aisle and I just about ask if she has any Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

I fall asleep listening to André Bocelli’s “Por Ti Volare” and swear there is nowhere else I would rather be in the world right now.

*sigh*

We arrive in Galway and walk thru Eyre Square to Kinley Hostel. Judging by the clothes, we are rooming with two guys. The hostel is in excellent condition and highly rated throughout the world. We are very excited for our next few days here.

Lunch is at Cafe Express, we grab sandwiches before exploring the town. Grilled chicken sandwich (€5.90) on the freshest homemade ciabatta ever. Two thumbs up.

It’s pretty interesting, there is no tipping in Ireland. Waitresses and servers don’t go out of their way to be friendly, nice, or cordial because… they aren’t working for tips. It’s something to get used to- entirely different from America. They come over and say, “what do you want?”, and leave.

The wind was blowing like crazy but we wanted to continue our exploration. All thru downtown Galway were street performers. Fire baton twirlers, a harpist, but my favorite were these 4, standing on metal poles and playing old-fashioned guitars. They got the change in my wallet.

We walked and walked all the way to the ocean. There were rugby teams playing in the tall grasses, abandoned boats tied to the pier, and greenery as far as the eye can see.

After a few photos, and battling the wind (literally), to stay standing, we worked our way back. A little downtime, a little retail therapy, and planning the next segments adventures worked up an appetite.

We found an off the beaten path ecofriendly and organic restaurant called mixgreens. The food was locally grown, super fresh and reasonable priced. Penne pasta with grilled chicken and spiced olives (€8.50). We noshed before calling it a night.

Deeply tired, blessed, content,

Xo
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anthems

We all have them – that one song we obsess over for a good 72 hour timeframe.  Mine fluctuate from country to hip hop to instrumental and all across the music genre spectrum.  Currently, my anthem is “Wild Ones” – Flo Rida ft. Sia.  The last couple days have held a solid 4 mile run with this number on loop.

The start of the music video has them skydiving over Dubai for crying out loud.  Sick!!

“Hey I heard you were a wild one.  Oooh.  If I took you home, it’d be a home run.  Show me how you’ll do.  I want to shut down the club with you!”

Done that.

 

xo.

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