Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Than Wine

When visiting many different wineries in the Napa Valley area, take time to check out the art. These toadstools are really sculptures at Domaine Chandon. But they look so real.

Many wineries have fountains, waterfalls, and water features. This huge fountain was soothing to look at as it was to listen to at Groth.

Cliff Lede Vineyards showcases this sculpture by pop artist Jim Dine.

All these are free and worth looking into the next time you visit. More later...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Zip Loc Bags

Traveling this past week to Houston, Texas I was reminded that not everyone is as savvy about airport security as I think. I often take for granted that all travelers know about Zip-loc bags, 3 ounce containers and what exactly to do with them. Not so my dear fellow travelers. On more than one occasion did the security line grind to a halt while patient and not-so patient TSA folks tried to explain the process. The concept of clear bags, little bottles stuffed in all corners of some one's purse and "yes we really do mean all containers of liquids" was explained to a passenger.

One TSA agent was astute enough to take the confused person off to the side and let the rest of the shoe-less line get through security.

So, I have decided to take extra bags with me in my purse and hand them to anyone in line that doesn't have one. Mind you, I'm not going to explain the rules...but at least they will get a bag.

Or they could just read this blog and find out what to do with their bottles of hand lotion and hair conditioner.

I have been in airports that have extra bags for passengers. Houston does not. Don't really know how they expect a passenger to find a bag once they are already in the security line, but perhaps that is not their problem.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Napa Wine Facts

Did you know that Napa Valley has over 400 vineyards? And did you know that those more than 400 vineyards produce about 4% of the state's wine? The focus here is quality not quantity.

In the town of Napa there are 18 tasting rooms within walking distance of one another. A $20 Taste Napa Downtown card gets your a pour at 13 of them. Officially the winery tasting rooms are supposed to charge you 10 cents for a taste, but most do not. Check out for more info.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


What does a cat do when he's done reading "Success Magazine"? Take a nap in his favorite basket, of course.

I'm off to Houston for the Women Business Owner's Conference. Myron, Mable and Rick will have to fend for themselves.

More blog entries when I return. Unless, of course, Myron gets ideas from his magazines.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hills West of Vacaville

Sometimes a destination is close to home. Our mountains (hills) to the west separate us from Napa Valley. This marine layer is good for the grapes.

Yesterday the marine layer was lingering throughout the hills.

Cotton candy looking clouds formed a bank that hung suspended from the sky. You could see forever under and over the layer of clouds.

Above the clouds...aka marine layer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Travel Site

Traveling this fall? Want to compare airlines on their baggage fees, carry on sizes allowed or what they charge for overweight bags?

This site is a favorite of I can compare a whole bunch of airlines and their particulars in one handy ultimate guide.
Check it out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Colors in the Vineyard

We were at a BBQ in the vineyard at Chase Family Winery last weekend. Colors were was was wonderful.

These leaves showcased the true colors of fall.

These Zinfandel vines have grapes ready for picking.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Calcareous Winery

If you are in the Paso Robles area of California, check out this winery. Calcareous is named for the limestone type of soil found here. Grapes do well in this poor looking dirt.

Lloyd was from NW Iowa. His wine making career started in the Paso area and his daughter is now carrying on for her dad.

Inside the tasting room, everything is done first class. From orchids to wines...

And of course every winery needs animals. Calcareous has three dogs. This one doesn't believe in wasting any good sunshine.

Twisted Sister...well you just have to taste it. You won't be disappointed.

Not only is the winery, tasting room and plaque a fitting memorial to "Moose"...but the wines are first class as well. Definitely worth a trip. And most definitely worth looking for the Calcareous wines.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Petit Soleil

Looking for a B & B in San Luis Obispo, California? Look no further than Petit Soleil.

It is billed as a "touch of European charm in the heart of San Luis Obispo" and they are right.

Located at 1473 Monterey Street, it is close enough to downtown restaurants and shops. Looking a little like an old motel that's been redone, we first wondered about it. Stepping through the courtyard, its charm extended from the front door all the way to the rooms.

The front desk staff and cooks greeted us upon arrival with fresh baked cookies. You would have thought we were old friends as easily as we were welcomed.

An eclectic back court yard seems to work for them. Sit and enjoy the waterfalls, watch birds, or just read the paper with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Priced as most B & B's it's more than your everyday hotel. Customer service, wine and hors d'oeuvres, cooked made-to-order breakfast, fresh pastries and comfortable quiet rooms make it worth the little extra.

We'll be back.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay, a California coastal town, is about halfway between LA and San Francisco. Birds, sea critters and scenery make this town along the Big Sur coast a popular stop.

Pelicans congregated in bunches, armadas, fleets or whatever it is called when Pelicans get together. Fishing must have been good.

Big rolling waves tumble onto the beach all along this working fishing village.

Hard to tell in this photo...but otters were busy playing and rolling in the kelp a few yards from shore. Joining them were seals and more Pelicans.

Of course the noisy gulls were keeping an eye on everyone. Fish, Fish, Fish? Mine, Mine, Mine they screamed over and over. Pelicans would congregate...gulls would swoop in. Otters would roll and splash...gulls would be right there. Seals would dive, surface and blow air...gulls would land close. They even watched me taking their picture. Perhaps I had some food they could steal.

October 3 and 4 this year was the annual Harbor Festival in Morro Bay. If you are looking for art, food, wine, views and sunshine...make plans for next year.

This is Morro Rock, up close. Sitting in the harbor it was named by explorer Juan Rodriguez.
Take a visit to this part of California's Big Sur along Highway 1. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

SDSU vs Cal Poly

Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, CA hosted South Dakota State University in football this past weekend.

It was a gorgeous night to start with, then became "football weather". Temps were in the 40's by the end of the game. SDSU lost their quarterback to a knee injury early in the game and the freshman replacement did okay until the end. SDSU lost 21-14 in the last two minutes. What a heart breaker.

Monday, October 5, 2009

J. Lohr Winery Paso Robles, CA

J. Lohr Winery hosted an event for South Dakota State University Alumni this past weekend. Tours were given and a BBQ lunch for over 300 people was served. This is no small operation. See for yourself...

Lots of grapes...lots and lots.

Inside one of the barrel rooms was where the lunch was held.

Grapes being dumped into the conveyor system.

Grapes moving on up.

Jackrabbits and wine...great combination. Of course the Jacks play football...

Inside a barrel room

Grapes being dumped into the machine with a large rotating auger.

Grapes being moved along...only one step of many in the fruit to bottle process.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cambridge Memories

Cambridge, England was a few months ago...but these images bring back fond memories.

Along the English Channel

Just a yard we walked by on our way to our morning coffee and pastries

They even serve wine

The River Cam and punts

Anyone know what these are?