Category Archives: Wine

Three Sisters Waterfall Hike + An Afternoon of Wine in Temecula {Weekend Recap}

Hi friends!

Hope that your week is off to a nice start! Did you have Monday off of work for Presidents Day? I had off from my publicist job, and actually didn’t do work for any of my jobs whatsoever. I think I only answered one email the entire day, which was nice! My long weekend was a great one, so today I’m rewinding it back a few days.

On Saturday while my hubby studied for an MBA exam all day, I took care of a lot of freelance & blogging stuff. I also ran a couple of errands, including a trip to Michaels to pick up a frame for a new addition to my travel-themed workout room.

The artist of this San Diego Modern Map Art was nice enough to send me a print, and I think it goes perfectly in my workout room. The room is full of canvas art and memorabilia of my travels, and now I have art in there of my current beloved city, San Diego!

Sunday first thing, I took my pup for a long walk along the coast on what was a misty morning. Afterwards, I got ready for the day & prepped some food for a picnic we were planning on having in Temecula wine country. I made Greek pasta salad and packed some healthy snacks, including hummus with carrots, apple and chickpea crackers.

We headed out to Temecula to meet up with my cousin Michelle and her boyfriend. Michelle’s birthday is coming up, so we had a celebratory afternoon together sipping wine and hanging out. First up, we stopped at Weins Cellars. Known for their big reds, Weins has a great outdoor area to picnic at, so after we tasted there, we nabbed a bottle and ate outside.

Afterwards, we headed over to Lorimar Winery, where my cousin is a wine member. I’ve been to Lorimar a few times recently, and they seem to always have interesting red blends on their tasting menu. Lorimar also has a great outdoor space for hanging out, along with a food truck if you’re hungry & live music on the weekends.

We had a lot of fun relaxing in Temecula, but then again I always enjoy myself in wine country. I mean what’s not to love? Even during this time of the year when the vineyards are looking scarce and the weather can be on the chillier side, Temecula always proves to be a great time.

Hydrating with pHenOH 7.4

After a laid-back, wine-filled Sunday, my Monday off went in a different direction. After taking my pup to the dog park for some playtime, Adam and I headed out to the California countryside to the town of Descansco for a hike to Three Sisters Waterfalls.

This was only my second time doing this hike. The other time I did it was almost exactly four years ago, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. The other time I visited Three Sisters, the San Diego area was in a serious drought, whereas this time, we’ve gotten a ton of rain lately. I had high hopes for raging waterfalls, and I was not disappointed!

Continue reading

How to Spend a Weekend in Santa Barbara

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

One of my favorite things about California is how there are endless road trip options within the state itself. Two weekends ago, my husband and I went on our first road trip of 2017. For this little getaway, we traveled up to the charming central California coast city of Santa Barbara. Situated next to the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez mountains + wine country, Santa Barbara is a popular tourist destination – and for good reason!

Even though we’ve been to Santa Barbara before in passing through on bigger road trips, this was our first time where Santa Barbara was our end destination. I love planning trips and enjoyed doing research online beforehand to find out the best places to eat, drink and explore in Santa Barbara.  And so, today I’m sharing a guide on how to spend a weekend in this beautiful town!

If you happen to be driving into Santa Barbara from Southern California as we were, you can get your sweet fix en route by stopping at the popular vegan Los Angeles donut shop, Donut Friend.

I happened to find out about this donut shop while reading a travel magazine last month that had an article about road tripping from San Diego to Santa Barbara, and I knew it was meant to be that we stopped in for sweet treats.

Donut Friend makes delicious dairy free stuffed donuts. We ordered two of their signatures: one “Custard Front Drive” – a donut filled with Bavarian cream and topped with chocolate glaze – as well as an “X-Ray Speculoos” donut – which was stuffed with cookie butter and topped with chocolate glaze and sea salt. I think we might have finished our donuts in abouttttt 2.5 seconds! But totally worth the stop off.

One you make your way into Santa Barbara itself, check into your hotel room, throw your bags down, and get ready for a fabulous day! There are tons of hotel options in downtown Santa Barbara. We stayed at the Hyatt Centric Santa Barbara, which had a nice location right next to the ocean and was within walking distance of the downtown action.

