The Wine Sisterhood Shop is now Open

Last March I won a trip to Napa from Middle Sister Wines for the 2013 Wine Sisterhood Gathering by posting this silly picture of myself on Pinterest.

Pinterest-Contest-Winner
This may be a crappy photo of me, but it won me a trip to Napa!

It was a wonderful 3-day trip that was full of wine tasting, social media seminars, and ridiculously awesome foodie-food where I met some amazing women that I still keep in contact with. An experience of a lifetime for sure. There was so much packed into that trip I had to write three blog posts to cover it all.

In case you missed them and are curious about the fabulousness of this trip you can read them here:

Part 1…

Raymond-vineyards-barrel-room
If I died, this would be my heaven!

Part 2…

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Beautiful Chappellet vineyards in Napa Valley

Part 3…

Domaine-Carneros
The wonderful Domaine Carneros

One of the things we did on the trip was spend time in the Wine Sisterhood Sassy Suite. What is a Sassy Suite? It was a suite reserved to showcase the Wine Sisterhood wines and fabulous items for sale at the Wine Sisterhood online shop. So, if you are looking for a gift for a wine-loving girlfriend this is definitely the place to go.

Wine-Sisterhood-Shop
So much fabulousness at the Wine Sisterhood Shop

Check out some of the fabulous things they have for sale…

Looking for a place to store all of those wine corks? (You don’t throw them away do you?!)

wine-cork-barrell

Need something to help you out on a bad hair day? I have this hat and it sees the soccer field every Saturday morning. (7:30 on a Saturday is waaaay too early to do anything to my hair except put it under a hat!) I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on this hat. Oh yeah, when a mom compliments me on this hat I know she’s one of my people!

Bad hair day hat

This needs to be in my wardrobe. Adorable! (Plus, you know, I just happen to have a hat that matches!)

wine hoodie

I brought my friend Jennifer on the trip with me and she bought me a beautiful necklace made from upcycled wine bottles while we were there. The Wine Sisterhood shop sells matching bracelets. (Hmmmm…..)

wine bottle bracelet

Speaking of upcycling, check out these gorgeous candles. LOVE them!

Upcycled Wine bottle Candle

And this necklace? It would look perfect on me when I go back to Stagecoach next year.

Cowgirl Necklace

Need a hostess gift this holiday season? What could be better than a corkscrew that says Wine Sisterhood? I have this corkscrew and love it. It works great! (Trust me, a woman can never have too many corkscrews!)

corkscrew

These coasters for the serious wine taster have a retro look and are so cute…

Wine tasting Coasters

Or maybe some delicious dipping oil. (You can’t go wrong with dipping oil!)

Olive Press Dipping oil

And I love these “I Am” roll on fragrances. I am peace. I am hot. I am blessed. (I have I am naughty!)

naughty fragrance

And this Wine Sisterhood handmade soap? So lovely. I cried when I used my last little sliver. (Definitely time to get some more!)

Wine Sisterhood Soap

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It’s fairly obvious that this is the BEST place to shop for your wine loving girlfriends. Or wine loving moms. Or wine loving sisters. (Hey, I bet even your kid’s teacher loves wine! God knows that after a day spent in the classroom she sure needs it!)

So stay home from the mall and do all your girlfriend shopping by clicking this link here. And check this out: There is a 20% discount code – holiday20 – and a $5.99 flat rate ground shipping deal now through Dec 31st. Yeah, I know how to hook a girlfriend up. You are so very welcome!

*Disclosure: My links to the Wine Sisterhood Shop are affiliate links meaning if you click on the link and end up buying something I get a (very) small commission. But I live by a high moral code – I wouldn’t pimp this stuff if I didn’t think it was cool.

Where Would YOU Go if Money Was No Object?

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. I chose prompt #5:  8 places you’d go this summer if money wasn’t an object.

Hmmm… do I have to do them all this summer? I guess I’d better get started. And since we’re talking Lotto Dreams travel, I’ll have to hire a Lear Jet so I don’t have to mingle with the type of people who fly tourist. (Which is pretty much me!)

