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California Wine Country

I believe that my favorite place to travel to is the place i just left. So today my favorite travel destination is Northern California …. aka Wine Country. With over 500 Vineyards in area, there is no way a person could ever see all of them. But its about so much more then just wine. Lots of places to eat, the ocean is a close drive and the mountains are right in front of you. Here are a few of my favorite wine country picks.

If your going to wine country my favorites are

The Meritage Hotel and Spa
Off the beaten path this place has its own wine cave, full spa you can book a massage, pedicure or just sit by the pool and relax.  It has a bowling alley, vineyards, great restaurants and beautiful views, they have their own vineyard and tasting room on site.   Close to some great boutique vineyards.   They will set up a variety of tours for you if you ask.  Love this place.  About 1 hour from SFO and 15 minutes from NAPA.

Embassy Suites Napa – 1075 California Napa Valley – great location walking distance to downtown Napa, free breakfast Buffett and happy hour.

Napa Valley Marriott – nice hotel great pool and bar.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Very romantic nice tour of wine country.  The food is delicious. a little pricey but good way to see country side.

Calistoga Castella di Amarosa – beautiful castle Vinyard you feel like your in old Europe with gorgeous views, great wine.

Madonna Estates – small Vinyard good wines, nice staff.

Elkhorn Peak Vinyard
Small boutique Vinyard, call Ken in advance to book tasting, great wine, personalized visit, he will educate you on all things wine.

Grgich Hills – wonderful wines, good tour, great history.  One of my favorites.

Bogle Vineyard -Located near Sacramento, no tasting fee and a beautiful outdoor seating area.

Places to eat

Napa – Downtown. Joes 902 Main downtown Napa – great view of river good food, delicious cheeseburgers great beer flights and beer choices.

Scomas of Saulsalito
Great place to stop and eat on the drive to Napa if your coming in from San Francisco.  Good food, water views pretty town past the Golden Gate Bridge.

Black Bear Diner 303 Soscol in Napa – huge portions delicious home style cooking

Red Hen Cantina 4175 Solano Napa – delicious margaritas.

Sattui Winery 1111 White Lane St. Helena – Beautiful winery great place to stop for picnic, in addition to wine they also sell cheeses, bread and lunches there is a beautiful picnic area on the grounds.

Gotts Roadside 933 Main St St. Helena – delicious cheeseburgers its a small roadside place food is very good.

Ernie’s Tin Bar 5100 Lakeville Highway Petaluma – fun little roadside bar, no cell phones allowed.  Friendly very simple.

Pub Republic Petaluma
Loved the Brussels Sprouts Tacos, I am not even a Brussels sprout fan but Don ordered them and I ate most of them. Good service, live music and full bar.

Della Fatoria Petaluma
We came on a Saturday and it was pretty crowded, it is a tiny place so expect a wait. But it is well worth it. I had the delicious eggs Benedict. The bread they use is so good and their sauces are amazing. Breakfast is served until 11 and they close at 3:00 so go early and be hungry. They also sell bread and pastry.

The Golden Gate Bridge

It doesn’t matter if you drive or walk over it, this is a classic sight that never gets old. For best views dont stop at the bottom, go up the hill where there are other stopping points (with much less traffic)   The views from above are breathtaking.    Bring a jacket, it gets chilly there even in the hottest summers.

Sonoma Raceway

This is what brings me to this part of the country, my husbands job with Fox and the NASCAR race in Sonoma.    It’s a beautiful racetrack and with great views not to mention the chance to see a good race.

Movie Buffs
Visit Bodega Bay and the Birds Cafe where you will find pictures and items from the movie The Birds.
Petaluma, St. Helena, Calistoga, Napa and Sonoma are very near to one another.

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Bogle Vinyard

Bogle Vineyard

You don’t need to go to Sonoma County to find a vineyard in California. Right outside Sacramento across the Sacramento River and surrounded by the Elk Slough is the beautiful Bogle Vineyard. Here you can sample one of their many wines, then take a glass or a bottle and sit at one of the tables in the vineyard under the enormous shade trees.
They have a cooler with a small selection of cheeses and crackers for sale if you want to take your picnic to the next level. There is no charge for the tastings. This is rare in a business where I have known wineries who charge up to $50.00 per tasting. Mark was an excellent resource for information about the area, and fun to talk to.
The road to the vineyard is bit precarious so drink responsibly, because even though you want to see the river you don’t want to end up in it.
This is a beautiful place to come and relax, write, and take in the gorgeous California weather, Don enjoyed a restful nap after a long day of fighting California traffic, and I enjoyed a day of sunshine and perfect weather.
And yes the wines are well worth the drive.