If it’s a nice day out (chances are it will be!) and you want to soak up a bit of sun, head over to the beach or to one of Santa Barbara’s parks. A few that were nearby our hotel were Cabrillo Park and Chase Palm Park. You can explore your walkable options on the City of Santa Barbara’s website.

Santa Barbara is about a 4-hour drive from San Diego, so by the time we dropped our dog off at the kennel, stopped for donuts, drove up to Santa Barbara, and checked into our hotel, it was after noon and we were ready for some wine tasting!

While there are numerous wine tasting routes and gorgeous vineyards outside of the city of Santa Barbara, including ones that I’ve visited like the Santa Ynez Wine Trail and in the Danish town of Solvang, there’s also wine tasting right downtown. Called the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, it offers many wine tasting rooms that are all walkable.

While I tend to like to visit the vineyards themselves, wine country is a bit of a further drive out, so we opted to keep it easy and experience the urban wine trail for the first time.

Continue reading

DIY Time: Wine Barrel Cocktail Table Tutorial

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself crafty, but here and there, I work on a DIY project that turns out pretty well.

Finished Wine Cork Wreath

DIY success: my wine cork Christmas wreath

I think that becoming a homeowner has made my hubby and me more DIY people. For instance, recently he built a new pergola for our backyard with my father-in-law…

Boys building the pergola

…after our old, seemingly sturdy and very heavy pergola flipped over into our pool during some crazy winds during a rare San Diego storm:

pergola in the pool

This was not fun! 

We’ve since stained the pergola, added a solar cover, and planted flowers in the hopes that their vines will start to wrap around the sides of the pergola (fingers crossed):

The view from the pool

The view from the pool

I think that it came out pretty great! We also recently re-painted our bedroom and redid the guest bedroom/my workout room, though we do have our limits: A few weeks ago we hired professionals to re-paint our kitchen and dining room – because that would have been a little too much DIY work for our liking!

wine wall

I mean, do you see all of those shelves?! This is actually before the re-paint, but you get the idea. I think we would have gotten paint all over them had the job been done by us – and it would have taken us, like, three months to get the job done, as opposed to the two days that it took the pros.

But I digress.

wine barrel table tutorial

Another DIY project of mine in recent months was a wine barrel cocktail table for my backyard. It came out pretty cool and I love that it adds a unique touch to my backyard, where we hang out pretty often. Today I thought that I’d share how I made it with you guys. Let’s get to it!

Wine Barrel Sale

Step 1. Find a guy selling used wine barrels on the side of the rode in wine country. I was with a girlfriend wine tasting in Temecula and couldn’t resist pulling over to check out the barrels. It was only a moment or two before I was sold on the idea of nabbing one!

Step 1b. Buy the barrel on the spot (this type of find doesn’t happen every day people!) and figure out a way to fit it into the backseat of your hybrid car – ideally without scratching your car door as I did but eh, you lose some and you win some right?

Continue reading

The Solana Beach Triathlon + A Very Special Birthday {Weekend Recap}

Hi friends! How was your weekend?

SB traithlon logo

Mine was a special one because my husband turned 30! Since I had surprised him with an early birthday trip to Mexico in June, his actual birthday was pretty low-key. A had signed up for a triathlon sprint in the beach town of Solana Beach with a friend of his, so his birthday morning started off with a very early alarm.

SB triathlon

The Solana Beach triathlon consists of a 1/4 mile Pacific Ocean swim + 9 mile bike ride + 3 mile run. The event benefitted the Challenged Athletes Foundation: Operation Rebound, which is a program for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with physical challenges. It was a pretty fitting cause for my former Marine to support!

SB triathlon-1

A has really gotten into cycling lately, and has been in serious beast bike mode going for 50 mile bike rides! He also has routinely gone on runs ever since I’ve known him, so while he knew that the sprint triathlon was very doable for him, it was more about challenging himself in a race and pushing through to get his best time.

