Southern Arizona Wine Country Tuesday, Mar 13 2012 

Believe it or not, in southern Arizona they’re growing wine grapes.

When traveling through this part of the country, it’s hard to  imagine that it’s possible to grow anything.  But…in a tiny little spot on the map called Elgin, Arizona, they’re doing it and they’re doing it well!

Several vineyards and wineries can be found in the Sonoita-Elgin area, about an hour or so southeast of Tucson:

Charron, Kief-Joshua, Wilhelm Family , Village-of-Elgin/Four Monkeys, Rancho Rossa and Callaghan Vineyards along with Canela Hills Winery and Lightning Ridge Cellars.  We visited many of the above vineyards and all had great wines.  I was surprised at the variety: Tempranillo, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, riesling, sangiovese, etc.  One location even had “Christmas in a Glass” , a gluhwein type drink.  It was December and it was delightful!


And after visiting many of these fine wine makers and tasting along the way, you too may see something like this…..

Was he really green? I can’t really say because I can’t quite remember after all that wine!



Napa: Castello di Amorosa Saturday, Jan 21 2012 

It’s been coined Daryl Sattui’s Tuscan Wonderland. This massive, medieval castle of Napa opened in 2007 and is right off of the St. Helena Highway in Calistoga.  If you ever happen to find yourself in the Napa Valley, this is not to be missed!  We booked an advanced reservation for a tour and tasting and let me tell you, the place is amazing and the wine is delicious!  The walking tour takes about an hour, followed by another good hour of wine tasting.

Pictures just don’t do this place any justice in my opinion.  Honestly, when you arrive and enter the gates, you can’t believe your eyes.  Turrets and massive stone walls, hand forged iron work – it feels like the real deal!  A reported $30 million and 14 years went into creating this 121,000 square feet of Tuscan delight. The castle has four stories above ground and another four stories hidden in the ground underneath. With a dry mote, drawbridge,  iron gates, 107 rooms, a chapel where Latin Mass is held every Sunday, wine caves, a grand ballroom, armory, and dungeon complete with torture chamber including an original iron maiden…you really can’t believe your eyes.  While on our tour, the guide explained that every piece of iron work, down to the nails, were hand forged in Italy.


On our way underground, to the wine caves and dungeon.

I’ve decided to join this wine club because I’ll be back to Napa again this summer and there is a good chance I’ll return again and again throughout my life.  With that, Castello di Amorosa’s superb italian-style wines, my husbands interst in medieval history, the amazing looking parties they hold that I want to attend at some point (the halloween Pegan Ball for example) and the dicounts you get with the membership…well why not!?!?!

Do check out their website, read the history of Daryl Sattui’s vision, passion and dream.  It’s pretty impressive.

Back to Napa Thursday, Jan 12 2012 

I promised that I would follow up with more photos of Napa Valley, so her we go.


The name comes from an old Native American tail of a stag that escapes hunters by leaping across cliffs that are near the winery.


A 1892 stone Manor House with beautiful gardens containing old massive palms.  It holds legends of bootleggers and gangsters, while having an historic speak easy in the basement.  In the 1920’s it was called Stag Leap Manor, a popular country retreat in Napa.  It was also a navy camp before being abandoned in 1953.

There is much history at this winery and it was certainly one of the most interesting to visit and tour. The winery itself began most recently, in the 1970s, founded by Horace Chase who’s motto was Ne Cede Malis a latin phrase for “Don’t give into misfortune.”


A Day of Solitude in Oregon Wine Country Tuesday, Jun 28 2011 

It was June 4th and I had the entire day to myself!  This is rare.  Not that I don’t love spending time with my husband and the kids, but one needs to be alone every now and then.  Brent had to work all day and though a friend was supposed to come with me, she ended up having to work as well.  So there I was, all alone…what to do?

So I hit the open road in my trusty little VW, camera in hand with no plan really, other than just to drink a little wine and take some photos.  The sun was out and blazing for the first time this spring and I was prepared to take full advantage of it!  I drove through Newberg and out toward Carlton pulling off on the side of the road when I could get a safe chance to snap a few scenic shots.  Then into Carlton and straight to Cana’s Feast where we happen to be members so I know I can get not only a free tasting of several wines, but good wines and great service.  As I pulled up I noticed the parking lot was basically empty.  On such a gorgeous day where was everybody?  It took me about 2 minutes to figure out that I was not only wine tasting and taking photos here, I was staying for a lunch on the plaza!

It truly turned out to be an amazing day. I was so rested and energized, not to mention sun burnt, when I got home.  Lunch was incredible, which you’ll see by the photos.  The Lupine flowers were blooming amazing shades of deep purple and fuscia. I took about 40 photos while just sitting in the courtyard eating lunch and brought home a lovely bottle of Barbara. There will be another day like this in the near future I hope!

Saturday at Sokol Blosser Tuesday, Apr 12 2011 

A dry day in Dundee on Saturday when we went to pick up our wine club shipment.  Spring has sprung in the northwest in spite of the weather. Cats chasing mice, daffodils blooming and the vines are just starting to show their new leaves.

