Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Its raining, its pouring...

... the old man is snoring :)

It had been raining today all day and I kept humming this rhyme to Master S. Its pretty dull outside, except for the flowers on the hillside and the ones that are coming up in our own garden. Yes, we have our very own garden now. And its springing up new things every now and then.

We were handed down a pretty well maintained garden by the previous owner. And we are trying our best to keep it that way. Since this is our first spring here, every new bloom is a new surprise. The latest is a lavendar bush - it just started blooming.

Monday, April 26, 2010

'tis the wildflower season

I have been in love with the hill behind our house ever since we moved in last year. The first night I had woken up to a beautiful sunrise behind this very same hill. Then there is this quaint tree on the hillside on seeing which both Mr. S and I had remarked almost together - "I like that tree". On occasion I have also seen a fox, a turkey and lately a baby deer on the same hill. So it is no wonder that I waited with baited breath to see what surprise this hill would have in store for us this spring.

And lo behold! It covered itself with all sorts of wild flowers. There are california poppies scattered here and there, some lupine and some pink and red/maroon flowers whose name I don't even know. The hill is covered and I have been looking out to it day and night.

I had been bugging Mr. S to go back to the hill to take some pictures for a few days now and he finally obliged last weekend. He went right when the sun was beginning to go down and came back with this. I love my hill and I love Mr. S.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Peju Winery

We visited Peju on our way back. Some research on the web and we had inferred that it would be easy to do with a kid. As expected, there were gardens and fountains all around. And the main tasting room was a more casual affair.

As soon as we entered, we were told that it was ok to share a tasting (my husband and I are not heavy drinkers or tasters for that matter) and that the tasting fee could be used as a discount if we decided to buy a bottle. Plus the person conducting the tasting was generous - we got to taste 7 instead of the normally 4 wines in a classic tasting, one of which was a reserve wine. The reserve wine was so costly, i decided to empty the glass to the last sip. I thought it will be criminal not to, given the cost of that wine :)

I found these trees lining the driveway to the entrance particularly interesting.

And for lack of a picture of fountains, here is one of Shaurya enjoying the fountains. He turned 1 that day and we decided it was ok for him to get himself all wet if he wanted to.

We did buy 2 wines from here - the Provence and the French Carnival. Both of them are mildly sweet wines and expected to pair well with spicy (read Indian, Mexican) food.

Some travel tips:

We stayed at the Wine Country Inn - our stay was comfortable, breakfast was good. Though you could hear some slight noise from the room above but we are heavy sleepers so not too much of an inconvenience.

Pizzeria Tra Vigne is a good place for a quick meal. Not a fancy place, it is frequented by locals and serves good pizzas, pastas and sandwiches.

And for a quick bite you could also try the Bouchon bakery in Yountville. Their strawberry-rhubarb tart was heavenly.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beringer Winery - Napa

The next winery we visited was Beringer. When we had started from our home, our planned visits were to Sterling and Peju - Beringer was a last minute decision based on what we saw from the road when we drove past. We had gotten a glimpse of the Rhinehouse from the road and it was too tempting to ignore.

Some history behind the Rhinehouse as we learnt later when we decided to visit the winery - it was built by Frederick Beringer (one of the 2 Beringer brothers) because he wanted his home to remind him of his German home.

Beringer winery is the oldest and continuous running winery in the Napa Valley. This tip came from our guide on a tour of the underground caves where the barrels storing the wines are kept. The tasting was also along this tour.

I will add that my one year old found the underground tour through the caves a little too interesting, to our dismay. 5 minutes into the tour he realized that his voice echoed when he spoke anything. The next 25 minutes were spent by him trying different sounds to see which one echoed the most and by my husband trying his best to trail the tour and keeping our son quiet so everyone else could hear what the guide was saying.

The gardens around Beringer were beautiful, there was lots of space to walk about idly. For picnic lovers, it was ok to picnic here - there were picnic tables around to use.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Almost 2 years - the fast is finally over

Yep, between the pregnancy and the nursing, I have been off alcohol for that long. I am not a heavy drinker, mind you. But I do like to know that I can sip something here and there whenever I want to. And so these past couple of years I have looked enviously at each and everyone who has sipped something in front of me. Well, the fast is finally over. And what better way to break the fast than visit the wine country in our backyard - Napa Valley. Its barely 1.25 hours drive from where we live. And we decided to visit it last weekend.

First stop was Sterling Vineyards. With an aerial tramway, it was on the top of our list of wineries to visit. Also, they have a self-guided tour - less intimidating and easier to do with a one year old in stow.

The entrance to the winery made quite an impression. The trees were in spring bloom and lined the driveway to the parking lot.

And the views from top were spectacular. You could get a bird's eye view of the entire valley from there. The tasting was at different points along the self guided tour. I am not a wine connoisseur by any regard so I would rather not comment on the wines themselves, but we did come back with a slightly fizzy, sweet wine - a 2008 Malvasia Bianca. I guess it appealed to our Indian taste buds :)

Some tips while we are at it:

Their website has a $5 off coupon that can be used if you reach the winery before 12.30 pm.

Picnic lunches inside the winery are not allowed. We had to picnic in the car.

And Dean and Deluca on Hwy 29 is a good place to pick up some sandwiches.