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.
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:
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.
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?!)
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!
This needs to be in my wardrobe. Adorable! (Plus, you know, I just happen to have a hat that matches!)
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…..)
Speaking of upcycling, check out these gorgeous candles. LOVE them!
And this necklace? It would look perfect on me when I go back to Stagecoach next year.
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!)
These coasters for the serious wine taster have a retro look and are so cute…
Or maybe some delicious dipping oil. (You can’t go wrong with 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!)
And this Wine Sisterhood handmade soap? So lovely. I cried when I used my last little sliver. (Definitely time to get some more!)
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.
I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on the internet), but I’m pretty sure that hormones make teenagers mentally unstable.
For example, this happened: Two weeks ago my thirteen year old daughter and I were at the library to find her a book. She was ecstatic to find the books Everwild and Everfoundby her favorite author, Neal Shusterman.
“I didn’t know this was a trilogy. I’m so excited. Everlostwas one of my favorite books. This is so awesome!”
As I said, that was two weeks ago. She has yet to pick up book number two, much less move on to book number three. I guess even the second and third installments in a trilogy of “one of her favorite books” by her very favorite author pale in comparison to the wonders of YouTube and Instagram.
Today is a school holiday. She doesn’t have any homework except, you know, studying for Monday tests that she “already knows everything” about. I walked into her room this morning and handed her Everwild. “I’d like you to read two chapters of this today.”
She responded most sassily, “I can’t read that, Mom. I don’t remember what Everlost was even about. I’ll be too confused.”
“But you picked this book. You were excited to get it. And you need to read a book for school. You need 15 AR points by next month and this book is 16 points.”
“I know, but I already told you. I’ll be too confused. I can’t read it.”
Two weeks ago she was giddy leaving the library with those two books in her hands. Today they’ll only cause confusion. Please explain to me how this makes any sort of sense.
Start investing in California grapes people, because the amount of wine I’m sure to be ingesting while living with this hormonal bundle of contrariness for the next five years is likely to make me single-handedly bring up their stock prices tenfold. (At least.)
*For those of you who know I’m supposed to be writing Just One Paragraph every day in September, I apologize – it was driving me insane to look at all this dialog bunched together. I just had to hit my tab key. I’ll try harder tomorrow.
So, I just completed Week 3 of my Biggest Loser style weight loss competition, Just Lose It. And can I tell you something?
I am exhausted.
Last night my dog woke me up in the middle of the night barking at who knows what and I didn’t even have the strength to yell at him to be quiet. It should be illegal to be this tired.
And my second week’s weigh-in? Not so hot. I only lost one pound. We were warned that our second week’s weight loss would not be as dramatic as the first week’s (where I lost 5.8 pounds). But seriously? Only one teeny tiny pound?!
Why is it when you gain a pound it seems like a lot, but when you lose a pound it seems like so little?
And yeah, yeah, I’m building muscle, and I have noticed that my clothes are looser and I actually went up a notch -or is that down a notch?- on my belt buckle – whatever. I’ve been working my ass off can’t believe I only lost one pound!!! (She says while jumping up and down pounding her fists like an out of control toddler throwing a temper tantrum.)
And another thing… I really miss drinking. There, I said it. I. Miss. Drinking! I went to my writer’s group on Wednesday night and drank water while everyone enjoyed a lovely glass (or three) of wine and I was incredibly conscious of the smell of that delicious red wine that was not passing my lips. I would say that the smell was intoxicating except that sadly it wasn’t. And to make matters worse, it was a good bottle of wine, not the $6 hooch I usually have in my house.
(As a interesting side note, one of my writer friend’s has given up cheese and she said all she could smell was the cheese on the table which I did not smell at all.)
I’m also getting tired of this whole “eating four times a day at three-to-four hour intervals” thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that I get to eat four meals instead of three (it’s not three meals and a small snack, it’s four meals!), but planning the meals and the timing is becoming freaking tedious. Every time I go five hours without eating I live in fear of Holly scolding me. (Tsk tsk tsk, your blood sugar is dropping when you do that. Your metabolism is shutting down. You’ll never lose weight that way!)
