Category Archives: Wine

Wining Out With the Girls Thanksgiving

As my trips to Reno are coming to an end in the next year, I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to meet up with the girls and do the wine thing.  Once again, we went to Mt. Vernon and worked our way through what has got to be the longest wine tasting list around.  I have been around some now, in several states, and have yet to come up with a list anywhere near as long.  They were really busy during the Thanksgiving weekend, but we did our usual catching up with the servers behind the bar.

Mt. Vernon Winery Thanksgiving

Mt. Vernon Winery Thanksgiving

The new one this time was a small (fairly new?) winery called the Fawnridge Winery.  Oh my gosh, we had fun at this one.  We had a wonderful time chatting with the owner and some of the other patrons.  They have a wide variety of other items for sale. I brought home a wine bottle shaped night light, a new wine sign for in my house and some Port Chocolate Wine Sauce as well as wine.  They also sell a variety of flavored oils.  Food samples as well, with extremely well picked wine pairings.  To top it off, when we drove down the hill, there was a deer standing right there.

Not the Usual Wining Out With the Girls

After finishing my radiation, I was raring to go again-that is get out of Vegas and just be somewhere else.  One of my excursions was to Reno to visit my son.  That of course means meeting up with the girls for a wine trip.  Unfortunately, the day that we could all get together, was not the day our favorite winery was open.  What to do?  We found that we could hop on over to Truckee to visit a winery there and then head on down to Carson City for a winery in town there. The Truckee River Winery, as wineries go, is very unassuming.  The wine service was extremely friendly.  The tasting center is surrounded by the beauty that abounds in the Truckee area.  They also sell other wine paraphenalia, ice cream and snacks if you have the kiddos along, and can even make up some goodies to go along with wine tasting. The wine was fabulous, and they even had a desert wine for me.  One of the group said she would meet us in town and was going to hike the trail that runs along the river.

Truckee River Winery

Truckee River Winery

We found a place in Carson City called Tahoe Ridge Winery.  This winery originally was open to the public out in the farmlands of the Carson Valley and moved into Carson City.  We went around lunch and ate in their bistro as well.  They have everything there.  The food is a little eclectic-meant for those who are into wine.  It is the kind of food that you don’t find everywhere.  We all loved our food and then finished it off with wine tasting and purchases.  The indoor surroundings have a very warm feel.  Mission accomplished-we still found two wineries open to visit.  My apologies, I didn’t take any pictures and I am not smart enough to highjack the one that someone else in the group did take.

Wining Out With the Girls Again!

So while on Spring Break, I once again got together with the godmothers from Sacramento, Claudia and Audra to do the winery thing!  We went back to our favorite winery-Mount Vernon and found the owner behind the bar this time.   I handed him my phone, pointing out my blog, which of course has the winery in it.   He read through my last entry and noted that we would be tasting 19 wines this time-YES-that was 19!  Since I was technically the DD, I bowed out on the drier wines and waited for the girls to catch up on the sweet ones.  I was delighted to catch up on my wine club orders, as they still had the special on the port-BOGO for a penny. While talking with the owner, we heard about some of the new plans for the property.  Have I mentioned that they have a picnic area and do special dinners for the wine club members?

Mt. Vernon Winery

Mt. Vernon Winery

I haven’t been able to take part in these, as I live too far away and haven’t timed my trip just right to make it. Next of course, we had to check out another new winery, so we ended up at Wise Villa. This is a slightly more upscale winery with a dining room and a view over the surrounding hills to die for.  Looking out the front while we were there, was the most beautiful view of the vineyard.  You can see it behind us in the picture.

Wise Villa Winery

Wise Villa Winery

Of course, after all of that wine tasting, we had to go for a bite at Awful Annie’s again.

