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Friday, August 30, 2013

Escaping the Four Walls

A very much needed escape ....

As promised, I am here to share the second day of a wonderful weekend of adventures that was long over due. It had been well over a year since a trip to the coast had been had. The last time was the day of our middle daughter's wedding, a day of family, hopes and new beginnings.... sadly if you have been reading my posts since then, you know the tragedy that followed just a few short months later with the death of our son in law, resulting in our daughter now living in her little cottage here on the busy corner where Muse Cottage sits. Following that time, my health took a nose dive and leaving the four walls for even a trip to the grocery store was difficult at best. I truly thought that perhaps I would never be able to leave the four walls again, at least not for an extended dayaction trip to the coast. Finally the day came that proved me, happily so, mistaken. 

The day started with chocolate chip pancakes, homemade brown sugar syrup drizzled on top and a bowl of fresh strawberries bought at the farmers market the day before ( see the last blog post from earlier this week), and a lively discussion over religion and other topics as well as watching the little hummingbirds that now were visiting the feeder we had just put up. 

...a bit hazy due to being taken through the window....
While sitting there at the dining room table, and sipping my cinnamon tea, we decided that as I was feeling good the last couple of days that it was time to take a road trip. We discussed many options and ideas, but deciding that many were either not advisable due to smoke in the air from one of the largest wild fires in California state history, the Rim Fire, or due to traffic and road closures, such as the bay bridge in San Francisco, we would head to the coast. Once it was decided upon we choose a route that would help us avoid the traffic that we knew would already be heading into the general area or just past with the time of the day that it already was getting to be.... so we choose a road less traveled and new to us. Looking at maps on the computer we choose a route that would take us through Davis Ca, past Winters, a lovely little town we had visited in the past and on to hwy 128. 

The highway that we knew would take us through what is known as the Chiles Valley , and land us in the Napa Valley, and connect us with an opportunity to take a lovely and scenic drive to the coast, especially since it would add the same amount of time to the trip after going through the valley as if we had gone the direct route! We thought it was well worth it. Especially when we discovered our first stop along the way... Nichelini Winery . The winery location caught us off guard with it's location, after miles of endless hills, and valley views, after driving along the edge of Lake Berryesa, just around the bend of a two lane highway, a building popped up. Located just a few miles outside of Rutherford, Ca.,  a stone structure, surrounded by tall trees and so quiet, despite being right on the edge of the highway that all one could hear was the distant calls of birds and the breeze as it rustled through the leaves. We pulled into the gravel parking lot, only a few cars wide, and walked the short, but nerve wracking, distance along the highway to the stairs that a small sign stated lead to the tasting bar. 

The view from where we parked. 

The road we had to walk along, till we reached just
around the bend to the entrance. last... safely off the highway.

The stairway entrance. 

Nichelini, the oldest family owned winery in the state of California, a product of Italian-Swiss homesteaders Anton and Caterina, has been making fine wine for 120 years. As we stood among the red oaks, olive trees and listening to our hosts Linda and Diane, the latter being the family representative that day, we decided on a flight of wines to sample that day, the signature line.  As we stood there, sharing the sips, not wishing to over due it as well as conserving our funds, as there was a tasting fee, the norm for this areas wineries, we were told the family history of the winery. As the wine and the conversation flowed, I recalled that I did know about this winery and it's history, I had read about it in the book The Movable Thirst  , a book actually co-written by the buyer of wine for the grocery chain our youngest works for, she being how I discovered the book. The story that stood out that made the light bulb go on for me was that of Caterina serving wine and then trying to sell wine to two undercover prohibition enforcers.... though I think she was trapped.... and how her husband Anton did not desire to see his wife serve time in a jail cell, and neither did anyone else,  as she was a mother of 12, and well a woman, took the rap and the sentence. The sentence, six months, as a trustee, and staying at a hotel in near by St. Helena, of the same name.... he was allowed to take odd jobs and to visit friends during the day, but then he had to go back to his "cell" at night by sundown. Seemingly an easy sentence, the worst of it was the dumping of all the wine and how it also killed a large red oak tree. They and so many other trees survived and so did the wine. 

