Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Beat the heat

Posted: June 23, 2020 in Miscellaneous
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You may remember Fougerolles as a great place for cherries.  It’s also the home of a number of distilleries, some of which make absinthe as well as kirsch, wines, and other spirits.  What I love is that it’s made in very traditional ways using very traditional “machinery.”  Let’s walk through the sales room and take a look.

© janet m. webb

Bottles ready to be filled.

© janet m. webb


I had a birthday last week and the day after, everyone who knew I’d had one, asked me,

“Did you do anything special?”


© janet m. webb 2011


Our day in Napa starts with breakfast at the Model Bakery in nearby St Helena.  We’ve read that they have a stellar raspberry croissant, so of course we have to try it, along with a cheese Danish and a pecan roll.  Coffee for the daughter and tea for me complete the repast, although I look longingly at their artisan breads.

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After a leisurely breakfast, we head north along highway 29 to absorb the scenery before absorbing any wine.  Wineries are all around, many with imposing tasting rooms.  But the acres of vineyards and other crops once again remind us that, tourist appeal apart, California is an agricultural state of major importance. tells us:

California has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 50 consecutive years.

California is the nation’s number one dairy state.

California’s leading commodity is milk and cream. Grapes are second.

California’s leading export crop is almonds.

Nationally, products exclusively grown (99% or more) in California include almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, kiwifruit, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, raisins, clovers, and walnuts.

From 70 to 80% of all ripe olives are grown in California.

California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries, averaging 1.4 billion pounds of strawberries or 83% of the country’s total fresh and frozen strawberry production. Approximately 12% of the crop is exported to Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Japan primarily. The value of the California strawberry crop is approximately $700 million with related employment of more than 48,000 people.

California produces 25% of the nation’s onions and 43% of the nation’s green onions.

Gilroy, California, “Garlic Capitol of the World,” has hosted 2 million at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival.


The bottom line, however, is that Napa is wine country, and with over 400 wineries in Napa and hundreds more in Sonoma, the next valley over, choices are virtually unlimited.  We had a recommendation from my boss and one from a friend of Shannon’s, but we also look online for additional possibilities.  We come up with a clear winner:  Pride Mountain.  They do tours and tastings by appointment only, but we’re able to get in as soon as we can arrive.  The road winds up and up the mountainside, emerging eventually at a winery that straddles the county line.  Part of it is in Napa, the other in Sonoma.  That makes for two sets of books and lots of work but amazing wines.


Pride Mountain has man-made caves, something most wineries here do not. Our guide is knowledgeable and enjoyable, so the time passes quickly and all too soon we’re off with our purchased bottle.



Lunch and another tasting are next at V. Santui, a winery that offers not only tastings, but food, a place for picnicking, and almost anything else wine-related you can think of.  In contrast to Pride, it’s packed with people, as no appointment is necessary and it’s also along the main highway.  They make more than 65 wines, none of which can be found in stores, only online, at the winery, or via their wine club. The young woman who does our tasting is not particularly interested in anything beyond parroting the party line about each wine, which makes the experience less than good and proving once again the importance of good customer service!

Our tasting day ends at Elyse, a small winery with delicious products. Even though we’ve only done three tastings, the amount of wine, small though it seems, adds up and we’re definitely done for the day.  We head back to our B&B and then into the town of Napa itself to explore a bit and look for some dinner.


Would you like to visit somewhere small, quintessentially Burgundian, beautiful… and be able to have a grand bottle of wine (or more and some to take home?)  If so, consider Aloxe-Corton.  You can walk or bike easily through the little village, view the chateau with typical Burgundian tile roofs, taste your way through caves (wine tasting spots, not underground places with bats) and still get to Beaune quite easily.  We later bought several bottles of wine, one from this area; one to drink now (it’s gone), another to lay down for 4–5 years.  You might find a white, but 98% or so are Grand Cru reds.

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There are many beginnings.  The two photos I chose today are really a series of beginnings, the first beginning ending in a bottle that enhances the celebration of another beginning; an endless cycle of enjoyment and love.

The beginning of wine

The beginning of wine

The beginning of another year of married life

The beginning of another year of married life

Everywhere you travel, you can find stone. There are even countries where people, especially woman, are still being stoned. Hopefully that type of stone that will disappear soon, although I don’t hold out much hope for that. But there are many beautiful examples of stone, made by God or man-made. Here are few examples from my travels, for the travel theme of this week, “Stone.”

This stone provides an excellent view of the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, a view we cherish every summer.  Elevation here is around 7,000′ and one of the special joys is that there’s no cell phone coverage unless you get closer to the edge of the mountain range, down the road and to your left a short distance.  There is now, however, internet, albeit slow internet, which makes my blogging life while on vacation much easier.


Imagine you’ve gotten rid of almost everything you own, packed the rest in a covered wagon, made your hot, dusty way across the Great Plains and as your team of oxen pull you slowly through South Dakota, you suddenly spot all this stone–the Badlands.  While it might be better and easier to get around or through than the Rockies, I can’t imagine it brought joy to the hearts of the pioneers.  However, it brings joy to a variety of animals and all humans who take the time to drive through and appreciate its beauty.

Glimpsed through a gap in an old Provencal wall, is a sight familiar to fans of le Tour de France. The top of Mont. Ventoux,  Windy Mountain, is bare due to trees being taken for ship-building, beginning in the 12th century.  Although areas are being reforested, the bald top rises majestically above everything else in the area.

When in Provence, it behooves you to visit at least a few wineries.  Our favorites, at least so far, are located in the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), “controlled designation of origin”, of Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  During  visit to  Chateau la Nerthe, I spotted this bit of stone in the courtyard.  It was unfortunate that we could only bring back a few bottles of their outstanding wine, but they have begun importing to the US, so perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to find some for yourself.  If not, I highly recommend a trip to Provence to buy some.  🙂