Thursday, June 14, 2012

School’s Out For Summer

Before summer vacation officially began G and I got a little antsy and needed to get away.  I was in the midst of packing up my classroom, winding down the year, and we were both overwhelmed with work.   A mini vacation over Memorial Day Weekend to Occidental, CA was just the ticket to get us in the summer frame of mind.  Occidental is the perfect sleepy town treasure!  In between the coast and wine country you can’t go wrong with the nice people and great views not to mention I have become quite a Pinot lover and apparently the Sonoma Coast is a Pinot lover’s paradise.  We drove through Napa to get to Occidental.  We were in no hurry and wanted to take the roadtrip nice and easy.  As a pit stop along the route we stopped by Round Pond Winery (beautiful view so-so wine) and then we lucked out and snagged an appointment at Failla Winery (one of our personal favorites).  Sun roof open and a Fleetwood Mac Pandora station blaring through the car speakers, we continued on our way. 




Once in Occidental, our favorite winery of the weekend was Lynmar Estates.  The Pinot here was beyond!  

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                                                                                                                       I can’t wait to try my own strawberry and mint infused water a la Lynmar. 


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                     The fastest wine spinner around! 


Here are some other hi-lights from our Occidental weekend. 

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On the last day of school, G’s family came in to town from New Jersey!  This was the first time G’s family met my mom.  In no time our families were laughing, sharing stories, enjoying routines like breakfast every morning on the patio, piling into the Honda Odyssey, mom’s sitting together in the third row of seats.  G drove and drove with his dad enjoying the father-son chats.  California Dreamin’ the theme of the week.  First we landed in Monterey on the 17 mile drive.  The cold and the wind did not deter us and the golfer’s on the greens were blown around as well.  Even a bride straddling the rugged coast rocks, buffeted by 50 mile an hour wind and cold, smiled for the camera man.  Some of G’s wine rounded out a picnic lunch located on picnic tables by the market.  Next stop the lodge where we shared chocolate fondue and watched the golfers on the 18th hole, sipping French wine!   Devine!   Barbequed steaks and corn rounded out our first day of vacation fun!  G’s mom sent pictures to New Jersey to share with her colleagues.   We all became bird watchers as the day progressed.  G’s mom had her California Bay area bird card and we helped her spot the song birds.  Next day, a 7:00 a.m. departure, put us in Napa for our first wine tasting appointment at our favorite winery, Lancaster Estate.  We love their wine.  G presented the very gracious hostess with a bottle of 1997 Lancaster Cabernet that he found on a shelf in San Jose.  The cork was a challenge, but every sip gave us pause, realizing just how well the Lancaster Wines age.  When we left, our wonderful hostess presented G with a complimentary bottle.  We were in high spirits as we headed down the road to Healdsburg to have lunch at the Oakville Grocery, where the best sandwiches are sold.  Next stop was a feast for our eyes, no wine tour, just a table on the terrace over looking the far reaching view at Domaine Carnaros.  Our 2:00 appointment at Reverie was fast approaching.  The Redwood Grove and Messy, the wine maker’s terrier are just some of the finer delights at Reverie.  Our tour guide was a former school principal, so my mom and I felt an immediate bond with her.  Strangely enough she was flying to New Jersey that night with her 90 year old mom.  Small world.  Time for a fine dining experience!  Brix restaurant on the highway 29 in Napa did not disappoint!  Before heading home, we enjoyed the gardens in the rear of the restaurant where the lettuce, herbs and grape vines greet the guests.  Sunday was a coasting day!  The mom’s walked the Los Gatos Creek trail and looked for birds and shared stories.  A text alert was sent at 11:00 with the news that Ridge Winery in Cupertino would be the adventure for the day!  The mini van trucked up the mountain.  G managed the hairpin curves, but G’s sister and Mom were not happy that the road had no guard rails.  They were ready for a drink when we reached the top and the car was ready for a cool down.  Only amazing wines to be had at Ridge!!!  And to add to the enjoyment, there is a view of the Santa Clara Valley; off to the right, San Francisco is in the panoramma!  Cheese, crackers, salad that I packed and wine was enjoyed by all at the picnic tables on the property.  New Jersey request was seafood for dinner so salmon on the barby was served up by the pool.  Yum.  By now we have our inside jokes, we are asking G’s sister to do another hand stand each day for a photo shoot, mom’s are sharing wine out of the same glass and things are so easy and fun!!!  Watching pro golfers in San Francisco was the next adventure at the Olympic Club, watching pre-US Open golfers practice for the big event.  G’s aunt joined us for dinner at Sinbad’s Pier 2 Seafood restaurant on the wharf. The view of the Bay Bridge and the ferry action made the dining experience memorable!    Next day was mellow, we shopped at Santana Row, where G’s sister enjoyed the upscale shops, and Blowfish Sushi restaurant.  Our final meal together included sushi grade tuna along with sushi rice topped with cucumber, crab, shrimp, avacado and seaweed wrap cut in small squares (I like to call it cheap and easy She’s deconstructed sushi).  California sunshine, wine and fine dining, will be calling to our New Jersey family!

                                                 IMG_1110     Cheers from Oakville Grocery!  Turkey and brie heaven!


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