08/23/09 - Wine Tour 2009 – It has been a week since our California trip and I've had several people comment on the lack of a blog entry.  I keep telling them they all need to sign up for Facebook; however, truth be told, I do like having these regular entries as a good way to look back and reminisce.  That and these entries are usually a little more detailed =). 


Hanging by the Vines

V. Sattui Barrel Room Tasting

Nina, Susan, and I arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon.  For this trip I finally remembered not to schedule an 8AM flight and instead settled for closer to 10ish - thus, we didn't have to wake up before the sun this time - yippie!  We hooked up with transportation and started our drive North to the valley, but not before stopping at Fisherman's Wharf to catch "real" seafood.  We watched the seagulls scavenge for bites and enjoyed the cool (almost too cold) wind blowing in from the bay.  This entire trip was certainly a nice change of pace on the weather - instead of stewing in 100 degree Texas heat we relaxed in anywhere from the upper 60s to low 80s - ahhhhhh.


Dry Creek Valley

Sonoma Valley

Most of the wineries in California close at or around 5PM - thus, we weren't going to have time to do any serious tastings on the first day.  Because of this we decided to take the long and indirect route through Napa in order to stop at V. Sattui (my all-time favorite winery).  We didn't spend as much time there as we would have liked but I'm thrilled we made the stop (and we purchased a mixed case of wine - woohoo). 


Ethiopian Cuisine

Wilson Winery

Over the course of the week we dined on some very ethnic cuisine.  It started on the first night with Nepalese - which is similar to East Indian.  We had the option of eating while sitting on the floor (traditional style); however, we opted for chairs :).  Ethiopian was served the second night and it was by far, in my opinion, the most interesting meal.  All of the food was served on a large pizza-sized sourdough flatbread and then eaten without flatware - it was delicious!  Our third cuisine was Portuguese, which wasn't terribly unusual (except for the table near being served an entire fish - head and tail included).  Finally, on Saturday night, we returned back to Asia for spicy Thai.  All in all the food was definitely a highlight of this trip - most of the styles are not available in Fort Worth.



A Delicious Breakfast

Our bed & breakfast hosts were from Brittian with a thick accent to prove that point.  Tim and Jackie, owners of Melitta Station Inn, were wonderful hosts eager to satisfy our every need.  Jackie is a trained chef and she alternated each breakfast between sweet and savory (I much preferred the savory breakfasts - they were exquisite).  At night it was cool enough to simply leave the bedroom windows open to where we could listen to the nighttime critters singing (and sometimes horses neighing for food in the morning).


Relaxing by the River

So Much Wine - So Little Time

The first full day was spent in Dry Creek Valley.  We visited Seghesio, Mazzocco, Wilson, Kokomo, Family Vineyards, and Truett-Hurst.  With the exception of Family Vineyards (kind of a conglomeration of several small wineries), each of these had very good tastings.  Mazzocco and Truett-Hurst served numerous delicious Zins.  Kokomo (Becky and "Toots") and Truett-Hurst (Bob) were simply tons of fun.  After Truett-Hurst we walked down to the river and relaxed in several lounge chairs while we digested the day - it was the perfect stopping point (that and it was after 5PM).


Smile for the Camera - Wheeee!

Beauty at Chateau St. Jean

Day number two started out in the Northern most region of Dry Creek and then flowed East a bit closer to the Russian River Valley.  There was even time for downtown Healdsburg where we enjoyed lunch at Zin Restaurant and even stopped at a few stores for window-shopping.  We visited Mauritson, Bella, Sbragia, Dry Creek, Souverain, Topel, and Armida.  There wasn't anything outstanding on the tastings for today with the exception of Dry Creek - which always has spectacular white wines.  Bella was fun simply for the cave experience and both Armida and Sbragia had exceptional views of the valley.  We delighted in a fun cheese and wine pairing at Souverain.


Neat and Orderly

Say Cheese!

For the last day we headed South from the B&B towards Sonoma Valley.  Our main goal was to hit a few of our favorite wineries from this area and sample a few new jewels.  We tasted mediocre wine at Arrowood, Chateau St. Jean, Kaz, Ravenswood (which I remember being a bit better when we were here two years ago) and Sebastiani (ditto) - I can tell you right now Dry Creek is the place to visit :).  That being said, on the flip side, there were several outstanding wineries in this area (I'd say I liked all of these later stops better than any of the wines in Dry Creek).  These wineries included Ledson, Enkidu, and VJB - we also had a great deal of fun at the last two and the reds at all three were divine. 


Golden Gate Bridge

The Beach Along Highway One

Before returning home we took a trip toward and along the coast to admire the beautiful scenery.  We spotted towering redwoods, dipped our feet in the chilling ocean water, walked along the beach, and even purchased fresh fruit from a girl selling on the side of the road (I think I almost ran her over with the car trying to stop in time).  Amaryllis (called naked ladies by the locals) were in full bloom (they only bloom during August in this region) along the highway and were quite pretty. 


Truett-Hurst Winery

Kaz Winery

We had a wonderful and relaxing time in California this year - wish you could have been there!

- Nathan

08/05/09 - So You Think You Can Dance - Season 5 : Week 9 – The first half of the finale was full of all sorts of fantastic dancing this week.  I was impressed with the top four and I'm definitely excited to see the top 10 (actually 12) dance later this year.

Prior to this evening I would have ranked everyone in this order: Brandon->Kayla->Jeanine->Evan

After an impressive showing by Jeanine, one that really surprised me, I'm going to have to edge her above Kayla and put her in my 2nd place position.  I'm still certainly in favor of Brandon taking the whole show; however, I won't be offended of Jeanine, or even Kayla, somehow comes away with the top prize.  I will be flabbergasted if Evan, somehow, takes first.  He is fun - he is entertaining - but he isn't nearly as talented as the other three.


Couple 9th Round Our Opinion Solo Group Bottom Guess
Jeanine Jazz üü üüü üüü 2
Evan üü üü üüü 4
Kayla Broadway üüü üü üüü 3
Brandon üüü üüü üüü 1
Brandon Hip-hop üüü      
Evan üü      
Jeanine Contemporary üü      
Kayla üü      
Kayla Jive üü      
Evan ü      
Jeanine Paso Doble üüü      
Brandon üüü      

- Nathan

08/04/09 - Annual Wine Tasting Bash – It was another fantastic birthday party this year - as far as I'm concerned they just keep getting better!  I certainly felt the warmth of having many friends gather this year for my party.  Everyone brought cheer, good times, and a little bit of wine ;).  The wine tasting was definitely tapered down this year (last year featured nearly 35 different bottles in the tasting...I finally had to draw the line and tell everyone to quit bringing so much wine...I guess that is a good problem to have), but we still sampled at least 25 different wines over the course of the evening.  We even had a special surprise when Karen and Kayne showed up with several high class "leftover" tastings from Grand Cru

There was lots of food (in fact, Susan and I are still having bits and pieces of the fruit and cheese as part of our nightly dinners this week) and lots of entertainment - I'm so happy for all who were able to make it (and a special nod to those who traveled 60+ miles; George, Matt & Suzanna, Bob & Deb, and Rick & Carol)- I just wish someone had taken some pictures...or maybe not?

This has been quite the stressful year for me...having to sell one home and buy another (and not at the same time, unfortunately); however, it all worked out for the best and it was nice to unwind and let all those worries fade away.  Cheers!

- Nathan