Westward Ho!

The next adventure in our lives begins……..

Knowing our latest renovation project is in the hands of great owners……… We’re off on a 3,000+ mile cross country trip with a destination of Healdsburg, California.

We packed in the dog and the wine and headed out.

In the Panhandle of Florida – This is pretty darn amazing!  It goes on and on! The Old Spanish Trail in Milton – built between 1919-1921.

The drive through Louisiana and east Texas was rice fields and refineries.   It reminded me of how important a crop rice is to the south.

Our third day we cruised into Austin, TX for a relaxing lunch on S. Congress Street.

South Congress on Martin Luther King Day. Lunch at Güero’s was fantastic.

We drove on to San Antonio for the night and spent some time on the River walk and The Alamo!

When in Texas – try the Texan wine!  We ate at a terrific place – Zinc Bistro and Bar. The wine was a disappointment but the food was fantastic.


There was a winter ice and snow storm moving in.  Schools and business were closing the next day in preparation for bad road conditions.  We opted to make a run for it at 5:30 am.  It was our first encounter with freezing rain and 28 degree weather in decades!

Our car was an icicle! BUT an hour and a half outside of San Antonio we were on clear roads.  We were crossing the state of Texas, not exactly on our planned route but we were safely out of the winter’s worst storm to hit the south in 2018.

The first of too many trains to count from this point on.

Not many towns on the route but when we did come across one it inevitably had some terrifically crazy additions among its buildings!

And…..signs like this one – “Hitchhikers May be Escaped Inmates” –  This one definitely made you want to pick up speed!


This requires no comment.  Heading into Marfa……….

Marfa, TX


On the way to White Sands National Monument out of El  Paso, which had to be our best detour of the trip……….

The Military area is full of some weird sightings!

White Sands National Park is in the Chihuahuan Desert, NM

Honestly,  it was cold enough to believe this was snow!

The park service sells sleds to hit the dunes on!

Look closely!  There is yet another weird site in this field!

Another town that may have been worth spending some time was dotted with donkey statues colorfully emblazoned with paint- Carrizozo, NM.

On our way to Santa Fe…………..

It was frigid cold!

We had a reservation at Luxx Boutique Hotel. It’s a challenge to find great accommodations when traveling with a canine.  This one was very nice and just 2 blocks off the Plaza.

We dined that night at Geronimo’s sharing a terrific 2015 Gigondas with a Wild Mushroom Bisque that rivaled my favorite at Indigenous, along with Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and Elk Tenderloin.

Before heading out in the morning we had coffee and a quick breakfast at The Famous Plaza Cafe.  It’s been there forever. The all time favorite in Santa Fe is Café Pasqual’s which we will have to catch on a return trip.  I can’t wait!

The ever changing landscape is so awesome.  How can mountains take on so very many different shapes and colorations?

Poisonous snakes and insects? We didn’t go too far walking the dog!

Crossing the Mojave Desert……..

Rocky was ready to give up the car!

A welcome sign!

And truly a nice surprise welcome from good friends after 8 days on the road!







Leaving home……….

Saying goodbye to Sarasota and to our newly built / renovated cottage was huge!  The process was daunting having just unpacked our belongings and filled the wine room less than 8 months ago.

Aside from the normal packing…….It was necessary to sell off a major amount of the wine inventory, pack and ship some ahead, and arrange for a small amount to travel with us.  A big help with the process was arranging to have a wine storage facility, All Ways Cool in Santa Rosa to store and accept our deliveries.


Our friends were so gracious to entertain us before we departed.  We had a truly amazing time sharing special bottles together.

The time also presented an excuse to finally try some of those wines that had been laid down for years.  Sadly, some were down just a tad too long, others were great!

I wish I had remembered to snap photos of all of them! I’m definitely missing some incredible wines, especially sparkling ones!


Thank you to all for the wonderful send off!

And…… thanks so much over the final days for the food delivery, the care packages, help distributing our goods to charities and for packing our car safely! Nothing moved or rattled!

