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Returning to a Favorite… St. Clair Brown Winery

St. Clair Brown is an urban winery and brewery in the city of Napa. You’ll find tables and chairs located outside its quaint greenhouse and in the gardens itself. You can sample brews or wine, along with some tasty treats made from locally sourced ingredients and the on-site garden.


We were first introduced to St. Clair Brown a couple years ago during a small group tour to boutique wineries. We fell in love with atmosphere, the dedication to local ingredients, and the fact that the owners themselves were the ones to conduct our tasting. Having some time on a recent trip we decided to visit our favorite once again.
We were nervous to go back, because you know how sometimes, you remember things differently than they actually were. You have those rose colored glasses and then you go back and you can’t remember why you liked that place? I’m happy to report that was ABSOLUTELY NOT the case with St. Clair Brown. It was just as unassuming, friendly and tasty as we remembered. The staff greeted us warmly, inviting us to grab a seat wherever we wanted in the garden. Locals were perched around the area reading books, relaxing with friends, their dogs at their feet…always a good sign in my book!
We already knew we liked the wine, so we decided to try the beer flight this time. To accompany the 3 beers you see in the picture we ordered hummus and crackers. Again, remember that things are locally sourced and the chef puts her own spin on things. For instance, instead of using chickpeas for the hummus, she was using peanuts as a base, with lemon flavored olive oil from a local supplier. The first thing that hit your tongue and made it water was the flavor of the lemon and the finish was excellent.


The beer options did not disappoint. Typically my husband is not a stout fan if we’re in the States because of the heaviness of it. That was the whole point of the stout brewed here though…it was the taste without the full stomach feeling that you just ate a loaf of bread. As we tested our beers we chatted with staff and asked about their upcoming releases. This winery was where we finally found a California Chardonnay that we liked and we were disappointed to learn they were sold out of it.

Their upcoming releases intrigued us so much we decided it was time to join their Wine Club. We had pondered it a couple years ago, but never made the move to do it. Now was the time, and we celebrated with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc…a free one, as a Wine Club Member benefit.
If you’re in the area of Napa, you HAVE to stop by this winery. It’s worth your time, trust me, we wiled away a couple hours here just relaxing and enjoying watching the Wine Train go by.

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Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com
(321) 323 – 9835

Traveling with Friends or Family

Let’s go on a vacation together! Sounds great when you are all sitting around dreaming of nice sandy beaches, or the romance of Europe, but what happens when you start diving into the planning and organizing, second thoughts? I hope not! Traveling with family and friends can be just as much fun as it sounds like from the get go. The key is to go into it with realistic expectations. Traveling alone can eliminate some of the tension maybe, but traveling with a group can add great memories and perspective to the trip.

When you are dreaming about the trip with your friends or family, start off with some key “need to know” items.

  1. Time of year and Length of stay. It is important before you talk to your travel planner to have your group decide on 3 dates that will work for everyone. Decide how long you can be gone and be assured everyone can get off work for that time frame. If you are just traveling as couples and leaving the children with babysitters, check to make sure the babysitters are available those dates as well.
  2. Budget: Talk about what everyone is willing to spend for the trip. Consider, location, airfare, tours or excursions and misc. Costs. If you need help with a budget range you can discuss this with your travel planner.
  3. Location: Have an idea of where you would like to go or even a set of choices. This way your planner can give you direction on resorts, cruises or activities that would best fit your group.
  4. Discuss expectations on the trip: Take time to layout the “ground rules” so to speak. Do you plan on doing everything together? Have just dinners together or excursions? Do some want to do excursions while others want to just relax? It is always best to have a variety of together time and alone time so that everyone can be on vacation. We all vacation differently and with busy lives and vacation expectations can vary. Your travel planner can help plan a variety of schedules. The worst thing to hear is, “where do you want to eat?” “I don’t know where do you want to eat?” Have a general plan.
  5. Be flexible. Best laid plans may encounter some bumps. Be willing to talk through it and come to a quick consensus.

Friends and Family can travel together just about anywhere in the world! There are great locations near to home and even abroad that will give you experiences of a lifetime. Lean on your travel planner for the best ideas and the voice of organization when planning these types of trips. They have navigated through all aspects and will be the neutral voice throughout the entire process.

