The California Haul

Bless my Long-Suffering Hubby’s heart! He decided that he would take another chance and let me go to Napa again.

Remember last time I got food poisoning. Here is the link to the 2 part post: part #1 ( and part #2 (

But this trip was going to be extra special. Not only were we going to see my favorite Mom-in-Law;-) but we were going to see one of our favorite musicians, Joe Bonamassa ( Meet some new friends and visit old friends.

I won’t go into detail about each winery I visited. I will save that for future posts. This is sort of an overview of our trip and a “Thank You” to everyone that made it fantastic.

We did a lot of driving on this trip. We landed in Los Angeles, spent the night in Solvang, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and were going to visit a couple Sonoma wineries but the traffic was so bad between San Francisco and Sonoma that all we had time for was a photo of the moon.

The next day we got massages at our hotel, The Golden Haven Spa and then off to Oakland for the Joe concert and to meet up with some of our “BonamassaBuds”. On our way out of Napa we stopped at Corison Winery, which is one of my favorites, and I was hoping to meet Cathy Corison the winemaker, and “sho’nuff” it was my lucky day! She is such a lovely person to talk to and everyone there is fantastic.

We got to Oakland in time for a “meet & greet” with Joe (Thanks Rick for arranging it) and I know y’all will think Sully and I are crazy, but we had a “m & g” the weekend before with Joe in Austin, TX, where we gave him some wine from Texas. So we were tickled that we were going to be able to ask him if he was able to try it… And “sho’nuff” Joe said he liked what little he got to taste because as soon as he opened it, everyone grabbed the bottle and started pouring into Solo Cups. I just shook my head and asked if everyone enjoyed it and Joe said “Oh yes! but  I’m sorry about the cups” I told him that I appreciated his honesty and that I was trying to get him out of his California Cabernet box and to try Tempranillo from Texas. Joe really is a good guy and I HIGHLY recommend going to see him. After the concert, he apologized again about the treatment of the wine. Thanks, Joe…I’m still a fan.

Back to Napa we went. This time we were meeting Rick and Helen for the day. We were going to Corison (yes, I went twice, Rick & Helen had never been) and Rick had arranged for a tour of Spring Mountain and I was so excited to be able to taste their wines, roam around the grounds and actually go in the caves. It was quite a treat! We even did a vertical tasting of their Cabernet.

We only went to two wineries while in Napa, but to me it was all about quality not quantity. Hanging with my Hubby, Rick and Helen was definitely quality time; food, laughter, wine, beer and music.

The next part of the trip was to meet up with our friends Chris & Amy, who temporarily moved to Paso Robles to do some wine business “stuff”. So on our way south we stopped at a winery I had never been to called Calera. Getting to Calera took some doing, but Oh My! it was sooooo worth the trip.

We finally got to Chris & Amy’s house and were greeted with persimmon glazed lamb roast with winter root veggies. We opened up the half bottles (yea! for half bottles!) I brought from Corison, Spring Mountain, and Calera.

We went to several wineries and a brewery for Sully. My faves were Robert Hall and Shale Oak. At Robert Hall we got to meet Mr. Hall and Don Brady, the winemaker. We also got to tour the winery and taste from the barrels. Shale Oak has a Mid-Century Modern looking tasting room and the wines are  delightful.

It was time to say “Goodbye” to Chris & Amy and keep going south to Los Olivos. On the way, we stopped at Laetitia. This was my 3rd visit and I swear they keep adding more wine to the list. I just stick to the Pinots. We arrived at Los Olivos, I always love to stop at Stolpman. They are known for Syrah but I really like their Grenache too.

We made it to my Mom-in-Law’s home in the Ventura area and this is where the next couple of days were kind of confusing as to if we were really going to a winery or a tasting room. I’m glad that Norine supports me in my quest for wine, but Sully kept trying to tell her that believe it or not “Lori can’t drink all day!” it was so funny and I got to see parts of California that only locals discover. By the way, I had no idea Malibu has 2 AVAs (American Viticulture Areas). I also discovered a nice winery called Old Creek Ranch Winery in the Ojai Valley and met the winemaker, Michael Meagher.

Our trip to California ended with a lighted Christmas parade of boats in the Ventura Harbor. Something I never witnessed in person because I grew up in West Texas and the only boats I know of have the word “row” or “bass” in front of them.

This really was an amazing trip because of the following people: My hubby Sully (for putting up with the wine, madness & always being Designated Driver); The Bona/WinePeeps, Rick & Helen (y’all are so generous & fun); The Wrangler of The BonaPeeps, J Dawg & the Lovely Karen (careful, we want to hang with y’all again). The rest of The BonaPosse: Marlies, Mindy, Rich, Rocket, Shreddy, Chef Ron. My fellow Wine Geeks: Chris & Amy (without y’all I would not have a vineyard experience in magical Alpine and Corison, or as much fun) and My Mom-in-Law for fueling my obsession with wine, being able to read a map correctly even when the map is wrong, and freezing at the harbor so your daughter-in-law can watch boats go around in a circle.