Posts Tagged ‘Wine Country’

Wine Country Gourmet Giveaway

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Hi friends, happy only one week till Christmas!!  I’m feeling the spirit of giving, so it’s time for my annual WC giveaway, this one includes some gourmet treats from the region, plus something special (and handmade) from me!  The following goodies have all been carefully wrapped and packaged and they’re awaiting shipment via USPS to the address of one lucky winner. 

I pick up these gourmet treats when we tour the local wineries, and today I’m giving away a box of some of my favorites. We love nearby Viansa (mentioned here) in Sonoma which specializes in Italian varietal and blends. Truffle honey and lemon vinaigrette plus chardonnay strawberry peach preserve are included in the box.

My most favorite balsamic vinegar on the planet comes from the famous girl & the fig, and it’s paired with the apricot fig chutney, delicious as a spread.  For your summer BBQ, also included are both a spicy zinfandel and herbed cabernet marinades. And yes, I’m parting with my baby cutting board (full deets here) which is the perfect size for presenting a mini wheel of brie or a favorite artisan cheese, and also this great 2011 Food & Wine guide to the wine scene ~ it will tip you off on all the best wines to buy plus offers some basic things to know about different grapes, blends, and varietals. 

wine country giveaway

Eligibility to win the Wine Country Gourmet gift box . . .

1) Leave one comment telling me your favorite gift to give this season. That’s it!

One winner, US only, chosen at random.  Giveaway ends Sunday December 18, 2011 at 8 p.m PST.  By entering this giveaway you agree to this site’s giveaway policy and Official Rules of Entry.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Congratulations to:  #409 BJ at Sweet Nothings!

Cong.

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SF to Sonoma: Your Perfect Day Trip

Friday, 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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Wine Barrels in Home Decor

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

I’ve had wine barrels on the brain ever since we began our plan to spruce up the upper patio.  They’re easy to get here in wine country, and they make the easiest and cheapest planters.  Just about everyone I know locally has a wine barrel for a planter, and I grow tomatoes in mine every year. 

Last week, I made a quick trip to my favorite source for wine barrels.  I had a few projects in mind, one coming up later this week!  A short time ago, they were only $10 bucks, but apparently they’re in high demand abroad hence the price increase.  But still, at $20 dollars for a half barrel, that’s a good price considering the amount of hours that go into the making of one single barrel (see below), and the many uses for the staves (the strips of wood bent to form a barrel).    

wine barrels

Rustic and reclaimed wood is all the rage in home décor.  We’ve seen tree stumps show up as endtables and pallets reinvented in all sorts of ways in interior design over the past few years.  Wine barrels are getting their fair share of reuse too. 

When used as just the right accent in unexpected ways, wine barrels are a fantastic source of reusing real French or American oak.  I love the pairing of natural wood tones with casual furnishings, they always work well together.  I also love seeing products made from reclaimed wood placed in formal settings or in contemporary spaces ~ they have a way of keeping the space from feeling too predictable.  When juxtaposed against anything modern and glossy, reclaimed wood can take center stage.

New wine barrels have a shelf life of 3 to 6 years for aging wine, depending on which vintner you ask.  Most become planters, yet others get turned into some amazing accessories.  I was excited to see so many creative uses for a used wine barrel when I went looking around the web. 

VivaTerra sells several products made out of barrels, like this beautiful stave bread bowl ($95)

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