Looking forward to your visiting us in California!

On the road………





A Time to Help………..

Photo credit -SFGATE


The residents of Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties want you to know they are open for business.  The fires were devastating. The lives of 42, over 6,000 homes and nearly 50 commercial buildings were lost. All businesses have taken a huge financial hit.  So, how can you help?………Their message for you is simple.

“Come,” … “Sonoma needs you.”  says winemaker Sara Roach

  • Visit Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties
  • Buy the region’s wine
  • Drink wine!

And, if you can do more ………….

The fund will serve to assist ag workers who lost their homes in the fires by helping to fund the re-establishment of new households.

100% of your donations to the Redwood Credit Union North Bay Fire Relief fund will go directly to support those affected by the fires.


Reeve’s fundraiser:

Buy a ticket for this drawing!  The prizes are incredible!!!!

+ By donating money you have a chance to win a Healdsburg vacation package valued at over $15,000 that includes unique experiences you can’t buy.

+ RUNNER UP PACKAGE: Three night stay at the Montage Laguna Beach, in a suite, with dinner and wine pairings at their restaurant Studio, and massages for two.  $4500 value.

+ 100%—every penny—of all the money raised will go to help fire victims, with a focus on giving to the most vulnerable and those who were uninsured.

+ A series of donors who will match DOLLAR for DOLLAR all the money Reeve raises here.  That means this DOUBLES the impact of your gift.

D O N A T I O N S:  All funds raised will be divided to three different organizations—the Redwood Credit Union FundRedwood Empire Food Bank, and to a local to Healdsburg organization called Corazon.

C O S T:  Tickets are 1 for $25, 5 for $100, 15 for $200, 50 for $500.

W H E N:  Drawing will be held on Facebook Live at 11AM PST, November 1.


100% off all funds raised will be donated. $185,819 raised so far!

Today, 98% of the wineries are open for you to visit and taste.  I encourage you to make it out there.  I’m ready to go!!!




Visiting the relatives………


We were headed to a wedding in Orangeburg, SC and a side trip to Charleston.  On our way we veered over to Brunswick Georgia and St. Simons Island to visit our newly discovered relatives.  They’re a quiet bunch for sure – and old! – going back five generations!

We found a terrific lunch place in Brunswick serving the best fried green tomato sandwich I’d ever had.  You might pass up the Indigo Coastal Shanty   for its appearance but don’t!  Great service, amazing menu and very popular!

We headed out to St. Simons Island to visit the relatives in Christ Church’s cemetery.  We found the most notable – Great, great, great, great grandfather Dart and his wife Ann……..

From there we learned that most of the family resided in Brunswick in a cemetery called Oak Grove.   We found the burial ground the next day.

We spent the night on the island and dined at Del Sur, a small and exceptional restaurant that for some unknown reason does not show up in advertising, on maps, or guides that I viewed.  We’d been before and promised ourselves we’d return as the food was so memorable. We brought a bottle with us, a 2014 Herman Story Larner Vineyard Ballard Canyon and enjoyed it with Del Sur’s terrific entrees.

Outside of Charleston we stopped  at Timbo’s Boiled Peanut trailer . This is a not to be missed stop for boiled peanut lovers. Some of the best in the south!

We were unable to get into the ever popular Husk Restaurant on our last visit to Charleston but we scored a reservation this time.  The fried chicken skins and steak tartare were fantastic appetizers.

We stumbled upon this cemetery in the City of Charleston………….Just thought I’d post it as it is uniquely different from most with its approach to greenery!  It was breathtaking!

On the recommendation of a friend we changed our reservation the next night to Le Farfalla.  Our dinners were so amazing!

Sadly, as is the case with too many restaurants, the wine list was not maintained.  Our first choice was sold out, our second choice was sold out and we settled for one that we would not have ordinarily picked.

Always nice to get away on a road trip!




Returning to the Anderson Valley……..



The weather is not perfect in January for exploring the Anderson Valley..  Could be nice. Could be rainy.  Could be snowing.   We got the rain and a hit of snow this visit however, in any weather, this valley is gorgeous.


