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California Wine Country

In November 2007 we had an outstanding tour through California wine country. It was a neighbor reunion, with us joining our friends Chris and Mary who used to live next door, as well as their friends Roxanne and Greg, who used to be their neighbors in Wisconsin, as well as Roxanne and Greg's friends Claire & Dean who live next door to them now in Georgia.

Chris was the ultimate trip planner and tour guide. He set up and reserved all of our hotels, restaurants, and wine tours. I didn't even know what towns we were going to be in from day to day, let alone how to get from place to place. It was ultimately relaxing and allowed me to spend all of my time enjoying the experience and taking pictures.

We spent our first night in Healdsburg which was wonderful. It had a beautiful central square, cute shops, and the incredible Hotel Healdsburg. I can't say enough good things about the Hotel Healdsburg (http://www.hotelhealdsburg.com). The rooms were beautiful, huge tile bathroom with soaking tub and a big open glass shower, beautiful pool area, incredibly helpful and courteous staff, and even a full complimentary breakfast. I could go on and on, but we will definitely go back.

The next day we visited incredible wineries and spent the night in Calistoga, and the following day even more wonderful wineries and we spent the night in Sonoma.

This was my first chance to really get some work done with my new Canon 40D and I love it to death!


Photos


Our Route

Here's the route we took on our trip


Wine tasting at check in

How cool is this!?! A local winery was set up in the lobby of the Hotel Healdsburg doing wine tastings


Window shopping

A little window shopping as we wander around Healdsburg


The lift

This was right after we first ran into Greg (we all met in Healdsburg)


Tasting room

This cool tasting room was right on the square in Healdsburg


Cool lights

I loved these lights in the tasting room. I'm kicking myself for not doing a series where the focus changes to subsequent fixtures


Beauty

Chris got this shot of Christi and me on a bench in Healdsburg


Waiting

Greg and Dean hanging out while we shopped


Ray Manzarek

We walked around a corner and saw that Ray Manzarek (formerly of the Doors) was actually in town


Strike a pose

Greg does a little vogueing after dinner


Flower power

Chris looking adorable with a flower behind his ear


The pool

We didn't get a chance to use it, but the pool and spa at Hotel Healdsburg looked beautiful


Lemons!

The pool was surrounded by fruit and olive trees


Flower

I played with some new focusing techniques on this trip and got some great flower shots


Love this sign

We found this great little dog shop called Fideux in Healdsburg and could not stop cracking up about this sign


Roxanne & Mary

Here we are at our first winery (Dry Creek)


The Bar

A fun shot of the bar at the Dry Creek winery


Neat plant

I love this plan. No idea what it is, but it's neat


Beautiful grapes

I love how the light hit this bunch of grapes


More grapes

This little bunch of grapes was adorable


Grape seeds

They take the grape seeds and other grape leftovers and use them as nutrients for the grape vines


Christi & Claire

Christi and Claire listening intently to our wine tour


Dean

Dean paying close attention


Our Guide

Our tour guide at Dry Creek was awesome


Greg

A cool shot of Greg listening in on the wine tour


Chris

Chris with his funny glasses that attach to his nose


The vines

I love this shot of one of the rows of vines


Beauty

Christi, adorable as usual


More vines

The view at the Dry Creek winery was gorgeous


Change in focus

A similar shot, with a different focus point


Of course, more grapes

I couldn't stop taking pictures of grapes


Roxanne

A neat shot of Roxanne whith the vinyards behind


Mary

A cool shot of Mary


David Stare

How classic is this shot of the founder of the Dry Creek winery from back in the 80s


The History of Labels

These bottles showed the progression of the label design


Cool boat

The Dry Creek winery had a sailboat theme, and this model was cool


Consulting the plan

Here's Chris consulting the plan


Your photographer

Christi caught this picture of me as I wandered around taking pictures


The Cellar

The cellar at Dry Creek was beautiful


Huge Barrels

The giant barrels were custom made for them, and beautiful


Fillerup!

Chris's dream come true


Barrels

I had no idea that barrels were made entirely without glue or nails, just held together with the metal bands around them


Ferrari-Carano

The Ferrari-Carano winery was stunning!


The Tour

The tour of Ferrari-Carano was fun


More view

This view reminded me of a scene from the movie Gladiator where he's walking down the road toward his home


A cork tree

Check out the sign on this cork tree. I was shocked at how difficult it is to get cork from a cork tree


Wood wrapping

I love how their barrels are wrapped with wood to protect tem as they roll them


Auger

When the grapes are brought in from the field they're fed into the system using this huge auger


De-stemmer

This cage is usually mounted in a unit at the end of the auger and lets the grapes drop through while it keeps the stems inside


Pokey things

This big pokey thing is usually inside the cage thingy and gently removes the grapes from their stems


Wine Cellar

The wine cellar at Ferrari-Carano was quite fancy


Neat Barrels

Quite the wine collection


Great bar

The bar at Ferrari-Carano had a stunning view


Why yes, I will have a drink

The crew enjoying some wine at Ferrari-Carano


Nice view

Christi in front of the vinyards


Us!

The vinyards at Ferrari-Carano made for a great photo backdrop


Me and Chris

We're so adorable!