SB triathlon-3

The race was fun because I got to hop around the course to see my hubby in each leg of the event and snap a few photos. The wife of our friend that competed with A is my close friend, so her and I watched our guys race together.

triathlon-3

A had set a goal of doing the triathlon sprint in 1 hour + 5 minutes, including transition times to switch shoes/gear/get his bike, etc. In the end, he came in at 1 hour & 4 minutes, so he was happy with his efforts. He did the swim in 10 minutes, the run in 22 minutes, and the cycling portion in 28 minutes.

triathlon swimming

Watching the race, I was thinking that the swim didn’t look all that tough, but A actually said that he found the swim to be the hardest part. 1/4 of a mile doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m sure it feels longer when you’re out in the open ocean pushing as hard as you can!

 

triathlon

I was inspired watching people of all ages and abilities participate in the race, and was proud of my hubby for a job well done. This was A’s very first triathlon, and I think it was a pretty sweet way for him to ring in a new decade!

Continue reading

California Wine Country ’16 Trip: My Favorite Sonoma & Napa Wineries

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? I flew to Las Vegas yesterday for a work trip and will be in Sin City for the week. But today, I want to back it up a few weeks to my vacation road trip up to Sonoma wine country. I already recapped my favorite eats and reviewed my Sonoma hotel, so today I’m chatting about my favorite wineries of the trip!

Limerick Winery

Whenever I visit a wine region, I like to do my research to find wineries that I want to visit beforehand. During this trip we did a nice combo of tasting at smaller establishments and larger productions. It’s always kind of fun to compare and contrast, and I tend to gravitate towards smaller wineries. While I love wine and obviously appreciate the wine itself, what I also love is meeting the people behind the wine. I’m the same way with food: The people behind the product can really draw me in and make me love it more (or vice versa!).

Limerick Winery-2

Of course, I also live for oohing and aahhing at beautiful vineyards and tasting rooms. There certainly is no shortage of any of this in Sonoma and Napa! Everywhere you look, it’s just gorgeous.

Chateau St. Jean

Chateau St. Jean

Out of about 20 wineries that we picked to visit during this trip over the course of 3 days of wine tasting, here are my top 5 favorite ones:

Kunde Winery. I reached out to Kelly from Made in Sonoma to get her winery recommendations, and one winery that she mentioned was Kunde. Located in the Kenwood area of Sonoma, Kunde has been family owned and operated since 1904. Their wines are estate-grown and sustainably farmed, and they offer a mountain top tasting at 1,400 ft above the valley floor surrounding the vineyard. I wish we had the chance to do that, and the next time I’m in Sonoma, that experience will be high on my list! Instead, we did a regular bar tasting with a lovely Kunde employee, and I really enjoyed their zinfandel and cabernet sauvignons.

Kunde Winery

Kunde also hosts a hiking program, including a group dog hike and a hike & taste option. I’ve never done a hiking excursion that includes wine tasting, and combining two of my favorite things sounds pretty amazing!

Cline Family Cellars. Wine from Cline is typically inexpensive and easy drinking. I buy their wines all the time and have visited their tasting room before, and we made a stop in this time around because we all are Cline fans.

Cline Cellars

Kind of going against the statement I made about friendly people making me love a winery more, our server at Cline was a pretty cranky older woman… but since we already are familiar with their wines, we still loved them and bought a couple of bottles home with us. Plus, tastings at Cline are free!

St. Anne's Crossing

St. Anne’s Crossing. This is the type of place where you can really chat with the wine bar manager and learn more about the company. It’s the type of place where the tasting is inexpensive – how it was before California wine country got really commercialized, and how I think it should be still – or free, if the winery employee at the end says, “You know what? Don’t worry about the tasting fee. Thanks so much for visiting us!”

St. Anne's Crossing Collage

This is the type of winery that I fall in love with. Each wine on the St. Anne’s Crossing Winery menu produces just 150 cases or less, and my favorite varietals were their zinfandel (their 2013 Rowe Reserve was my top pick) and chardonnay.

Continue reading

My First USC Football Game + Girls’ Wine Day in Temecula {Weekend Recap!}

Hi friends!

