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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Judd's Hill Winery: Your Chance To Be A Winemaker For The Day

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(800 and counting) and to visit all 600 wineries (350 and counting),my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Judd's Hill winery in Napa to be a "winemaker for the day."  Our foodie and wine friends Ron and Josiane Hable joined the fun.

Judd's Hill winery is a small winery owned by Art and Bunnie Finkeistein original owners of Whitehall Lane. That winery was sold in favor of a smaller and more manageable one. Judd's Hill produces 3000 cases and their son Judd and wife Holly are highly involved in managing the operation.

 In 1992, they pioneered "microcrush" giving grape growers an all inclusive opportunity to make their own small lots of high quality wine.

 In addition, you can be a "Winemaker for the Day" and schedule a blending experience.

Our experience was conducted by our knowledgeable host CJ who has forgotten more than most will ever know about wine. We began with an explanation of how to drink wine with the important swirl, smell and tasting process of the 4 wines we would blend, bottle and name. When completed, we each took one bottle of our carefully crafted creation home with us.

We experimented with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. After careful analysis and tasting various percentages of the wine, we agreed on a blend of 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Merlot, 5 percent Cabernet Franc and 5 per cent Petite Verdot.  We named our wine "Le Reve"  which is French for The Dream.  We then bottled the wine, corked it and finished it with a black foil using their high tech equipment.

The final touch was placing the Le Reve label on the bottle proving "Dreams do come true."

The entire process takes around 2.5 hours and it is a unique and fun experience that is highly recommended for people who love wine. In addition, CJ also has a session on pairing wine and food that we plan on scheduling at a future date.

 For more information and to make an appointment

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Resort At Pelican Hill: "Refined, Relaxed 5 Star Luxury On The Deep Blue Sea"

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (800 and counting) and to visit all 600 Napa wineries (350 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently traveled to the 5 star luxury resort at Pelican Hill in Southern California.

From our home in Danville, it is a easy 1 hour flight to Orange County Airport and 15 minute drive to a 504 acre slice of heaven on the deep blue pacific that offers "something for everyone."

From the moment you drive into this Italian Renaissance inspired 504-acre luxury Resort with 750 mature olive trees, all your cares and concerns quickly disappear as you are greeted by a happy staff of people with a " What can I do for you " attitude dedicated to making your stay a memorable experience. The architecture was inspired by the renowned Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Many of the resort furnishings are antiques imported from Spain, Italy and France. A self guided tour book is provided to guests describing Palladio's influence throughout the property as well as excellent descriptions of the art and tapestries located in the Lobby, Hallway and Great Room Social Lounge.   Our favorites were the Flemish Tapestries that were from Brussels located on the walls beside the fireplace in the Great Room Social Lounge.  These tapestries date back to the 17th century and depict flower filled vases lined by cupids on each side. The colors are vivid and provide the beautiful room with a tranquil effect as guests gather and linger at the heart of the Resort.
We checked into our elegantly appointed Bungalow guest room complete with fireplace, balcony and ocean views ranging from 847 square feet to 2100 square feet.   If you require more room for a family affair or other event, the resort offers villas that are much larger and up to 3500 square feet of luxury. These accommodations may be reserved by the evening, weekly or monthly.

The 23,000 square foot Spa has been Awarded the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating consistently each year since opening.  It offers a wide array of services to soothe your senses from the rigors of modern life and where every moment is one of extraordinary pampering and rejuvenation.

After a spa treatment, relaxing by the  unique "Coliseum Style" pool forming a 136-foot diameter circle with over 1 million hand cut mosaic tiles and stunning ocean views is a great way to wind down before dining at one of the Resorts 3 restaurants or 2 cafes.

For the more adventurous, guests can enjoy the Crystal Cove Experience. You can explore 3.5 miles of ocean front strolling the beach, swimming, jogging or cycling along the trails at Crystal Cove State Park on one of the last oceanfront preserves left in Southern California
Executive Chef Jean Pierre Dubray brings his French Culinary training and passion for perfection to the resort's  restaurants. There is a dining experience for every mood a guest may have.   Our experience included Andrea Ristorante, the Pelican Grill at the Golf Club and the Coliseum Pool & Grill.

Andrea Ristorante offers Northern  Italian cuisine with an extensive wine list and fresh pasta homemade daily in a temperature controlled pasta room. Pasta Chef Julia also offers weekly classes in traditional pasta making. We especially enjoyed the risotto prepared in a unique manner. A large 90 pound wheel of parmesan cheese that is imported from Italy is wheeled to your tableside. The chef shaves the inside of the cheese wheel and then puts the hot Italian Risotto into the middle. The melted cheese and risotto then are expertly mixed together resulting in a burst of incredible flavor for the diners.  We loved this experience and highly recommend it.

The Pelican Grill also offers an extensive wine menu and outstanding coastal California cuisine prepared in an open kitchen. Views from the ocean view terrace make for a "very special " culinary experience. There is also a popular lounge with two huge 9’ x 6’ HD TVs for viewing sports events after your golf game or for a more casual get together.

There are also 2 World Class Golf Courses designed by legendary architect Tom Fazio that offer panoramic views from each of the 36 holes. A modern and high tech Golf Academy led by Glenn Deck and a team of knowledgeable PGA professionals is also available to help improve your game.

We played the Ocean North that was a par 70 and offers tees for all levels of golfers. Linda found the ladies tees to be very friendly and fair. The ocean views on every hole made you not care about hitting a bad shot or missing a putt.

The sad part about enjoying this great Tuscan like refuge is...... having to leave. The service staff prides themselves in making you want to extend your stay or to come back soon. We definitely plan on returning soon and highly recommend that you put The Resort At Pelican Hill on your bucket list to experience this pinnacle of excellence. 
For more information and to make reservations go to: pelicanhill.com.