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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pleasurable Gifts of the Earth ~ A Daycation Post

Hubby and I enjoy the day in and around Daffodil
Hill in the Volcano Ca. area.
As it would seem that my health and the weather are both cooperating at the moment, hubby and I have been making a point of getting out and enjoying ourselves and taking little daycations again. This past Sunday we choose to explore the pleasurable gifts that Earth and Sutter Creek/ Amadore County have to offer. Always a favorite area it explore, with much of it that we have yet to do so, it was decided that we would seek out a couple of landmarks that we have been meaning to visit since moving back to California several years back. Our first stop was to be one of the few Caverns open to the public, Black Chasm, located in Volcano California

After an enjoyable drive from Sacramento, heading out highway 16, then to highway 49 and later to a few twisty country roads, we finally found our destination and arrived just as the 11:00 a.m. tour was taking off. It was my husband's first visit's to a cavern and one of many visits, most of mine made on girl trips to other states. Both of us were excited and eager to see what treasures this particular cavern had to hold for us... what pleasurable gifts of the Earth was beyond the iron gate at it's entrance.  "The 50-minute Landmark Walk Tour follows a series of environmentally friendly platforms, stairs and walkways, designed to give the best views of the cave without compromising the naturally pristine environment. This beautiful tour shows off some world class formations, including vast arrays of rare helictite formations. Currently, the cave tour culminates in a visit to the Landmark Room, the location of the greatest collections of sparkling helictite crystals."  Lucky for you I was able to stop and snap a few photos to share with you, as light and time allowed.

After a couple short flights of stairs from the
gift shop and one more down to the
gate, we entered a magical world.

The first sites we saw...quickly
emerging us into a different environment
than that of what we had been in just
moments before.

The Stalactite "draperies" in the far left, upper
corner of this photo are so delicate in appearance,
but have survived over a million years. 

The Black Chasm Caverns is one of four
in the entire U.S. to have these straw like
formations known as 

The stairs within the Cavern go down, then
up and then down again as it
carries you deeper and deeper down. 

Once our tour was over, and we had I had a chance to change into new clothing more suited for explorations above ground, we were on the road to our next destination.... Daffodil Hill. Also located on the outskirts of Volcano California, lies the ranch owned by the McLaughlin family since 1887, open to the public each Spring so that thousands of visitors might enjoy the next pleasurable gift the Earth has to offer, Daffodils!! There are approximately 16,000 bulbs planted each year and over 300,000 in bloom at any given time during the season that visitors are allowed to stroll through the many meandering paths that are part of the ranch.  There is only a short period of time that Daffodil Hill is open. Most years it is open in the spring, usually from mid-March, as it was this year, through the first weeks of April. Soon after that, it becomes a working ranch once again, and is not open for visitors.  Of course, Mother Nature determines the length of the blooming season each year. Of course being someone into gardening and in love with flowers of all varieties it has been on my bucket list to visit and you know I can not help but share it with you.

Just taking a moment to enjoy the view and take it all in. 

Having found two pleasures of the Earth to discover and explore and of course enjoy, we decided, after a quick picnic lunch to go explore a familiar one to both ourselves and of course you the reader.... WINE! A short back track on the roads we took to reach the previous two destinations, we headed into to Sutter Creek California, a place I have shared with you all on a few occasions via this blog.  Sutter Creek is an easy drive from Muse Cottage and always an enjoyable one, with each mile we drive and get closer to Main Street, the more relaxed we become and a smile starts to emerge upon our faces. 

Our first place we popped into on Main Street there in Sutter Creek was the new tasting room for Sierra Ridge Winery, who specialize in Italian varietals including, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Freisa & Barbera and in the more classic Bordeaux varieties produced are Merlot, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. All the wines from Sutter Ridge are estate grown. The tasting room is within one of the historic old buildings that line Main Street and is a combo gift shop and wine bar. The tastings are free and the conversation is free flowing... both are highly enjoyable.  We walked away with a Dolcetto , as well as two jars of Earth and Vine Jam  ..... both treats for the pallet. 

Our next stop is a regular one for us, CINQUE. "CINQUE-which means five in Italian, is a family owned and operated wine tasting room nested on the north end of Sutter Creek." Two wineries offer tastings out of this one quaint buidling/tasting room, Sera Fina Cellars, and Scotto Family Wines. Again, like Sierra Ridge, the wines are made in the Italian tradition with the Scotto family history dating back to the 1800's  in Italy..... you can read more about CINQUE and the history behind the Scotto family and both wineries... HERE.  We always have a wonderful time, great wine and great conversation when we visit, and it is a not to be missed destination when in Sutter Creek. As is our habit, of course we left with two bottles of wine ( this time the Rare Red, always a favorite and the Night Fall Petite Sirah ) and a smile upon our face and our hearts warmed. Tasting is free.

The very last stop on our mini wine tour was a new one to us Yorba Wines. "Yorba Wines are the result of tradition, experience and passion combining to produce outstanding wines, each one unique, but all with a strong connection to the land on which they’re grown.  Four distinct varietals – Barbera, Zinfandel, Syrah and Tempranillo – are joined with our vineyard blend, Shake Ridge, which is an expression of the ranch. " . Located in a small house just off the corner of Main and on Hanford Street in Sutter Creek, is a contemporary tasting room, where you may stand at the counter, or sit at the large communal table and get to know fellow wine enthusiasts, and Yorba wines also comes complete with a patio out back that one may also taste wine as well as artisan cheese platters, antipasto platter or the weekly Spice Box Special. and enjoy warm Spring days and on Hot Summer days you can sit on the stone patio. One with greeted with a smile and a glass, there is a 5.00 tasting fee per person, but one persons fee is refundable with purchase and I challenge you to not do so. Each glass of wine seduces and draws you into the wonderful world of Yorba Wines and as you go down the line of offerings it draws you in deeper and deeper and I for one, is hooked. We left with a Barbera, as always, I shall not give you tasting notes, as taste is individual, but you can visit the web site to learn more ( see link in first line of this paragraph). If you ever get a chance to visit Yorba, I just know that you will linger and leave with at least one, if not more bottles of wine. 

Full circle moment.... Stone, Daffodils and then Wine.... all pleasurable
gifts from the Earth. 

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