We are taking a short virtual drive for “Travel Thursday” this week to two Santa Cruz foothills wineries. There are many wonderful wineries in the region for great Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. No secrets there, even Condé Nast Traveler called it one of the best wine regions to visit in 2019 (link https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/best-wine-regions-to-visit ). However, limiting my tastings to keep my balance and sense of taste, (don’t even suggest spitting out good wine) I chose Testarossa and House Family Wineries two beautiful wineries close to home.
From San Jose we approach the area via the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos in the Santa Cruz foothills, which has a charming historic downtown of top notch restaurants and shops. We drive past a plethora of nice stand alone tasting rooms on the way but I like the ambiance of a working winery tasting room so up the hill we start.
Our first stop is at Testarossa Winery which is my favorite for Pinot Noirs. It also has great outdoor dining, music and special events. This time we just did a tasting in the main hall but we also enjoy having a glass of wine and snack outdoors, enjoying the mediteraen climate and listening to music.
These pictures of Testarossa are courtesy of Tamara at Tamaraitsmylife.wixsite.com , since my Testarossa pictures disappeared, darn wine. Thanks Tamara, that was a fun day.
With my bottles of the 2016 Pinot tucked safely away, we head north on the Saratoga Los Gatos Road to the House Family Vineyard for some Cabs. This is wine tasting with a view of the San Jose Valley and surrounding vistas. Here is the pretty path through the vineyard from parking:
The view from the tasting room:
The 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon did not disappoint, a bit pricey but with club membership there is a discount and tasting is complimentary for four. We have also come up on a Friday night to hear music and just do a tasting so the experience is reasonable.
They have a small menu and we ordered a cheese plate and loaf of French bread, which is baked on-site and amazing. So, as I sit here thinking of the crusty french loaf and delicious glass of Cabernet, I leave you with this quote:
The gospel needs a family of sinners, saved by grace, committed to tearing down the walls, throwing open the doors, and shouting, “Welcome! There’s bread and wine. Come eat with us and talk.” Rachel Held Evans
It’s Travel Thursday so I’m sharing about our trip this summer to beautiful Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Forever, we had heard of magical summer trips to Tahoe where the water was gloriously cobalt blue, the beaches were warm, the water sports abundant, and the views were picture perfect.
Tahoe is only about four hours from the South Bay so we drove across and nestled our travel trailer among the towering pines in the Fallen Leaf Lake Campground. It’s in an alpine canyon between Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe, 1/4 mile from Fallen Leaf Beach where the water was warmer then Tahoe (though still invigoratingly chilly) and just a 10 minute drive to the views and activities of South Lake Tahoe. The campground was rustic with the feel of nature as we hoped. Here is a picture of one of our neighbors who was rough and a little grumpy but kept to himself. https://tahoesouth.com/stay/fallen-leaf-lake-campground/
So this should be the travel blog where everything is lovely and we have a wonderful time (cue the menacing music). It looked like we were in for a great vacation until our trailer went all Cujo on us with toxic gas and all night alarms. The folks at Fallen Leaf were great to help us with our difficulties and we were still in a beautiful location but I was frazzled not relaxed. So instead of hiking or renting a boat we took a scenic drive then enjoyed the town of South Tahoe.
“The Pour House” in South Tahoe had a good food rating with live music on the patio, so we headed over for lunch and were happily surprised to find it was a self pour wine bar. This is the best idea ever! Once a tab is established you are given a card that activates the wall taps and you are only charged for the wine poured. The wines were labeled with descriptions and on the wall they ranged from crisp light whites to full bodied reds, which is the order to serve in a winery tasting room. So I tried just a mouthful of five wines without feeling tipsy and losing my sense of taste (for me the typical winery pour is a lot). Then I went back to the crisp Chenin Blanc for a full glass with my salad. By the way I have been looking for a self serve wine bar in the Bay Area without luck, so it you know of any pour houses here please let me know. This is a brilliant idea. https://www.tahoepourhouse.com/
Well, this wasn’t the vacation I expected and I don’t have as may pictures as usual but I can say there is something for everyone in Tahoe whether you are there for the views, water sports or fresh mountain cookery with wine.
PS. Sorry that I haven’t posted since January. Our family lost it’s wonderful patriarch then and I needed to finish mourning before I started posting about my life again. My father-in -law was someone I had always respected but really grew close with over time. What helped me heal through this mourning was crying, sharing my feelings, doing small things to honor his values, and remembering his life. I’d love to hear the ways you have worked through loss to healing.
There is no shame in crying when the world loses a good person and I shed some even at Nordstrom before Father’s Day when I didn’t have a gift to buy this year. I enjoyed talking about my time with him and helping my husband talk about his feelings too. We sent a donation to the NRA in his name honoring his commitment to live in a free democratic society. It’s been eight months since he passed on to his next adventure but he will never be forgotten.
A reader contacted me today and asked (just kidding it was my sister reading the blog) why I never followed up on the California vs. Massachusetts comparison. Well, once I started considering the topic it made me sad to think about leaving my friends. But since she asked and I am now here in Northern Cal let’s do it.
Are you still reading? Surely you can guess the winner by now, but in case you need help here is a visual aid:
To be fair there is lots of fun to be had in the snow but since it is only a 3 hour drive to winter sports in my area I will have to give the win to California. Especially since even in the warm days of summer California is more comfortable because of the low humidity.
Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for the next post comparing the east vs west coast wine production. Mid January I have scheduled an expert wine taster (just kidding it’s my friend from Georgia) to help me sample wines.
So, hubby was offered a great new opportunity in California with a global tech firm. However my son, a high school junior, is finally settled into the little Massachusetts town where we moved his freshman year. Previously we lived west of San Francisco but we’d move back significantly south for the new job. Yikes, fourth new neighborhood and school for my son. Thankfully, it worked out we can stay in Massachusetts until my son graduates with my better half doing some extra travel for the new job.
With my husband trekking the world and my teenage son now driving I have considerable time to think about our return to California in two years. Now our family has found good and bad wherever we have lived, from north to south and east to west. The funny thing however is most Massachusetsans seems to think California is better. I hear it consistently and I’m not sure if it is evidence of humility or an inferiority complex here. But I thought it would be fun to compare the two distinct areas in my next couple of blogs.
Northeast in Fall
Northeast in Winter
Hope you’ll come back to read about our experiences with schools, historical sites, weather, outdoor spaces, biking, restaurants, and wineries in Northern California and Eastern Massachusetts . I’m looking forward to reliving favorite memories with you.