California

6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa

Happy Monday everybody and happy last full week of work before Thanksgiving! I’m still so surprised that it’s already that time of the year because up until last week we were still getting into the 80s here in Texas. Chris and I got a nice break from the warm weather this weekend when we went on our last weekend trip of the year to the Napa Valley to spend some time relaxing and wine tasting! I’m linking up with Biana to tell you all about what I learned from our second trip to Napa!

The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa

  1. The fall is the most beautiful time to visit Napa- Originally we had scheduled this trip for September but we had to reschedule because of work. At the time I was bummed, but looking back on this weekend, it couldn’t have turned out more perfectly! Napa during the fall is nothing short of pure perfection! The temperatures aren’t too hot and not too cold, there aren’t a ton of people around, and the entire area is a sea of reds, yellows, oranges, and greens! It felt like we were in New England instead of California and I loved it! I think that all of my future trips to Napa will be in the fall because it’s that beautiful!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  2. There are two different Stag’s Leap Wineries- After our first trip to Napa a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with California wine and loved trying out different wines from the area. One that we would try out quite often was Stag’s Leap since it’s one of the more well known wineries in the area. We didn’t have a chance to visit there last time we were there, but I did book us a tour this time around. While our guide was telling us about the winery and its history, he told us about another winery that had started to produce wine under the name Stag’s Leap as well. Both wineries sued each other and the result of the lawsuit was that the original winery became Stags’ Leap while the new winery was Stag’s Leap. I had noticed that the labeling was different on the bottles by I had no idea that they were actually 2 completely different wineries!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  3. I actually like Merlot- I don’t usually consider myself discriminatory when it comes to wine, although Chris might beg to differ sometimes, but I just don’t really have a thing for Merlot. I think that it’s because they’re not as full bodied as I normally like my red. Well, that all changed on this trip. We tried some fantastic Merlots and even bought a few bottles of it. I think that it goes to show that we might have to spend a little bit more money on the Merlot that we buy. I swear every time we go to Napa we come back liking a new type of wine. Last time it was whites and sparkling wines, this time it’s Merlot!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  4. Most wineries mix all of their barrels together- One of the things that I love about blogging is that it gives me the opportunity to get some really great suggestions from other people. I was talking to Carolann from Finding Ithaka about our upcoming trip and she recommended that we do the cave tour tasting at Del Dotto while we were there. That sounded like a fun tour, especially since there aren’t too many wine caves you can tour in Napa, so I signed us up. During the tour we got to sample several different Cabernets straight from the barrel. While they were all Cabernets, each of them was different based on where the grapes were from, what barrel they were being stored in, and the vintage. While we were sampling, our guide explained to us that Del Dotto is different than other wineries because they don’t mix everything that’s in their barrels together. Instead they have a wider variety of wines because they love the different tastes that come with slight changes in the wine production. So two Cabernets from Del Dotto that are the same blend and same year might taste completely different because one is aged in American oak barrels while the other is aged in French oak barrels.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  5. Our wine bag was the best investment we ever made- The more wineries that we visit, the more it seems that we come back with more bottles of wine. It’s hard to say no when you’re drinking an amazing glass of Cabernet! Anyways, when I was talking to Carolann about our trip, she recommended that I buy this bag. Basically it’s a portable wine carrier that’s safe for flying! Not only do we not have to worry about trying to pack a ton of wine in our suitcases, which could break, it’s easy to check and even has wheels so it’s easy to navigate with in the airport! If you’re planning a trip to wine country sometime soon and our thinking about buying some wine to take home, definitely consider purchasing this bag!
  6. Despite being high up in the air, you don’t get cold on a hot air balloon- One of the things that I knew that I wanted to do during this trip to Napa was a hot air balloon ride. So even though it was a little rough, we woke up bright and early Saturday morning and headed to Yountville for our ride. We got there before the sun came up, so it was a little chilly when we got there. I wore a jacket because I figured that it’d be even cooler once we were in the air. Well let me tell you, I was completely wrong! Apparently the air above the ground and where we were flying is actually warmer than on the ground, which meant that with my jacket I actually got a little bit warm towards the end of our flight! It definitely wasn’t what I expected!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa

Overall, we loved every second of our trip to Napa (I mean how could you not be in love surrounded by wine and beautiful scenery?) and it was a little sad going back into the office today. I guess that means that I need to try and figure out when we can make another trip out there!

