Wine Country Part II & Capo’s Pizza!

**I started this post on the evening of July 4th, just as an FYI for some temporal reference 😉 I’ve just chipped away at study breaks**

Hey everyone! We are officially in Austin! We arrived last night. It was a pretty smooth trip out, but an emotional and high stress morning today. I’ll discuss all that more when I actually do our travel posts. BUT we did have a productive afternoon, I made it to my study end point for the day, and then our evening of the 4th was a blast. Currently, I am sitting on the floor in my new “study spot” with my mood lights wrapped around our fan to give some sense of calm lighting- It may be a fire hazard at the expense of my own aesthetic comfort- gotta choose your battles, ya know? (I’ll take a picture now and put it in the post when I have Internet again). Our movers don’t come until the 9th, and we leave the 10th for the wedding- so it’ll be a bit before we are living normal again- it’s all guuud though.

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Peep the Ugg boots from 8th grade that I still wear as slippers around the apartment, totally a normal thing, ya?

I have Dynasty, a new show I’m trying out, playing in the background. I downloaded it from the Lobby’s WIFI since we don’t have any yet. I’m also eating Halo Top ice cream because I couldn’t find my normal Dreyer’s Double Chocolate Brownie favorite at the store, and this is probably my second favorite. It’s 11:37 pm, but my body is still on Pacific time, so it feels much earlier to me. I am so eager to discuss all things Austin and our last whirlwind of a 36 hours.. but for now I will try to catch up on everything else from the last month, hah!

In the last recap, I summed up the first part of our sister jaunt through Wine Country. The next winery we went to a winery called Mckenzie-Mueller! I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a touch excited about the shared name; some of those things that bring ya amusement as a kid never die. Ya know growing up when you’d be at a tourist shop and find your name on the little key chain? It’s that same thrill (even if they spelled it differently, close enough). Also, side note about Platypus tours: I think it’s so enjoyable that you don’t know which wineries you are going to until the day of- it adds an element of surprise- I didn’t even know that this winery existed!

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This was easily the most beautiful landscape of the day, although the overall feel was a bit more “stiff” than the others. It was so quiet, which was nice, but the host had an air of arrogance that created a somewhat impersonal, cold vibe.

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The tasting room was in a fun little nook- surrounded by the owner’s paintings and wine barrels.

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So meta, ya know?

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We headed out to the vineyards and had a lesson about basically every varietal.

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While it was fascinating, and the educational element of wine country is my favorite part, it felt a bit too long in light of the heat. They eventually let us loose to enjoy the grounds ourselves and find respite in some shade in between our galavanting! After getting a bottle for DJ of Sauvignon Blanc, my sister and I went to the vineyards for pics. **If you do visit Napa/Sonoma and want to purchase a bottle, they will often waive the tasting fee. This bottle ended up coming out to about $5- and since Hal and I shared a tasting it was only about $10/person. I highly recommend doing it this way if you do the tours with multiple stops!**

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We loaded up into our Tour Bus and headed to the last spot!

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And to conclude our tour, we went to Starmont.

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At this point in the day the heat was at a high… circa 105F. We decided to move inside after initially starting the tasting outside because the heat was nearly unbearable.

It was a nice winery– but felt more “commercialized” than the others- more of a tasting room than an actual winery I’d say.  I think it’s the type of place the locals like to come and hangout on a lazy Saturday. But I think if you want the full Napa experience, pass on this one and go to an actual vineyard.

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Time to head to the Ferry!

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When we got back into the bus to head to the Ferry, the driver had cheese and crackers for us- yummmy!! Can’t beat that.

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After exchanging Instagram handles with friends we made from the tour, we hopped off the bus and waited for the Ferry back from Vallejo to SF.  The Ferry never gets old! I just loveeee it.

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It was a nice and smooth ride with stunning views.

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And for Halston’s bday dinner… We went to Capo’s! It was only about a mile walk from the Ferry, so that was easy peasy. This recommendation came from Kate at LiveintheNautical. When she visited SF, and we met up for the first time, she highly recommended Capo’s to us. I had been eager to try it since, but it seemed we always had something else lined up every time we ventured into the city. One of Halston’s favorite foods is pizza, so I was hoping to give her one of the best pizza experiences of her life! (Also side note: This is the sister restaurant to Tony’s we had tried a few weeks prior).

