Friday, October 22, 2010

Napa, Day 2

The first stop on Day 2 was to Rubicon Estate winery. We didn't actually taste any wines there, but the grounds were beautiful.

Lovely grape arbor...lovely girl...

Mother and daughter caught in a tender embrace. Either that or E. is cold.

While tasting at wineries the day before we were told that the best English muffins in the world could be purchased at The Model Bakery in St. Helena. The description was just too tempting, so we went there to find out for ourselves.

In the end, the muffins were truly amazing. If you're ever in St. Helena around breakfast time, go grab some warm English muffins from The Model won't be disappointed!

One of the benefits of visiting Napa during October is that you get to experience the busiest season of wine making. Here the grapes have been harvested and are sitting in crates, waiting to be de-stemmed.

For lunch we decided to head over to Joseph Phelps and have a picnic lunch overlooking the vineyard. This was the most magical event of the trip, and is a MUST if you are ever visiting Napa!

Here we are at our picnic table overlooking the rolling vineyards. Our lunch consisted of bread, cheese, salami, salad, and pears with some brownies for dessert. It was an amazing day!

Dad enjoying the beauty of the landscape along with a taste of the Joseph Phelps reserve wine. E. looks like she just got stung by a bee.

L. and her doors! This door led into the caves at the Von Strasser winery.

The caves have a musty, cavey smell to them...oh yeah, the barrels smell good too.

Our last visit of the day was to Castello di Amorosa; a winery that had a real Italian castle perched atop its rolling hills!

The castle was actually constructed out of pieces of real ruins, brought over from Italy! It truly felt like we were in a different century.

Due to the tour's rather large price tag, we didn't actually get to go inside of the castle, but even the "free" stuff was amazing to see.

The White Witch came and turned E. and her little friend to stone!

While driving through the beautiful town of Yountville L. spotted a large, public garden just outside of town. This called for some exploration. As it turns out, this garden belongs to The French Laundry and supplies a good amount of the produce for the restaurant. It was truly one of the prettiest veggie gardens I have seen.

Happy Birthday L...can you tell she is in heaven?

The final day of our trip to be posted soon...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Napa, Day 1

I've been asked to be a guest contributor to this entry. Actually, when this blog originated as family vacation blog entries (if you recall), I was THE primary contributor and editor. So it is with a bit of nostelga that I re-enter this world. Thank you L, for the invite.

Our trip to Napa was the best we've ever had to the area. J and I used to travel to Napa and Sonoma when we lived in Southern California, and they were our highlight get-away trips. Now that we live only two hours from Napa, its hard to believe we haven't visited during that time. So it was a long-overdue trip, and ended up being the best trip there that we've ever had.

Trip out was fun, with the usual Starbucks stops...

... and we have some good family time just getting I am with my "drinking-aged" daughter.

Navigating our way from one winery to the next was fun. Not sure what was wrong here, but by my reaction, it must have been important.

After unpacking our stuff at the Yountville Inn, we went across the street to Domaine Chandon, producer of champagne. We didn't actually end up tasting any wine here, not being big champagne drinkers, but a picture with the sign is always a must.

The first real winery we stopped at was Robert Mondavi. Here we are walking from the "regular" tasting room to the reserve room (gotta love those "Free tasting" passes from the Yountville Inn).

There we are, tasting at the bar.

Here's L, holding a glass with 70 dollar reserve Cabernet. Its nice to be 21 in America.

Can you see the Napa motif in E's hair, created by her creative older sister (the one not tasting the wine)?

Mondavi even had a 500 year old Spanish wine press on display.

The second place we visited was "White Cottage Ranch", a small boutique winery up on Howell Mountain. October in wine country means one thing: crush. We were able to participate in the fermentation process a little bit. Here I am actually getting to punch down cap on a vat of fermenting Cabernet.

We did our tasting our on the back patio, which had a great view of the valley around Howell Mountain.

Then, the assistant winemaker treated us to a tasting of everything they currently offer. This was such a highlight, and we had a blast.

Here's L in the vineyard, getting to sample a grape or two from a cabernet vine.

We headed down the mountain towards our dinner destination, the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. On the way, we stopped at Beringer Estate and took a few pictures. Enjoy!

The girls here are getting ready for a killer dinner at the institute.

Here's Rachel at the Culinary Institute before dinner, checking out "Kitchen stadium" (in the words of our chairman's uncle). This is one of their classrooms, with stadium seating above a cooking area. Really cool...

The final event of the evening was a chocolate tasting in our hotel room. We tasted three chocolates from three different countries: Venezuela, Ecuador and Madagascar. The winner...Ecuador.

That was the end of Day 1. Stay tuned to see what happened on Day 2...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Family Camp 2010!!!

At the beginning of September our church had its annual Family Camp, where we enjoyed a week of fellowship, friends, fun and more!

Many laughs and memories were made! Here a Deacon and two Titans are standing enjoying the games.

Before Steal the Bacon:
Everyone was energized and happy

After Steal the Bacon:
Need I say more? Yes, that's the medic icing his neck.

The Lake!!
As you can see, we were all very happy to soak up those rays of sunshine!
(the average temperature in the daytime was in the 60's!)

Rebellious teenagers... wait most of those kids are in their twenties! Scary!

There is never an end of smiles up at camp!

Here is part of the group that hiked to "Cleo's Bath"... don't let that name fool you!
This hike is not for the weak of heart!

CARROTS!!! A hiker's best friend!

This is a great hike! Especially if you like to climb boulders!

The group hangin' out on the boulders surrounding the "Bath".

Look out below! How deep is that hole, you ask?

Geronimo! Nobody really knows...

It was cold up there, and the water in Cleo's Bath was FREEZING!!

Yes, it was this cold! They're like penguins huddled together for warmth.

We enjoyed a great lunch around the bath.

Starvation and hypothermia drive a man to do strange things...good thing we had a camera there to document it!

They are having a good time... REALLY!

The view from the top was amazing!! We could even see the lake from the top!

As fantastic as family camp was though...

"... no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

Isn't heaven going to be amazing!!
Thank you to everyone who made CVP Family Camp 2010 the best ever!!