There is nothing better than drinking a glass of my favorite wine while snacking on yummy food during a picnic in beautiful weather. Luckily that is exactly how I spent my Monday. Although I’m a lover of all wines, I have a special place in my heart for Chateau St. Jean winery. I first got hooked on their delicious yet affordable  Chardonnay that you can pick up at any grocery store and in a lot of restaurants. You can safely assume that anytime that I see it on the menu I’ll be asking for at least 2 glasses during the timeframe of the meal.

About a year ago I went wine tasting at winery with my mom and boyfriend and made the best slightly tipsy decision of my life: join the wine club. Usually I do not like joining wine clubs as you sometimes get roped into buying wine that you may not life, but this was a no brainer. I have yet to try a wine from this place that I did not love instantly- red, white, even dessert. And the best part of being a wine club member? Free tastings of the classic wines and a huge discount on a tasting of the reserves (aka the good stuff). Needless to say, I capitalized on this perk during our trip to the winery Monday.

White: Being that I love their cheap Chardonnay, I go crazy for their Reserve Chardonnay. If you love smooth buttery Chardonnays as opposed to those that are more crisp, this is fantastic.

Red: I love their 8555 blend. Each year the wine maker takes the best of their reds and create a unique blend. This year available 8555 is 47% Merlot, 19% Petit Verdot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Syrah, 10% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. Yeah, I don’t really know what that all means either, but it is delicious.

After wine tasting Matt and I enjoyed  a nice picnic (I took my picnic basket on the trip just in case the opportunity presented itself) with salads from my favorite restaurant in town, bottle of cheap chardonnay and the finest plastic wine glasses you can ask for when you forget your own.

Here are a few more pictures of this beautiful winery. If you make a trip to wine country, make sure to stop by to have a picnic of your own!

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Happy Monday, everyone! As my mini vacation begins to wrap up, I plan on spending the day wine tasting (make sure to check in Wednesday)! I hope that you remember to find things that make you smile this Monday.

Smile #1: Forest Time. Living in Southern California is wonderful, but I basically live in the desert. Don’t get me wrong  – I LOVE the desert, but I miss the redwood forests of Northern California. Luckily, a friend and her husband were celebrating their 30th birthdays in the middle of the forest with beautiful redwoods. Couldn’t be happier.

Smile #2: Bon Iver Erotic Stories: I love Bon Iver, love him. In fact I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him twice in the last 3 months. And he blew my mind both times. This website expresses everything I was feeling while watching him perform (don’t tell Matthew). Here is an example of a Bon Iver-style erotic story:

“I am in the greenhouse pollinating tomato flowers with a paintbrush when I hear him return. He crushes me in his arms that smell of hotel soap. We make love right there beside the machinery shed, interrupted once by an incurious turkey passing by. Later he pushes me in the tire swing as the sun slips behind the western hills and shares stories from his tour.

His suitcase is still in the truck, forgotten along with the yearning of being apart.” Please find more beautiful / hilarious stories here.

Smile #3: Oakland A’s Come From behind Win over the San Francisco Giants. Picture this: bottom of the 9th, full count, 2 outs and the A’s are down 2-1. And then BOOM – 3 run homer. You can see said catcher running towards home plate surrounded by his teammates. Wonderful day to be an A’s fan.

Smile # 4: Matthew Wearing This Hat. I can’t. I just can’t.

Smile #5. Bike Ride to Date Night. Matthew and I live so close to our favorite sushi restaurant, it is a shame that we usually just drive there like lazy-folk. Okay, I have a (SUPER cute) beach cruiser that has zero gears and we live at the bottom of a small hill, so biking anywhere is quite the challenge, but still – I should be biking more.

What is making YOU smile this Monday?

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This summer is truly the summer of travel. I’ve updated about my trips to Seattle and Vancouver, but I have a couple more trips planned for this summer. I’m seriously considering leaving my suitcase packed and ready by the front door at all times just in case I need to get to take off to someplace wonderful.

Sonoma, CA (x2): In totally I’m making 3 trips up to Sonoma (my hometown) this summer, one of which was last weekend. This week I’m heading up there for a friend’s birthday (and sneaking in a visit to the Oakland Coliseum to see my A’s hopefully beat the SF Giants). Then I’m back up there in August for a friend’s wedding. For those of you that haven’t made the trip to California’s true wine country, please do it! It is absolutely beautiful. The picture at the top of my blog is one that I took during a visit last fall. Good cheese, fantastic wine and breathtaking views. What more could you ask for?

Rouge River, OR: Matt’s uncle is celebrating his birthday in style by taking the family rafting on the Rogue River in Oregon. The last time I went rafting I was in high school, it only took a few hours, and I pretty much just sat there. I have a feeling this trip will be a little different. This trip is not a few hours long, but a few DAYS long. 3 days. 3 days of rafting excitement. It will be so nice to take a break from work and enjoy being outside in nature without even the option of checking my email.

Haines, AK: Finally, I’ll be spending 8 days in beautiful Alaska to visit my roommate and her family. Actually, about 7 of us grad students are making the trip up there. I plan on watching the boys attempt to take on some of the state fair contests (logging, fiddling, etc) while I watch from the beer tent, trying the local brews. We’re also planning on going for a few hikes, going out on a fishing boat and set crab pots. Yes, crab pots, something this California girl knows nothing about.

Do you have any travel plans this summer? If so, share! If not, where would you like to go if you had the chance?

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