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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Beautiful Belize: Just Bring Your Passport And Promise To Relax

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(800 and counting) and visit all 600 Napa wineries( 350 and counting) my wife Linda and our son MJ, Halloffamer and National Special Olympics Champion Golfer, recently traveled to beautiful Belize and the Kanantik Resort.
Resort owner Luke Chadwick is building a world class golf course at his 5800 acre resort. His advice before we left was to "just bring your passport and promise to relax at his slice of Paradise on the Caribbean Sea." Kanantik means "to take care of" and Iris, Louise, Peter and the entire staff took very good care of us. 
From our home in Danville, it was a easy trip on Southwest Airlines from Oakland to Houston to Belize. 
From Belize it is a 30 minute puddle jumper flight or 2.5 hour ride to the Kanantik Resort. We chose to have a driver pick us up and take us to the resort.

Kanantik is a Condé Nast Award winning resort on the Southern Coast of Belize. It will be a gated community offering world class golf and 2800 residential home sites dispersed throughout 4 neighborhoods, the Caribbean Estates, Savannah and Golf Estates, and Foothill Estates. 300 oceanfront villas are also planned.
You can also take a short boat ride to a 7 acre island which is owned by the development where you can enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving in the 75 degree water enjoying the multi colored variety of happy exotic fish on the Belize Barrier Reef. You can also take nearby tours of the Mayan ruins and hike at a picturesque waterfall. For the more adventurous spirits, zip lining is available and a host of many other outdoor pursuits. 
We stayed in one of the 25 oceanfront cabanas. They are surrounded by acres of untouched land and 1300 feet of an exclusive beach on the warm Caribbean Sea. They offer modern amenities found at the world's best resorts. The cabanas are also located close to the sea water pool, bar and restaurant serving exotic drinks and world class food. 
We especially enjoyed the "fresh fish" that are caught and served each day. The specialty drinks are also unique and a joy to savor as you enjoy the warm waves massaging your feet on the large palm strewed beach. One day we even enjoyed a fresh coconut picked from one of the many palm trees that was like eating nectar from the heavens. 
The golf course is currently under the able leadership of international golf course designer Casey O'Callaghan. Casey is a 1989 graduate of University California Berkeley school of environmental design. The luxurious club house will feature an organic restaurant, work out and Mayacology Spa offering massages and a variety of services for golfers and non golfers. There will also be a world class driving range and putting green next to the club house. 
PGA pro Brendan Steele is the course ambassador and also from California. He turned professional in 2005 and won his first PGA tour event in 2011 at the Texas Valero Open. In October 2016, he won the Safeway Open held in Napa California at Johnny Miller's Silverado Country Club. His impressive score of 18 under par tied the tournament low score record. 
The golf course promises to be challenging for all skill levels offering 4 sets of tees ranging from 5200 yards to 6900 yards. There are also some split fairways and natural beauty to be enjoyed by the casual resort golfer as well as students of the game who appreciate the challenges of having to strategize how to score well on each hole. 

 Kanantik Belize is a great place to escape from the rigors and stress of modern life or to own a second home.  Like owner Luke Chadwick told us before we arrived,  "all you have to do is just bring your passport and prepare to relax." It is peaceful, perfect paradise that you should put on your bucket list. Their motto is "enter as guests and leave as friends." We made some great friends here and look forward to returning soon and playing the new world class golf course. 
 For more information and to make reservations go to: http://kanantikbelize.com/

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Von Strasser Winery: Diamond Mountain Perfection

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants( 800 and counting), and to visit all 600 Napa Wineries( 350 and counting) our travels recently took us to Von Strasser Winery in Calistoga on Diamond Mountain.

Diamond Mountain is Napa Valley's northernmost appellation and is located immediately southwest of Calistoga. Vineyards are above the fog line at elevations of 400 to 2200 feet and experience warmer nights and cooler days than the valley floor. Whereas young northern "valley floor" wines tend to be rich and supple with low to medium acidity and soft tannins, young Diamond Mountain wines tend to be tannic with good acidity, making them particularly well-suited for aging.

Our host was John DeGregory.  His eloquent explanation of Rudy and Rita Von Strasser's story was very interesting. Rudy was the first American intern for Eric de Rothschild at the famous Chateau Lafite-Rothschild winery in France. John explained that the French experience inspired Rudy to "want to be the Eric Rothschild of Napa Valley."  He also said that our tasting today could be described as a "euphoric flatline of wine excellence."

Rudy von Strasser’s entrance into winemaking is interesting. He had just graduated with an agricultural degree from the University of New Hampshire (1980), with a goal of sparking a modern hard-cider industry in New England, after completing his senior thesis on hard-cider production. Rudy thought that he could learn the necessary skills by working for a year in the California wine industry. After a year spent at Robert Mondavi Winery, the wine bug had been firmly planted and Rudy took the obvious next step: he enrolled at the famed Enology program at U.C. Davis, and graduated in 1985 as a trained winemaker

The wine label is also very unique. It is in the shape of a Diamond and a topographic picture of the winery hillside.

We began our "euphoric" tasting with 2012 DMD(Diamond Mountain District) Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Malbec, 1% Merlot and 6% Petite Verdot. It is a blend of all the vineyards on Diamond Mountain and described as a "family expression of the hill." It is a great value at 50 dollars per bottle.

Next we tasted 2012 Agira Cabernet Sauvignon that was 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Verdot and was my favorite.The aromas of this wine are intense with scents of vanilla and cherry.  On the palate there are hints of raspberry.   Agira means little blue bird and is also a little town in Italy This sexy and elegant wine retails for 80 dollars and has been rated 94 by Wine Enthusiast.

2012 Post Cabernet Sauvignon was our next taste and is rated 92 by Wine and Spirits. This wine was a real pleasure with aromas of musk, silky carmel and dark black cherry. Bold deep flavors of clove and smoke made this one of our favorites.   It has a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and 5% Merlot. It has a smooth finish and great value at 80 dollars per bottle.

The 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon 10% Malbec and 10% Petite Verdot. It is a full bodied red wine and received 90 points by Wine Enthusiast. It also retails for 80 dollars.

We completed our tasting with the 2012 Sori Bricco Red Wine that is a unique blend of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec, 31% Petite Verdot and 9% Merlot. This was an interesting well balanced blend that reflects Rudy's  genius wine making skills. It also retails for 80 dollars.

The serene setting of this winery is very peaceful and adds to the enjoyment of the great wine that is produced. The detail orientation of the winemaker that have learned from the best and made the most of his chances with Von Strasser's scores and awards, attest to the fact that they really knows the fine art of winemaking. 
 After a soulful reconnection of the Agira and Post Cabernet Sauvignon, we decided to take a bottle of each back to Danville with us.

 For more information and to schedule a tasting go to;