California

California Sojourn Part II: Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Okay, to continue where I left off in my last post . . .

After spending a few hours in L.A., exploring the Grove and the farmer’s market, we decided to drive down to Laguna Beach, where I would be spending the next three days on my own. It was only lunchtime and Michael’s flight didn’t leave until 8 p.m., so I thought it would be fun if he could see the bed and breakfast where I’d reserved a room and maybe grab something to eat at a restaurant with an ocean view.

The wine course for which I was in Laguna Beach was held at the Montage, an immaculate hotel with rates to match. After doing a little TripAdvisor research, I opted instead for more the more reasonably priced but no less charming Casa Laguna Inn. It isn’t right on the beach, but it’s just across the street, and it has all the little luxuries you’d find at a swankier hotel but it feels much more quaint and personal. More

California Sojourn Part I: Santa Barbara and a Brief Stop in L.A.

Santa Barbara

I recently decided to shift gears from “frequent drinker of wine whose tastes are just barely in the zip code of ‘discriminating'” to “serious oenophile with a thorough knowledge of the wine-producing world and the ability to both navigate the wine aisle and order a bottle for the table with confidence.” To that end, I’ve spent the past six months or so going to more wine tastings, trying wines outside of my comfort zone, and having my husband administer blind tastings on me. Basically, I love wine and everything about it—not just its admittedly anesthetic properties, but everything, from the history to the terroir to which glass will best reveal a Burgundy Grand Cru in all its glory.

In hopes of further formalizing my education, I started looking into various wine courses, exams, and certifications. There’s a community college in Dallas that offers a twelve-week sommelier course, and there are a few other programs in the area as well, ranging from single-day crash courses to months-long intensive training in all things vino. After much investigation and speaking with a few industry insiders, I realized that “all roads lead to Rome,” as they say, but for my purposes, all roads pointed toward the Court of Master Sommeliers.

I’ll save the nitty-gritty details of the CMS Introductory Course and Exam for my next post, but suffice to say, I was eager to take the Level 1 exam (the Court has four levels, the fourth being one of the world’s most notoriously difficult exams) and since it wasn’t being offered in the Dallas area anytime soon, I decided to look at the cities where it was being offered and pick one where I’d enjoy spending a few days. I spotted a December date in Laguna Beach and it was a done deal. I registered for the course and decided to build a weekend getaway for my husband and myself into the trip. More

Weekend in Napa

Napa

My husband’s and my first trip to Napa was a few years ago. We flew in and out of San Francisco and spent a week driving from Half Moon Bay, to Lake Tahoe, and then on to Napa. We’ve been to some incredible places on our adventures thus far—Copenhagen, Paris, Tuscany, Grindelwald—but that trip to California was my favorite we’ve ever taken. And ever since then I’ve been looking for any and every excuse to visit Napa. We went for a second time for my 30th birthday last year, and we decided to go back a third time this past March when we realized we had a couple Hyatt nights that were on the cusp of expiration. More