Walking in a vineyard

Wineries of Fairplay | Cedarville Winery

Cedarville Vineyard is one of my favorite wineries of Fairplay.  Cedarville, owned by the amazing husband and wife duo of Jonathan Lachs and Susan Marks, is sustainably and organically farmed.  They have amazing underground caves they designed to store wine, feature owl boxes to assist with pest control, and use rotating grasses, weeds and other crops under the vines to help keep soil healthy and pests to a minimum.  Jonathan and Susan were looking for a slew of marketing photos to have at their disposal for the vineyard.  It didn’t take much convincing (or any at all) to get me and some of my favorite people to the vineyard for a tour, a wine tasting, a picnic spread and some wandering among the vines.

Cedarville Vineyard is located in Somerset, CA and welcomes visitors for tours, tasting, and sales by appointment only. You can either email or call 530-620-9463 to set up an appointment.  You won’t regret it and tell them I sent you!

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Winter Trip in Paris

Winter Trip to Paris | Travel Guide

Paris, je t’aime.

When I had to make a trip to London this past January, I decided that I wanted to tack on at least one other major European city to explore.  With a couple of girlfriends on board, we decided that Paris was the perfect location for a winter girls’ trip.  Wine, cheese, croissants, art, and scarves – what’s not to love about winter in Paris?  Oh, and there’s no tourists to be seen save us. 

24 hours into our trip and I had already fallen in love.  Meals are three hour affairs involving multiple courses shared languidly over intimate conversations with wine.  Everyone is impeccably dressed, there is a cheese shop on every corner, directly next to the bakery, and you can’t find a bad glass of wine if you tried.

We spent over a week in this historic and entrancing city and I can’t wait to return.  

Here’s a few of my favorite images from the trip, along with some that we hired Flytographer to take for us, along with recommendations for your winter trip to Paris.

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STAY: Montmarte was our favorite neighborhood, but you also can’t go wrong with the Marais.

EAT: I dare you to find a bad bottle of wine in this city.  I double dog dare you to find bad cheese.  Doesn’t fucking exist.

  • Anne and I had been anxious to try out EatWith ever since we’d heard about the concept: EatWith’s goal is to bring strangers and travelers together at tables around the world in local’s homes.  You sign up to eat with others and learn about new cultures and food traditions and Paris seemed like the perfect place to try it out.  We absolutely adored our meal with Claudine more than any other meal we had the entire trip.  It was incredibly memorable from start to finish – so much so that we ended up inviting her to join us for dinner later that week.  I’m feeling thankful to have had such a unique experience and to make a new friend!
  • Restaurant Jeanne B in Montmarte feels a bit like stepping into a charming farm-style delicatessen, if that is a thing.  Spiraling sausages hang from the ceiling and the daily changing menu is presented on chalkboards at your table.  We enjoyed the experience and the variety so much, it became the only spot we returned to twice on our trip.
  • The cathedral like ceiling and mirrored accents make the sparsely decorated Daroco feel extra chic but also warm  and cozy somehow.  They offer wood fired pizzas and homemade pasta for those looking for a bit of comfort in an incredibly stylish setting.
  • Do not confuse Les 110 de Taillevent with it’s 3 star Michelin rated big brother around the corner.  Although, if you do, they are used to it and will simply direct you to where you are supposed to go.  Despite showing up late, they will graciously seat you amongst the 110 options for wines by the glass and feed you stunningly prepared food.
  • Our favorite meal in Marais was at Le Dôme du Marais, which feels remarkably like eating in your own private garden.  The building was originally utilized as an auction house to fight against poverty thanks to Louis XVI.  It’s absolutely stunning inside and the food is exquisite to match.

DRINK:

  • We were told by no less than 10 people that a drink at Les Philosophers was a must.
  • We spent an extraordinary amount of time at Le Gisou, partially because it was literally across the street from our flat, but also because it was charming, cozy, had a great staff and an even better bathroom.
  • The Bar Hemingway is a must visit, but only for one drink, because that’s all you can afford.
  • The Bistrologist is perfect for late night cocktails.  Their drinks are inventive, the decor dimly lit and intimate, and it feels a bit like a speakeasy.  The kitchen also stays open really late if you find yourself wandering the streets and starving at midnight.