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I immediately loved the entire feel from the brick walls to the red leather seats. I would describe it as casual, edgy, classic, yet somewhat romantic, all at the same time.

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We started with the Quattro Forni, a pizza cooked in four different ovens.  YES- FOUR. In 2012 this won the “Best of the Best” Pizza award in Las Vegas’s international Pizza Festival. This is cooked in a 500 gas brick oven, deep fried, then topped with all the yums. THEN, it then returns to a 500F brick oven, then a 650 brick oven, and lastly a 800 wood burning oven. I don’t even know if this would be classified as “pizza”—it had more of that feel of a cheesy bread because of the light airiness of the crust- but think the best GOSH DARN cheesy bread you’ve ever tasted in your life. I dream of that flavor (especially the crust). And they only make 10 per day! I made a note in our Yelp reservation that we would like to try one and called to confirm that day that it’d be available. I was determined we’d try one, haha. It was better than I could have ever imagined. Such a uniquely phenomenal creation.

Next up was the pizza-pizza- we had their “cracker thin” pizza- half Farmer’s Pie with mozzarella, provolone, goat cheese, white sharp cheddar, house honey Calabrese sausage, bacon, Guan’s assorted mushrooms, farm eggs, peppadews, arugula, oregano & romano (this half was mainly for DJ since we knew we’d be able to take him some home) and half Haight Ashbury (vegetarian) with mozzarella, provolone, feta, pesto, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, broccolini, roasted red peppers, garlic, oregano, romano. We shared a slice of the Farmer’s to give it a review, but our heart was with the Haight Ashbury. The cracker thin crust was everything I could have dreamed of in a pizza crust- light, crunchy and balanced. The whole pie definitely satisfied our “pizza tooth”. Halston said it was some of the best she’s ever had too!

She was a trooper letting me pull out my obnoxious, incredibly non-subtle, food light to get these shots, lol.

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And that’s a wrap! My sister-in-law, Amy, graciously let us stay with her that evening since we were set to frolic in SF the next day! We had fun catching up and chatting with her all about her solo trip to New Zealand.

I’ll recap the next day’s happenin’s in a separate post.

Question for you:

  • Did you have a nice Fourth of July?

xo <3

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Sister Time & Wine Country Part I!

Hey hey, long time no seeee!! Oh man, you know what’s tough? Sometimes the times in life when you need to write and process the most are the times that are the most chaotic and don’t allow much free time to do just that! (Don’t count how many times I used “time” in that sentence, or this one). But I’ve gotta say, at this moment, I’m actually enjoying the chaos. It’s incredibly stressful for sure, tears have been shed, and there are times I don’t feel like I can handle it all- but things are going much smoother than I could have ever imagined, and I feel like we are almost in the clear! We also have a lot of the really huge stressors behind us, so now much of that anxiety is getting replaced with excitement and anticipation! Also, although each day is go-go-go from super early morning till nearly midnight, the adrenaline from everything is working wonders. We officially move out on Sunday.

Currently….My brain is fried, I cannot do another lick of studying, so I am treating myself to just this one night to do a blog post!

We left off the evening my sister arrived. On June 5th, my Sis and I woke up early to get to work! Halston had tons of “to-dos” on her list for the wedding & of course, I had a bottomless pit of reading and studying and assignments. We started the day with avocado smoothies– Hal talked about them for weeks leading up to the trip since she got hooked on them last time she was here. We had one every day of her visit this time around- and now I can’t have one without missing her!

I took a midday break to post some items on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I’m never using Craigslist again with the success we’ve had through Marketplace. I’m so stoked about it- it’s just so easy.

In the evening we whipped up some stuffed sweet potatoes again. We made ours each a bit differently, mine with extra tzatziki and beets and Hal’s with extra green goddess dressing from TJs. These also included tofu, roasted peppers and onions, artichoke hearts and hummus all stuffed in Murasaki potatoes. We chatted out on the balcony & enjoyed the momentary quiet from the studying/wedding details.

