SF to Sonoma: Your Perfect Day Trip

August 12th, 2011

Greetings friends, happy Friday!  Guess what gang?  It’s tasting season out here in Wine Country and many of you are planning WC getaways and little day trips.  I keep getting tweets and emails with the same question time and again. 

“Hey Kate, we’re coming to San Francisco and want to spend one of our vacation days in Wine Country, where do you recommend we go/sip/eat?”

Just one day?  Oh no!  Truly, you need several days to experience Northern Cali’s Wine Country, preferably two days spent in the Napa Valley touring Calistoga, St. Helena and Yountville, and two days in the different regions of Sonoma County, specifically Healdsburg and Sonoma.  A few days is really the way to vacation in the WC in order to truly absorb the flavors and the relaxed atmosphere around here.  It’s infectious.  You may find you never want to return home. 

However, if you’ve only got one day and you’re coming from (or living in) the City by the Bay, it’s true, you can still get the flavor of Wine Country in a single day.  Here is the very best route for all of you “I just have one day” visitors.  This day trip is 45 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge and takes you on a tour of the Carneros region in Sonoma, known for its Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and sparking wines from grapes that grow in the volcanic soil and thrive amid the coastal breezes. 

This tour will give you a taste and feel for the region and still allow your designated driver to get back to your hotel in San Francisco by nightfall.  Let’s journey, shall we?  Who’s up for a day trip to Wine Country?  Yay, glad you all raised your hands. 

First, travel north on Highway 101 to Highway 37 to Highway 121 – it’s best to map it out before you come on MapQuest, your smart phone, or a GPS device.  

You’ll cross Marin County into Sonoma County and enter the Carneros Valley where you’ll see the grapevines rolling along the hills and start to get excited.  Relax, there are acres of those to come!  Your first stop is Viansa, an Italian inspired hilltop winery which specializes in both red and Italian varietals.  This villa offers a fabulous view, beautiful gardens, and a great marketplace of gourmet foods.  

viansa winery

Next, you’ll travel next door to Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.  The nicest thing about Jacuzzi, other than its sustainable practices, is the fact that although relatively new, the estate buildings seem as if they’ve existed for centuries.  There’s a courtyard, fountain, and vines crawling up the stone façade.  Sample their wines and the flavorful olive oils at The Olive Press.

jacuzzi winery

jacuzzi 2

 

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Masculine Design: Beyond the Man Cave

August 11th, 2011

Hello!  Today I’m featuring an important topic that many couples face, it’s the age old struggle between masculine versus feminine in design.  This tug of war is not rare, rather it’s a common issue in so many relationships, and even plays into many a discussion of décor here in my own home.  One of the struggles I’ve recently faced in our shared master bedroom (always a work in progress!) is how to balance my mister’s love of dark furniture and his more traditional taste against my love of white and bright with touches of modern.  

Today, addressing the topic on a larger scale, Courtney is back with his monthly contribution. To me, this is a fascinating topic, and I willingly embrace any tips that address the issue of how both masculine and feminine style can coexist in harmony. 

Please welcome back Courtney and his interview with top designers addressing the definition of masculine style, and how to successfully balance it with feminine tastes.  

“A college friend recently moved in with his long term girlfriend and called me to complain.  He was distressed that all his favorite pieces of furniture and home accessories were being either sold, relegated to the guest bedroom, or simply being placed in that black hole known as offsite storage.  As more of his beloved possessions exited the new apartment, he became increasingly agitated and an argument ensued. 

After the dust settled, I went over to play “design negotiator” which is relationship counseling, but with furniture.  Sitting them both down, I asked a very simple question, or so I thought.  “What is it about his things that make them ineligible to enter the apartment?”  She turned to me and said quite simply  “Courtney, his stuff is totally way too masculine and it just won’t work in here.”

Too masculine?  Aside from his international beer bottle collection and large screen TV, my friend’s possessions were run of the mill items picked up over the years from IKEA, CB2 and big box stores.  What was it about his possessions made them :too masculine”?  Can’t masculine peacefully coexist with feminine design?

Seeking answers, I sought out advice from two designers I respect for not only their fantastic design talents but their ability to break down complex design issues.  I asked several questions of Joe Cangelosi of Joe Cangelosi Design and Brian Dittmar of Brian Dittmar Design to get their take on what elements create a ‘masculine’ space, how it deviates from a ‘feminine’ style space, and can the two exist in harmony?  Here is what Dittmar and Cangelosi had to say:

Q: First and foremost, is there such a thing as a ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ room? Don’t people define spaces, and not the things within?

Joe Cangelosi (JC):  There is absolutely a difference!

Brian Dittmar (BD):  Yes, I think so. A ‘masculine room’ is the result of a feeling that is created through a collection of objects versus each object being one way or the other.

brian dittmar designs

Brian Dittmar

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