The Best of Amador Wine Country: Wineries, Restaurants, and Attractions

Fri, 08/18/2023 - 16:23 -- johnk

table with meal and wine glasses

Amador County wine country is a hidden gem in California that offers a unique and captivating experience for wine enthusiasts. Nestled in the Sierra Foothills region, this picturesque destination is known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and, of course, its exceptional wines. Whether you are a seasoned wine connoisseur or a casual traveler looking for a delightful day trip, Amador County wine country has something to offer everyone.

The Charm of Amador County Wine Country
Amador County wine country possesses a charm that is difficult to put into words. It evokes a sense of nostalgia, reminiscent of a time when life was simpler and wine country was still a hidden secret. This region, unlike the bustling Napa Valley, exudes a rustic and laid-back atmosphere that attracts those seeking an authentic and unspoiled wine-tasting experience.

Photo courtesy of Helwig Vineyards & Winery

A Journey to Amador Wine Country

Exploring the Delights of Sonoma County: A Guide to Wineries, Restaurants, and More

Sat, 08/12/2023 - 16:14 -- johnk


Photo by WikimediaImages Pixabay 

Sonoma County, known for its picturesque landscapes, charming small towns, and world-class wineries, is a haven for wine enthusiasts and food lovers alike. This Northern California gem has overcome challenges like devastating wildfires, emerging stronger and more vibrant than ever before. With its ever-evolving food and drink scene, Sonoma County offers a delightful experience to visitors, whether they are first-time explorers or returning guests. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through Sonoma County, highlighting the best wineries, restaurants, and attractions to help you plan an unforgettable trip.

view of vineyard from table with bottle of wine and glasses

Image Source: Akira Yuan / EyeEm/Getty Images


Day 1: Discovering the Beauty of Sonoma County

Check-in at MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa

Santa Barbara County Wines: Exploring the Enchanting Wine Country

Fri, 08/11/2023 - 14:48 -- johnk

view of vineyard and hillside

Santa Barbara County Wines

Santa Barbara County is home to one of the most breathtaking wine regions in the world. Nestled along the picturesque California coastline, this region offers a unique blend of natural beauty and exceptional wines. From the urban wineries of Santa Barbara and Solvang to the rural vineyards of Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys, there is something for every wine lover to explore. With nine wine routes to choose from, the possibilities for a spectacular wine experience are endless.

Discovering Santa Barbara Wine Country
Santa Barbara Wine Country is a paradise for wine enthusiasts. With over 100 unique wineries and tasting rooms, there is a vast array of wines to taste and explore. From classic varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to lesser-known gems to the area such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah, the region offers a diverse selection of wines to satisfy every palate.

To make the most of your visit, it's essential to plan ahead. Santa Barbara County's wine country spans over 50 miles, so mapping out a route and checking tasting room hours is crucial. Consider using the designed tasting routes, online touring map, or requesting a printed touring map to navigate the expansive wine country efficiently.

Exploring Santa Barbara County Wine Routes
Santa Barbara County offers nine distinct wine routes that showcase the best of the region's wineries and vineyards. Each route provides a unique experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the local wine culture. Here are some highlights from each route:

The Beneficial Effects of Muscadine Grapes for Beauty and Health

Sun, 07/30/2023 - 14:38 -- johnk



handful if Muscadine grapes

Can a grape that is native to North America prove to be a beauty secret? Can a humble grape help with a better complexion, stronger bones, teeth and more?  A not so common red wine makes for younger looking skin, healthier hair, and stronger bones. The health benefits of muscadine grapes have been known for centuries, but only recently have the grapes been a focus with a scientific approach. Here are some interesting facts on the positive effects of muscadine grapes on our health.

Muscadine grape vine


The Grapes Origin 

Muscadine is a grapevine native to the southern part of North America that has been grown domestically since the 16th century. Native American’s were eating the vines for far longer than that. The Muscadine grows naturally at a latitude in the Eastern USA from about West Virginia and Delaware all the way through the southern states as far west as Texas. 

Muscadine and Scuppernong 

Wine Anyone? San Diego Wineries - Hidden Gems

Sun, 01/08/2023 - 10:19 -- johnk

painting of women in bathing suits with wine

San Diego has a dynamic and energetic wine growing culture. The number boutique wineries continue to grow. You have intimate access to the wine making process, to vineyards and the winemakers of this growing wine region. With more than one hundred wineries both in the city of San Diego itself along with other tasting rooms within a one-hour drive. This delightful combination come together to make San Diego a destination for those in search of superior wine and to discover and enjoy the California Winery Experience.

History of Wine Making in San Diego County

The region is not new to wine grown. As early as 1769 Grapes have been growing on the hillsides of this Southern California region. Monks at Mission San Diego de Alcalá were the first to plant vines. Father Junipero Serra is commonly referred to as the “Father of California Wine.” We can begin to see that San Diego County is not new to wine growing, nor the producing of wines. The vines and grapes reach back to when the Franciscans first established San Diego's Mission.

Once the vines were planted the records indicate that wine has been produced in San Diego County since the year 1774. California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, was well known for the quality of its wine. Those first planted vines thrived in San Diego until about the mid-1830s when drought and disease killed them off.