A Quick Trip to Napa….Thoughts on Making the Most out of the Least Amount of Time

Let’s say you find yourself on the West Coast in San Francisco with a little extra free time. It happened to my husband and I recently…he was traveling for business and I was able to accompany him. Unexpectedly, we found ourselves with a free afternoon and decided to take the quick drive up to Napa Valley.
Personally, we much prefer the smaller wineries to the larger names. We feel the experience is more personalized and we enjoy the atmosphere more. There is certainly nothing wrong with Mondavi Winery (they have beautiful grounds and I highly suggest a visit) or Sterling or Stag’s Leap etc. but the smaller wineries tend to cater more to you, be able to dedicate more time to your questions and overall, I guess I just find the depth of the wines we taste seem better. It’s all up to personal preference though really.
Because this was last minute, we weren’t able to make appointments for private tastings, but we had read about Michael Hill Winery and the terrific experience people had had, so we booked a tasting online. The form allowed you to specify your preferences if you had any, tell them if you had recently visited wine regions etc. I noted that one of our favorite wines right now was Sauvignon Blanc, that we loved full body reds and we were picky about our Chardonnays (we don’t prefer the typical buttery flavor of Chardonnay).
Upon arrival we were greeted and immediately offered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc each, while the staff told us about the winery and what type of options they offered for the tastings. We chose to go with a Reserve Wine tasting which paired some food with their Reserve Wines. These are wines that are only available for purchase at the winery or through their wine club. The staff invited us to walk around the vines, showing us where they had marked some good vantage points for pictures and then invited us to take a seat out at the Adirondack chairs for a view of the valley while they prepared our tasting.


We couldn’t have been happier with this choice. The staff checked on us frequently enough to be sure that we were well taken care of, but not so frequently as to be annoying. By spacing their appointments, the area was not crowded but we were able to chat with some other couples that were there.


The wines were exquisite, with a depth of flavor that you don’t always find. Knowing our feelings about Chardonnay, the staff chose one for us to try that was more acidic and preferred by Sauvignon Blanc drinkers, then we progressed into some reds. The tasting was complemented by dried tart cherries, salt and vinegar nuts and a goat’s cheese. Yum!
I highly recommend checking out this winery if you’re in the area. You can easily make an appointment online, the staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and you can’t go wrong with their wine.
Keep an eye out for my St. Clair Brown post, we returned to one our favorites there!

 

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

Don’t Be THAT Person on the Airplane | Tips for Travel Etiquette

With Holiday Travel about to hit full swing I thought I would share some tips for travel etiquette.  Travel can be stressful for people who don’t travel frequently, especially during the busy holiday season.  For those of us that do travel often, our tempers can run high because we are impatient with others.  I hope this article will make you laugh, sigh, and provide you with a little insight into airplane etiquette.

At one point or another, you’ve probably all sat next to THAT person on the airplane. I recently had the chance to join my husband while he traveled on business and was just so overwhelmed by the amount of rudeness etc. that I just wanted to share some travel etiquette with you.
Perhaps people don’t travel often or perhaps in this day and age, they simply don’t think about their fellow passengers like they should. Let’s step outside ourselves for a moment though and think about how to be considerate when you travel.

1. When you board your aircraft…please, stow your smaller bags like purses and backpacks under the seat in front of you. Many people bring rollerboards onboard these days as carry-on and you really should be leaving the overhead bin for them. If you have an empty seat between you and someone else, don’t assume that you should just go ahead and use that tray table and area for yourself.

2. Don’t take your shoes off and keep your feet in your seat area….this isn’t your hotel room or your personal house, you are sharing with strangers that probably don’t want want your feet by them. Going along with that….don’t put your feet up on the bulkhead..again, be considerate of people around you. It’s just rude.  And PLEASE….put your shoes back on before you go the airplane lavatory….as a flight attendant friend likes to say, “That’s not apple juice on the floor!”

3. Pay attention in security screening areas….listen to what TSA is telling you. Everyone is trying to get where they are going with minimal hassle. If you’re unsure of procedure, ask before you get in line, read the website before you leave for the airport, educate yourself. Nothing is more annoying than being stuck behind the person who has the bottle of water in their bag, the change in their pocket, etc. Because they simply didn’t pay attention and now they are holding up the line.

4. Everyone will get served on the flight…for no reason should you feel it’s necessary to reach into the flight attendant’s cart and help yourself. Nor should you really feel the need to ask for 6 bags of pretzels for yourself. Seriously, I watched this happen on my flight….I was incredulous.

5. Just be polite….we all have bad days, we’re all trying to get someplace….remember to just be nice. It will make the journey go faster.

Flight resources:
Your airline’s website FAQ’s
TSA’s website
State Department’s Travel Page

I’m always happy to chat with you about travel and questions you might have so feel free to contact me at Carrie@MustLoveTravel.com or call direct at (321) 323-9835.

________________________________________________________________________________

Blogger, Traveler, Wife, Runner….I’m known as many different things.  But I’m here to be your Travel Professional.  Ever since I was a little girl I had an interest in travel. I would collect the postcards books that my grandparents brought back to me from their travels and I kept them in a special box that I loved to pull out and flip through. As I traveled with my family I started collecting postcards on my own and pictures, maps, and other mementos of my travels.

Believe it or not, I still have those postcards and every once in awhile I’ll bring them out and flip through smiling at the memories they bring back. Although I might not collect postcards anymore I collect photos, stories and information on my travels. I love to soak up a destination, reveling in the local food life. I absolutely love sharing my travel stories, foodie moments and special encounters.

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