USC game-3

My view for last weekend’s USC vs. Utah football game

Hope that you all had a great weekend. Mine was a really awesome one! My friend Danielle was in town for a few days, and we had a blast catching up. After picking her up from the airport on Friday night, the weekend kicked off with me showing her my house for the first time and catching up over a glass of wine and freshly baked pumpkin banana bread.

pumpkin banana bread

Saturday morning I gave my friend a taste of my life. First up, we got up nice and early for my favorite yoga class: a rock ‘n roll flow class at Black Sheep Yoga.

yoga sign

After 90 minutes of sweating, stretching, balancing, vinyasa flowing, and finishing in Savasana, we left feeling amazing. Afterwards we grabbed acai bowls in Carlsbad, and then we walked around town and on the beach for a bit before heading back to get ready for the next part of our day.

acai bowls

side plank on the beach

Next up was a fun evening full of football! Danielle, my hubby, and I headed up to the LA area for our very first USC football game. We met up with my cousin Michelle, and the four of us had a blast cheering on USC – who upset a #3 ranked Utah team. It was awesome!

USC game

Sometimes I wish I had gone to a big football college since I’m such a big football fan… but then again, college is where I met my hubby, so no complaints here about my alma mater! Everything works out the way it does for a reason right?

USC game-2

When I asked Danielle what she really wanted to do while in town, her immediate response was, “Wine country please!” So on Sunday, we journeyed over to Temecula for a girls’ wine tasting day.

Leoness Winery-4

First up was a tour and tasting at Leoness Cellars – a winery I had never been to before but had heard great things about.

Leoness Winery-2

Continue reading

Anniversary Celebration in Temecula Wine Country

Hey friends!

Lundberg Farms sushi rice field

Lundberg Farms sushi rice field

Long time no talk – I’ve had a crazy last few weeks, with short, super busy work weeks and blogger event travel two weeks in a row! Lundberg Farms invited me to a wonderful blogger event in Northern California last week – much more about my trip to come later on this week! – and after I flew back from Sacremento to Los Angeles, then drove back home to San Diego, it was time for more fun: anniversary celebrations!

A pic from our anniversary trip last year

A pic from our anniversary trip last year

October 2nd marked 6 blissful years of marriage to A. My how time flies when you’re married to your best friend whose an awesome partner in life! 🙂 You may remember that last year to celebrate the occasion, we went on the craziest endurance challenge of my life thus far hiking and camping around Catalina Island (You can check out a recap of that shenanigans here!). We hiked 23 miles one of the days during that trip, and while it was a very memorable adventure, this year we decided to celebrate our anniversary with something a little more low-key: relaxing in wine country!

Sunday morning we headed off to Temecula for a day of wine tasting. While we’ve visited the small Southern California wine region a handful of times, we hadn’t been to Temecula since moving back to the area last year.

Temecula car selfie

We started off our day at Wiens Family Cellars – the self-proclaimed “Home of Big Reds” in Temecula. After tasting a lot of the wines on their tasting menu, I understood the winery’s tagline. Its bold reds offered something for a variety of palates, with everything from a number of cabernet sauvignons to try to their “Crowded” blend consisting of 7 or 8 varietals coming together for an oaky, smooth wine. I loved a few of their Reserve reds, but unfortunately they were a little too pricey for us (I just can’t justify spending $95 on a bottle!).

Wiens Winery

The Wiens employee that helped us was really informative and friendly. She definitely knew her stuff about Wiens and wine in general, which I always really appreciate since I like to really find out a lot about the wine I’m tasting. Overall we had a great winery experience there, and it was our favorite visit of the day.

Continue reading

Food Touring in Carlsbad [Weekend Recap]

Hey, hey!

How was your weekend? I’m writing this on a Monday night, which is late for my usual Monday early AM posts, but today was a super busy day. Just another manic Monday friends! Any who, backing it up to last Friday, my weekend started off with a tropical acai bowl date with a friend…  tropical acai bowl

…an evening tennis session with my hubby… tennis session

…and then a Saturday morning HIIT workout, walk with my pup + yoga practice: one legged wheel pose

I had planned on having this nicely healthy start to the weekend because I knew what was coming up next: eating and drinking the entire rest of Saturday, because A and I went on our very first food tour! I had recently mentioned us doing a few fun activities as pre-birthday celebrations for each of us before we travel to the east coast and spend our actual birthdays there, and it was only natural that my celebration of choice included food. And wine. And sweets. And in this case, exploring a town we love and live just a few minutes from! Carlsbad Food Tour collage

The Carlsbad Food Tour takes guests around town on foot to a variety of restaurants to get a “taste” of what Carlsbad has to offer. The tour also sprinkles in some tidbits about Carlsbad itself, from its origination to explanations of its street art. I was especially looking forward to the day because I spend a lot of time in the cute beachfront town. In fact, my acai bowl date the day before was in Carlsbad.