Other Napa Posts:

2015 Trip:
Life Isn’t Always Diamonds & Rosé…
A California Castle
Napa Tips & Tricks

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All the things I learned during our trip to Napa- including the fact that there are multiple Stags Leap Wineries!

Wine Tasting In Escondido California

I know what you’re thinking, “Geez Ashley do you ever do anything in the cities you visit besides wine tasting?” and the answer is a huge NO! Just kidding, we do mange to do other sight seeing when we’re traveling, but when we hear that there’s a great wine region near a city that we’re visiting, we obviously want to try and go there if we can.

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The number one wine region in the United States that everybody knows about, even if you don’t drink wine, is Napa Valley which is located about an hour and a half north of San Francisco, but there are multiple wine regions located all over the country and even in California that have just as stellar of wine as Napa Valley.

If you know about California wine, one of the other more prominent wine regions in the state is Temecula which is about an hour outside of San Diego, but there are a lot of fabulous wineries in all of the surrounding areas. Our friends had been wine tasting to several of those wineries, so after we spent the morning exploring Cabrillo National Monument, we headed to one of their favorite wineries Cordiano Winery.

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

Just a short 30 minute drive from San Diego, Cordiano Winery is located in San Pasqual Valley in Escondido. The drive to the winery has quite a few twists and turns, so you definitely want to make sure that you designate a driver before heading to the winery. If you’re prone to car sickness, let me tell you that the drive is totally worth it for the amazing views that you’ll get during your tasting!

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

Cordiano Winery is a beautiful winery with stunning 360 degree views of the whole valley and a huge patio to help you enjoy the views. We sat down at a table right near the edge of the patio and enjoyed our views of the valley while we did our tasting and ate some delicious pizza and garlic bread too!

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

While you can buy wine by the glass or the bottle, we opted for the 7 tastings for $12/person. We tried a variety of wines and even their house made sangria, which was fantastic! We spent a few hours just enjoying ourselves, the views, and of course some amazing wine!

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

If you haven’t been wine tasting in the area surrounding San Diego, I can’t recommend it enough! The wine is fantastic, the views are spectacular and very different than Napa Valley, and you can’t beat the company if you’re with great friends.

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

The Wandering Weekenders- Wine Tasting In Escondido California

I’m linking up with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for some Wanderful Wednesday!

Have you ever visited a wine country in California that wasn’t Napa Valley? 

Other San Diego Posts:

2015 Trip:
6 Things I Learned While Visiting San Diego
Weekend Wanderings- San Diego {Part 1}
Weekend Wanderings- San Diego {Part 2}
Weekend Wanderings- San Diego {Part 3}

2016 Trip:
6 More Things I Learned While Visiting San Diego
A Morning At Pacific Beach
A Kayak Adventure In La Jolla
Visiting The Sea Lions At La Jolla Cove
Tips For Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

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Napa Valley isn't the only location for great wine tasting in California, wine tasting in Escondido, about an hour away from San Diego, is fantastic as too!

Tips For Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

I still look back at our time in San Diego and marvel at what all we managed to do in one day- a beach morning at Pacific Beach, kayaking in La Jolla, and then getting to take in all the sea lions at La Jolla Cove. I really wondered if we’d be able to outdo all of that for our second full day in San Diego, and if you can believe it, our friends managed to blow us out of the water with another day of fun in the sun which started off at Cabrillo National Monument!

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

Located on a western peninsula of San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument pays homage to the very first European to set foot on Western United States soil in 1545, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Besides the obvious history that is located on this little peninsula of San Diego, the main thing of interest to do at Cabrillo National Monument is to visit the tide pools, which just happens to be one of our friends favorite things to do when they visit Cabrillo National Monument.

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

Tide Pools

For those of you who don’t know, tide pools are little pools of water that get captured in the rocks during low tide that provide a place for a wide variety of fish, plants, and invertebrates to live. The tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument are actually one of the easily accessible and best protected in Southern California which makes Cabrillo National Monument a must do for your trip to San Diego.

