There’s a castle in Napa

 

Abby Tegnelia wineries in NapaDon’t I look right at home in a vineyard? (Yeah, right — I look so awkward. Plus, I was freezing!) Oh, it was so gorgeous though. I could have stayed out there all afternoon. Alas, delicious wines awaited inside… And did I mention the castle? Built by a wealthy medieval architecture nut named Dario Sattui, Castello di Amarosa opened in 2007, 121,000 square feet of sprawling antique brick and cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sangiovese and primitivo vineyards. The tour of this unique property was fascinating, and the wines impressive. Whatever your opinions on this “different” project, I highly recommend going. I had never heard of anything like it! It was definitely one of the most interesting wineries in Napa, that’s for sure.

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The beautiful Round Pond winery in Napa

Round Pond Winery leaves

Round Pond offered a gorgeous, relaxed setting.

One of my very favorite wineries on my recent wine-tasting trip to Sonoma and Napa was Round Pond Estate, because it offered such a relaxing, homey atmosphere. To be fair, the weather also warmed up for us that day, and we got to sit around on the estate’s gorgeous patio, soaking up the sun and trying delicious wine. It was meant to be! The owners were friendly and hospitable, bringing out trays of delicious eats to compliment our wines. Every detail was perfect, as if we had wandered into a well-curated dinner party. We were all so happy there that I must declare this one of my favorite wineries in Napa Valley.

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Ravenswood: a lesson for winos in Sonoma wine-tasting!

Ravenswood Winery Sonoma

Me? Math? ©Andi Perullo

Domestic, I am not. Maybe that’s why I’ve never married? I travel, am up for anything, drink fine wine, and am adventurous when it comes to food. But a natural in the kitchen? Come ON. Leave it to Trafalgar Tours to show me the ways. On our recent journey through Napa, I was expecting a delicious adventure through some of my favorite wineries, after, of course, visiting San Francisco’s Chinatown, Farmers’ Market, and Napa’s Oxbow food market. Instead? Our first stop required me to MAKE some wine. When it comes to the vino, I know a lot about what I like. But I never really put much thought into just how the powers at be decide on how much of each varietal to put into a blend. Visiting wine country wineries such as Ravenswood in Sonoma makes wine tasting packages special — and that’s before you’ve even begun to roll up your sleeves and take a class. Math first-thing in the morning? Sure! Bring it on. No buzz can be ruined by a few percentage equations… right?

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Traditional Napa Kick-off: Oxbow food yum

Oxbow food

Meeting friends at Napa’s Oxbow with Andi of Misadventures with Andi. ©Andi Perullo

On my most recent trip to Napa, I knew I was with kindred spirits when Andi of My Beautiful Adventures, Andi of Misadventures with Andi, and I decided to run over to Oxbow Market to take down some oysters and champagne to kick off our stay. So far, every trip of mine in this particular slice wine country has started this way. I’m not sure why… Is it the magical saltiness of Hog Island‘s famous oysters, or the heavy pours of the local champagnes? I’m not sure. All I know is that on this Napa trip, I have never laughed harder. Within a minute of being there, we met two very outgoing men who were as enamored with the two Andis as I was…. Who can blame them?

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Dreaming of returning to paradise…

living in Costa RicaI had a dream last night, in more vivid colors than I could ever imagine in my brown desert town. Yes, there are the glitzy lights of the Las Vegas Strip, but this was different: in my pre-dawn adventure, I was looking skyward at five layers of magnificent, magic-kissed tropics of the brightest greens and the bluest blues. The weirdest part of the whole thing was that I ended up there, I don’t know how, and met some sort of tour guide to this wonderful place through my mother. And to my surprise: Wow! I had had this woman’s name and phone number on my vanity mirror for a year but had never got around to calling. I didn’t feel relief in my dream, oh my, I almost missed finding paradise. Instead, it was more like, look at that: two paths, same ending.

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Sunrise: Grand Canyon from Above

Grand CanyonLiving in the southwest means I can to take all kinds of trips to places like the Grand Canyon, but I never thought I’d get to see that magical place at sunrise! For all the talk of gorgeous sunsets (for me, usually traveling along the coast of Costa Rica), it is sometimes easy to forget how special seeing the sun rise can be. For me, even though I am often awake when it is still dark, I haven’t been somewhere to actually watch the sun come up since my trip to Panama. So when I was invited to the Grand Canyon on an “early morning” trip, I jumped at the chance. Our private plane took off from the Boulder City airport at 5:30 am. And boy, was it worth it. Watching the horizon start to glow and then the sun shine over the magnificent Grand Canyon — as we flew overhead — left me awestruck.

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