Our first stop on the tour was to Caldo Pomodoro, a family owned Italian eatery whose location used to be a hotel. We tried their signature garlic bread with marinara… garlic bread

…as well as their baked artichoke hearts appetizer: marinated artichokes

Next up was a trip to Humble Olive Oils – a tasting room for gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Humble Olive Oils-3

Continue reading

Ending a Fabulous Day with Outdoor Vino’s Rambling Red [Wine Review]

Saturday was a close to perfect day for me, full of some of my favorite things – including yoga, good food, the beach & wine.

Outdoor Vino Rambling Red Wine-4

More specifically, my morning began with a live music rock ‘n roll yoga class at Black Sheep Yoga. While it wasn’t a gentle practice and some parts really challenged my sore muscles, it was just what my body needed after doing high intensity workouts all week. Got to love kicking off the weekend with some invigorating yoga!

FitSnap-Yoga class

Next up, my friend Tiffany, who had joined me in class, also joined me for a trip to a nearby farmers’ market. We strolled around, tasted some fruit, and picked up some local produce and other eats (raw sage honey!) to take home.

Afterwards, I headed back home to take my dog for a walk and shower. My hubby got home from what he was doing around then, and we settled in the living room to watch golf and nap. I don’t nap often, but every now and then, it’s exactly what my body needs. It was glorious!

My favorite nearby hiking & walking spot

My favorite nearby hiking & walking spot

When I woke up from my siesta, I spent some time in the kitchen. I loosely followed this recipe for chocolate chip cookies (Thanks, Sarah!), and created and photographed a granola recipe (to come on the blog soon!).

blueberry almond granola

Continue reading

Wine Tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley

Happy Friday friends!

Since the weekend is almost here, I thought that today I’d talk about one of my favorite weekend activities: wine tasting. Besides just loving to try new wines and compare and contrast different varietals and vintages, I enjoy visiting wineries because I like to hear firsthand the stories behind the wineries and their products. There tends to be so much passion put into winemaking, and I love hearing about it.

ITALY! 299_2

I also am in love with the beauty that typically surrounds wine country. This love affair first started when I studied abroad in Italy in college, met a local restaurant owner who offered to take two of my friends and me on a winery tour, and spent a day in the Italian countryside sipping wine with winery owners who spit their wine out in a seemingly angry matter, spoke too quickly in Italian for me to understand anything they were saying, as they pushed plates of cheese and bread at me. True story.

Sicilian wine country

Sicilian wine country

I find wineries to be romantic and relaxing. Usually the people at wineries are in good moods – I mean, why wouldn’t they be?! Since moving to California, I’ve taken full advantage of all of the wine regions in this state. There have been weekends in Napa and Sonoma and day trips to places like Livermore Valley….oh, and I spent many days at my favorite winery in Santa Clara Valley during our stint of living in the Bay Area. It was only a 5 minute drive from my place, so how could I resist?

Stags-Leap1

This brings me to last weekend’s getaway in Solvang. Earlier this week I talked about the town itself, and today I’m recapping the wineries that we visited there during our stay.

I did some research beforehand to choose some wineries I wanted to visit. I’ve definitely done wine tasting days where I just have kind of winged it, but sometimes that leads to me tasting at places that specializes in varietals I don’t care for (sauvignon blanc – no thanks!) or have $30 tasting fees (borderline ridiculous). This time, I picked the nearby Santa Ynez Trail and scoped out a bunch of wineries ahead of time. All of the wineries we tasted at were within a 10-minute drive from the hotel, which was great.

Santa Ynez Trail map

(source)

Continue reading