Tag Archive for fishing

Oak Farm Vineyards Winery Expansion!

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The fishing lake at Oak Farm Vineyard. Click twice for the full view.

Oak Farm Vineyards Winery (23627 Devries Road) is on its way to becoming the first of its kind in the Lodi, CA, appellation: a family-owned estate that offers the full experience of a large-scale destination winery, minus the glitzy hotel and pretension. I took part in a media preview of their new expansion, which will help them achieve that goal. The Wine and Hospitality Facility is scheduled for a public grand opening on October 25 and 26 of this year, and if you’re a local wine lover, it’s an event you shouldn’t miss.

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That beautiful wood-covered tasting room is the centerpiece of the expansion. By now, the landscaping is likely all filled in along the terraced stone wall. Inside, the tasting room is covered in more gorgeous wood and decorated with an inviting modern aesthetic.

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That geode picture is really for my sister, who collects them.

That geode picture is really for my sister, who collects them.

Attached to the tasting room is a bonus room that is intended for the use of Oak Farm Vineyards wine club members. Dorothy Panella, mother of Managing Partner Dan Panella and Business Manager Nicole Panella, is officially in charge “of stuff,” which included decorating the room before us bloggers rolled in with our cameras. She assured us that the final version of the room would look much better, but frankly, I think she did a great job with the stuff.

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New Orleans’ Adventures: Honey Island Swamp Touring

The Gourmez happy in the swamp.

The Gourmez happy in the swamp.

This is the fourth entry in a series on my December New Orleans vacation. Lest you think this many entries is a few too many, just know New Orleans has always been high on my list of cities to visit, so I was pretty excited to finally do so! Blog #1 was on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, Blog #2 was on dining at night in New Orleans, and Blog #3 was on drinking at night in New Orleans—and no, drinking need not be limited to the dark hours in this town.

The dock at Cajun Encounters.

The dock at Cajun Encounters.

For our next New Orleans adventure, we went 40 minutes east of the city to Slidell. Honey Island Swamp is 20 miles long, and a good portion of it is protected for wildlife conservation. A large number of boat tour companies operate within the protected section of the swamp, and we chose Cajun Encounters on a recommendation. It’s $25 for a day tour of the swamp, and with a tour that takes about 90 minutes, it’s well worth it. I thought it a deal in all honesty. They offer transportation from New Orleans for an extra $20 if you don’t have a car.

First view of the river. Click twice for the largest picture.

First view of the river. Click twice for the largest picture.

Who doesn’t love Spanish moss?

Who doesn’t love Spanish moss?

Our tour guide was super nice and pretty entertaining for a man with only a few months under his belt. Questions were always welcome. We went through three distinct areas of swamp. The first was similar to a standard riverbank but with plenty of Spanish moss, reddish leaves, and cypress outcroppings called knees.

Knees in the water.

Knees in the water.

This was December, which means winter and the least active time for the swamp’s wildlife, so we were cautioned we wouldn’t see a lot of it. We didn’t, but there were some creatures to encounter!

Turtles on the left.

Turtles on the left.

Plenty of snapping turtles lined the banks, and they’d dive into the water when we got close.

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