Tag Archives: California

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.

Fire on the Mountain

If you don’t live in the western United States, then you have no clue what our wildfires are like out here.   Wildfires in the west are caused by lightning, human carelessness, and other causes.  Having lived and traveled throughout the western US for more than 36 years, I can say I have definitely seen bits and pieces of many fires, and as of last summer, been extremely close.

I had already moved away from Wyoming when the unrelentless fire of 1988 hit Yellowstone.  The more than 250 fires started in mid June and continued throughout the summer, leaving the park closed to everyone except emergency personnel.  The fires burned more than 1.2 million acres.  It truly is amazing that a great majority of the structures in the park were saved.  I remember thinking that the park would never again look like it had, when I had visited it while living in Wyoming.  Not so, though!  Our family later went snowmobiling in the park during the winter.  The new growth trees from after the fire were already 8-10 feet tall.  Fires you see, are sometimes necessary to generate new growth in nature.

While living in California, the Oakland Hills fire occurred, as well as many others.  Spurred on by the Santa Anna winds, firefighters and home owners just hope for the winds to die down.  Observers just watch and count their blessings that their own homes aren’t where the wildfires are.  So many summers signal the start of wildfire season in the west. Firefighters have to respond when there are homes involved.  They have to respond when we have those huge park fires that are so large and uncontrolled that anything could happen.  They don’t always respond though.  Sometimes the fire is inaccessible and responding means monitoring to see if it will burn itself out.  I remember traveling through Utah on one trip and seeing a fire up on a mountain side as we were driving down the freeway.  It appeared to be unattended and was about halfway up the mountain. Since we had seen it on our way up, and we were now on our way back, all I can assume is that maybe they were waiting for it to burn itself out.

Over the years of my living in Las Vegas, we had several fires in California that affected our air quality in the Vegas valley.  We even had a couple of other fires up on Mount Charleston.  The smoke from these fires would blow over the mountain and sit in the valley until wind would move in and blow the smoke out.  During the summer of 2013, the unbelievable Carpenter 1 fire happened.  It started on July 1st and was finally fully contained on September 17th. To those of us living here, the Carpenter 1 fire landed us on the national news, provide photo ops for us like never before, looked almost like a volcano spewing ash at times, and scared the residents living up on the mountain.  Roads were shut down as the fired burned across them.  In the end, firefighters were able to save the homes up on Mount Charleston. Eventually things went back pretty much to normal.  Wildfires seem to occur in groups too.  I went up to Reno to visit my son during the Carpenter 1 fire.  When I got up there, California had a wildfire that was sending smoke into the Reno area.  There was also another wildfire southeast of Reno that I could see from the house.  You have to understand that I get excited about things in nature.

What we didn’t anticipate in the valley were the longer and farther reaching results of the fire.  When the rains came down and the only place for them to go was downhill, they washed out the road on the mountain, ate away at the roads coming down the mountain and tested our infrastructure in town when the waters settled in a low area close to where I live because there was no place for the water to drain.  The force of the waters popped a manhole cover down the street like a cork popping out of a popgun.  Roads in the flood area were blocked for days in spots, and passible-but a challenge to those of us in higher clearance vehicles who ventured toward intersections-only to turn around and try a different way.  The flooding infrastructure has for the most part been fixed, construction continues-but will be done relatively soon.  The burned and then flooded road has been repaired, more than once.  That area is even more barren than it was before, but it will recover too.  Wildfires will continue-just because they do.

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.