Amador County Wine

wineries, amador county, wine, northern california, sierra nevada foothillsWhen most people think of California wines, they immediately think of Napa. Some even know about Sonoma County, which is right next door to Napa County.  What most people don’t know is that hidden in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains is Amador County and its wine.

The Amador County wine making area has some of the best wines I’ve ever tasted.  Granted, my palate isn’t that refined, but I know what I like.  The area is known for Barbera, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Vioginer.  I’ve also had some great Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Primitivo…not to mention a lovely Sauvignon Blanc or two.

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Travel: Best hotel room amenities?

Best hotel amenities, good amenities, hotels, coffee, robes, bottled waterAnyone who has stayed in a hotel more than once has that one favorite hotel room amenity that makes them happy when they see it. Sometimes it’s an unexpected item or brand in the bathroom that makes you squeal with delight…ok, maybe just for a few seconds.

Best hotel room amenities: Amy edition

For me, it’s a Keurig brewer.  In fact, when I’m researching hotels and they state that the brewers are in their rooms, I bring my own coffee.

I’ve seen robes, bottles of water, and yes, even wine.  The wine wasn’t free, but it was in the room, which was very convenient. One hotel room had a makeup remover and show cleaner in the bathroom. Definitely unexpected, but appreciated.

I would like to see little bottles Lysol.  Yes, I know. Hotel rooms are supposed to be clean, but let’s face it. They’re not.

At this point, hairdryers, irons, and extra pillows/blankets are to be expected. WiFi should also be all in hotel rooms.  It should also be free or at least already included in the price. How hotels get away with charging extra for it is beyond me.

Hard to find best hotel room amenities

Oddly enough, it’s difficult to find shower caps. It seems that you have to request those from housekeeping most of the time. I do know that you can usually request toothbrushes, razors, and even sanitary products from housekeeping.  Hyatt Hotels have a list of what you can request for free, or even borrow.

Oh, let’s not forget…bedside plugs to charge your smart phone or tablet. Seriously, why don’t more hotels have this amenity? It seems so simple, yet so hard to find.

So, what’s one of the best hotel room amenities you’ve experienced?

Tips for hosting a wine tasting party

how to, throw, a wine tasting, partyHave you ever been to a wine tasting party? Want to know how to throw a wine tasting party? You don’t have to know wine to have a good time at this party. You just have to know what you like.

Hosting one is easier than it sounds. You get a bunch of friends together. Everyone brings their favorite bottle of wine and an appetizer to share. See half of the work is already done!

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Hotel Review: Avatar Hotel, Santa Clara, CA

During our honeymoon, we stayed at this funky, cute hotel located in the Silicon Valley. We were on a road trip around the Bay Area and I chose this hotel because they had a picture of a toy Bender from Futurama on their website. I hadn’t stayed at a Joie de Vivre hotel before, but if the Avatar is anything like the others, they will definitely be on my radar in the future.

My first impression upon arrival was that it might have been an old Howard Johnson at some point in its life. The grounds look as though the are in the process of being revamped. Like, they were dirt and a chain-link fence.  It wasn’t really a big deal.

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Food Friday: Quick and easy smoothies

Wine, travel, foodThe warmer weather is going to be here soon, even if it did snow last night in my neck of the woods… Sometimes you want something nutritious, but also quick.  Those two things don’t always go hand in hand, but below is my easily adjustable recipe for a delicious smoothie.

The secret is to use frozen fruit.  It keeps for a longer time in the freezer and it’s already cold, so you don’t have to add ice to cool down the smoothie.

My smoothies usually have these key ingredients:

  • Frozen fruit
  • Yogurt
  •  Juice

I’m guessing most of you probably already have these ingredients in your home. But do you have a blender? Of course, you do. And no, you don’t need one of those $700 fancy blenders.  If it will crush ice, it will work.  Do you make margaritas with it? There you go.

Dump in some of your favorite frozen fruit. I prefer strawberries and blueberries.

Follow up w/an individual sized container of yogurt. Usually I choose either strawberry or blueberry.

Then pour in your favorite fruit juice, mine is orange.

Hit blend and voila! Smoothie!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ingredients. Need some protein? Maybe a dollop of peanut butter? I’ve never put kale in a smoothie, but that seems to be trendy right now.  Remember wheat grass? Is that the green stuff?

Either way, my smoothie recipe has to be better for you than a deep fried piece of beef.  Mmm. Beef.

Wine Wednesday: Maui Blanc

Hawaii, vineyardsAs we all know, wine can be made in many states.  Hawaii is no exception. My parents introduced me to Maui Blanc wine after one of their many trips to Hawaii. Maui is one of their favorite places to visit and of course, they love wine as much as I do.

This wine comes from Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch. Maui Blanc is made of pineapples.  It’s an interesting taste.  It’s slightly sweet, but has a dry finish.  It’s perfect out on a shady patio on a hot summer day.  As you may be able to tell from the photo, you serve this wine well chilled.

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Travel Tip: Tour San Francisco Giants Ballpark

ballpark tour, mlb, baseball, ball fieldDid you know that you can take a tour of a Major League ballpark? Yep! And it’s probably cheaper than you expect. During our honeymoon, my husband Paul and I went on a ballpark tour.  That’s right. We went on a tour of AT&T Park in San Francisco.  It cost about $20 a person.

According to SF Giants website, there are two tours each day. Tours happen every day except for those listed on the website.

The tour we went on was relatively small. There were about 15 people and a guide.

We started off at the Dugout Store and wound our way through the guts of the stadium as our guide rattled off facts and quips about baseball and the San Francisco Giants. There’s just something fun and wonderful about baseball. I’m not a huge fan of the sport, but I certainly have a deep appreciation for it.  I can’t imagine going an entire summer without watching at least one game.

Many times I’ve watched games at AT&T Park…back when it was known as Pacific Bell Park or Pac Bell Park as it was affectionately known.  The bay breeze would flutter the flags and the fog would creep over the top of the stadium. The air was thick with the scent of the ocean and the sound of the crowd cheering the Giants.

One of the highlights of the tour was walking into the visitor’s dugout and locker room or clubhouse. This “behind the scenes” look at the ballpark was really cool. Everyone on the tour was agape at the VIP feel of being in an area that not everyone has a chance to experience.

Of course, the park itself is wonderful.  It sits right on the San Francisco Bay with a view of the Bay Bridge on one side and McCovey Cove on the other. During a game, people in canoes will attempt to fish out baseballs that have been hit into the cove.

If you’re looking for something different to do, be it while on vacation or just in your home town, check out your local baseball field and see if they offer public tours.  I’m betting they do and they aren’t as expensive as you might imagine. Does your favorite ball field offer tours?