EXPLORE

  • After doing the graffiti street tour in Bogota, Colombia, Anne and I have been inspired to find more walking tours, whether street art related or not.  Paris actually offers it’s own street art walking tour hosted by Street Art Paris.  They offer tours in Montmarte, the Left Bank, and the one we chose, Belleville.  Since we were staying in Montmarte, we thought it would be nice to explore a neighborhood we weren’t already wandering on our own.
  • The cooking classes at La Cuisine Paris are worth the expense!  We participated in the market class, which starts off in a nearby outdoor market.  You collectively pick a plan for your meal, shop for ingredients, and then return to the La Cuisine kitchens to prep, cook and share your meal together.  It was a wonderful experience and I was even able to come back home and recreate most of the aspects of the meal on my own from memory!
  • If you’re a wino like me, a wine tasting is a must-do.  The classes at O Chateau will walk you through the French vineyards and regions.  We walked away with a much greater appreciation of French varietals and their appellation system.
  • Gonçalo Silva was Flytographer’s first ever photographer hire and I was pretty excited to meet him and have him do a Paris portrait session for us.  We ended up having a blast wandering the charming streets of Montmarte with him and another Flytographer photographer, James.   We all loved each other’s company so much that two bars and a meal later, we finally concluded our evening together!

  • Fondation Louis Vuitton is an incredible display of design, color and architecture designed by Frank Gehry.  While we were visiting, they were hosting a traveling exhibit of 130 artworks collected by Sergei Shchukin, on display for the first time outside of Russia.  It was a really incredible collection, featuring tons from Matisse and Gauguin, not to mention the building itself.
Tahoe Happy Hour

Vacation like a Local: the Best Happy Hours in Tahoe South

  Whether you’re putting the icing on the cake of an otherwise amazing day of skiing, or just doing some day drinking in honor of your vacation, here’s a local’s guide to the best happy hours in Tahoe South.

Jimmy’s at The Landing Resort and Spa

Jimmy’s remains one of my favorite places to imbibe in Tahoe and not just because of their new happy hour specials!  Happy hour occurs daily from 3-6 pm and features a small plates sample menu from classically trained chef Maria Elia, $8 glasses of the red and white wine of the day, $5 draft beers and $8 margaritas.  I love their California twist on Greek cuisine and everything on the menu is stellar.  The fig, feta and pear flatbread pizza is not to be missed and the pork belly souvlaki is always a wise choice.

The Chart House

In addition to it’s impeccable views, The Chart House features one of the best happy hours on the lake!   Sundays to Fridays from 4:30-6:30 PM, The Chart House offers a variety of $7 martinis, $6 cocktails, $5 wines by the glass, $4 well spirits and $3.25 premium drafts.  If that isn’t enough to convince you to stop in, perhaps the $6 Ahi Nachos or $5 calamari small plates will.

Basecamp Pizza

After a long day at Heavenly, there is no need to trek far for an exceptional happy hour.  Basecamp Pizza is located in the center of the Heavenly Village and features live music almost every day of the week.   Happy hour occurs daily from 2:00-6:00 PM and features $5 house wine and $3 drafts.  If you’re hungry after shredding all day, look no farther because their happy hour also offers a $12 personal sized pizza and draft beer special!

Azul Latin Kitchen

If pizza isn’t what you are craving, just head around the corner to the Heavenly Village’s newest addition Azul Latin Kitchen.  Happy hour happens here daily from 2:00-6:00 PM and features a $5 taco and Tecate special, $5 house margs, $3 draft beers and wells, $1.50 chips and salsa and more.  Just a tip though: you must sit in the bar to take advantage of happy hour prices.

Napa Girls Weekend

Napa Vacation Photographer | Sonoma | Published at TrueBlu

This was the best job ever.

I had so much fun with these ladies.

How about more people hire me to photograph their day wine tasting?   Please and thank you.

Big thanks to Trueblu who agrees that these girls know how to vacation properly.  You can also follow Trueblue on Facebook, Pinterst, Instagram and Twitter.

Wine Tasting in Amador County

What’s better than a weekend wine getaway at friend’s ranch in the Amador County Wine Country for Easter weekend?

The answer: a weekend wine getaway at a friend’s ranch in Amador County Wine Country for Easter weekend where we have an adult Easter Egg Hung and roast a lamb.

Pleasantly warm temperatures, abundant sunshine, good friends and a lot of wine equal quite possibly the best weekend ever.  Add some charcuterie and cheese plates to the mix and the whole weekend becomes as delectable as burrata on toast.

Want your own Amador County wine weekend?

STAY:

PLAY:

  • The roads in Amador County are perfect for road biking so bring your bikes along and tour the wineries in the best way possible.  There is a limited amount of road routes available at this site, but from what I can tell, most of the roads we were on, including the main highways, would be amazing to ride on.