My afternoon snack meal is usually around three o’clock and while I’m ravenous ready to eat, the thought of planning a healthy (and proper ratio) protein-carb-fat meal three hours before dinner is just too taxing, so I usually just end up having a Clif Builder’s Protein Bar. They’re good and the mint one does taste quite a lot like a Thin Mint (though sadly, while delicious, the peanut butter one tastes nothing like a Reeese’s – or even peanut butter), but meh. I’m kind of tired of them. (Funny how I used to have wine almost every day and never got tired of that!)
I’d rather through some cheese on some tortilla chips, throw them in the toaster oven for two minutes and then slather them with sour cream. Cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream – that sounds like a perfect protein-carb-fat ratio to me. You know, other than the fat part being totally out of whack. (And might have a lot to do with why my arms-middle-thighs fat part is out of whack!)
And Phil? It’s a good thing he’s so cute, because otherwise I’d hate him even more than I already do. Which is a lot.
He makes us do terrible things like modified pull-ups and dips and burpies and plank. (Ugh plank.) And the whole time he’s torturing us he has the nicest smile on his face and is so freaking encouraging. Which makes it kind of hard to hate him, but I refuse to fall for his clever I’m-so-nice-and-cute-it’s-impossible-to-hate-me-even-though-I’m-making-you-do-terrible-things routine. Let there be no doubt. I hate Phil. (Mostly.)
And he keeps making us run and I don’t think he understands – I HATE RUNNING. I have never been a runner, will never be a runner, and have absolutely no desire to be a runner. But last week I ran fifteen minutes straight on the treadmill. And I don’t think I’ve ever run for fifteen whole minutes -without stopping or walking- in my entire life.
And the fact that I was even able to do that? Well, I have to admit… that is kind of awesome!
Be sure to come back next Monday for Week 4 and to find out how much weight I lost on Week 3
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Whole Foods Oxnard held a Friends and Family event last Monday to celebrate the store’s Grand Opening on Wednesday, June 19th. There was going to be food and entertainment so I was extremely excited to be invited to the event for an opportunity to write a sponsored post. (Have I ever mentioned that I like to eat?)
I was especially happy to participate in this opportunity because I try very hard to eat healthfully and feed my family healthy foods. Now don’t get me wrong, I love and adore junk food because it’s delicious, but I rarely eat it. And since Chandler’s friends don’t like to come over because we never have junk food in the house and many of my friends tell me I eat healthier than anyone they know (I doubt it), I guess I’m doing a pretty good job.
So last Monday night my friend Kim and I headed out to Oxnard to check the new Whole Foods Market out. My first thought when I walked into the store was, “Wow! This place is gorgeous.” As someone who likes to grocery shop (like, for reals) I really appreciated not only the store’s incredible selection, but the beautiful aesthetics.
I knew there was going to be appetizers, but when we were told there was going to be wine and beer tasting as well, my next thought was, “This is hands down the BEST market grand opening ever in the history of market grand openings!” (Not that I’ve ever been to a market grand opening. But I could tell.)
Kim and I headed off to find some free grub and booze food and wine samples when we ran into a blogger friend of hers who asked Kim if I was her mother. And since I am only five years older than Kim I didn’t just want to taste some wine, I needed to up end an entire bottle down my throat.
(I will admit that I don’t think she really looked at me when she said that, and when she did was completely mortified. But still. Really?! I guess it could have been worse – she could have said, “Kim, is this your mom? When is her baby due?”)
I forgave the faux paus (mostly) and went on to have a fabulous time.
I could get into a lot of trouble in a store like this. Everything I tasted was nothing short of excellent. There was sushi, vegan salads, salmon burgers, barbecued beef sliders, taquitos, samosas, flatbread pizza, cheese (like crazy good cheese), and the wine and beer tasting that I mentioned. Didn’t I tell you – best store grand opening EVER!