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The Russian River Rodeo and a New Pink Hat

The Russian River Rodeo and a New Pink Hat

Because we took the road less travelled and took a right turn to avoid traffic and a stop sign, we found the town of Duncan Mills,California.
Set near the Russian River and nestled in the hills surrounded by majestic trees, we suddenly came upon this lovely little spot that on one side of the road had dozens of shops, vintage stores, arts and crafts and restaurants, and on the other side had the Russian River Rodeo.
We stopped in just in time for the bull riding event and enjoyed watching and talking with the locals about their rodeo and the area.
After the rodeo, we walked around the booths and stores in the area. I was amazed at this little area set in a valley and how its artistic community seemed to thrive in spite of its secluded location.
As we explored the fair grounds we met Lou Lou a traveling shop owner who sells homemade jewelry and other items at the rodeos. I was able to purchase from her a beautiful pair of angel earrings and a new pink hat.
After walking around the fair grounds of the rodeo, we walked into the little village where we saw the work of several local artists, vintage stores, a tea shop, and lots of restaurants and wine tasting spots. We had a delicious meatloaf sandwich at Cape Fear restaurant, checked out the Duncan Mills Museum that was in an old railroad car and took a selfie with a family of wood carved raccoons.
Robert Frost told us by taking the Road less travelled it made all the difference, and though finding the town of Duncan Mills did not change our lives in a permanent way, it did allow us a fun day and an adventure we did not expect, yet enjoyed immensely.

If your looking for unique one of a kind jewelry check out Lou Lou at or


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Della Fattoria

Della Fattoria Downtown Petaluma California
141 Petaluma Blvd N, Petaluma, CA 94952-2904

Della Fattoria is a cute little restaurant located in downtown Petaluma. With glass counters filled with delicious home baked breads and mouth watering pastries, this place reminded me of a fun Mother Earth type hang out.
There is limited seating that includes 2 tops and large tables that are usually shared by customers. There are also a few outside tables so you can enjoy the beautiful Northern California weather.
They stay pretty busy on the weekends, but people move in out quickly. If it is crowded know they wait will be worth it. I had the delicious eggs Benedict. The bread they use is delicious and their sauces are creamy and flavorful without being overly rich.
They have a breakfast and lunch menu, lots of sandwiches and salads.
Breakfast is served until 11 and they close at 3:00 so go early and be hungry. They also sell bread and pastry to go.
There is some parking in front, there is also a free parking garage 2 blocks away.
Petaluma is a cute little town complete with clock tower and vintage shops. Plan a little extra time after lunch to walk off your calories and shop at the many unique places in the area.

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Flying the Friendly Skies with Annabel

The mood of a flight is always set by the flight attendant, they are like the nurses of a flight, even though the Pilot/doctor gets all the credit and glory, its the flight attendant/nurse who is out with the people making or breaking the experience.

A cranky tired attendant can put the entire plane in a terrible mood.

But a friendly efficient flight attendant can perk up the entire flight and put even the most tense flyers at ease, making a long day of travel day easier and brighter.
Today I boarded my Delta Airline flight in San Antonio and won the flight attendant lottery when Annabel greeted us all with her bright and sunshiny smile and upbeat attitude. The long flight from San Antonio to Los Angeles took on a positive feel from the time we took off until landing. She made the perfect cup of coffee, found me a blanket and could have been the poster attendant for flying the friendly skies.
As I left the plane I thanked her for making my flight such a positive experience, walking away I wished she could be on board every time I flew. So imagine my surprise when boarding my connection for Sacramento and was greeted again by Annabel!
Thank you Delta for hiring someone like Annabel, she is a true gem in the sky, and thank you Annabel for making my long and very early flight experience a positive one!

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The Curse of Invisibilty

I have episodes of invisibility. They are few and far between but when they happen it is very frustrating. It never happens at good times like when I’m speeding and there is a state trooper on the side of the road, nor when I say stupid things at the wrong time and wish I could just disappear.
It happens at inconvenient times.   Normally when I am standing in line or I ask people to do chores.
It happened today while Don and I were boarding a flight, I was right next to him and suddenly a woman was in front of me and letting 4 other people in front of her. When Don looked back at me and asked what happened the woman just looked a away as though she had no idea that there was an invisible person behind her who she had just left in her dust.
The other day it happened while Don and I were at dinner, (I guess sometimes it rubs off on the people I am with) Don and I sat there for a long time while the waitress waited on all the other tables around us, one minute (more like for 20 minutes) we were invisible then boom we just appeared when the manager walked up and asked up if anyone had helped us yet.
Maybe some people can see us while others cannot….weird, right?
Being invisible can really suck, especially when you ask someone to finish a chore and 2 days later they reply, “what … when did you ask me to do that.” It must have been one of those cursed invisible spells. People’s phones seem to put them into a daze also and they can see nothing but the phone screen…..but that’s a whole different form of magic.
I wish that I could control this power, I would love to be invisible at more opportune times, like when our bill at the restaurant arrives, or when the lock on the bathroom doesn’t work.
Maybe someday I will learn to control this cursed magic, but in the meantime, that lady who cut me off in line at the airport earlier is sitting directly behind me on the plane…karma perhaps? Who knows, I hope my invisible seat does not bother her when I lean it completely back during our flight.