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On June 6th we went to Peets during the day to get shtuff done, and then came back in the late afternoon and worked out on the main apartment community deck. Smalls was soaking up the sun… I would have hated to disturb him..so I figured I should just let him be 😉

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We made massive salads in the evening with all ingredients in the fridge- mmm mmmm! Halston is all aboard the massive salad train too.

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Side note: DJ had a home-stand during the week she was here (where he leaves basically at 730 am-ish and doesn’t get home till 11ish); that’s why he isn’t around in any adventures, sadly. We missed him!

Anyway, we took an after-dinner walk around Main Street before I hit the books again.

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Aaand it was the same ol’ on June 7th. We were very productive through the week, but basically it was just study/eat/workout/study/eat.

To shake things up for dinner, we decided to try TJ’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! We didn’t add much seasoning to it because I wanted to get a feel for the base to see what I could jazz it up with next time.

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They were super yummy. I think next time I’d like to add some type of nice parmesan on top! A red sauce would work well too. We ate them with tilapia and roasted veggies from Chef Hal herself. Halston and I eat essentially the same type of diet, so it was fun to tag- team dinners throughout the week.

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I started packing that evening after getting to a stopping point I had planned for the week. We made sure to try to get a good night sleep because we woke up around 4:45 am on Saturday June 8th to get a workout in. And finally- after a long week of studying and wading through wedding logistics we were ready for a day of fun & relaxation! We scarfed down our coffee and avocado smoothies and headed out to celebrate my sister’s birthday in….. NAPA!

We headed from Cupertino to the Ferry Building in SF where our wine tour car would be picking us up. I booked us through Platypus Wine Tours again since it was such a phenomenal experience the first time around with Kelsey (and it’s very reasonably priced).

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The tour bus was scheduled to pick us up in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am, and we had about twenty minutes to spare after grabbing our Ferry tickets for the trip back…so naturally we had to grab some pics!

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When it was time to load up the car, we found ourselves surrounded by about 8 other people from all over the world- Denmark, France, Canada… It was fun to get to know them all throughout the trip. That’s something I so love about San Francisco- you meet people from truly everywhere and anywhere with the most fascinating lives and stories.

First stop first: Auburn James.

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This was a unlike any other winery experience we’ve had before. The whole tasting room vibe was supposed to make you feel like you were entering a home, and it really did feel like we were all just hanging out in a living room.

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We were given our tasting and then showed around the vineyards.

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The vineyards were beautiful! But it was HOT HOT HOT. Our Platypus tour guide did say they were a little bit worried about wildfires that day. I think we could have all done without that little tidbit of knowledge.. eep!

6486d0ac-f7b3-4bfa-b416-ea35be5d910f1d6c75ed-5548-4dd3-8a3f-97408f06db4a I wouldn’t say this winery is a must, but it was a lovely experience nonetheless. I think it was the most educational out of the four!

Second Stop: Hagafen. This was our favorite of the day for several reasons…

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Oh, and another bonus, they had games! We attempted a round of cornhole, but the wind kept catching our bags, so we didn’t do too hot.. meaning it was probably comical for any bystanders watching, haha.

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Before we knew it, it was lunch time! yaa buddy. They had vegetarian dishes for Hal & I. Platypus called before hand to make sure they accommodated any dietary restrictions. So kind! We enjoyed every nibble of our veggie sandwiches accompanied by hummus, pears, and a lentil salad that was to die for.

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And dessert were these sweet little strawberries and cream muffin bites.

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I’ll recap the second part of wine country in a separate post! Happy birthday again, Sista!

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Questions for you:

  • What do you call cornhole? I know it has a variety of names depending where you’re from.
  • What time of day do you prefer to workout?

xo <3

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Kels and Kenz Take on the Bay Part 2: Wine Country!

Happy Sunday! I’m actually writing this late Saturday night, but let’s be real, this will not be published till Sunday (or Monday) by the time I write, re-read, edit, re-re-read, edit edit, re-re-re-read, then publish (and still find countless errors after the publication-tehe).