Kim and I were lucky enough to talk to the store’s designer and she explained to us the store was designed with the local environment in mind so the interior reflects the agricultural significance and beach culture of Oxnard and Ventura. Because it is right off the 101 Freeway many of the design elements were inspired by travel to and exploration of the beach and Channel Islands.
The store really is gorgeous, but I’m not going to lie – the most amazing and unique feature about the market is the fact that it has an old Air Stream trailer that was converted into a bar. That’s right – Whole Foods Oxnard has a bar! (Forget best market grand opening ever – how about just best market ever!)
Bar Rincon, located at the front of the store, serves wine, a rotating selection of over 24 craft beers – many of them local, and an extensive food menu. Kim and I hightailed it up to the bar and chatted up the cute sales rep from Figueroa Mountain Brewing company pouring samples of Hoppy Poppy IPA. The beer was excellent. We also tasted some Hitching Post “Hometown” Pinot Noir (made famous in the movie Sideways). Like the cheese I had previously inhaled – crazy good! It was about this time I was very bummed that I had volunteered to drive.
We were given a tour of the store and here are some of the features I really loved:
They will be selling seasonal and locally sourced produce from my favorite local organic farm, McGrath Family Farms. (Yes, I have a favorite farm. Doesn’t everybody?)
There is a large selection of organic and sulfite-free wines, some starting at $2.49 per bottle and over 100 varieties under $10. (If there’s one thing I love it’s a bargain! Bargain wine most of all.)
There is a beer aisle with 72 feet of chilled beer with an impressive assortment of local craft beers, domestic favorites and unique imports. (I wonder how often Alex, the cute beer sales rep hangs out here.)
Their meat department has a full line of locally sourced, 100% grass-fed beef, chicken and turkey. I love this because the more I read about what’s in my food’s food, the less I want to eat it. (Ignorance may be bliss, but in this case it’s not very healthy.)
Whole Foods does not sell items with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Not a single one!
Bar Rincon has free WiFi. (I think I’m moving in!)
I also found out that as part of its commitment to supporting local causes in the community in which it works, Whole Foods Market stores, nationwide, hold Community Support Days several times a year and donate five percent of that day’s net sales to a local nonprofit or educational organization. This Wednesday, June 26th, Whole Foods Oxnard will be holding a Community Support Day. Five percent of net sales from the Whole Foods Market Oxnard store will go to an organization called House Farm Workers! that helps provide safe, decent and affordable housing for farm workers. (So this Wednesday would be a really good day to shop there!)
A market that sells healthy food, supports its community, and has a bar (with free WiFi) – Whole Foods Oxnard is definitely the kind of market made just for me!
Disclaimer: While this is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Oxnard, all opinions expressed are solely my own.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!)
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!)
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?
Jennifer is a good travel partner because she is an early-riser like me so when I wake up at o’dark thirty I don’t have to worry about disturbing her. We actually had a wake-up call for 6AM. (Yes, we are freaks.) She wanted to run and I wanted to hit the 7:00 Zumba class. She discovered the quiet early morning streets of Napa on foot and I put on a coin skirt and shook my booty (in a very uncoordinated-Kate-Gosselin-on-Dancing-with-the-Stars kind of way).
There was a gorgeously delicious breakfast buffet in the conference room at 8:00, but after our workouts showers were quite necessary so we didn’t make it down to the conference room until about 8:50. There was still plenty of food, but I missed out on morning socializing.
At 9:00 Terry Wheatley, our organizer and hostess extraordinaire gave opening remarks that were emotional and quite inspiring. She spoke of her vision for the Wine Sisterhood and quoted Walt Disney when she said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
Then Terry gave a shout out and congratulations to a Pinterest winner…
Katie brought her husband to the girl’s trip with her because he is her best friend blah blah blah.
What the… What about ME?! I’m a Pinterest winner too! Who loves to be the center of attention. Don’t I get a shout-out or a crown or something?