We drove from the Sierra Foothills to the Anderson Valley.  There is a route between the two around Clear Lake.  We opted for the quicker route through Sacramento west to 101 and up.


Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley



We stayed at the south end of the valley at the Boonville Hotel.  Accommodations are in the hotel and in cottages on the grounds. The grounds are extensive and appeared to have lovely outdoor facilities for use in good weather.


Our cottage at the Boonville Hotel



We dined our first night at the hotel sharing a wonderful 2014 Navarrouge from Navarro Vineyards. It’s Navarro’s house red.  They coin it “gluggable” as it is intended to be enjoyable upon release.


Apple orchards still dot the landscape in the valley


This was our third visit to the valley so we were looking to try some of the newer wineries to the area.  Witching Stick was a truly pleasant find.


Winemaker, owner, Van Williamson was on hand to pour. He had a full line up of his wines to taste.  Our two favorites and the favorites it seemed of everyone tasting with us were  the 2015 Zinfandel Rosato and the 2013 Fashauer Vineyard Zinfandel.



Van Williamson


Domaine Anderson was another stop. Owned by the Roederer family, the property was purchased and vines planted in 2009.  They produce still wines – Pinot and Chardonnay.




Sheep tending the vineyard at Domaine Anderson


Stone and Embers is a new dining spot in mid valley open for lunch.  Very popular with exceptional pizzas and a terrific starter on the menu of a bowl of olives served hot in oil and spices.


Toulouse was another stop on our visit.


While there are images of geese everywhere, the lively bird in the tasting room is of a different variety……….


Their Pinot was a good find.



We stopped in to Lichen, formerly Breggo Cellars.   We did visit on a previous trip but the change to Lichen who, is now making the wine, brought us back. You can read Lichen’s story. It’s interesting!


We had a terrific visit, with a great host.  I rather liked the sparkling wine they are producing from pinot gris grapes called Blanc De Gris.



Hard to  miss the Navarro General Store at the north end of the valley


It’s a great wine region to discover, or rediscover, and its close to the coast for combining with a trip to Sea Ranch or Mendocino.  If you go, it is definitely a bit tough to find dining choices in the valley off season. There are not many to begin with, and a number of them take a break in the winter.



Van Williamson 
Witching Stick Wines
Enjoyed your wine and travel blog. Please stop in again on one of 
your visits to the Anderson Valley. It was funny how everyone liked 
the same wines that day. The Zinfandel is always near the top in the 
monthly sales but usually is followed by one of our Pinot noirs and 
Thanks again,


In the Sierra Foothills…….

We  decided this winter to try another region in California’s vast wine country, Amador County.  This area is probably better known for its historic gold mines but from what we experienced it is well on its way to additionally becoming known for its wine production. We flew into San Francisco and drove to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  On another visit I would fly into Sacramento (45 miles away) to vastly cut down on the lengthy drive.


We chose to stay in Sutter Creek and explore from there.  Our reservation was at the Hanford House, a small inn convenient to walking the downtown of Sutter Creek.  I’d heartily recommend the inn and the adjoining restaurant Element.  The  accommodations were lovely but I would suggest requesting a 2nd floor room to avoid the possibility of having any noisy guests above you.


Before heading out to visit the wineries we were fortunate to pick up some excellent tips on the local wineries and personal favorites from the inn’s manager, Paul.  His guidance helped with our challenge to visit many of the wineries on New Years Eve and New Years Day.


The town of Sutter Creek


Turley is harvesting grapes in the region and their tasting room was our first stop.  Our host was Katie.  Seek her out if you go.  She grew up in the area and has a wealth of knowledge and tales of the area and of the land Turley is farming.  Her enthusiasm is infectious!


Next stop was Vino Noceto. The winery is home to one of the iconic Doggie Diner figures.  For those interested in the history of the Doggie Diner there is a site to visit.  For the really curious, there is a Doggie Dinner documentary.


