Archive for Napa/Sonoma


Posted in Info on Wine, Napa/Sonoma Trip October 2010, Napa/Sonoma Winery Visits Oct 2010 with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2010 by ballymote

Returned yesterday from a wonderful eight days and seven nights in Napa & Sonoma. My wife, Kathy, and I, our good friends, Joe B. and his wife, Carol and Gerry and JoAnn B. spent a glorious week in Wine Country with a taste of San Francisco thrown in as a diversion.

Quite honestly, we did not get to nearly as many winery visits as I had anticipated but the ones we did were absolutely fantastic. We had great weather, drank great wines and enjoyed some fabulous food each evening of our trip. There is so much to write about that it’s difficult knowing where to start. I think I will separate the wine from the food and do individual reports on each of our wine exploits because each one was truly memorable.

Prior to the trip there were three individuals from Napa that I wanted very much to spend some time with. I knew them from not only their wines but their interaction on the various wine boards. Each one seemed unique yet outgoing in their passion for their wines. I wrote to each and as I had anticipated, all three were gracious and offered a personal visit to their property. I will begin tomorrow with the first of our appointments and that would be a warm and wonderful two and half hours with Merrill Lindquist at EMH/Black Cat Wines in Calistoga.  Next will be a report on our visit and tour with Jean Hoefliger at Alpha-Omega in Rutherford and the third will be a very informative and personal experience with the amazing Lou Kapcsandy at his State Lane Vineyard. Each one remarkable in its own way and a marvelous learning experience for each of us. See you all tomorrow!


Posted in Pre-Trip Update #2 with tags , , , , on May 25, 2010 by ballymote

We are six weeks closer to our trip than when I last wrote about it. All the reservations have been made, restaurants researched, wineries considered and, as for myself, I am totally Trip-Advisored out! Despite all that, each day brings a new search for some detail I may have overlooked. Just when I am certain there are no other search words related to Napa, Sonoma, Food or Wine, I think of a new one and a few hours more are spent in Googleland. If it sounds like I am complaining, I am not. This is part of the fun of travel; the pre-trip details, and I thoroughly enjoy it. My wife, Kathy, and fellow travelers, Carol and Joe, Gerry and Joann have graciously allowed me to do the planning on this venture and it’s important to me that my obsession with wine not interfere with everyone enjoying this trip.

There is certainly more to Napa Valley/ Sonoma and the entire San Francisco Bay area than just wine and we certainly plan on seeing as much as we can. One of the really difficult things for me has been choosing amongst the hundreds of wineries to create a trip that will be both fun and informative. It’s very difficult to properly visit more than four wineries in a day and with four months to go I have already chosen 12 in Sonoma and 12 in Napa. Undoubtedly, some of these will change as many require appointments and as we will be visiting during the busy “crush” season, some will not be able to take visitors.

In the next update I will list the 24 wineries that I have chosen and give some reasons why each is on the list. We may also  name some of the restaurants we would like to visit. Stay tuned!


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 2, 2010 by ballymote

It’s not easy to predict ahead of time what I will be posting in the coming month as many restaurant visits happen with a certain spontaneity. This month though, there are a couple of things I do know for certain.

First, sometime during the month of May we will have our 10,000th visitor to the South Jersey Wine & Dine Blog. For that upcoming milestone I have all of you to thank. There is little point in writing if no one is reading, so I appreciate that you make the task worthwhile. I have mentioned on a few occasions that “comments” on articles posted are always welcome. In an effort to both encourage those comments and celebrate our 10,000th visitor, anyone who posts a comment on the day we actually hit 10,000 will be in a drawing for a bottle of wine. It might not be much of a drawing since we average less than one comment per day so your chances are pretty good. It also will not be a GREAT bottle of wine, so don’t get too excited. It will be something I would drink myself. Let me say that comments that fall into the “SPAM” category will NOT be counted. WordPress has thus far blocked 2,800 SPAM comments. They look something like this “Hey dude, great stuff here.” and they will be signed, in an effort to have folks click on their commercial site. Don’t click on that, it leads nowhere.

Also, during May I will post again on our upcoming trip to Napa/Sonoma in October. I will tell you what resources I use to prepare and how they can help you, not just with a Napa visit, but with virtually any vacation you might be planning.

May is a very busy month in our family so it’s difficult to say how many restaurants will be reviewed. I do know that we will be at Trattoria Milano (Gerry B.’s choice and located in God’s Country-Talford, PA) and a Northern Liberties spot that I am anxious to try called Sonata.

May brings great weather and it’s a wonderful time to experience the joys of wine at one of our many excellent BYOB’s, Don’t forget to stop here to read about many of them in making your choices. You can SUBSCRIBE to South Jersey Wine & Dine by simply scrolling down the right hand column to the area where it says “SUBSCRIBE”. You will then be notified by e-mail when new postings appear. Once again, I thank you for your support.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !! a look back, and ahead

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 30, 2009 by ballymote

One of the really nice features of WordPress is that it allows you, as a blogger, to keep track of how many people visit your site, where they come from and what they are reading. It keeps tabs on total visits per day, week and month. It has been very satisfying to me to watch as readership has steadily increased since the first post on the SOUTH JERSEY WINE BLOG  back in early July of this year. As we close out 2009 over 1000 people are reading this blog each month. It is very satisfying to know that so many people find this site worth reading. The article read most this year was my post on September 11th on the victims of 9/11 who lost their lives in the restaurant at the top of the Trade Centers, Windows on the World.

I hope some of my reviews have been helpful to you and have perhaps introduced you to a new favorite BYOB. There is much to be happy about as this year comes to a close.

There is also much to look forward to as well. In 2010 we might see a name change for the blog as I am seriously thinking of renaming it SOUTH JERSEY FOOD AND WINE BLOG to more accurately reflect what is posted here. We will have more great reviews of area restaurants. In fact, coming up very shortly will be a couple of nice places we visit during our Avalon Winter Weekend. Also, there is a trip to Napa/Sonoma scheduled for later in the year and I hope to chronicle my planned visits to some great wineries as the year proceeds.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone, friends, family and strangers who stop by regularly, please remember to leave a comment if something in a post inspires you, to sign up for e-mail notifications by inserting your e-mail address at the bottom of the column on the right. You will then receive notification when new entries are made here.

Wishing all of you a very happy and healthy 2010! Remember, RED WINE PROMOTES GOOD HEALTH !