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

We had timed it just right during our trip, and were there for low tide and before it got too crowded which meant that we got to explore the tide pools. It was amazing to see sea urchins in the tide pools, and also multiple types of fish and cute little crabs scurrying around the pools. It’s crazy to think that these tide pools maybe weren’t even there hundreds of years ago since they’re formed over time!

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

It seemed no matter where I turned during our time at the tide pools that I found something else that I wanted to take a picture. From the sheer cliffs dropping off into the water that I love so much, to the big boulders randomly spread all over the coast, to the little crabs scurrying around, to the caves that are formed from all of those years of the waves crashing against the rock, this part of Cabrillo National Monument was nothing short of breathtaking!

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument
Being a cave man!

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Once we had got our fill of the tide pools, which it was more like once it started to get more crowded, we made our way back to the car and drove over to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. One of the very real dangers when living on the coast even a hundred years ago was that ships wouldn’t know where land was and potentially could run aground without the help of lighthouses. The light keepers at Old Point Loma were responsible for making sure that the light was on and working appropriately to let those ships know that they were coming upon San Diego Bay.

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was only functional for about 40 years before the lightkeeper was moved to a different lighthouse closer to the water. Although it wasn’t in service for that long, the lighthouse is still located at Cabrillo National Monument and is pretty cool to go and look through. It gives you the opportunity to see how the lightkeeper and his family would have lived and to see what a fully functional lighthouse looks like. Although I ended up reading The Light Between Oceans after our trip to San Diego, this is what I imagine life must have been like for Tom and Isabel, except maybe a little more isolated for them!

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

And of course, there wouldn’t be a Cabrillo National Monument with Cabrillo himself! Like I stated earlier, Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the Western coast of the United States, and he actually led his crew north from Mexico and landed in what is now known as the San Diego Bay 3 months after they set sail. The crew sailed as far North as Point Reyes (just north of San Francisco), but due to weather they had to sail back south. Funny enough, they completely missed the San Francisco Bay itself! Maybe Karl was in full force that day!

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

The Wandering Weekenders- Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

Although Cabrillo died before he was able to make it back to Mexico with his crew (he died from injuries from a fall during a skirmish with natives) and his journey was considered a failure from his contemporaries, his journey gives us the first written account of the coast of the Western United States and helped his future successors to further colonize this part of the United States for the Spanish Empire.

You can check out his statue and more history today at Cabrillo National Monument!

Tips For Visiting Cabrillo National Monument

So in case you couldn’t tell, we loved our time at Cabrillo National Monument! Not only was it absolutely gorgeous, but we also got to learn a little bit more about the history of California. If you’re interested in going here are a few little tips and tricks before you go!

  • Entrance Fee- Cabrillo National Monument charges by the car load to get into the park instead of by person. All four of us were able to get in for $10, but you can also order a park permit for $20 which will get you in for the rest of the year.
  • Arrive early- We got there around 9:30 in the morning and almost had this area to ourselves. But it was starting to get a lot busier once we were getting ready to head out around lunchtime.
  • Check the tide before you go- For me, one of the coolest things about Cabrillo National Monument was getting to see all of the tidepools and the animals that live in them. If you want to see the tidepools, double check when low tide occurs the day before your trip. If you visit during high tide you won’t be able to check them out!
  • Wear close-toed shoes- If you plan on seeing the tide pools, make sure to wear close-toed shoes. It’s slick walking down into the tide pools and kind of steep, so the last thing you should be wearing are flip flops which don’t have good traction or support!
  • Enjoy your time- The views and the landscape at Cabrillo National Monument are absolutely stunning, so enjoy your time there! It’s a definite must do during your time in San Diego!

I’m linking up with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for some Wanderful Wednesday!

Have you ever explored tidepools? Have you ever visited Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego?

Other San Diego Posts:

2015 Trip:
6 Things I Learned While Visiting San Diego
Weekend Wanderings- San Diego {Part 1}
Weekend Wanderings- San Diego {Part 2}
Weekend Wanderings- San Diego {Part 3}

2016 Trip:
6 More Things I Learned While Visiting San Diego
A Morning At Pacific Beach
A Kayak Adventure In La Jolla
Visiting The Sea Lions At La Jolla Cove
Wine Tasting In Escondido California

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When visiting San Diego, a stop at Cabrillo National Monument is a must. Here are some tips for your visit to Cabrillo National Monument!

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