Katie obviously got the shout out because she is younger and cuter than me and the fact that she brought her best-friend-husband is just adorable right? Whatever Katie! (I’m just kidding – Katie is awesome. And she has a beautiful fashion blog called Hems for Her. You should check it out.)
At 9:30 we listened to our first keynote speaker, Digital Diva Aliza Sherman, talk about all the fabulous phone apps that are available right now. Aliza is a great speaker and had fantastic information. Some of the apps she told us about were Drink-u-lator, an app that helps you know how much wine to buy when you’re planning a party (hint – it’s not a bottle per person!); Trover, a sort-of Instagram meets Trip Advisor; and Foodspotting, a sort-of Instagram meets FourSquare. I learned so much from her. Mostly, that I have a really lame phone. (I actually already knew that.)
At 10:30 (yes in the morning) it was time for Bubble University. Translation: Sparkling Wine Tasting. (Now we are talking!)
The bubbly Leslie Sbrocco guided us through our tasting. (Yes, that pun was intended!)
Leslie is an emmy-award winning television host and Today Show Contributor and my new girl-crush. Leslie told us about getting the HUGE tattoo of a glass of rosé sparkling wine on her calf, the different types of sparkling wine, what food to pair sparkling wine with (in her opinion all) and showed us how to saber a champagne (or sparkling wine) bottle. (That means pop the cork with a saber. It’s super-cool. Check out a 6-second video posted by Girlfriendology of Leslie sabering a bottle of sparkling rose here.)
After the sparkling wine tasting we broke off into two groups: Mischief Makers and Drama Queens – named after two of the Middle Sister wines and boarded luxury mini-buses for food and wine tastings aplenty. I was in the Mischief Maker group. (Oh don’t act all surprised by that – I am totally not a Drama Queen!) The groups would flip itineraries the next day.
The Mischief Makers went to a restaurant called Bistro Don Giovanni’s for lunch. It was Oh-my-god-I-feel-like-I’m-in-Italy delicious! We were given a four-course meal and a white and a red choice of Don Giovanni’s own estate grown wines. (So what if I chose both – be quiet!) One of the many things we talked about during lunch was the importance of a great wine label. We loved the label for Gio, Don Giovanni’s Sangiovese.
After our lunch we waddled onto the bus to head to our first winery of the day.
Our tour of Chappellet Winery was given by their Director of Hospitality, Candice Pannetier. Candice gave us a tour of the barrel storage room and vineyards and told us the history of the family-owned winery and its owners, Donn and Molly Chappellet. Founded in 1967, the winery is located in Pritchard Hill and was one of the first wineries to pioneer high-elevation hillside planting. I don’t know what any of the means, but whatever it is they’re doing over at Chappellet, they are doing it right – this wine is crazy good. The winery is now run by three of the Chappellet children, but we had the privilege of meeting Molly Chappellet. She was an extraordinary woman with such a warm and lovely presence about her. She was so gracious and sophisticated and beautiful it felt like meeting royalty. (And I’m sure in Napa she is akin to royalty.)
Tastings at Chappellet can be booked here and start at $25.
During lunch and the bus ride and walking around the Chappellet, I got to know some of the women in my group a little better. One of the best things about this trip was the amazing women I met from all over the country. Two of them were Debba Haupert of Girlfriendology and Beth Robeson of Healthy Kids Fast. Debba and Beth were both smart and interesting and funny. (Love them! Do yourselves a favor and check out their websites.)
Our next stop was Quintessa Winery. When Agustin and Valeria Huneeus purchased the property for this winery in 1989 it was one of the few estates in Napa Valley that had never been planted to grapes. (I met Dave in 1989 and loved that Quintessa was established the same year we were.)
Our tour was given by Gwen McGill, their Director of Marketing, who showed us their beautiful grounds that includes a lake, five hills, a river and two forests. Not only were the grounds beautiful and the wine fantastic (we tasted the Illumination Sauvignon Blanc ($40), their Quintessa 2009 ($145) and Quintessa 2008 ($150) – hello!), but the vineyard is farmed entirely with biodynamic and organic techniques. We also tasted three different cheeses including this Seascape cheese from the Central Coast Creamy that was so ridiculously good I’m seriously considering having some shipped to my house even though it’s $17/pound. (Yes, it’s that good!) I was swooning over Quintessa.
