Sunday, October 23, 2011

Off-roading wine tours? Napa's got it all

It seems it takes more than great wine to attract tourists to Napa. It takes what I fondly call "gimmicks."  Don't get me wrong. I love the gimmicks. Instead of pairing wine with cheese, I get to pair wine with something totally fun and unexpected.

Take for example the horse-drawn carriage tour at Castello di Amorosa.  While I still want to do the whole cheesy carriage ride in Central Park, this sounds pretty fun.  Castello di Amorosa is one of the Napa Valley's spectacular castles,  and they promise to make your fairy tale dreams come true by letting you take a horse-drawn vineyard tour on an 1800's vis-à-vis carriage. The tour includes tastings, breathtaking views of the valley and another tasting of Castello di Amorosa's wine in their reserve room.

If you're not romantic and more of a weekend warrior, then check this out -- Somerston Estate offers visitors an off-road vineyard experience. Yeeehawww!!!

These tours are new and only began in June 2011. The tour features an all-terrain vineyard tour, a sampling of local cheeses and charcuterie made from their ranch's grass-fed lamb, and even a refreshing drink from Somerston's natural soda springs. Sounds kind of cool...and bumpy.

Then there's the "make your own wine" tours where you can channel your inner winemaker by creating your own custom blend.  I love this concept because I'm a winemaker wanna-be but really can't afford my own vineyard right now.  These tours will let me be a winemaker for a day. Love it. Love it. Love IT!

So how do you get to be a winemaker for a day?  Well, I've found two in Napa. I haven't checked them out yet so I can't tell you which one is the best, but here's what I've learned.

Judd's Hill Winery offers a "Bottle Blending Day Camp" experience where you work with a winemaker to create your very own Bordeaux-style cuvee.

You're guided through a personal tasting, education and blending session to help choose your perfect Bordeaux-style blend from barrel samples. You are then led through the process of hand bottling, labeling and dipping the bottle tops in wax, and take home your personally crafted wine that same day.

Conn Creek Winery offers a similar "make your own" experience with their Barrel Blending workshop.

During the session, you'll learn about, taste and blend wines from the many distinctive wine growing regions, or "appellations," that make up the legendary Napa Valley.  You will get to take home the fruit of your labors in a bottling they custom blend themselves from barrels containing wine from 14 of The Napa Valley's appellations.

Sounds lovely. Suddenly, I'm thirsty. How about you?

Visit for pricing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What? Michelle is saying "no" to free wine?

In 10 days, I’ll be standing in front of a bunch of judges at an NPC Bodybuilding Competition in Fort Lauderdale.

If you've been following my blog or have checked out my photos, then you know I’m not one of the traditional girl bodybuilders. Instead I compete in the bikini athlete division. I love challenging my body with the training, but because I’ve only been doing it for five months, I’m still fairly new so am struggling with the diet and workout.

So the last thing I need to see is this: Free Spanish Wine Tasting Event at Selland’s.

If you haven’t been to Selland’s in East Sacramento, you’re missing out. The food is incredible…and the wine is even better. Their wine guy, David Scott is like the God of wine-mood pairing. You notice I’m saying “mood” and not “food” and that’s because whenever I’ve gone, I’ve usually been craving a glass of wine and not a meal.

It doesn’t matter if I'm happy, tired or just want to relax and people watch on a Friday night, David always has a couple new wines in his tasting area and can find one that will match my mood. I’ve even ended up buying a few bottles that I never thought I would like.

And now he’s tempting me with his Wednesday tastings.

This Wednesday , he’ll be featuring wines from Spain’s Bodegas Borsao Winery. The tasting is free and goes from 6-9 p.m. But I’m going to be a good girl and just spread the word to other wine-lovers -- even though I really, really want to go.

If you're interested, you can follow my NPC training on my Facebook fan page.