Friday, April 3, 2015

Wine Not! Napa & Sonoma California

All things Wine Time!

Napa & Sonoma - California

A trip to Wine Country always starts off in the fabulous city of San Francisco. The seals, the bridge, the fisherman's wharf, Alcatraz...the sourdough bread.  San Francisco is a true San Francisco treat in itself.  For those of you who haven't made the trip from San Fran on into Sonoma/Napa - make sure you stop off after you cross over the bridge for this great opportunity to view the city and of course the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.  

Sonoma - The Quiet Neighbor to Napa

October in the Wine Country
We had a fab group of 12 ladies in our group on this trip.  My favorite site for booking vacation homes is  I personally like Airbnb over VRBO and HomeAway due to the fact they verify their owners and hold all $ till you check in.  To check out the 12 person home we stayed in see the link below:
Bora - the owner of the home was very easy to work with and the house was perfect.  
(Note: Sonoma has a noise ordinance - this peaceful town doesn't like the partiers so just know the party has to come in by 10pm)  Wine-Sleep-Repeat!

Okay okay... On to the WINE! 
Here are a few tips when traveling in a large group...
*Plan Ahead... Plan an Itinerary...Make Reservations at ALL Wineries you plan to visit.
*Coordinate Transportation - We Hired a Limo Bus
*Plan at least 2 Hours at Each Winery 
*Map the distance between each winery and give a copy of the itinerary to your driver in advance

Day 1 - First Stop 10:00am - Domaine Carneros

1240 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559 |  (707)257-0101

This hillside estate is the perfect way to begin your day.  Most known for its sparkling wine otherwise known as "California Champagne" - Domaine Carneros won't disappoint.  The abundance of sunshine and stunning views makes this patio perfection. 

Next stop: 
Lunch at Auberge de Soleil 
180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA 94573 | (707) 967-3111

Take all opportunities to have some fun (this is in the courtyard as you enter Auberge de Soleil)
The food here is to die for!  I had the Halibut... yum. Make sure you call WAY in advance for reservations - they only take reservations so far in advance so call and ask when the first opportunity is for you to make one and mark it on your calendar.  You won't be disappointed.  Request a table on the terrace - the views of neighboring vineyards makes the ambiance match the award winning food.

Raymond Vineyards - My #1
849 Zinfandel Lane, St. Helena, CA94574 | (707) 962-3141

I fell in love with this vineyard on my last trip here...So thankful I have a wine rep friend Stacie that recommended this to me so long ago.  Hands down the most whimsical vineyard I have ever been to... from its picture frames dangling in the front vineyard, to the dog kennels (frenchies) and on to the mischievous Red Room.    
The barrel room is an amazing setting for a tasting for your group.  When you call for your appointment you can request it - for non-club members it is $50 a person and well worth it!  They will even personalize a tasting menu as a take away for each person in your party.  
Yep - the Red Room... Red Velvet Everywhere.  If you are lucky enough to get in this room you will know what I am talking about.  It is gorgeous and so rich in a mixture of textiles from top to bottom!  

Before I Die... I Must Visit Sterling Vineyards!
1111 Dunaweal Lane, Callistoga, CA 94515 | (800) 726-6136

 This vineyard is one that you don't need to make a reservation for...  Just head on over and get a ticket and jump on the tram that takes you up to the castle.  The tram ride to the castle offers stunning views.  This vineyard has a self-guided tasting tour that takes you through the various parts of the castle while sampling their abundance of delicious wines.  
 We ended our tasting with a group tasting and cheese pairing in a private room.  You just can't go wrong with fabulous friends and yummy wine & cheese! 
Whew - that was the end of one day... Remember it's a marathon not a race!  

A few of the many reasons I loved staying in the quaint town of Sonoma:

- Beautiful walking trails and hiking trails - I love exploring new cities and finding new adventures.  
Sonoma Overlook Trail
- The Square! Sonoma square is covered with fun boutiques and restaurants and bars. 
Basque Boulangerie Café
Steiners Tavern - Best Dive Bar in Sonoma

Day 2 - Exploring Sonoma & Napa Wineries

Buena Vista Winery (Raymond's Sister Winery)
18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma, CA 95476  | (800) 926-1266
Meet "The Count"

Like Raymond - Buena Vista also has a VIP room - called the Champagne Room.  Another exclusive to club members - this room offers the opposite of Raymond's Red Room with its white leather and dripping Crystals.   Buena Vista was founded in 1857 and was California's first premium winery.  This experience offers the best of old meets new.  

Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery
389 4th Street E., Sonoma, CA 95476  | (707)933-3230

We loved our little pop in to this gem in the heart of Sonoma.  Fantastic wine!  They were so gracious to let us take over an area for our boisterous group! 

STOP THE CAR - Silver Oak Cellars! 
915 Oakville Cross Road, Oakville, CA 94562  |  (707) 942-7022

A few of us made a special trip to go see this one...  A Deb G. Favorite!
I left with a very special (and pricy) bottle of wine safe guarded in a mound of bubble wrap... This is a great special occasion wine and delicious! 

