Tag Archive for tourism

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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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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