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

Napa-collage
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.

Danielle-Smith-Extraordinary Mommy
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!)

wine-and-cheese-pairing
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
Palmaz-vineyards-tanks
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
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My ginormous plate!
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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?

So, I Won This Contest on Pinterest…

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:

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

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.

small-airplane
Yikes! That is one small 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!

Limo-ride
My chariot awaits!

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!

crab sandwich
Lump meat crab sandwich – like a BLT on crack!

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.

swag
What an awesome gift bag!

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!)

Andaz-hotel
Oh yeah!

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.

Jean-Charles Boisset
Our wonderful host at Raymond Vineyards
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The red room at Raymond Vineyards (yes, this is the best picture I have – sorry!)

We then headed to the Crystal Cellar for an appetizer dinner. (My favorite kind!)

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David Lynch has nothing on Jean-Charles Boisset

Here I am enjoying some yummy apps with my new friends…

Lorraine Robertson, Carol Cain, me, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno
Lorraine Robertson, Carol Cain, me, Elizabeth Mascali and Dawn Sandomeno

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.

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

And olives…

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and other yummy things…

party food

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!)

cheese plate
Get in my belly!

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.

Stay tuned to find out all about it…

*photo of Jean-Charles Boisset courtesy of Sarah Nelson.