And we set out for yet another day... Day 3

Francis Ford Coppola - Rustic 
300 Via Archimedes, CA. 95441 | (707) 857-1485

 Some days you just need to start off with lunch... We started our day with the limo bus driving us up to Geyserville to the Francis Ford Coppola Estate.  You would think the vine covered hills never end up this way.  Another place where the patio seating is a must.  Francis has his movies and quirky since of charm written all over the inside of this stunning vineyard.  Don't miss taking the time to tour  around while you are here.  This is a place you could easily spend 3 hours eating, tasting and touring.

The view from the terrace at Rustic

Mazzocco Vineyards 
1400 Lytton Springs Road, Healdsburg, CA. 95448 | (800) 501-8466

 This boutique winery is known for its Zinfandels.  I am growing my pallet for red wine and fell head over heals for their Maria Zin.  I shipped some home and have already made another order.  Do it!  Do it! Do it!  The Flight Lounge Experience is a great way to taste their offerings.

Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards
9825 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA. 95452 | (707) 282-1537

 The Hilltop Tasting was the best reservation we made... Upon arrival you board a limo bus that takes you up the winding trail to the top.  At the top, a tasting area is set up with chairs and stools and of course - the wine!  There isn't much out there to me that beats this and the fun we had a Kunde.  Our fabulous host showed us an amazing time and allowed us to have a bit of fun (ok - a lot of fun)!  

B.R. Cohn Winery
15140 Highway 12, Glen Ellen, CA 95442  |  (707) 938-4064

I treasure this place!  Who can't fall in love with string lights, magical nights, great music, fabulous wine with an amazing wine country backdrop.  I felt like I was in a movie here... Like a RomCom but with all my girlfriends.  Haha!  If you are ever here on a Saturday night take advantage of their concert series and join in on a night under the stars at B.R. Cohn Winery.  

My final thoughts as I put a wrap on this episode of Pin Your Map...

I came across this quote that was on a brick bench on the hike up Sonoma's Overlook Trail.  
I dont know who Charles Lemme is, but what I do know is that this quote spoke to me and was a gentle reminder to be just "you".  I imagine that Charles left his legacy on the hearts of those he left behind.  So this "me" that's being "me" is wishing "you" that's being "you" a lifetime of love and adventure.
Now get out there and Pin Your Map!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

To Love Me...

Turks & Caicos

Clear Blue Tranquility - My Island - Pure Fun

After traveling to many...actually most of the Caribbean Islands, I have to say hands down this was my favorite.  Was it an island and was it to be what I expected like all the others... the short answer is NO.  This magical island so full of life had so much more to offer than I had ever expected.  

After many months of going back and forth on Trip Advisor trying to decide where to stay we finally decided on Seven Stars.  I think I stalked the web daily watching prices fluctuate...  I finally booked on Orbitz due to the ability to cancel up to 3 weeks prior to arrival.  I used this free cancel option once and ended up very impressed with SEVEN STARS RESORT.  This moderately priced (moderate for the island - which is high by most standards) hotel was a perfect selection on Grace Bay Beach.  And we may have been drawn to the free breakfast.  Two thumbs up for Seven Stars!

At Seven Stars Beach Bar

Crystal Clear!
Wow - the water - clarity and color are no joke.  I think this was the most beautiful water I have ever ever ever!  It was sometimes hard to tell the sky from the water...and not to mention the sand was like butter...silky and smooth!  Oh yeah there's no need for water shoes here... you can walk out for yards still feeling the sand between your toes -not to mention seeing your toes too!  

A True Island Experience!
Anyone that knows me knows that I am always up for an adventure...I mean I like to go an really experience everything a place has to offer.  I say you haven't truly traveled to a place unless you have a true experience!  I don't do touristy stuff...But I do love an adventure. 
Island Dancers & Musicians
I had read about a FISH FRY that the island (Provo) has every Thursday night from we ventured out for a night of shenanigans. 
Known as a culinary explosion, this must do takes getting to know the island to a whole-other-level! 
I Heart Rum Punch and the Macarena...
I can't say we took part in the eating but we sure did get down and drink some Rum Punch!   We met two sisters from Minnesota that night and danced the night way.  Ummm yo Elizabeth and sister girls ROCK!  Yet another amaze balls part of traveling - MEETING NEW FRIENDS!

What Did You Say - A Conch Fest?
Once a year Provo locals, hotels and chefs get together for the Conch Festival... Its kinda like Forrest Gump and his shrimp... there was conch prepared every which way you could imagine.  I think I ate conch 15 different ways.  The top hotels and restaurants participate for the win.  
(and what better thing to do when it pours down rain)

Oh and did I forget to mention there was a MAJITO competition?  Troy and I were selected as judges.... maybe we looked like tourist or something.  
Well anyway - I say WIN WIN!  SLURP SLURP! 