Lodi Wines and Wineries: Tasting - Markus Wine Co – 2018 domo, Carignane Blend

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 14:18 -- johnk

Man in vineyard holding grape cluster

Markus Wine Co And Their Winemaker Markus Niggli

Swiss-born Markus Niggli was brought on by Steve Borra in 2006 to handle the cellar for Borra Vineyards, but Markus steadily climbed the ladder to winemaker in 2010. Markus was an early believer in natural winemaking with a goal of expressing the vineyard and each vintage as authentically as possible, resulting in his first releases of critically successful fresh and racy whites. These show his European influence with higher acidity, rather than the typical rich, full-bodied California style.

He has made a fan in noted wine writer Randy Caparoso, who wrote: “Borra now produces the most ‘contemporary’ style wines grown in Lodi today, period.”
But Markus does much more than make about 5,000 cases of wine each year. He works along with designers to come up with new labels; manages the cellar crew; and most importantly handles all wholesale and direct wine sales. Markus and his wife, Diane, are raising a family together in the City of Lodi.

winemaker and his wife sitting on stairs

Markus and Diane Niggli

Paso Robles Wines - Vino Vargas Si! - Petite Sirah 2018 - Paso Robles

Mon, 12/26/2022 - 09:25 -- johnk

huge corkscrew at winery near Sacramento CA

Pulling the Corks and Vino Vargas - Paso Robles Wines and Wineries

Vino Vargas is located in the rolling hills of the Northwest Paso Robles region. Vino Vargas is a modern winery, both an efficient example of winemaking and a warm place for you, your friends, and family to discover some truly unique wines. What can you expect when you arrive for your tasting appointment? While it will be personal, educational, it will also enhance your appreciation for the winery experience. This means that will you get to interact with the winery’s winemaker, Pedro or the sommelier Vicky, or both.  What a delight to really talk about the wines, winemaking philosophy or just sit back and enjoy the magnificent views as you leisurely enjoy your visit.

Vino Vargas produces small lot, single vineyard wines. All the wines produce at Vino Vargas are hand-crafted to achieve truly remarkably well-balanced wines with the best fruit that Paso Robles has to offer. The winery is family owned and operated, to ensure that you receive personal service and attention among the beautiful views of nearby vineyards.

Clear Lake Wines and Wineries: The Ultimate Guide

Sun, 12/18/2022 - 08:44 -- johnk

painting women at waterside with glasses of wne

Clear Lake wines and wineries is only a part of the focus of this article. While we will look at wines and wineries in the Clear Lake area, we will also consider other points of interest. As you are reading this article it is fair to say that you enjoy wine tasting and visiting wineries. Still if you are spending a day or days in any give wine area or region, we usually don’t spend our entire time in the tasting room. That being said, we will look at other ways to make the visit to this wine producing region of California by considering accommodations, dining, tasting rooms, and other activities of interest that Clear Lake has to offer.

While I don’t visit Clear Lake as often as I use to, the lake and the countryside hold fond memories for me. I remember staying at the Marina Hotel with my parents and later taking my family as well to enjoy a getaway. The Marina is a simple place to stay but it was oh, so convenient if you had a bass boat you want to launch. I remember going out with my dad in his boat and fishing for some lunker bass. Taking my family and just enjoying the stay for a few days away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In fact, both my father Jack Krause and my cousin Danny Krause did more than one Bass tournament at Clear Lake.


Lodi Wineries: The Ultimate Guide

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 08:10 -- johnk

The Lodi Visitor Center


Lodi Wineries: The Ultimate Guide. The Lodi AVA, is part of the larger Central Valley wine region of California. You will find that this little town has a big heart when it comes to wine grapes, wines, and much more. Lodi Wine Country is found directly east of San Francisco Bay and between the cities of Sacramento and Stockton. The west of the region of Lodi lies close to the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin counties.

Easy Access

It’s simple to get to Lodi Wine Country from just about anywhere in California. Whether you hop on the train from Oakland or Sacramento, drive or book a flight, you will find your way to this Central Valley oasis in no time at all. 

Why growing in recognition by wine lovers Lodi is still one of the best-kept secrets in Northern California. This little town is HUGE on Wine, Eats, and rolling out the welcome mat to visitors. My goal is to help those of you who have not visited Lodi to learn why you should have it on your to-do list for one of your upcoming weekend destinations.

Lodi being near the Delta has an excellent impact on wine grape growing and on the wines that are being produced in Lodi. Turns out grapes also really grow well in Lodi Wine Country. As a result, Lodi has become one of the hotspots for wine lovers living in California and guests to the Golden State as well.

How to Hold a Wine Glass

Sun, 11/27/2022 - 17:29 -- johnk

When I first started to drink wine, I tried to do it the as I had seen people in the movies or on television. You know with hand clasped around the glass’s bowl. Perhaps the television and movie screens aren’t the best resource for learning the ropes. Because yes, there is a proper way to hold a wine glass—and it matters. So, let us fine-tune our skills, and enhance our wine experience. Here is everything you need to know to hold your next glass of wine like a pro.

How You Hold a Wine Glass - Does it Really Matter?

There are so many different wine glasses to choose from. Decorative, elegant, and so many different types to select from in size, shape, and of course price.

Did you know that there is a wine glass for just about every kind of wine?

Some basic wine glasses are for full-bodied red wine, light-bodied red wine, Rose or a spicy red wine, sparkling wine, light-bodied white wine, and fortified wines.

We will share more on the different types of wine glasses in a future article; "Why are there so many different types of wine glasses?"

Before learning how to properly hold your wine glass, and if it matters, let's look at the "whys" of holding your glass of wine. How you handle your glass helps you get the most out of your wine experience for three main reasons:


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