Earth
Earth – photo credit Tonynetone via Creative Commons

#1 Istanbul

When I was in college a favorite marketing professor of mine told tales of her backpacking trips abroad. She was the one who sparked the desire in me to backpack across Europe during the summer of 1986. She traveled to many places and her favorite place hands down was Istanbul. She made it sound so magical I’ve wanted to go ever since. She especially loved the Grand Bazaar where haggling for beautiful and unique treasures was an art form. Most Saturdays Chandler and I go yard saling and haggle over prices of used junk unique treasures. I cherish the time with him and I enjoy our little treasure hunts, but somehow I think shopping for shit we don’t need in Turkey would be way better.

Istanbul-Grand-Bazaar
Istanbul Grand Bazaar Photo credit Brian Snelson via Creative Commons

#2 Italy

I became engaged in Italy and it holds a very special place in my heart. The food, the art, the culture, the people, the gorgeous countryside, the art, the wine, the fooood (yeah, there’s a reason Elizabeth Gilbert ate her way through Italy) – I am madly in love with Italy. However, I have not spent any time at the lake district or on the Italian coast. (Unless you count those nine hours in 1986 when I sat at the very unattractive port of Brindisi waiting for the ferry to the party nation of Greece.) I would love to rent a villa at Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast and spend an entire summer there lying around doing absolutely nothing but drinking wine and eating. (Except that I have six more destinations to visit!)

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Standing on Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy the day after my engagement.

#3 London

I spent a semester of college attending school in London and it quickly became one of my favorite cities. Dave and I have often talked about how we would love to live in London for a year or two. I love the museums and the architecture, the parks and the pubs. I love shopping on Portobello Road and Kensington High Street. I can’t wait to take my kids to London one day and show them the sights. My kids don’t really love cities, but I think London would turn them around.

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Lovely London – Photo credit Tim Morris via Creative Commons

#4 Greece

Was that nine hour wait in the industrial port of Brindisi and 24 hour barf-over-the-side ferry ride worth it? You bet. During that 1986 trip I went to Athens (don’t bother) and Ios (party paradise) and then returned to Greece in 1988 (before starting my semester in London) to visit Ios once again, and added Mykonos and Santorini. The stark contrast of the white stucco buildings and bright blue sea is just breathtaking. I think I’d skip Ios this time (mostly out of fear that they wouldn’t let me off the boat because I’m too old!) But I would love to spend some serious time there lounging on the beaches of Santori, Mykonos and Corfu reading a book and eating  a lot of simple Mediterranean food and not much else. Ah yes, the art of doing nothing!

Brindisi-to-Greece
Heading to Greece via huge ferry slumber party

#5 New York City

Well, I’m halfway through my fantasy travel summer and of course a trip to New York is mandatory. I haven’t been to New York in eight years and I miss it desperately. I always feel so alive in that city. I love the shops and restaurants. I love the bars and seeing plays both on and off Broadway. I love walking everywhere. And I simply adore the fashion. People don’t dress up in California like they do in New York.  I could stand on the streets of Manhattan and people watch all day.

Side note:  I follow a fabulous blog called Fashables that features street style photography. (Photographs taken of random people walking down the street.) It helps me get my New York fix. But I am dying to go back soon for reals.

Fashables collage
New York street style photography by Ryan Shell of Fashables

# 6 Napa Valley/San Francisco 

Napa/San Francisco totally counts as one place right? I went to Napa earlier this year for the 2013 Wine Sisterhood trip (did I mention it was amazing) and can’t wait to go back. The trip I went on was a girlfriend’s trip, but I’d love to take my husband there. We went in 1990 when we were dating and we are well overdue for a trip back. And since this is a money-is-no-object fantasy, I’d like to hire a limo to take us to all the wineries and restaurants (yes every single one) and drink until I start to slur and eat until I start to waddle. I think a week should do it. I loved the Andaz Napa Hotel and would definitely stay there again. And a trip to San Fransicso on the way to our next destination would definitely be in order.

Chappellet-vineyards
Beautiful Chappellet vineyards in Napa Valley

#7 Hawaii

Dave and I have been there three times – twice to Maui (once before we were married and for our honeymoon) and once to Kauai when Chandler was just under two. As much as I love Hawaii (and I do), I probably wouldn’t put it in my Top 8, but Marley is dying to go to Hawaii. She finds it horribly unfair that Chandler has been to Hawaii and she hasn’t. The fact that Chandler doesn’t remember the trip at all does not seem to sway her thinking about this gross injustice we have committed against her.

