Tag Archive for tourism

Wine Tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains Part 2

View from the edge of Byington's WInery.

View from the edge of Byington’s WInery.

At Christmas, my husband bought us passports from the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Growers Association (SCMWGA). These passports, filled with over 50 participating wineries, entitle the bearers to one free tasting at each spot during normal operating hours or the SCMWGA special Passport Days, which happen four times a year and are the best opportunity to catch a tasting of the wineries not open to the public. Our first time out, in March, we made our way north up Soquel-San Jose Road. This time, we were able to get out on Passport Day and thus chose a route of wineries only offering tastings that day that followed Bear Creek Road on the other side of Highway 17.

First stop, however, was actually an urban one on the way, Travieso Winery (165 Cristich Lane, Campbell), largely chosen because we needed to gas up and it was nearby the exit. Hey, opportunity knocks, y’all.

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Notable for that amazing alien placard, Travieso also had a party going on with mostly a crowd of regular visitors about. Our wine taster was lovely, as was being surrounded by their many barrels of wine.

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It’s a welcoming spot and easily accessed, though you forgo the gorgeous views that the mountains offer, of course. I didn’t find any wines to my palate there, so we trudged on. Who am I kidding? We’d trudge on regardless.

Stop #2 was Silvertip Vineyards (16644 Zayante Road, Los Gatos), whose tasting was held in a meadow clearing under a tent. The nearby estate house and vines were gorgeous.

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Click on me twice for the full view!

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And the wine tasters, brothers in the Nelson family that owns the estate, were at the helm. All of their wines are produced with grapes grown on the property, and they can point out to you which are which from a distance. Their wines surprised me, mainly because I enjoyed their 2010 Petit Pinot Noir the most of the bunch (unintended pun, I swear). Normally, I don’t like petit offerings, but this one pleased me—I’ll review it at a later date.

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Tourist Musts for the Outer Banks

View of Kill Devil Hills from our hotel's beach. Click twice for the largest view.

View of Kill Devil Hills from our hotel’s beach. Click twice for the largest view.

Last July, I spent the weekend in the Outer Banks for only the second time in the eight years I lived in North Carolina. My first trip was camping on Ocracoke, the most remote of the islands, so I had never done the typical tourist activities in the more accessible areas, and I wanted to hit them up before we moved. Luckily, friends Laura and Ellen came to the rescue! In one whirlwind weekend, we covered each of these must-sees of the Outer Banks.

1. Jockey’s Ridge State Park

Climbing the dunes. Click twice for the largest view.

Climbing the dunes. Click twice for the largest view.

Jockey’s Ridge is the largest sand dune formation on the East Coast. Not to brag, or anything, but the West Coast has it beat easily for height. That doesn’t take away from the beauty of these dunes or of the multitudes of people who come to fly a kite in the open air. We visited at sunset and conquered the short, but calf-burning, hike from the parking lot to be rewarded with gorgeous views and kites of all shapes and sizes.

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Me with the sunset to my back.

Me with the sunset to my back.

 

360-view from the Ridge, featuring Laura. Click twice for the largest view.

360-view from the Ridge, featuring Laura. Click twice for the largest view.

Exiting through the same path many have walked before.

Exiting through the same path many have walked before.

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Bennett Place Visit

One of my goals before we move is to hit up a few North Carolina heritage sights I’ve wanted to explore but have never gotten around to before now. One was checked off the list on Memorial Day when my friend Ellen invited us to join her at Bennett Place in Durham.

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What’s Bennett Place? Only where the largest surrender of troops took place at the end of the Civil War! The peace was signed in Hillsborough, but the troop surrender happened at a farmhouse in Durham about halfway between General Sherman’s and General Grant’s headquarters in Greensboro and Raleigh, respectively. The actual farmhouse was a victim of fire, as is often the case. Its chimney survives today.

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The rest of the restored home was moved from up the road and decorated to reflect to the time period of the troop surrender.

One of two bedrooms in the farmhouse.

One of two bedrooms in the farmhouse.

There is also a smokehouse and kitchen on site, in addition to trails, a large meadow,

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and the Unity Memorial.

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Bennett Place is located in western Durham (4401 Bennett Memorial Drive) and is easily accessible. It is free, though donations are accepted. On a normal day, I’d say 90 minutes would be enough to tour the grounds and the museum in the visitors’ center. But on Memorial Day, they hosted a weekend of events, complete with reenactors from many different US wars, so more time was needed, and I’d imagine that’s the case with any special event. Especially if one of those reenactors whisks you away to teach you Southern dances and games.

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