Southern Oregon Wednesday, Mar 16 2011 

As promised in my last entry, photos from Southern Oregon.  I’m still sifting through the 500 some photos I took between Roseburg, Ashland, Applegate, Medford and so on.  It’s going to take me some time to get everything posted that I like and think is worthy of sharing, plus I am still in the process of making edits to some photos.  I am happy to say that the majority of pictures I took turned out well and don’t need editing!  This is a major accomplishment considering I took 99.9% of the photos on manual mode.

So here we go.  Southern Oregon Round 1…

Reustle Winery – Prayer Rock Vineyard in Sutherlin, Oregon

These guys have a Wine Cave that you’re seeing a small section of above.  The Cave was designed by the same guy who did Indiana Jones, apparently he’s a Sutherlin native.  A very cool place, literally.  Dark, cold barrel cellar with rooms etched out of stone fully equipped with ornate marble work, tables and chairs for tasting the wine.  They serve each wine with a food pairing from their kitchen, it’s quite an experience.  This was the first winery stop on our trip.


One of ornate chandeliers at Reustle Winery.

Baaaahhhhhh!  There was entire field of these little guys along with their parents.  Too cute!

I just hope they’re sheering them and not butchering them. At this point though, they all look very happy and free on a very large open range.



In Applegate we ran into this character and he was hilarious!  He’d ended up on the wrong side of the fence.  He was just hanging out on the side of the road snacking on grass and looking through the fence at his buddies wondering how to get back.  I assume at some point he probably jumped back in…but we pulled over and he was content to pose for a few photos. He’s even smiling!


Jacksonville, Oregon.  One of the many old buildings that remains unchanged.


On our way up to the Jacksonville Cemetery, where I took several photos of the pioneer grave stones and iron work,we ran into a pack of deer.

This is one of the things I love about Southern Oregon.

Noble Coffee!

Probably the best coffee that exists!

If you get to Ashland be sure to visit.

Obviously this photo has been edited to spruce it up a bit.

Old Coca Cola signage on the brick wall outside the Peerless Hotel in Ashland.  I’m not sure it’s original as I don’t recall seeing it when I lived in Ashland over 10 years ago.  This photo was edited to bring some life back into the paint, it is pretty washed out in reality.

Troon Vineyards in Applegate.

A beautiful place, probably the most beautiful winery we visited outside of Sutherlin. Here we’re looking at their back seating area that look out onto their back vineyard.  The sun had just started to peek through the clouds and it ended up being a pretty nice day.

The fountain at Troon Vineyards.

I edited this photo to give it some life, changed the color and saturation.

Troon Vineyards

The view speaks for itself!

I look forward to going back here in the summer when the leaves are on the vines.


This is my self-made anti-veal advertisement.

Are you a meat eater? Like Veal?

Next time you’re gnawing on a tasty piece of veal, think of this guy.

Who could eat a face like that?

Overlooking Ashland Creek at Lithia Park

Plants in Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon

This is one of the strangest plants I’ve ever seen. Tiny branches covered with these tiny red flowers with long yellow pedals??

Very cool!

Brick wall outside Chataulin Cafe in Ashland, Oregon

View of the gazebo and hills of Applegate at the Valley View Winery.






Southern Oregon Wine and Chocolate Extravaganza Saturday, Mar 5 2011 

Ashland, Oregon…one of my favorite places to visit.  On Wednesday we left Portland and headed south for a 5 day food and wine adventure.  Southern Oregon has some of the best wines around! Big reds, sweet desserts, smooth ports…after having visited nearly 30 wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms between Sutherlin and Ashland I can’t say I’ve had a bad wine. 

Last night began the initial reason for the trip – the Oregon Chocolate Festival.  We attended a Chocolate Makers Dinner at the Ashland Springs Hotel.  A delightful 4 course meal where each dish contained chocolate of some kind.  It was quite filling, in fact my dessert is still sitting in the mini refrigerator here in the hotel room waiting for me to sample.  I couldn’t put one more bite in my mouth by the time it arrived as the 4th course. 

Today we’re off to the festival itself.  A ballroom filled with over 40 local chocolate vendors complete with samples galore and yummies to purchase. 

As with everywhere I’ve been since leaving Portland Wednesday, I’ve had my camera in hand each step of the way.  From wineries to livestock, landscapes to meals, pioneer cemeteries and  architecture…I’ve taken photos of everything which I’ll post when I get home.  Stay tuned!

NW Oregon Wine Country Sunday, Nov 1 2009 


My cousins and I took a journey through wine country last weekend.  It was a delightful day traveling from vineyard to vineyard, tasting great wines and enjoying a beautiful day.  We were lucky enough to have a clear day with blue skies and sunshine.


The spectacular view from the tasting room at Elk Cove Vineyards in Gaston.


The last of the grapes on the vine….harvest is over and the season has come to an end.  These grapes are sugary sweet and starting to shrivel now.


Our last stop, late afternoon at Sokol Blosser in Dundee.

It could not have been a more beautiful fall day for our adventure.  The Cousins Three celebrated belated birthdays and fabulous Oregon wines. Cheers!!!!