Category Archives: Wine Tours

Iron Horse: Part Two of My California Wine Adventure

While on my trip to the bay area my family and I spent a day wine tasting in Sonoma. We went to 4 wineries and tasted a lot of wine! The first winery we went to was Iron Horse. Iron Horse does manly sparkling wines and has a gorgeous outdoor tasting room that overlooks the vineyards. We were actually doing a tour here so we got to hear about how they grow their grapes and actually got to see part of the sparkling wine making process.

On the tour they took us down into the production area and we actually got see how the sparkling process works. There are several different ways to get the fizz into sparkling wine. One way is simply injecting CO2 like they do in soda, this produces larger bubbles that fizz out pretty quickly. Iron Horse uses the traditional method in which the wine goes through a second fermentation process. Read the rest of this entry

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Napa Valley: Part One of My California Wine Adventure

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

I finally made it out to the Bay Area to visit my sister. Now obviously the most important part of the trip was spending time with my sister but wine tasting was definitely an added bonus! It was a pretty great trip not only did I get to see my sister but my parents came out at the same time. We went to a couple wineries in Napa and a few more in Sonoma. We also spent a day at Alcatraz and a day drinking wine and eating fresh oysters on the beach. All and all a pretty fabulous trip!

So let get down to the important stuff, wine! I’m going to split this into multiple post since there is some much to cover. Let’s start with Napa. Read the rest of this entry

Sutter Home: A Surprise in Napa

Sutter Home…well when you think about Sutter Home you think $7.99 bottle at the local supermarket. And to be honest with you I’m right there with you. During a recent trip to Napa I stopped by Sutter Home. Now let me clarify this stop was not one that I had planned on and took some time to talk me into but I went to really please the person I was with on the trip. I was unsure of what I would find. But I thought…Korbel is known for lower end sparkling wines perhaps so the same will happen with Sutter.

Well…I wasn’t as please with Sutter Home as I was with Korbel but I wasn’t disappointed. In fact they did have a few items that I purchased. Let me start off by saying that these items are NOT at your local supermarket. In fact these wines are exclusive to Sutter Home’s tasting room in Napa. And the price while still not expensive wasn’t as cheap as you’d think but $20 for a ___ wasn’t bad and the taste was delightful. This is the kind of wine you’d drink with friends who know a lot about wine or very little about wine. Both novice and experts alike will enjoy this bottle.

I will admit that I was unsure of the tasting room and its certainly not fancy but I gave it a shot. Glad I did however, I still won’t buy the wine you find at the local supermarket. In fact the only wine I’ll have is the one I found in Napa. Try not to judge a book by its cover…at least when it comes to actually going to Sutter Home’s Tasting Room

Cheers!

Wine Tasting Michigan Style

The Girls at a Winery in Northern Michigan

Born and raised in Michigan, I have spent many a time “Up North”. My parents have owned a condo in the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan since I was little and, as an adult, I’ve visited a lot of the wineries up there.  Some of you may be surprised to know Michigan actually has a lot of wineries, and the Leelanau Peninsula has almost two dozen of them. Over Memorial Day weekend, I was very excited to introduce Lissette to some Michigan wines and catch up with some of my friends from home while we spent some time at my parent’s condo in beautiful Glen Arbor.

Unless you buy a lot of wine, wine tasting can be a fun and inexpensive way to spend a weekend, and Michigan, just like any wine region, has some really good wines and some not so good wines to try. I think the first time people go wine tasting in Michigan there is a little skepticism. A lot of people assume all the wines will be sweet or that Michigan knows nothing about how to make a nice wine, but these are false assumptions.

Here’s what you can expect when you are tasting in the Leelanau Peninsula. At almost any vineyard you visit you are going to find Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. It’s also common to find a cherry wine or two and some Cab Francs. There tends to be a lot more white wines made up this way than red, but almost every winery will have a least some red to try. There is usually a good mix of dry wines and slightly sweeter wines. A lot of the wineries list their wines in order of sweetness and even provide the percentage of residual sugar to help patrons choose the right wines to try. You will also find that a lot of the wines are made in small quantities and may be hard to find outside the area (especially outside  Michigan) and some may not be sold anywhere but at the winery. Read the rest of this entry

Michigan’s Best Kept Secret

I’m a city girl through and through but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy getting out into the relaxing atmosphere. On our trip to Michigan I learned some pretty essential things..1.) Road Kill in Michigan is a way of Life 2.) Never go feet first into a Jacuzzi if your intention was only to put your feet in, you might find yourself 3 feet underwater 3.) And the most important lesson…Michigan Wines are impressive and the state’s best kept secret.

The Michigan Tourism Board should really add in some marketing copy for Tim Allen to talk about the wines that are created in Michigan. I bet they’ll see a pickup in tourism.

Before I begin telling you about the wines I loved and bought I’d like to give a shout out to Mr and Mrs Clark. Thanks for letting us staying at your place while we ventured out into the Michigan Wineries. And thanks Dana for driving and Rio thanks for just being adorable.

Let’s get this party started shall we? Read the rest of this entry

America’s Wine Country: California

Ok now sing it with me-California here we come! If you haven’t made it to Northern California then you really need to book that flight and head to the Bay Area. Why? Because outside of being amazingly beautiful it has some of the greatest wineries. Most people think of Napa when you think of wine but there is a place called Sonoma. It’s actually right next to Napa but is home to small wineries, some that you have never even heard of and usually aren’t available in your hometown wine shop. Since many of these guys are small businesses their distribution isn’t as big as say Kendall Jackson (don’t act like you’ve never heard of them).

While I was in San Francisco, my friends and I went up north to do a little wine tasting. YUMMY! I was in the bay area to celebrate my best friend’s birthday (Happy Birthday again Alison!).  Four Chicagoans went up to do a little drinking with our favorite SF couple.  We hit up three wineries, one that you will know (surprise!). Read the rest of this entry

Not all Wine is made in California

Seattle 2011

I know that some people feel that all good wine comes from California but believe it not there are plenty of good wineries outside of Napa Valley. Don’t get me wrong I love California wines but everyone needs to expand there horizons. I recently made a trip to Seattle where I was pleasantly surprised.  I did some research on the kind of tour I wanted and I found a company that was both reasonable and focused on both well known wineries and smaller wineries.(Side note: If you get a chance to visit Seattle make a reservation with Bon Vivant Wine Tours he’ll arrange everything from pick up/drop off to lunch).

Our day started at 10am and we headed off to some Woodinville Wineries. The drive was about 25 minutes from Seattle. The schedule called for 5 wineries and a stop for lunch. May seem like a lot but if you don’t like the wine remember to dump it in the bucket. No sense sipping a wine that doesn’t satisfy the palate. Read the rest of this entry

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