EAT:

  • Taste has a rotating menu of seasonal ingredients and you can get an appetizer and beverage pairing for $13 at Thirteen Dollar Thursdays at the Wine Bar.
  • Andrae’s Bakery is heaven from the tables of cookbooks outside the door to the breads, pastries and sweets that line the glass counter inside.  Make sure you pick up some of their specialty sea salts while you’re there.  The Mediterranean Blend is great to coat on grilled fish, chicken or veggies and the Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt can’t be beat for steaks and burgers.

DRINK:

  • Holly’s Hill is my most favorite winery of all time. It’s not on the fastest road to Amador, but you should totally take the long way to Plymouth and Sutter Creek vie El Dorado County and stop into Holly’s Hill. Their staff is unbeatable and their grounds are gorgeous.  Nearby Madroña Vineyards is also always a clear winner.  I love their zinfandel.
  • Helwig has beautiful grounds with an amazing outdoor amphitheater.  Large groups can reserve the private tasting room for a true tour of what Helwig has to offer.  Check out their summer concert series schedule – buy a bottle (or three) of wine and take a picnic to enjoy the summer nights.
  • Cooper Vineyards is a favorite.   The owner, the grounds and the atmosphere are relaxed and unpretentious.   Locals love to visit on the nights they host their “Old-Timers’ Music Jam.”
  • Turley is one of my most favorite wineries of all time.  I can still remember the first time I ever took a sip of their wine.   Their wine is hard to come by and a must order when I find it on restaurant wine lists.  The tasting room is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Wine

Wine Tasting in Tahoe South

Whether I’m in the need of an after work respite for happy hour or on vacation, a glass of wine always makes me sublimely happy.   Luckily, Tahoe South has plenty of options for those seeking an afternoon wine tasting, any day of the week!

Jimmy’s at The Landing

Recently opened Jimmy’s Restaurant is one of my favorite new Tahoe South dining locations.  Thanks to their staff’s exceptional attention to detail, their inventive California inspired menu from Chef Maria Elia featuring locally sourced fresh ingredients, and an extensive wine list, I am already a frequent diner.  Now that Jimmy’s is offering a complimentary nightly wine tasting every day of the week from 4:30-5:30, you may be able to find me here every night!

Show up to the bar at Jimmy’s and be led by their staff through a daily discovery of wines from their extensive and impressive hand selected cellar of more than 2,000 bottles from over 250 producers.  Then, stay and order one of Maria Elia’s delectable small plates.  My personal favorites are the Wood Grilled Octopus, the Roasted Beet and Apple Salad, and the Kataifi Wrapped Feta.

 

968 Park Hotel

968 Park Hotel offers guests and locals complimentary wine tasting, hosted by local Sierra Nevada foothill wineries every Friday night in the Coffeepub.  Upcoming participating vineyards include Madrona Vineyards, Lava Cap WineryBumgarner Winery, and more!  The wine tastings are accompanied by live music every Friday night from 5:30-7:30 PM.

Picchetti Winery

The Picchetti Winery Tasting Room is conveniently located in Al Tahoe, in the center of Tahoe South on the corner of San Jose and Hwy 50.  The tasting room offers complimentary wine tasting to Picchetti Wine Club Members or $10 sample flights for non-members.  If the weather is pleasant, the tasting room offers a quaint and idyllic backyard to relax in.  Bring a picnic and purchase a bottle of your favorite wine sample to enjoy with your lunch in their gorgeous lawn.   The tasting room is open daily from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Tahoe Ridge Winery and Marketplace

The Tahoe Ridge Winery and Marketplace is located just over the pass in picturesque town of Minden, NV, Tahoe Ridge Winery offers the perfect combination of high desert scenery and wine tasting!  Join them on May 17th for live music, great wine and fun at their Grape Stomp and Deck Opening Party or stop into the winery tasting room Tuesday through Sunday starting at 11:00 AM.  The winery is closed on Mondays and closes at 3:00 PM on Sundays.

Red Poets and Skyhawk Lane Tasting Room

Located in the Heavenly Village features fine wines and gourmet foods in a relaxed atmosphere.  You can order wine by the taste, flight, glass or bottle.  The Tasting Room is conveniently located near the Heavenly Village Cinemas and some of Tahoe’s best shopping, so stop in while perusing the racks or before catching a flick with your friends!