My First Real Wine Tasting

On a visit to my daughter in Alamogordo, New Mexico-I discovered wine tasting.  It wasn’t even really in our plans for the day, but it just happened.  Our real plans were to drive over the mountain through the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation and go shopping in the resort town of Ruidoso.  We weren’t even doing serious shopping,  just the casual something to do variety.  We first found a gift shop called Heart’s Delight, having specialty items including kitchen gadgets.  My daughter and I can always do damage in a store with kitchen gadgets.  After leaving Heart’s Delight, we wandered and found Willmon Vineyards, a wine tasting room in a store that carries specialty food items besides wine.   We had a great time talking with the couple behind the bar, finding out that they used to own a business and live in Las Vegas, NV -my home.  Our conversation was so good, they started telling us about the New Mexico Wine Passport program.  This is a program where the more wineries on their passport you visit, the better for you.  It means free or greatly reduced items for you.  So out the door we went with our bottles of wine and our New Mexico Wine Passports with some more adventures to come.    Willmon’s main vineyard is located somewhere else in the state, but the store with wine tasting is there in Ruidoso.  It may be a little hard to find.  When I recently did a search for wine tasting in Ruidoso, I couldn’t see Willmon.  After asking my daughter what it was called, I searched again, being successful this time.  It is located a couple blocks farther down the main drag on a slightly quieter block.

Heart of the Desert, Alamogordo

So with our wine passports in hand, this presented a challenge.  We just had to stop at a winery on our way back to Alamogordo.  So we landed at Heart of the Desert.  Since they are known for both wine and pistachios, we got double the bang for our buck.  We sampled wines, pistachios and had light snacks as well.  My daughter joined the wine club and I bought pistachios for my husband.  They also have an antique wine truck out in front, so we had to take pictures.  And then it was time to head for the house.

But wait, it’s not over yet.  My daughter and I already had plans to go to Santa Fe for a couple of days.  On the way, we planned to go to the top of  Sandia Peak  in Albuquerque.   Ever the person who coupons and tries to save money, I planned on taking the road to the top of Sandia Peak and saving the cost of the Tramway tickets.  It just wasn’t meant to be-after going in search of the road on the back side of the mountain and finding it closed due to fire restrictions, Sandia Peak got put on the back burner until we came back from Santa Fe.    Also always one to save time where possible, we decided we would just stay on the back road we were on and take that to Santa Fe and trip upon whatever happened to be on that road.  Here we are, driving along, and we come to this really small town with little fenced yards that come right to the edge of Highway 14.   I am thinking, I know this place, oh, oh, oh, yeah the little town in the movie “Wild Hogs”.  Madrid, New Mexico’s claim to fame is the movie “Wild Hogs”.   This is one very quaint and now famous little town-I do mean little.  But anyone who has been through the town and seen the movie will recognize it.  What a pleasant surprise on an unplanned road for our trip.

We arrive in Santa Fe and find a parking place that we can find later after we have had some wine.  With those hot wine passports in hand, we head off to visit old town Santa Fe and find some wine tasting rooms.  Now the wineries in Santa Fe are actually sampling wine from wineries that are not located in Santa Fe-there just isn’t room.  We were determined to get some more stamps on our wine passports and do some unplanned shopping-the best kind.  The Santa Fe Plaza had an Arts and Crafts Festival going on including many Native American vendors who sell out of the Palace of the Governors located on the plaza and is also has the Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Authority.  The first place we found for tasting wine was Vino del Corazon Winery located not too far from the plaza.  This is only a tasting room-no room for vineyards here in town.  We had a nice conversation with the young man behind the bar as to why we wouldn’t find much in the way of wine tasting right near the plaza.  We sampled and purchased.  Next we hopped in the car and ventured out some to find Estrella del Norte Vineyard, where we once again sampled and purchased.  Has anyone counted how many bottles of wine we bought?  It doesn’t really matter as long as we drink it eventually-right?

Sandia Peak, Albuquerque

Back on the road we went.  So taking a different route, we headed to Albuquerque and Sandia Peak, this time to ride the tram to the top, take pictures and learn some more.  The homes at the bottom of the tram are absolutely gorgeous-I am slightly envious.  The story about them though is intriguing.  They sit on reservation land and are built on land leases.  So one would hope that the leases go for a long time and no one who counts gets upset with you.  So now up the mountain we go on the tram.  There had been a bear sighted occasionally, but not on this day.  It was a very pleasant ride on the tram though with further details from the tram guide.  I was very surprised at how high up the top of the mountain really is and the view from the top is beautiful, as well as somewhat interactive.  They have a couple of sets of (binoculars) pre-set to certain positions indicating certain things to see from the top of the mountain.  The other thing to know if you are there in winter and like skiing, there is a ski area on the backside of the mountain from the tram.

So all told, we got five stamps for each of our wine passports and I left mine for my daughter’s friend when I returned to Vegas.