Jim and Suzy Gullett purchased this property in 1984 and began planting Sangiovese vines on it a few years later.  Today they are best known for their Sangiovese wines.

The tasting room offers a “Farm to Glass” tour which appeared very popular while we were visiting as the tasting room filled up rapidly.  We lucked out to have Lindy Gullett pouring for us.  When she learned we were interested in hearing and tasting more we were invited to return the next day for a private tour and tasting.


New Years Day in-depth tour of Vino Noceto with Bret Budrick……….

Great wine tasting! Great wines! We shipped three 2013 varieties of Sangiovese – Dos Oakies, Hillside and Noceto.  We also had them tuck in a few bottles of the 2012 OGP Zinfandel.


Thank you Bret Budrick and Lindy GulletT for such a terrific visit!


Dillian was our next stop  It was one of the recommendations we received from Hanford’s innkeeper.  He said their Barbera was a favorite of his.  We were impressed by it as well as their Zinfandels.


Tasting from 10 in the morning requires a good hearty lunch break.  We found Marlene and Glen’s Dead Fly Diner in Plymouth perfect for the break.  The place is not picturesque but the food was wonderful.  Good burgers and fries!


In the town of Sutter Creek there are a number of tasting rooms.  We chose to try Baiocchi and Yorba.

At Baiocchi Sharon Baiocchi poured for us and her husband Greg was on hand to pour for  other guests. No question, our favorite, most memorable winery visits are those we have experienced with an owner or winemaker.. This was no exception.


Their Tempranillo was a standout for me.


Thank you Sharon and Greg Baiocchi for making out visit special.


Ann Kraemer is an extremely talented viticulturist with a highly impressive background in her field.  Her desire to get back to farming brought her to the Sierra Foothills to start Shake Ridge Ranch in 2003.  The ranch vineyard produces the grapes for a number of wineries as well as her family’s Yorba wines.   We were fortunate New Years Eve to taste the wines with Ann and Dave in Yorba’s downtown Sutter Creek tasting room.

Terrific wines! The 2010 Tempranillo was quite special.  We had to take a bottle of it with us and ship a variety home.


Thank you Ann and Dave!


We dined at the Imperial Hotel  New Years Eve.  The hotel is in Amador City, one of the very small, charming towns in the region.



We were not able to get to taste at Story Winery so we ordered a bottle for New Years Eve dinner.


The Sierra Foothills was most certainly worth the trip and worth a trip back!




Ann Kraemer Yorba Wines

Deborah and John,  Thank you for including us. And for enjoying Amador County. Please come and visit again – would love to get you out to our vineyard next trip.

Allison Caruso Amador Manager | Turley Wine Cellars

Deborah, Thank you for your kind words! Katie is truly an asset to our team here, and we are happy to have her excitement and enthusiasm in our tasting room. I will forward this along to Katie and the rest of our team here. Hope you have a great weekend, and come back to visit us again soon!

Sharon Baiocchi Baiocchi Wines  

Hi John and Deborah, Thanks for sharing your blog with us and having such wonderful thingsto say about our area. We hope to see you in our area again. Have a lovely day.

Thomas M. Dillian  Dillian Wines

Awesome! Thanks for the kind words. We are happy to have you as wine club members and happy that your wine tasting experience in Amador was a memorable one. Cheers, 

Bret Budrick   Vino Noceto

I just checked out the blog post. Great job! I thought it was a great write up. Thanks again for visiting us here at the winery, and I hope that your wine travels moving forward bring you much enjoyment. We will check in on your blog from time to time to see how things are going.



Christmas dinner at home……

Christmas was celebrated at home this year…………


with three exceptional wines!

The  2004 vintage Moet & Chandon Brut Rose champagne – Absolutely luscious!

Followed by Peter Seghesio’ s 2014 Journeyman Chardonay

and the  2014 Rock Garden Zinfandel also created by Peter Seghesio.

A memorable line up!







Wishing everyone a peaceful and joyous cruise into the new year!