 

I taste good

I hopped over to Los Angeles this week to rendezvous with my best mate after working at El Tour de Tucson.  We had a serious weekend of wine drinking, cooking and relaxing on our agenda.  The first stop on Saturday: LA’s Wine House, which had the biggest selection of regionally organized Italian Wines I’d ever seen.  They also had a ton of  harder to find favorites like Patz & Hall.  What caught my eye, however, was this gem:

“THAT’S MY NAME!” I yelled.  The sales agent unpacking wine on the aisle laughed and said I better buy it.  I was a little expensive – $30 on sale down from $55.  At least I know my worth is significant.

I couldn’t find a ton of information about Lindley Wines online.  Their website is still under construction.  Despite the fact that owners Jake and Frankie Lindley just started making wines (2011 was their first vintage), the wine was surprising smooth and quite delightful (I would expect me to be a bit more bitter and snappy).

End of story: I’d buy me again.  Or maybe they should just give me some.

Destination Wedding | A Bachelorette Party in Temecula

I know I don’t have to tell you that one of my favorite things in the world is wine.

I’ll tell you again.

I love wine.

So, when I received the amazingly cute invitation for my best mate Haley’s Bachelorette Day in Temecula Wine Country, you know I was excited.  Haley’s Maid of Honor did an abfab job of planning a day for all of the women: a limo tour of wine country, complete with tastings at four vineyards, a delicious lunch at The Pinnacle at Falkner Winery, and just when we thought it couldn’t get better, dinner at Public House on Main Street in Old Town Temecula.

Haley

Our first stop on the tour was Briar Rose Winery, a vineyard with a very interesting story: in the 1970′s, a Disney employee responsible for the construction of Disneyland’s Fantasyland and Toon Town, Beldon Fields purchased land in Temecula and built replicas of Snow White’s cottage for his wife.  Flash forward to the 1990′s.  Les and Dorian Linkogle purchase the estate from the Fields, promising not to change the Snow White Cottages.  Today, the family grows Viognier, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling grapes and make wine.  Dorian, who is an absolute delight, greeted us personally at our limo door, ushered us inside and gave Haley a beautiful story about marriage, what will make it work and how a simple rose will help her get through the tough times.  It was a wonderfully memorable experience.

Our next stop was Falkner Winery, which sits atop a 1500 foot hill that offers unparalleled views of the grapevine filled valley below.  I really enjoyed their Viognier, one of my favorite grapes, which was done in a style a bit more similar to the dryer versions I am used to here in El Dorado County .  We also ate lunch at Falkner in their on site restaurant, The Pinnacle (menu here).  The reviews on Yelp are a bit all over the place, but I can say with confidence that I enjoyed my meal.  I would recommend the Apple and Walnut Baked Brie and the Seafood Portofino.

Our next stop was my favorite from the day: Leoness Cellars.  The wine was stunning and the service was spectacular.  They ushered us into a private tasting room where Dawn explained everything from how certain wines are made, how long they age, what the names of ridiculously large bottles are, how we should eat port and chocolates, to the history of the vineyard and it’s grapes.  We loved it and of all the wineries I visited this day, Leoness is the one I recommend the most.  My favorites included the Viognier, the Melange de Reves, the Meritage, the Syrah, and finally, to be consumed with truffles, the Cinsaut Desert Wine.

Our last stop on the winery tour was Wilson Creek Winery which won extra bonus points for having the owner’s dog wandering around.  Their list of wines is as extensive as their property and choosing just four to taste was difficult.

Last but certainly not least of the day was our dinner at Public House, whose menu was so extensive and amazing sounding that we all ordered WAY too much food.  Their mac’n’cheese changes EVERY DAY.  EVERY DAY.   They have MF’ing grilled romaine.  And they made me a real margarita.  Also, they have a kobe beef burger on the menu and it explicitly says that the chef will not cook it well done, so don’t ask.  Legit.

Want your own Temecula Wine Tasting Day?

RIDE:

  • There are plenty of limo and tour countries in Temecula.  For $105 a person, tastings included, 8 of us cruised around in style for 10 full hours thanks to Sunset Limo Wine Tours.  Our day included a complimentary bottle of champagne to get our morning started right and souvenir wine glasses.

EAT:

  • Holy gastro-pub Batman, I would travel to Temecula to eat at Public House.  Not kidding.  Their outdoor patio was perfectly comfortable and inviting, the beer and wine list inventive and local and their menu overwhelming in its awesomeness.
  • Falkner Winery’s Pinnacle Restaurant is a wise choice if you are spending all day tasting. I enjoyed both the meal and the view and while it’s no Public House, it’s an enjoyable place to eat.

DRINK:

  • Our day included tastings at Briar Rose Winery, Falkner, Leoness Cellars and Wilson Creek Vineyards, but you can incorporate any of the Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association Vineyards and Wineries into your choices for the day.  It’s almost like you get to choose your own adventure.  No, wait, it’s exactly like you get to choose your own adventure.