Maui-honeymoon
Honeymooning in Maui

Hmmm… now that I’ve looked over my list I’m not sure I’ve really chosen that wisely. Maybe I should ditch London and Greece and tell Marley too bad about Hawaii and choose an African Safari or Costa Rica or Machu Picchu or Puerto Rico. I also love the Canadian Rockies and I’d like to see Columbia and Brazil and Berlin and Croatia. Eight is just not enough. So where would my final destination be?…

#8 Michigan

Michigan? What?! Instead of an African Safari? Well, I’ve already decided to ditch Hawaii (sorry Marley) and all this traveling has made me rather tired. And my mom and uncle own a lovely little cottage on a small lake in Michigan and my cousins own the house next door. It’s like we have our own little family compound. And while it’s not exactly rustic, it’s not very luxurious either -somewhere in between. Just right as Goldilocks would say. There are boats and wave runners and kayaks for sport and plenty of lounge chairs for reading and napping. The trees are green and the people are friendly. (Like scary-weird friendly.) It’s a little bit of heaven right smack in the middle of the country and it feels like home. At the end of a long journey (even an imaginary one) there’s no place like home.

White Lake Sunrise
Michigan Sunrise

What 8 places would you travel to if money were no object? I’d love to know!

Mama Kat workshop logo

So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest… (Part 3)

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Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013

Yes, it’s my last installment of my fabulous weekend in Napa with the Wine Sisterhood. If you missed part one and/or part two you can read them here and here.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning I had purple teeth. And not just a little. Ah, the price of drinking wine for 10 hours straight! Instead of Zumba I did a quick 1/2 hour on the elliptical at the gym next door because I needed extra time to wash my hair. (No, I don’t wash my hair every day – so?!) After my shower I ran downstairs, grabbed some breakfast, and brought it back to my room so I could pretend I was having room service for breakfast. (Which you might be interested to know is just about my most favorite thing in life.)

Jennifer went for a run and picked up coffee and a biscotti. I like big breakfasts (and lunches and dinners). Jennifer likes small breakfasts (and lunches and dinners). If you were to look at us standing side by side this would not be a surprise. (Skinny bitch!)

When we went downstairs to the conference room I noticed an incredibly beautiful woman I hadn’t seen before. She was stunning. Like a model. I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed her before as she had that type of presence that one takes notice of. Her name was Leila Janah and she was one of the morning’s speakers and founder of Samasource and Samahope.

Leila-Janah-Samasource
Leila Janah tells the Wine Sisterhood about her mission

Sama means equal in Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language. Leila’s father taught her that all people are equally deserving of dignity and opportunity, and that landing in a middle class family with access to good schools, health care, and food on the table every night is pure chance. Her father instilled in her a belief that we have a duty to help people who aren’t as lucky in life’s birth lottery.

Samasource  connects women and youth living in poverty to dignified work via the Internet. Samahope uses crowdfunding to pay for low-cost life-saving surgeries in impovershed parts of the world.

So it turns out Leila Janah is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Leila showed us this film about one of the women that benefited from Samasource:

She then told us about her two non-profits. It was really amazing to hear from a woman who is making a true difference in the world.

Our next speaker, Danielle Smith, was just as beautiful and just as dynamic. I was lucky enough to get to know Danielle a bit before she spoke as she was in my group, the Mischief Makers. She is an award winning former television news anchor and reporter with two websites – Extraordinary Mommy and Danielle Smith Media.

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Danielle Smith in an interactive video workshop. Photo credit M.J. Wickham

Danielle led an interactive workshop about getting comfortable with video and was looking for three volunteers to get up in front of everyone and record a one-minute video. Because I knew I’d never hear the end of it from Jennifer (and in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t mind being the center of attention) I volunteered. I didn’t have anything planned, so I just gave my blog a shameless plug and joked about the fact that I was bitter about Pinterest winner Katie getting a shout out instead of me the day before. I got a few laughs and during my critique Danielle told me my humor really came across. So perhaps there will be video in this blog’s future. We’ll see…

Danielle-Smith-video-workshop
Hey, here’s another crappy picture of me on the Internet! Photo credit: M.J. Wickham

Okay, it’s 10:30 AM already – on to the drinking! We had a wine and cheese pairing with Cabot Cheese and Culture Magazine.