The picnic grounds. We plan to come back and lunch here. 

After all our sampling, we choose to take home a bottle of
Sauvignon Blanc , though all were wonderful offerings...
with the warmth of Summer still upon us it was the perfect choice that day. 

Of course I found a birds nest to photograph *smile*
This may be printed out and framed here at Muse Cottage. 

There was five bat houses about the property, apparently
they had a real issue with them getting into the dwellings,
but once these were put up, no more issues. 

The last sip... a lovely port. 

A little history. 

After sampling all the offerings, and making our choice , the Sauvignon Blanc 2012..... "This light wine is 85% Sauvignon Musqué, an aromatic variety of Sauvignon Blanc, and 15% Semillon.  The grapes come from a small vineyard block named for Virginia, the 4th Nichelini child, born in 1896.
 The grapes were hand-harvested at night at cool temperatures and were slowly fermented with no oak contact, preserving their classic Sauvignon Musqué aromas and flavors of pear, grapefruit and melon.  Crisp, vibrant and fresh; Semillon rounds out the finish.  Only 324 cases produced." ....., we got back on the road, and soaking in the view along the way, said little till we reached the cross roads. 

As we had earlier in the day discussed the coast as a possible destination, we made the turn away from Napa , drove through St. Helena, Calistoga, and a few other towns along the way until eventually, nearly three hours later and a stop to get some lunch, we landed in Bodega ( read about our other visits to Bodega and Bodega Bay HERE and HERE). As has been the norm each and every time we have visited this area of the Sonoma coastline beaches, the fog was rolling in, but despite that, unlike the other times, the temps were warm and comfortable, and no sweaters or bundling up was needed. We stopped at a couple of the parking lots that lead to or over look the beaches along the coastline, to snap a few photos, and then decided to see if we could find a spot at one of the beaches that has access down to the actual beach so we could take a stroll and not have to hike too much, myself not being up for that. 

First stop, at a fish and chips place, just to soak it all in. 

The fog rolling in....

and wild flowers on the cliffs. 

Finally reaching the shore. 
Had to take a "selfie" 

Starfish were washing up on the shore and many visitors that day
were using the event to snap off photos, including myself. 

Hubby obviously got ahold of the camera too. 

The waves taking away woes and worries, at least for awhile. 

Once we enjoyed our stroll along the beach, and deciding to leave once the tide began to  move in, we headed to a quaint wine bar to relax, share a flight, and enjoy the view for awhile, not ready to head back home just yet. 

Been meaning to stop here many times when visiting the coach.

Leave it to me to find flowers!

The view. 

We shared a mix of both.... three wines equals one glass, so perfect
for us to share, being as we did have a long trip home. 

We enjoyed a snack including a brie produced locally out of Point Reyes

Do you see what I see? No it is not "Nessy" of Loch ness, it 
is merely a sea lion that was cruising by searching for supper. 

The time came that we finally had to leave the wine bar, though I wish we could have stayed there till well after the sunset. We had really enjoyed the lapping of the water against the piers that stood within the bay, the sight and sounds of the wildlife that entertained us, the warmth of the sunshine that was breaking through the marine layer that kept trying to creep in. We were going to miss and hated to leave the soft breezes that caressed the skin as we sat quietly sipping fine wine, enjoying the cheese and cracker platter we had ordered.. as well as the conversation, that for the first time in months was not about my health, or the tragedy that happened since the last time we visited the area, or even Muse Cottage and what was next on the fix it list, but it was time to make the journey home. Once again we choose to take the long way home, and enjoy the scene along the way before reaching the freeway and the real world again. 

Here is to escaping the four walls.... 
and hoping we can do it again soon!!


  1. Looks like a lovely vacation! So glad you got out :)

  2. Wine and the beach! Sounds like the perfect healing prescription to me. Glad you had such a lovely day. :)


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