In Part One, we left off ending Friday night on the Row with one of my best friend’s, Kelsey from Illinois. On July 28th, I woke up at the wee hours to squeeze in a run, then at 730 am we left the apartment, drove an hour into the city, lucked out with some great parking in Union Square, walked about a mile to the Ferry Building, and arrived right on time to start the journey to wine country!!!

Upon walking to the Embarcadero, we saw this fun little massive waterfall art piece that I’ve never noticed before. I’ve been to the city probably at least fifteen times, but how have I missed this giant thing?

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We signed up for a trip through wine country via Platypus Tours. For those deciding how to visit Napa/Sonoma I want to give great detail about this tour so you can decide if this is a way you would like to tackle wine country! When I found this tour I happily astounded by the price. It was only $110 per person for the entire day, including four wineries, lunch, and discounted tastings and wine tours. (Each winery tasting ended up being about $15 including the winery tour at the first winery, and Kels and I split a couple tastings which also cut down on the cost). The reviews were terrific so we decided to give it a go! This tour required us to be in front of the Ferry Building at 8:45 am to jump on the tour bus that would take us to the wineries.

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The morning went seamlessly- no traffic, easy parking, and it was a breeze finding our tour bus for the day.

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Before getting on the bus, we went to the guest services area in the Ferry Building to grab our tickets to take the Ferry back from Vallejo after our tastings (only $14 per person).

We then walked around enjoying the Ferry Market with a few minutes to spare (yes – minutes to spare in the morning! Can ya believe it?!)

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We were the first to arrive, so we tested out the seats. The bus was comfortable, a good size for the number of people, and stocked with plenty of water.

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I had read online that you can request which wineries to visit or make a request to try different wineries than you have already visited. Our wine tour guide, Bob, already had a set agenda for the day- but it worked out because the wineries were VERY unique and none of us had been to any of them before. Bob was knowledgable and worked hard to make sure we had a great day.

Our first stop was Nicholson Ranch.  This is one of the first wineries you encounter when driving into the southern foothills of Sonoma. I remembered passing it when going to wine country for the first time in March with my Mom & Pete!

We all shuffled into the tasting room, and had a glass awaiting us of their Chardonnay.

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I usually do not like Chardonnays (it’s the oaky finish that I tend to have an aversion to I’ve discovered), but every time I have sampled one in wine country, I have enjoyed them!

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I love watching their beautiful pours!

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This is the winery we were given a full tour of the winery… it’s originally $40 a person, but with our tour, it was included in the tasting price of $15. We initially went up a mountain along their vineyard and were greeted with tremendous views and a pretty awesome dumpster. (Never thought I’d ever say that sentence).

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We then walked down into the actual factory and saw the wine vat. We were given a fantastic educational session that blew our minds with how wine is actually made. I guess you will have to go yourself to find out 😉 Ok, or google. I guess google would work too. But this is way more fun! Lol.

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We then all took the elevator into the basement. We walked around in the surprisingly humid cellar. I was amazed by the number of barrels. But I was even more shocked by the price of each barrel. Anyone have any guesses?

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Answer: Each barrel costs $2000, and must be replaced every 5 years. Can you imagine?!?! Sheesh!

After our fabulous cellar session, we went to another hidden cellar room containing the oldest wines in the winery. The wine in the forefront of the photo is the VERY first wine ever made by the owner of Nicholson ranch (which was originally started in a garage).

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And finally, we moved into a gorgeous dining room for our final tasting.

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Kels and I pulled out our vegan cheese, crackers, sun-dried tomatoes, and hummus that we had packed for the day (it was about 11:30 am at this point and the hunger was starting to kick in!). I love packing cheese and crackers for winery tours, it enhances the experience and helps bring out flavors in the wines (especially the heavier ones). We shared our grub with our new friends we had made on the tour, and they couldn’t believe the cheese was vegan (I’ll share it in a Friday Favorites!).

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How freaking beautiful is she?!!

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After Nicholson ranch, we headed to Kieu Hoang winery. This is actually a winery that was originally a Mondavi winery (which is a pretty popular wine you may recognize in your local grocery store). I love the Robert Mondavi Cabernet you can just buy at Target!

