Napa Valley in June

IMG_8980I started the month of June off right by taking a holiday in Napa Valley, California with my husband.  We flew into SFO and took a shuttle to Napa Valley where we stayed at the Bel Abri Inn, about a mile from downtown Napa so everything was within walking distance.

IMG_8951We visited the City Winery downtown the night we got in, where the Opera House is co-located and had banana pudding and white wine for dessert.  I had to come back before we left Napa because their Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Lake County is so wonderful, it’s crisp, refreshing and just slightly sweet, it’s now my favorite white wine!  Plus the banana pudding was divine and paired well with the wine.

If you want to save money in Napa I recommend downloading a mobile app called Winery Finder Tasting Passes.  CastelloThe app has a list of wineries and some have two for one deals so you get two tastings, usually about $20-$25 dollars per tasting, for the price of one.  Some will also have deals where if you purchase a bottle of wine you get the tasting fees waived.  We arranged one day for the Napa Valley Shuttle to come pick us up and take us to various wineries, they are locals and will take you to 5-7 different wineries over 6-7 hours. We visited excellent wineries that all had art or photography galleries, Jessup, Castello di Amorosa, and Mumm Winery (excellent sparkling wines) were my favorites.  The best though was the 13th century inspired Tuscan castle, the architecture and decor were amazing, they had animals, sustainable growing practices, a church and torture chambers!  They also had my favorite wine I tasted all week, La Fantasia, a soft sparkling rose Italian wine that has a slightly berry tart and sweet refreshing taste, I could have had 10 glasses!  This is a must place to visit and Calistoga is gorgeous, the city, about 40 minutes from downtown Napa, has hot springs and more of a mountain town feel.IMG_9057

We also went to somBountyHunter_Chickene excellent restaurants including Bounty Hunter, a BBQ joint where I ate very yummy beer can chicken paired with a cabernet sauvignon, Atlas for excellent crab cakes, and top notch ramen noodles with pork at Eight Noodle Shop. We also went to the Oxbow farmer’s market, a little district near downtown across the river.  The farmer’s market is indoor and everything is just quality!  They have cheese, oyster, juice bars, I had an excellent egg and prosciutto panini and we also had really fresh sushi, a rainbow roll and seaweed salad.  On our last night we went to a little Jazz club called Silos where we saw a jazz, classical Brazilian band called Choro Bastardo, the kind of music that is nostalgic, fine, beautiful and takes you to nice places while you sip on quality Napa Valley wine (moscato and zinfandel that night).

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Fine Eco-Friendly Coffee Drinking

Coffee demand is expected to increase by 25% in the next five years globally so if you are a coffee drinker like I am, why not pay attention to not only the quality but also to how your coffee consumption can be eco-friendly?  This can be done by simply reading the labels on your coffee bag before you buy it and by becoming aware of the eco-friendly ways of brewing and discarding the waste.   Head on over to CustomMade’s article titled How to Make More Eco-Friendly Coffee for an educational read on greening your coffee experience.

Coffee Certifications

As a coffee consumer, I usually support my local coffee shops and roasters and buy USDA Organic or Fair Trade coffee, but I wasn’t really aware or knowledgeable about the Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly certifications ensuring sustainable and high environmental standards in growing coffee.   After reading the article I also decided to finally dish out the money for a French Press for not only the quality of coffee in brewing that way but to cut back on paper filters.  Outdoor garden season is upon us and the  coffee ground waste we do produce can be used to compost our soil.  Further, I’m glad that I now know more about Arabica coffee, the finest coffee beans you can get due to ideal growing conditions.  My favorite kind of coffee, Sumatra comes from the Arabica species so that’s good to know!

Redstone Meadery: Nectar of Colorado

IMG_8362My husband and I visited the Redstone Meadery in Boulder, Colorado earlier this month for their Saturday Tasting Tour and sampled a handful of flavorful honey and nectar meads and learned about the process for making mead.  Besides the plethora of imaginative flavors, the chocolate meads and educational welcoming atmosphere, what I really love about this place and mead, is the buzz:  it’s very clean and refreshing, perhaps due to it being sulfite and gluten free and that it is fermented with honey. Read my article I wrote for more on Redstone Mead at 303 Magazine here.