Mary, Chris, Christi, and me


Mary & Chris


Rox & Mary

The sun was driving Mary nuts


Claire & Rox


Pillars

Roxanne pointed out this cool photo opportunity


Different focal point

Here's a similar shot, but with the background in focus


Greg & Roxanne

Greg did the most hilarious poses


Chris, Mary, Rox & Greg


Dean, Claire, Rox & Greg


The whole crew

Here we all are with the vinyards in the background


Clos Du Bois

Thes guys make some incredible wine. It's one of Chris's favorites


On the sign

Rox & Mary on the Clos Du Bois sign


The wine cave

Even better than the bat cave


Olive Tree

The olive trees were beautiful, but the olives were yukky


Christi in black & white

I was playing around with the black & white setting


Neat barn

The color of the barn is cool


More olives

but still yukky


Alexander Valley Vinyards

Wine barrels can cost $800-$1200 each! They've gotten even more expensive as the dollar has gone down vs. the Euro


Flowers

Adorable little flowers


The Zinful 3-pack

Temptation, Sin, and Redemption


The look

Mary is the master of "the look". It makes you feel like a 5-year old caught with your and in the cookie jar


Rock wall

This view of the vinyards at Alexander Valley was beautiful


Long shadows

We stopped along the roadside to take this picture of the shadows extending from the vinyards


Ready for dinner

The gang gets ready to head to dinner


Lambkin

Of course, Lambkin came along


Hydro Grill

A cool night shot of a bar across from where we had dinner


Grapes

I got some cool shots of grapes in the morning dew


And more grapes

I like the depth of field on this


Hello!!!

Greg, Chris, and Dean in the window of the inn


Roses in the morning light

The sun had just come over the roof and hit the roses


Flowers

These flowers the Chandon winery were adorable


Bee

A cute little bee


Bottle art

This wall of bottles at Chandon was neat


Tour

We had a great private tour of Chandon


Leaves

The fall colors on the grape leaves were cool


More leaves


Wine tanks

Now that's a lot of wine!


Our guide

Our guide explaining how sparkling wine is made


More Barrels

This was one huge cellar


And more barrels

Ignoring the cost of the wine, just imagine the investment in barrels at around $1,000 per barrel, and they can only use them a few times


The thingamajigger racks

Can't remember what these are called, but essentially they used to use these racks to turn each bottle by hand to stir up the yeast (was it yeast? hmm, can't remember for sure)


The new way

Now, instead of doing it by hand they use these huge machines to stir the bottles, and this is a baby version, the big ones are like six times as big


Cool art

I love this series of backlit bottles


Sideways


Other way


Angled


More Lambkin

Lambkin's such a trooper!


Puddle

A cool reflection in a puddle


Pastoral

Quite the cool set up on the lawn


Close up

A closer view of the table on the lawn


Waterfall

Our private tasting was next to a cool little waterfall


A little wine

How incredible is this set up they had for us at the wine tasting


The glasses

The sparkling wine was outstanding! We ordered 18 bottles


The menu

We each had a menu explaining the different wines we were tasting


Cheers

Rox, Greg, Dean & Claire enjoying the tasting


More bubbly!

Rox getting more bubbly as we had more bubbly


Slower shot

here's a slower shot of the waterfall that flattens out the water a bit


Rox & Mary

Hanging out at the tasting


All gone!

Claire showing off her empties


Incredible lunch

At the Chandon winery we were treated to an incredible lunch. The scallops were unbelievable


Christi

Christi with the wall of vines in the background


The Leap

Greg performing a little gymnastics


Joseph Phelps

The beautiful vinyards at Joseph Phelps


More Vinyards

more beautiful vinyard views


Christi at Joseph Phelps

Beautiful girl, beautiful background


Little tree

An adorable little tree in the vinyard


More vinyard


and more


Claude

We got the most incredible private tasting at Joseph Phelps. Claude was outstanding


A 1980 Cab

Claude shared a 1980 Cab with us and it was outstanding. He taught us all about how to look at, smell, and taste wine


More vinyards

they were just stunning


Framing

I love the framing on this shot, with the little out of focus flowers in the foreground


The Lake

Joseph Phelps had a beautiful lake in the vinyards


Reflection

A cool reflection in Christi's glasses


More view


Just a couple more


More framing

A guy at the winery turned me on to this view. He said he frequently takes his lunch up to this view


Even more view


The mirror

Greg and Dean taking a few shots, as seen through our rearview mirror


Afternoon sun

I shot this from the car on the way to dinner


Hess

We got the most incredible private tour of the Hess art collection, with a wine tasting, and dinner by their executive chef


The path

The path into Hess was beautiful


Reflection

A cool reflection in the pool in front of Hess


Grapes

Grapes in a vat in the Hess winery


More vats

Another view of the vats they put the grapes in


Corks

A cool collection of corks


More reflection

More shots of the reflections in the pool


Heading out

Greg and Dean heading down the path


Self portrait

Couldn't help it


Flowers

Beautiful flowers in front of a little breakfast place we went to in Sonoma


More flowers


Goodbye

Saying goodbye as we all headed off to the airport


Golden Gate

We stopped by a scenic overlook on the way to the airport


Chris & Mary

With the bridge in the background


Us with the bridge


More bridge


Mt. St. Helens

We had a great view of Mt. St. Helens on the flight back


Another shot

Another view of Mt. St. Helens with another mountain in the background. Hood maybe?