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This winery was absolutely the most contemporary designed winery I have ever seen. Everything was immaculate and punctiliously designed. Yet, it clings onto the traditional Napa ambiance when you step onto their quaint porch.

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And these were the views..

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The woman serving was slow & less than knowledgable about the wine, but when we tried the zin we knew we had stumbled upon something special. Goodness. It was soooo good- the only Zin I have had that maybe is better is the one from Rombauer (to this day, I am still convinced Rombauer has the best wines!). Anyways, if you buy a bottle, they waive the tasting fee, so this bottle was essentially $10. How can you pass that up?! We grabbed a bottle to take home and enjoyed a small tasting with our lunch!

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This was one of the first wineries we have been able to actually go the actual vineyards. It was charming, delightful, scenic and all things “vineyard”. We decided to do a little photo shoot because wine not?!

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Winery numero tres, Bouchaine Vineyards! This one probably left the least impression of all four, but was wonderful nonetheless.

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This winery was much tinier than the other two we had visited, but was quiet, relaxing, and had phenomenal wines.

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Surrounded by their gorgeous gardens (Somewhat reminding me of Frog’s Leap) we enjoyed perhaps the best Chardonnary we have ever had- although I did LOVE the one we tried at Ledson. It left a  buttery note. I finally understood what people meant by “buttery” by trying this wine. I should have taken a picture of the list so I could tell you which it was, but I failed! I should know butter by now! 😉

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anddd maybe the most FUN of the whole trip- we ventured to our fourth winery… The Runway- Trending Wine Bar.

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Initially when they said our fourth winery was at an airport I was skeptical. An airport? Really? That doesn’t exactly scream “Wine Country” to me. Did another winery fall through? I was soooo cynical going into it, but not rightly so. Ohhh so not rightly so! It may have been our favorite part of the day.

We arrived at the winery and were greeted by Jason, the ultimate wine entrepreneur. He created a brand of wine around the hashtag, and actually owns the #besties, #bromance, and #selfie. (yes, the actual #). All millennials are #impressed right now.

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Everything is centered around the #… down to the logo on the wine glasses! Tell me you have never seen a more brilliant marketing idea!

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Every single wine was delicious, and Jason had us rolling- the whole time we were laughing and enjoying the very Grammy-esque backdrop for a photo shoot!

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I was flattered when this was posted on Trending Wine’s Instagram! Taking a selfie with the #selfie wine.

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Never have I ever been more basic, errrr, I mean awesome, right?

After, we went our to the tarmac to witness the planes taking off & coming in, waiting for a celebrity to disembark one. Celebrities frequent this airport, and we were keeping our eyes peeled for Matthew McConaughey sightings. (no such luck, but regardless we had a great time).

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We ended the fab trip by getting a photo all together.

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Time for the Ferry ride back!!

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Just keeping baby Zin nice and safe <3

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And we back!!! The ride back was about 45 minutes. It was so relaxing, but unfortunately the fog was so thick (dangit, Karl!) that we didn’t get the best of views.

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Annnnd that caps our day until about 6 pm. I will pick up in our next post to recap our evening. It will definitely require a post of it’s own!

And to quickly give a synopsis on pros/cons for those that are considering this tour!

Pros: This was a very friendly & accommodating company- immediately when I booked they called us to clarify our dietary preferences to make sure lunch had options for both of us. Price is phenomenal for included transportation, four wineries, a delicious lunch included. You get to see & do wineries you may not venture out to do on your own. Water bottles are included. You make friends and meet people from all over the world. It’s stress free, ya just show up and have a great time!

Cons: Limited flexibility in choosing of the wineries. If you are a newbie, this is a great way to do it because you have no expectations of what to expect/nothing to compare it to. We did feel rushed at times because we were on a specific time schedule to catch the Ferry back. When you go on your own, you can take your good ole’ time at each winery as you please. There is a $15/$20 tasting fee at each winery if you choose to do that (but with the tour we were given the lowest possible price).

Let me know if you have any questions or need recommendations for wine country! I have a bunch.

Questions for you!

  • Have you ever been to Wine Country? Any all time favorites or must do wineries?
  • If you like wine, which type is your favorite?

xo <3

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