Next we headed to The Kitchen Door for dinner. (You know, because we were so hungry.)
The Kitchen Door is located in the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa and is definitely a must-visit destination. The restaurant was closed for our party and chefs Todd Humphries and Christoper Litts made a special menu for our dinner.
First appetizers were passed around – Gourgeres Stuffed with Spinach and Mornay Sauce (think creamed spinach stuffed into a little bite-sized pastry), Deviled Eggs with Wasabi Tobiko (um, yum!), Salmon Pastrami with Sauerkraut on a Rye Crouton (ridiculous!) and Demitasse of Mushroom Soup (best mushroom soup I’ve ever had). Is your mouth watering yet? We still had three courses to go!
Spinach Salad with Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese, Shaved Apples, Toasted Walnuts and a Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Pot Roast – Whole roasted center cut beef shoulder with garden vegetables and fresh grated horse radish.
(a vegetarian option was offered, but who wants that?)
Dessert Bettermilk Panna Cotta with Sour Cherry Compote (Oh. My. Gawd. So good!)
2011 Tablas Creek, Patelin de Tablis Blanc, Paso Robles, CA
Unti, Rose of Grenache/Mourvedre, Dry Creek, CA
2008 Six Sigma, Tempranillo, Lake County, CA
2010 Bonny Doon, Old Vine Field Blend, ‘Contra’, Santa Cruz, CA
I chose the Bonny Doon ‘Contra’. It was excellent.
Our hotel was only two blocks away so the buses left after dropping us off and when we finished dinner we all walked home. I don’t think the walking home, the morning’s Zumba class, or all the walking we did around the vineyards was nearly enough to keep this food and wine from sticking to my middle-aged middle -but who cares? I was in foodie-food and wine-snob heaven. So different from my $7-Costco-and-fake-it-like-you-made-it-Trader-Joe’s-frozen-dinner regular existence.
Stay tuned for Day Three. Could it be any better? Maybe…
That’s right – I won a contest on Pinterest. And you should be jealous. Because it was freaking awesome.
That sounds a little snotty doesn’t it? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way. I’m not trying to brag (much), it’s just that – WOW – this was really super fantastic and I really, really have to share.
Last year I found out about this contest from Middle Sister Wines on Pinterest. You had to pin a picture of one of their new wines –Rebel Red, Drama Queen, Wild One or Mischief Maker- and where you spotted it (or bought it) onto a pinboard on Pinterest. The prize was a trip for two to Napa for the 2nd annual Wine Sisterhood Gathering. I had no idea what the Wine Sisterhood Gathering was, but I knew I wanted to win. I mean a free trip to Napa with a girlfriend – what could be better? (It turns out nothing! Could be better, I mean. Because this trip was the bomb!)
Here is the photo I pinned:
Yeah, it’s a pretty sucky picture of me. In fact, I almost didn’t post it because I really didn’t like it. But I’m so glad I did. I mean, who needs dignity when free wine and travel are involved?
What exactly is the Wine Sisterhood Gathering? It was a three-day conference featuring interactive workshops, winery visits, ridiculous dining experiences, and time to mingle with influential women from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Translation: Wine tasting + gourmet food + amazing women = AWESOME!
I was a good friend to one and a bad friend to many when I chose my friend Jennifer to go to Napa with me. (Sorry everyone else – really!)
It started on Sunday, March 3, when Jennifer and I flew to Napa on a teeny tiny airplane.
Once we landed at SFO were met by a stretch limo (that I’m pretty sure was bigger than the plane) that whisked us away to the fabulous Andaz Napa Hotel. We shared our limo with three amazing women who had flown in together from the East Coast – Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno from the fantastic better-than-Martha-Stewart party planning blog Party Bluprints, and Carol Cain from the very cool (I wish it was my) travel blog Girl Gone Travel. We chatted the entire hour-long limo ride and really hit it off. These ladies are FAB!
