Friday, April 29, 2011

Jug Wine

Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine
And a woman's lies make a life like mine

-- Hank Williams, Lost Highway

We recently made a trek out to Napa to visit the Wine Garage in Calistoga.


The wine garage is noted for seeking out and personally visiting small wineries throughout California, tasting each wine, and negotiating a price directly with the vintner. The result: superb wines for great prices.

They also have their own line of wines, including a couple of jug wines, which are pretty tasty. We liked the jug wine Bordeaux blend.


They have a "filling station" where they fill up the jugs.



They put on a label,


and voila!


After all the excitement at the Wine Garage, we headed down the road to see a friend of ours who pours at Monticello Vineyards,



played some tic tac toe,


and saw the Oreo cows.


Another successful trip to wine country!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter ....

... from the neighborhood bunny!

Elk

For the past several years, we have driven up the coast to Elk, CA, for my birthday. So, a couple of months ago, we took the trip north. The drive up Hwy 1 is beautiful,





although a bit curvy for those of us who get car sick.


We like to stay at the Elk Cove Inn, a great Bed & Breakfast right on the ocean.




The B&B serves a huge, delicious breakfast every morning, and hosts a wine happy hour every evening. Lucky for me, we usually visit during the Mendocino County Crab and Wine Days festival.


The local restaurants and wineries serve crab specials and treats. The B&B serves crab omelets and crab quiche. Tom does not like the crab, but seems to like the coffee.


After breakfast, it is relaxing to take a stroll on the small, yet stunning, beach down the hill from the inn.




There are scenic places near Elk that we like to explore. This year, we visited Van Damme State Park.


Although we were not dressed for it, Tom insisted that we take a hike through a swampy trail.


I was not amused, especially when I saw this sign,


but, being the good sport that I am, after carefully studying the mountain lion instructions, I went along. The area was beautiful and we had a nice, although muddy, walk through the bog.




Last year, we visited the Point Cabrillo Light Station.




We saw some lovely deer, which were interesting to see so near the ocean.




Tom tried to spot a whale, to no avail.


We also like to take a day trip up to Mendocino.




Mendocino was founded in 1850 as a logging community. It is now popular as an artist colony and tourist destination.

The Masonic Hall in Mendocino was built in 1866 of local redwood. The unique sculpture of Father Time and the Maiden, which adorns the cupola, was crafted from a single redwood trunk.



It is fun to meander through the various art galleries and shops,



and have a nice refreshment at the historic Mendocino Hotel.


This year, I came out of a shop to find Tom hangin' with one of the locals. We were told his name is Big Boy.


Big Boy had "lucky tongue" (or maybe he was just sticking his tongue out at me).


There are many windmills and water towers in Mendocino. The town did not originally have a central water system, so the windmills supplied the power to pump water from private wells. Some of the water towers are still functioning, although the windmills have been replaced by electric pumps.




Although we have never seen an elk in Elk, for which the town is named, the area would be great for bird watchers. Here is a montage of some of the indigenous fowl:






Usually, it is so cold when we visit, we do not get to take advantage of the outdoor decks and patios. This year, however, it was unseasonably warm, so we enjoyed the deck every afternoon.


Tom gave me a painting called "The Checkered Cat" for my birthday. He got it at a gallery when we were in Santa Barbara last year. He is a great husband!


The sunsets each evening were breathtaking.



On the way back to San Francisco, we like to drive down Route 128 through the redwood forests.


We enjoy visiting some of the Anderson Valley wineries, that specialize in pinots.

One of our favorites is Navarro Vineyards and Winery.


Another is Toulouse Vineyards.


They have tasting in the barn, just like we like it. However, by next year, they will have built a fancy tasting room. Last year, we met the winery dogs.



I'm already looking forward to next year!