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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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March 27, 2017

We take on Napa Valley!

I will say right here at the start, Saturday and Sunday involved a LOT of wine!  We all agreed Monday morning that we had to admit we probably wouldn't have any wine for a night or two.  But we had a wonderful time with lots of laughter, reminiscence, good wine and fun tastings.

We did the same thing Heather and I did on our first visit to Napa which was to go to Raymond Winery (at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning!) and make our own bottle of wine.  They give you four little bottles of four different wines (all Cabs) and you taste all of those and get told about what you're supposed to be tasting and then you start mixing your three tries at getting a wine you like.  You keep track of how many milliliters you use of each one each time so that when you've done all three you have the percentages to give to the blending room.  You go in there and while the blender is making your wine, you work with another person who takes the photo you want to use for the label, uploads it and works with it and various fonts (you choose) to add a winery name, a wine name, dates, whatever you want on the label.  Then you cork it in a gizmo that if you're strong enough you bring down to push the fat cork into the skinny bottle, you then go to the next equipment which puts that foil top on the bottle and shrinks it to fit with no air pockets.  Then you apply your label and - Bob's your uncle - there's your wine.  So here is a picture of OUR wine.

January is on the left with her May King - a picture of one of her several green men plaques.  I'm in the middle with Lazy River - a picture I forgot I had taken on one of Peggy's and my outings.  We drove out to see the covered bridge in Milton and you can see just a bit of it in the picture (which I've shown the flat photo below.  And the third one is Heather's - to appreciate hers you need to have the bottle in hand so you can turn it a little to see the brown alpacas rear.  It's a delightful photo and she named her wine Heads or Tails with a sub-heading of "A flipping good wine" which seems pretty perfect to me.

I took this in color of course, but have been enjoying some of Chris's black and white treatments that I decided to do the same to this photo.

So that was our blending.  Then, of course, we went to their shop and had to taste some other wines there.  After all, wine tasting was our mission and responsibility!  We also wandered around outside for a while - such a beautiful day.  They have really interesting grounds with little beds of this and that growing in different types of soil and compost and have little signs telling about it.  I enjoyed the chickens and tried to get a video of two of the roosters fighting over (ahem) a hen.  But I'm not quick enough for videos.  I got a photo of them though with their neck feathers puffed out before they lunged at each other.  I had to reduce it so much it's gone a little fuzzy but you can get the idea.  Finally one of them just sort of sheepishly walked away with a "shoot, I didn't want her anyway" saunter.
We'll leave them to it and move on to just some scenery.

 Pretty much every piece of land that doesn't have a structure on it is a vineyard - small or large.  These will be in full leaf I suppose in the next month or two.
 This was so pretty - I knew the photo wouldn't do it justice but one has to try.
Another very pretty bush behind their dog kennel which is done up in grand style but I have a photo of it in my 2013 post about Raymond's so didn't take another one.

I will have to admit here that I don't have any pictures from the other two wineries we visited for tastings on Saturday.  They were the Markham and Trinitias which is the tasting room at the very large resort/hotel where we stayed.  Markham was such a fun experience.  Always at the tasting, there is a sommelier who takes you through it and I've not had a bad one yet but some of them are more fun than others and Sophia, our sommelier at Markham, was really wonderful.  When that happens, you tend to just keep tasting to keep the fun going so we ingested a lot of wine there.  We had lunch between Raymond's and Markham so we were prepared.  And even though I can't seem to remember where we had our lunch, it and the wine were enough that we just ended up getting a couple of pizzas fairly late Saturday night.

Then Sunday, our morning tasting (we told ourselves both days it was 1:30 p.m. where we live) was again at with Trinitias but in what they call their tasting library.  That's where they bring out the big guns and give you their older reserve type wines.  And at that one we each had a nice little plate of three very good cheeses, a small bunch of grapes, couple of strawberries, walnuts and maybe that's all.  So it was quite nice.

Then it was on to V. Sattui winery - Heather's favorite.  We visited there in 2013 and it's really a big business.  They have everything - stuff to eat, a deli or gourmet style "grocery", and of course lots and LOTS of wine.  It was a nice tasting session although our sommelier, although quite pleasant, had me feeling a little sorry for him.  I think he probably spent a lot of his adulthood trying to break into acting and as we did our tasting and chatting he started telling us more and more stories about bit parts, commercials, etc., that he had done and the big name stars, etc.  It was just a little sad somehow.  

We bought sandwiches there and some "groceries" to take home and I'm really looking forward to the cheeses I bought.  When we left, it was finally raining - the first rain we had since we got to California (it rained all one night in San Diego I think but no rain during daylight hours).  So we were really lucky and couldn't complain.

Our last stop was Judd's Hill and I had a hilariously fun time there although mostly because it was probably finally more wine than I really needed.  If I remember right, they had a couple of wines I liked pretty well...

And then back to the hotel.  We did end up going out fairly late for some dinner.  None of us were all that hungry but I seemed to end up feeling hungry around 11:00 pm if I didn't have something to eat before that.  We found a nice little restaurant, Napkins, I guess in Napa.  The wonderful, wonderful dinner Heather and I had at Cindy's Kitchen on our first visit did not come to pass again this time.  I looked them up and I don't know if they got a new chef or a new owner or what but nothing on the menu appealed to me - nothing!

So not many pictures but lots of wine and fun, fun, fun.

I'm typing this at the airport at 8:10p.m. California time.  I've been here since around 10:30 a.m. or so this morning because both January and Heather's planes left a little after 11:00 a.m. and mine leaves at 10:39 a.m.  I think I can hang in there till boarding time. :)


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