Cabot Creamery is a 1,200+ farm family dairy cooperative that produces all natural, award-winning cheeses. (If you like spicy their Habanero Cheese is deliciously hot, Hot, HOT!)

Culture Magazine is a magazine about cheese. Cheese! (Have I mentioned that I really, REALLY like cheese?) Note to self: get subscription to Culture Magazine ASAP.

The cheeses were paired with wines from the Wine Sisterhood labels – Middles Sister “Surfer Chick” Sauvignon Blanc, Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red, Monogamy Cabernet Sauvignon, Deep Purple Zinfandel, Middle Sister, “Sweet & Sassy” Moscato. My favorite cheese was the Humboldt Fog goat cheese. One woman said she thought she only liked Brie, but she was wrong. (Oh boy was she – this cheese rocks!)

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Wine Sisterhood wines + cheese + Culture Magazine = FABULOUS!

Of course after the wine and cheese pairing we were starving, not to mention thirsty, so we split into our groups for lunch and more wine tasting.

The Mischief Makers got on our party bus and headed to Domaine Carneros for a sparkling wine tasting and a lovely light lunch. We took a tour of the beautiful chateau and met wine maker Eileen Crane. I added her to the list of fabulously dynamic women I met on this trip. I loved learning more about the sparkling wine process and would definitely recommend a tour of Domaine Carneros if you are a sparkling wine fan.

“Art of Sparkling Wine” Tour offered daily at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m and is $30 per person.

Domaine-Carneros
The wonderful Domaine Carneros

After our wonderful lunch we headed to Palmaz Vineyards for a tour and tasting led by Florencia Palmaz. Palmaz is a gorgeous family-owned and operated winery. The Palmaz family is originally from Argentina, but moved to the states in the 1970’s. They fell in love with Napa while patriarch Julio Palmaz was finishing his medical residency at UC Davis. Palmaz turned his love of mechanics and engineering (he invented the coronary stent) into designing the vineyard’s elaborate gravity flow winery. From the stunning views to the deep basement caverns, this multi-level winery is truly something to see. Jennifer thought it was the highlight of the trip.

We had an amazing wine and food pairing (The wine was spectacular and the smoked duck breast wrapped around a cream cheese and fig filling was to die for). The tour and wine pairing is by reservation only. It costs $60 and is worth every penny.

Palmaz Vineyards
The view from Palmaz Vineyards
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A wine engineering masterpiece!
Palmaz-vineyards-tanks-downstairs
Another view
Palmaz-wine-and-food-pairing
Heaven!

After Palmaz we went back to the hotel. Do not however think there was any time to rest. After a quick stop to our room Jennifer and I checked out the Wine Sisterhood Sassy Suite. What is a Sassy Suite? It was a suite reserved to showcase the Wine Sisterhood wines and fabulous items for sale at the Wine Sisterhood online shop. (Looking for a gift for a wine-loving girlfriend? Look no further, this online shop will hook you up!)

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Welcome to the Sassy Suite

Next was The Hess Collection for more wine tasting and our last dinner. The Hess Collection is a vineyard, winery, art gallery, and local artisan gift shop all rolled into one. I loved the Hess Collection Winery because not only are their wines very good, they are sustainably farmed and Napa Green certified. We enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner. I loved (and I mean LOVED) every meal, but I think this one prepared by Chef Chad Hendrickson was my favorite. (And the blue crab mini-tostada appetizers – Oh. My. Gawd!)

The Hess Collection
The Hess Collection

Napa-Green

The Hess Collection
Our closing dinner
Dinner at Hess Collection
Jennifer’s tiny plate
Dinner-Hess-Collection
My ginormous plate!
empty-plate
All done!

Complimentary winery tours, including an overview of The Hess Collection Winery and Vineyards are offered daily between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. A tasting of four current release wines is $10. Unique experiences including a private tour and tasting, and wine and food pairings start at $25. Reservations can be made here.

After dinner we boarded the party bus for the last time. And I have to admit, I may have been over-fine-wined-and-dined. (Well, can anyone ever be over-fine-wined-and-dined?) I was tired. But happy. So happy. I felt so lucky and so blessed to be able to have this experience.

So what’s it like to win a contest on Pinterest? What do you think?