Of Bicycles and Summer | Road Cycling in Tahoe

Lookit what I found.

Acheson Art Wine Goblets.

It’s WINE GLASSES WITH BICYCLES ON THEM.

I had to have them of course!

I found them at Velo Vino in Napa, but you can apparently buy them online AND get pilsner glasses with bicycles on them also.  The glasses are hand blown, thin and large enough to make me feel “fancy” while I’m drinking my wine at night at home.  Yes.  That’s right: I like to drink wine out of giant goblets so that I feel fancy every night.

Terry takes a break on the bridge overlooking the West Fork of the Carson River in Hope Valley, CA

In other bicycling related stories, I managed to get out on a bike ride that lasted longer than 45 minutes with my friend Terry this week.  We went up and over Luther Pass to Hope Valley and then cruised back up the Old Luther Hwy to the top.  It’s such a gorgeous ride and I was super stoked to have some company.  Pardon the iphone photos.  Needless to say, I don’t carry my fancy camera with me everywhere.

Cruising up Old Luther Hwy in Hope Valley, CA.

If you’ve never road biked over Luther Pass, make sure you do it via the local’s route:  climb up South Upper Truckee Rd through the campground to the top of Luther, descent hwy 89 down into Hope Valley, head west at Pickett’s Junction and then turn into the USFS parking lot for the fishing platforms.  Ride the path for the fishing platforms across the bridge and it will turn into the Old Luther Hwy, which you can climb (but not descend) back up to the top of the pass.  Drop down Hwy 89 back into Meyers for a really fast descent with wide open corners and smooth pavement.

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Amador County Wine Weekend

After America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride Week, I’m generally turned into mush.  It’s the busiest week of the year for my retail store and we do more business in a few days than we do all winter.  It’s super fun and intense but overwhelming and exhausting.

On Monday, I accidentally threw away all the petty cash receipts from the weekend and had to go dumpster diving.  That happened.

On Tuesday, when the three year old I nanny for started crying at the beach and pretty much fell apart, I almost started crying with him.  That happened.

I decided that I needed a mini-vacay.

When I suggested it to a few friends who have flexible (or no) schedules, an amazing plan came together: to head to Amador County and Plymouth, CA on a Girls’ Wine “Weekend” where we could wine taste, laze around, cook delish dinners and generally just relax at the vacation home of Anne’s family.  My “weekends” off are almost always mid-week days and this was the most wonderful weekend I’ve had in a long while.

It was perfect.

Amador Montage 2We drank way too much wine.  Wait, is there such a thing?

There is.  It equates to me falling asleep, in my clothes, at 9 PM, on top of the bed.

We drank the Grenache Rosé from Holly’s Hill Winery and the Sauvignon Blanc from Helwig.

We ate walnut blue cheese bread with our morning frittatas that was to die for from Andrae’s Bakery in Sutter Creek.

Amador Montage 1

Want your own Amador County wine weekend?

STAY:

PLAY:

  • The roads in Amador County are perfect for road biking so bring your bikes along and tour the wineries in the best way possible.  There is a limited amount of road routes available at this site, but from what I can tell, most of the roads we were on, including the main highways, would be amazing to ride on.

EAT:

  • Anne was waxing and waning over Taste where they have a rotating menu of seasonal ingrediants and you can get an appetizer and beverage pairing for $13 at Thirteen Dollar Thursdays at the Wine Bar.
  • Andrae’s Bakery is heaven from the tables of cookbooks outside the door to the breads, pastries and sweets that line the glass counter inside.  Make sure you pick up some of their specialty sea salts while you’re there.  I brought home a Medetarranian Blend to coat on grilled fish and chicken and the Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt for red meat.

DRINK:

  • Holly’s Hill is my most favorite winery of all time. It’s not on the fastest road to Amador, but you should totally take the long way to Plymouth and Sutter Creek vie El Dorado County and stop into Holly’s Hill. Their staff is unbeatable and their grounds are gorgeous.  Nearby Madroña Vineyards is also always a clear winner.  I love their zinfandel.
  • Helwig had beautiful grounds, snotty girls behind the counter, and wine that was a little too sweet for my taste, but I would totally go back for some of their summer concert series.  The winery itself is absolutely stunning with lots of deep stained woodwork and metals.
  • Cooper Vineyards is a favorite of Anne’s family. They love the owner, the grounds and the atmosphere and although we didn’t make it over there on this visit, it’s on my list for next time.