When we arrived at the hotel our rooms weren’t ready yet (we arrived before official check-in time) and everyone was starving, so the five of us had lunch two doors down at a restaurant called Tarla Mediterranean Grill. I chose their crab sandwich which was basically a BLT with avocado and lump crab meat on ciabatta bread. So in a word – YUM!
When we went back to the hotel we had to wait a little longer for our room so we checked in with the sisterhood and each got this awesome bag full of swag with items that can be purchased at the Wine Sisterhood store in the near future.
We sat in the hotel lobby and enjoyed a complimentary (and very delicious) glass of John Anthony 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. I’m telling you – I could get used to the Napa lifestyle. We were given a beautiful double king room that I was too lame to remember to take pictures of.
So here’s one I stole from the Internet. (It’s from their website – I don’t think they’ll mind!)
After relaxing for a short while we changed into flapper(ish) outfits because we were headed to the speakeasy at Raymond Vineyards Winery.
Raymond Vineyards – what a trip. We are talking crazy good wine and a winery that David Lynch could have created. I’m telling you this place was surreal. Our host, Jean-Charles Boisset (who was wearing a purple velvet suit) greeted us and told us the history of the winery in the red room.
We then headed to the Crystal Cellar for an appetizer dinner. (My favorite kind!)
Here I am enjoying some yummy apps with my new friends…
BTW – side note… speaking of awesome women – do you see the 1st person in this picture? Her name is Lorraine Robertson and she ran a marathon earlier in the day. Yes, you read that right. Lorraine flew in from Atlanta on Saturday, ran a marathon Sunday morning and Sunday evening partied like a rockstar. She is my idol. Seriously!
Off of the Crystal Cellar was the Barrel room. And it was full of cheese.
and other yummy things…
While we were in the barrel room Jean-Charles came in and offered a back-room tour of the place. Unfortunately I was treating the table in the barrel room like a feed bag and did not see my friends go. Dawn and Elizabeth told me I really missed out. Boo! (But seriously, can you blame me? Look at all that cheese!)
After much eating and drinking and winery exploring the Wine Sisters were done and ready to retire. We had get to bed at a decent hour to gear up for the next day that involved 7AM Zumba, a 10:30 AM champagne tasting and more food and wine than even someone who uses a cheese table as a feedbag would have thought possible.
Last night I returned home from a 4-day girl’s weekend. (Well, it was a Sunday – Wednesday, does that make it a week beginning?)
It was a fabulous trip to Napa that I will be writing about all next week to fill you in on my decadent wine and food gluttony, but for now, I am just happy to be home, back to the normalcy of my house with Dave and the kids.
Even though when I walked into my bedroom I was greeted with this…
And then I went to the kitchen and found that all the sports water bottles I washed on Saturday night and left in the sink were still there. Because apparently I’m the only one who knows how to put them away. Funny, everyone seems to know where to find them in the cupboard when they need them. (I would have put them away myself before I left, but I had an early flight on Sunday morning.)
At the beginning of the week I was making new connections and meeting new friends. I was tasting wine paired with gourmet food and cheese starting at 10:30 in the morning until 9:00 at night and eating four-course five-star meals (and have the extra five pounds to prove it). I had a king-size bed and four big pillows All. To. Myself.
And it was all so wonderful.
But today… that glamorous life is over.
Today will be filled with unpacking and laundry. Cooking and cleaning up messes. Catching up on my work and fighting over Marley’s homework.
It’s back to the grind. Back to normal. Back to my real life. (Did I mention the laundry?)
And though it doesn’t make sense on paper (or computer screen), as wonderful as Napa is, it seemed a little bit like Oz.
Today (and everyday) I am thankful for so many things… good friends, laughter, music, books, wine, coffee, my blog readers (all 10 of you – thank you so much!), living only 20 minutes from the beach, waking up to watch the sunrise every morning, beautiful sunsets, and our wonderful Southern California weather.