No Provo visit is complete without some Potcake Love....  
Potcakes are the dogs of the island... some strays and some owned these doggies capture the hearts of many visitors.  You can even adopt one for the time you are here or even take one home with you permanently.  I met this lil' booger at Sharkbite Bar and Grill - I HIGHLY recommend!  Pop on over this bar and grill for some grub and drinks...located on the marina.  Back to the pup... to learn more about adoption: 

A Token Snorkel Trip...
But anything but ordinary...
This was an amazing morning - yes it may have rained throughout most of the snorkel but nothing could take away from the beauty. When you go...not if you go - This is a MUST DO!  Island Vibes was our tour company that we booked on site at our hotel.  The guys took great care of us...providing great celeb stories and fresh conch.  

Please do me a favor and add this spectacular island to your bucket/pin your map list.  

"Please be a traveler, not a tourist.  Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what is right in front of you.  Those are the keys to understanding the amazing world we live in." 
- Andrew Zimmern

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Caribbean
Toes in the Sand...Drinks in your Hand

We recently did a 2 week cruise to the Caribbean stopping in:

San Juan, Puerto Rico
*Explore Old San Juan - I love the cobblestone streets
*Visit the forts - amazing views
*Get out of the city - Great Hiking!

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
*Magens Bay is so-so... I suggest exploring other beaches like Koki
*If you like to shop - shop!!
*Very commercialized.... if you are looking for seclusion - go to St. John for the day!
*Go have a drink at Johnny's Bar - he makes a killer Rum Punch!

Tortola, British Virgin Islands
*Have a drink at Village Cay overlooking the marina
*Easy trip to neighboring islands
*Very secluded & laid back

Virgin Gorda
*Use Tortola as your hub to get to Virgin Gorda
*Find a guy named Dion - he will take you to Virgin Gorda for $50 a person
*Go to Virgin Gorda early... we went at 9am and beat all the crowds
*Explore the caves and climb the boulders - AMAZING!

Saint John's, Antigua
*Very underdeveloped roads - but I still recommend renting a car and exploring
*Visit the donkey sanctuary - make a donation - see a famous donkey
*Skip Nelson's Dockyard - not worth it!!
*Visit Devils Bridge
*Have a drink at Harbor View Bar & Cafe and watch the cruise ships (Have a Wadadli - local beer)

Roseau, Dominica
*One of my most favorite places EVER!!!
*Nature Lovers Paradise
*Visit Emerald Pool (go early beat the crowds)
*Titou Gorge is absolutely amazing (a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was filmed here)
*Trafalgar Falls (as seen below) hot water, cold water and 2 spectacular waterfalls
*Have a Kubuli (Local Beer)

Bridgetown, Barbados
*Go to Blue Monkey Beach - take your snorkel gear with you and you can shore snorkel out to the sea turtles
*Snorkeling with the sea turtles in their natural environment was one of the coolest things I have ever done!  Don't forget a water camera - you won't want to miss these pics!
*Negotiate beach chairs - you shouldn't pay more than $10 for 2 chairs
*Check out Harbor Lights Beach Bar - rent chairs and snorkel with more sea turtles and an awesome ship wreck

St. Maarten
*Topless to the left, Nude to the Right - Very European = Very Nude
*Rent a Jeep
*Go to the Butterfly Farm - it's nice to do things you never get to do - so why not??
*Orient Beach - rent beach chairs and sit back for some interesting people watching! - enough said!
*Bring your own water chair and sit back and enjoy view like the one below....

St. Lucia
*Climb the Gros Piton - a difficult but worthy climb to the top!
*Beware of winding roads - car sickness is not fun!  I know!  Take a boat rather than a van to the Pitons - 1.5 hours away from the cruise ship dock one way.

*The island of SPICE!  Don't leave without taking the tastes of the island home with you!
*The beach is close by the cruise ship... Catch a water taxi and enjoy the day!

Kralendijk, Bonaire
*Dive, Snorkel... do either, do both - just do it! 
*I would live here!  This place is gorgeous! 
*Take a water taxi to No Name Beach - take your snorkel gear with you and drift snorkel straight from the shore.  There is NOTHING on this beach - just leave your stuff and walk down the beach and enter the water at one of the entry points. 
*Best Snorkeling EVER!
*Watch the sunset a Karel's Beach Bar - a great place to grab a drink and some food right on the water.

Oranjestad, Aruba
*Rent a four wheeler or motorcycle
*Explore the island from top to bottom - from the lighthouse to the wildlife park, to the caves to Baby Beach... Lots to see and do!
Eat Funchi - a local dish in Aruba - cornmeal fried with melted cheese on top.... Drink Balashi and Balashi Chill... locally brewed beer in Aruba
*The sand bar at Baby Beach is amazing...

I totally recommend this cruise via Princess Cruise Line.  Its 2 weeks of new islands every day and only 2 sea days.  If you want a great way to see as much of the Caribbean as possible in a short period of time...this is for you.  Nothing beats waking up every morning on a different island....going all day... and coming back to the ship a night for great entertainment and an awesome dinner.  We loved our trip and I would be happy to answer any questions on any of these message me! 
Bon Voyage and keep traveling my friends!!