Wining Out with the Girls-Part 2, Spring Break 2014

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Mt. Vernon Winery in the Picnic Area

I  headed back to Auburn with the godmothers and people I used to work with for another chapter of wine sampling in the Auburn, California hills.  We all agreed to go back to Mt. Vernon Winery and then find one additional winery to visit.  This time the person pouring the samples was non-other than the wine maker himself.  This time we sampled 13 (yes you read that right-thirteen) wines.  They were all just as good as before, only more.  We took some more pictures outside in the picnic area and went crazy buying our bottles.  Well, at least I did!  Seems someone special ordered a whole bunch of wine.  Something happened, and what a deal we got-buy one, get one for a penny.  You would not believe what variety it fell into-Port.  So figuring this was a good way of getting gifts for people in addition to the bottles for me, I went crazy.  I joined the wine club this time.  I do have to follow up with them though, as I have heard nothing.  I am sure it was my fault and had something to do with an e-mail confirmation.  It will happen!  We had such a great time, and plan to go back to Mt. Vernon every time we have a get together with the girls.  Now, in talking with the wine maker, we took his suggestion for the other winery we would visit that day and that would be Vino Castellano.  Vino Castellano has their wine tasting room built into a stone cave with their aging barrels there along with the tasting bar and gift shop.  They focus on Spanish varieties, leaning toward the drier wines.  No Moscato to my dismay, but I still found something I liked and made a purchase.    And of course, we had to top the wine tasting off  with a visit to Awful Annie’s Restaurant in Old Town Auburn.  Great surroundings, great discourse and great friends!

Keep an eye out for part 3!  We tried, but the only day we could get together was a Tuesday.  Guess what?  None of the wineries in the area are open on Tuesday, so we had to settle for a movie and lunch.  But something tells me we will once again be headed to Mt. Vernon Winery and one other in the future.

Wining Out with the Girls, Summer 2013

California has long been known for its Napa Valley wineries.  I actually lived in Sacramento, California once upon a time-but not always.  When I moved to California, one of the first things that happened was a wine and cheese meet and greet at our apartment complex.  Not being a wine drinker at the time, I showed up with a screw on cap bottle of cheap wine.  Laugh all you want , but it wasn’t until after the party was rolling that I realized I was in California, not too far from Napa Valley and that I had really made a mistake in my wine selection.

Jump forward about 27 years. I still am not really an expert at wine, but I do have my preferences.  Now my favorite is some variety of Moscato, still screw on cap.  I do occasionally indulge in a more expensive, corked bottle of wine now.  I now have occasion to get up to the northern part of Nevada where my son attends school.  And it isn’t all that far to drive back down the hill to reconnect with the godmothers of my children.  So the girls (the godmothers and other people we used to work with) and I make a new regular habit of getting together to do something.  One of the girls lives near Auburn, a more recent wine mecca.  So we all decide one day to go check out  a couple of the wineries in the area.  Our local connection tells us we have to go to Mt. Vernon winery that day.  Now most wineries offer wine tasting of  5 or 6 wines for a fee of about $5 which is waved if you buy a bottle.  Now let it be said, the wineries you find in California most likely do not have any Moscato.  After our experience with tasting, I can say with confidence that I lean sweet and usually end up with a bottle of Port.

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Visiting Mt. Vernon Winery

But now I have veered way off topic.  So here we are at Mt. Vernon Winery out under the arbor. We sampled 11 (yes-that is eleven) wines that day.  Some in the group even slowed down and didn’t sample that many.  Who does that-offers that many wine samples?  Needless to say I think we all bought a bottle.  The winery also has an arbor covered with flowering vines in one part of the property and a picnic area just outside of the sampling room.  The picnic area has tables, chairs, an antique pick-up and other antique wine making pieces-which makes for some very nice photo ops, whether one is serious or just hamming it up.

We also visited Lone Buffalo Vineyards that day.  It was a newer place, at least newer location.  They offered the expected normal number of wines to taste.  The decorations were more of a western theme with a focus on buffalo.  They were a bit eclectic by offering items for sale by local artists.  I purchased a wonderful piece of pottery that I couldn’t keep my eyes off-as well as a bottle or two of wine.  All in all it was fun day wining out with the girls.  After all of those wine samples, our tummys  let us know that they wanted to be fed.  So we started another tradition that day.  We went to Awful Annie’s Restaurant.

Located in Old Town Auburn in an old building with both indoor and outdoor seating, it is a very nice and very popular place to go.  But it too is now part of our tradition of Wining Out With the Girls.