California ~ part 1

Saturday, July 10, 2010 |
Every time I sit down to catch up something calls my attention and I'm off. I feel like summer is half over and I'm running in circles. Please tell me I'm not the only one feeling like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere fast.

Let's try this one more time ...

This trip was not like any of our others we've taken together. There was an element of magic flying into an airport, having your husband waiting for you and spending the next few days with no agenda. I vaguely remember something similar to this ... I believe it was called dating :)

The first day we went to Santa Barbara. A friend of mine told me that we had to go see their farmers market. It's huge with street after street lined with the most amazing fresh vegetables, fruits, plants and flowers. I've never seen anything so beautiful. We bought strawberries that I'm positive were grown in fields of sugar ~ they were the sweetest strawberries I've ever tasted. To our bag we added peaches, cherries, brie and bread. Our little picnic for the car ride ahead.

The beaches were huge! I love the colorful life guard stations ~ each one is just as bright but painted differently. Kevin told me if I ate all my supper he would take me down to the pier for the carni rides. Sounded tempting but we opted for another glass of wine and a local jazz band. What a relaxing way to wind down the day ~ I could SO get use to this!


Bright and early {as in 3am} I was awake and ready to start the day. Yea, that time change did play a few tricks on me. A few hours later my husband {who had already adjusted to the time} joined me in my excitement to head to Paso Robles.

I've never been to California so I didn't really know what to expect. It's very brown with the exception of the very green leaves on vines and trees and then there is the amazing hilly background.

We hit our first vineyard and met the nicest people.

**I have to stop here and tell you that every single person we met in every single place we went were so incredibly nice!  One does not find this in New England. It was an unexpected delightful treat that I missed horribly the minute we returned home.**

Back to the vineyards ...

Each and every one was different and had their own little niche. I was surprised to learn that there are 6 different micro climates in Paso Robles. This affects the grapes and their flavor, hence the flavor of the wine.

Long ago Kevin and I learned to split a tasting if you're going to visit more than one vineyard. As hard as this is to hear and do, discard wine that doesn't suit your pallet.


 Driving along I was in awe of how the vines are planted. It's like a patchwork quilt. They are in all direction and terrains ~ if there is an available spot, there is a vine! Most vineyards have roses to control the pests but Justin’s had a quaint rose garden in front of their tasting room.
 We visited lovely vineyards and sampled many fabulous wines during our stay. My favorites {so hard to only share a few} were:

Maloy O'Neill ~ smooth and elegant

Jada ~ fun family story

Justin ~ gorgeous inside and out.

Sculpterra ~ must see just for the art sculptures

Cass ~ great little bistro on property for lunch and a glass of wine ~ yum!

Chateau Julien~ my favorite chard

Tobin James ~ a must see; must taste; must experience!
This was hands down the liveliest vineyard. The tasting room staff was a hoot. I didn't want to leave. Everyone we talked to LOVED this place. They have 3 events a year and yes, we are going back to attend one (someday) just on word of mouth.

After such fun I asked my husband if he would buy me a vineyard for Christmas ~ you can guess the answer to that one!
We did however learn that most owners fronted the money for the vineyard and learned along the way. The first lesson, and a financial one at that, is to hire a very knowledgeable wine maker. This is the person that will get your name out and make your wine marketable

During our stay in the area we collected a phenomenal sampling of local wines that we cannot acquire in Connecticut. Not all California vineyards have licenses to ship to Connecticut so we collectively put a few cases together of our featured wines and shipped them home.

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Suburban Princess said...

This sounds like such an amazing trip! I love your photos and cant wait to see what else you did while you were there!

Town and Country Mom said...

I'm so glad you had a wonderful trip! I would love to make a similar trip someday, so thanks for all the great suggestions!

Casey said...

I'm just catching up with blogs, and I love, love your pictures of CA. We lived in northern CA for five years back in the day and I'm missing it. I too tasted strawberries grown in fields of sugar there... once when I was pregnant with Liam we pulled off the side of the road and I ate so many, I think the farmer who sold them thought something was wrong with me. Yum. I have never tasted any as sweet since....

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

You're right...the summer is flying by and I haven't had ANY vacation. My husband and I really want to take a similar trip to California one of these days. His cousin is leaving next week for a month-long car trip with her husband and another couple. They're going to the Grand Canyon...California...Washington State. One of these of these days...

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Oh I've always wanted to visit vineyards in CA! Sounds like a fabulous trip!!

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Jo,

What a delightful trip you have taken and I enjoyed seeing your photos.
Sounds like a great way to spend it, tasting the wine, and fruit.

Happy weekend

Tina said...

Your trip looks and sounds so wonderful Jo! I am so happy you had such a wonderful trip with your husband:) Enjoy those wines. Wishing you a wonderful week ~ Tina x

Lisa said...

Soft & foggy in the mornings & pure sunshine in the afternoons. Always, big beaches, beautiful mountains, fresh markets, thriving vineyards & friendly people. That's what I love about California!
So glad you shared another one of your wonderful "dates" with us. Your husband is REALLY good at that!
xo Lisa

Pemberley said...

Sounds like a lovely time- no kids no agenda, ah the good old days. It is amazing how different the landscape is in CA. Not what you would expect.

bevy said...

I have never been to California... your pictures are beautiful and have convinced my I need to make the trip some day!

French Basketeer said...

Jo- thank you for stopping by! I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to CA. Santa Barbara is about as good as it me pls andrea at xxoo Andrea


Dear Jo,
what a fun trip! Felt like I was there with you tasting all those yummy wines! Thanks for visiting HH-I just became a follower of you and can't wait to hear more :) BTW the pizza guy is from Mystic CT small world!

CRICKET said...

California is my homeland and reading your post made me miss it! My husband still laughs when I refer to the "brown" hills as "golden". Glad you had a good time.

3 Peanuts said...

Sounds like a FABULOUS trip!! Love the photos and good tip about sharing a wine tasting. I never thought of that but it makes so much more sense and my hubby and I are both lightweights (literally and figuratively).

Travelbugmom said...

OH, what a fabulous trip! Have been to CA a few times, but NEVER to NAPA!! Lucky you......headed to the wine store now to ask about a few of your finds! Your photos are just so awesome. Thanks for bringing me there!!

annechovie said...

I loved your photos and the vicarious tour, Jo! I have lived in Southern CA, but never been to Northern CA. You've made me want to visit. P.S. You look fabulous! xx

Holly said...

Paso is gorgeous! Glad to hear the Californians here were friendly!

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