Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sweet St. Helena

Our old friends, Larry and Casey, who are currently living in Boston, are looking at homes in Napa Valley and came out to put a bid in on a house in St. Helena which is in Napa Valley - California Wine Country.  They asked us to come up to see the house (very nice) and join them for the day - maybe with some moral support.  They are looking at a very nice property with a "Casita" which is a separate living quarters/mother-in-law/nanny space.  It's been quite a while since Dave and I have been to Napa Valley (shame on us!) but we had a great day.  No wonder so many tourists come here!

While Casey and Larry were in meetings, Dave and I went to taste some wines.  We first went to Grgich Wines right down the street.  President Reagan was a big fan of their wines and brought them to Paris.  

Then we were off to the Heitz Winery which is famous for the 1976 Judgement Of Paris that turned the world-wide wine industry on its head.  It was a blind taste test in Paris and the French judges chose Heitz, among several other California wines, as the best wines - over French wines.  Ooops - that was a first and the beginning of the recognition of California wines as being the best in the world.

Heitz has a lovely sitting area outside their Tasting Room. The most amazing part of it was that their tasting is free!  Even with the $200 bottle of wine that's on the tasting menu. Now, Dave and I are firm believers that there are quite a few really good wines that can be bought for less than $20 a bottle (we've had them).  Nevertheless, we tasted the pricey Heitz one and took it out on the patio to enjoy.  It was very nice.  But I still like my Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel for $16. I'll buy a pair of shoes for the difference.  The shoes will be around long after the wine.  However, I should mention, in the interest of honesty, that we left with a $75 bottle of wine and a Port that Dave loved.  He has a much better palate than I do so I aquiesed.  We never do that!  I'll bring it out on his birthday. On the way home, however, we agreed that wine snobs have expense accounts.  When it comes out of your own pocket, you are more discerning ;)

The lovely sitting area outside the Heitz Tasting Room

Typical Mustard Grass grows everywhere now that it's Spring.  Drew used to bring bunches home on his way home from school when he was a little boy and he'd eat half of it on his way - yes, you can eat it.  It sounded like a Huck Finn thing to me as a mom (from New York) but very sweet.
Mustard Grass for miles!

Grgich Hills Tasting Room barrels.

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  We're looking forward to having Casey and Larry in California!  
And we returned home to an email from Michele and Doug asking us to do a wine tour in Santa Cruz.  
I feel like I'm in my 20's again!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Painting Date

A mommy/daughter "painting date"!   Lauren set it up using a Groupon deal she found for my visit to see her at school and we had a whole afternoon together, happily painting away.  The class was 3 hours long and in the beginning she was wondering how she was *ever* going to make it through to the end.  But when it was over she actually couldn't believe where the time went!  (Maybe it had something to do with the woman who brought a bottle of wine to class!)  We had a lot of fun although I went rogue in the class and was one of those annoying students who won't follow directions.  Lauren painted the assigned tree while I doodled wtih a beach scene.  It was in my head so I had to go with it.  I love the colors Lauren mixed  for her painting.  

She has both paintings now but they'll probably enter eternal posterity eventually because it's hard to get them home when you can't take more than 2 bags on the airline.  Dave has decided that we're going to ship her car home at the end of the year instead of having her drive it so we have a plan in place to get as much of her stuff as we can into suitcases.  The rest of the belongings will just have to get tossed or passed along to another student.  It was a lot more uncomplicated having kids at colleges closer to home but we've been making it work one way or another.  

It will be so good to have her home finally. Just one more trip out there and that's it.  It's always fun to be with her but this visit was bitter cold.  I don't remember being quite that cold even growing up.  She gave me a lot of warm clothes, scarves and mittens but my face was so numb that I felt like it was gonna crack.  And the sun was out! 
Can't wait for Spring Break!!!