Monday, April 13, 2015

Temecula- Valentine's Day

Hello blog family,

I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of spring. The weather here has been amazing, although it is pretty much amazing year round. I know it is a little late, but I've finally been able to write my blog on my Valentine's Day trip this year. 

We live in the heart of wine county here in Southern California, so we decided to make a trip down to Temecula to celebrate our V-Day. Temecula is less than a 2 hour drive south from our house and very close to San Diego. There are over 40 wineries in the area to choose from, so of course I did my research ahead of time to decide which ones to check out. I was ambitious and ended up choosing 4 wineries to visit: Callaway Winery, South Coast Winery, Wilsons Creek Winery, and Ponte Winery. 

Our first stop was to Callaway Vineyard & Winery. I figured Temecula would be either really packed or completely dead on Valentine's Day. Of course it ended up being super packed throughout the day. When we first got to Callaway it wasn't too crowded yet, so this ended up being our favorite winery that we visited. We bought the wine tasting which allowed us to try 6 different wines for $15 each. I drink mostly whites and my boyfriend drinks mostly reds. We were both really impressed with all the wines we tasted. After our tasting we signed up for a winery tour which takes you behind the scenes, and shows you how they make their wines. It was $5 per person and lasted around 30 minutes. 
Callaway entrance
Wine bar, need this!
Views from behind the bar
Tastings
With boo
View of the vines
Where they crush the grapes
On the tour
The barrel room
A huge room filled with wine
On to lunch
After our tour, we then headed to the on-site restaurant Meritage for lunch. The view from the restaurant overlooking the entire vineyard was beautiful. We ordered the ceviche for an appetizer along with some mimosas. I ordered the eggplant sandwich which was good but really difficult to eat since the bread was hard. My boyfriend got the steamed clams and also the pork belly tacos. He really enjoyed the tapas he ordered. Our entire meal was about $100 with tip. After lunch we realized that we were really exhausted. Wine makes me sleepy. We were planning on doing a tasting at all 4 wineries, but when I realized how tired we were, I knew we wouldn't make it through the entire day.
Entrance to restaurant 
Menu and drinks
Ceviche
Boo's food
My eggplant sandwich 
We continued on with our plan by going to South Coast Winery next. By the time we arrived around 1:00PM it was packed with a line out the door to buy the tastings. Out of all the wineries we visited, it was most busy here. Instead of buying the tasting again, we went to the restaurant bar and each bought one glass of wine. After we got our wine, we walked around the winery grounds exploring. Although it was February and the grapes had not yet bloomed, it was nice to walk around in the field of vines while drinking our wine. The grounds here were very beautiful overall, but with the large crowd, we drank our glass of wine and left. 
Fountain at South Coast Winery
More vines
Enjoying our wine
Taking a stroll
Next we made a quick stop at Wilsons Creek Winery. We were so tired that we didn't even drink any wine here. We just walked around the vineyard grounds. The most noticeable part of the winery is the large wine bottle that you can take a photo with. I realized that we didn't have to drink any wine to be able to enjoy each winery. We only spent about 20 minutes here, and then went to our last winery for the day. 
That's a large bottle
Even more vines
Our last stop was Ponte Winery. We had dinner reservations here at 6:00PM, but by the time we arrived and walked around, we knew that we wouldn't make it all the way through our romantic dinner. Instead of our fancy Valentine's Day dinner, we left Temecula early and stopped at In-N-Out burger for a quick bite to eat. We were home and asleep on the couch by 7:00PM. Perfect Valentine's Day!
I love you
Happy Valentine's Day
Best dinner ever! I love the grilled cheese. 
Even though Temecula was super busy because of the holiday, we still had a great time. Callaway was our favorite winery that we stopped at, and we both enjoyed their wine the most. We are planning on going back again soon to experience Temecula while the grapes are blooming for a different experience. 

I have more trips to update on, so check back soon. 

XoXo,
Valerie 

Monday, April 6, 2015

OC Beaches

Hello blog family,

My boyfriend and I have been going on some great weekend trips that I will blog about sometime in the near future. I wanted to do a quick blog about some of the local beaches we've been going to so that I can focus on writing my blogs about our awesome trips.

Newport Beach Pier:
With so many great local beaches, it is hard to pick a favorite. I think Laguna Beach will always have a special place in my heart (mostly because of the MTV show), but Newport Beach is a close second. One of my favorite places to go at Newport Beach is the pier. It is fun to walk along the boardwalk, watch people fish and surf, and even spot some seals swimming along the pier. Parking during the summer months can be close to impossible to find, so I recommend going early spring to avoid the crowds. Get your fresh squeezed lemonade from one of the local shops and enjoy your relaxing day at the beach. 
Under the pier
Hello Mr. Seal
Victoria Beach:
Most of the beaches in Orange County are packed on the weekends, so when I read about a secret beach in Laguna with an old lighthouse, I knew I had to check it out. To find Victoria Beach I parked on the corner of S. Coast Hwy and Sunset Terrace. Since this beach is in a residential area, make sure you are not parking in an area where there are houses or you may get towed. After parking we walked down Sunset Terrace and found a small opening on the left with stairs down to the beach. It is easy to miss so keep an eye out. Once down the stairs you will come out to a beach that is much less crowded than others in the area, although I wouldn't call it a "secret beach". If you walk towards the right for about a half-mile you will see the tower which resembles an old lighthouse. We sat our things down and then explored the tower and rocks for a while. There are many large rocks right in front of the tower which creates huge waves that crash down. While we were watching the waves we saw a whale not too far from the shore come up for air. We've been whale watching before, but to see a whale while relaxing on the beach was one of the coolest things I've seen in California. Victoria Beach has quickly become one of my new favorite beaches to go to, and I can't wait to go back again soon. 
The tower
The beautiful water
Waves
Tide pools
Balboa Island Beach:
Last month was my boyfriend's 26th birthday. I made him pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and then we spent the morning watching basketball and relaxing on the couch. Before dinner we went to Balboa Island to walk along the beach and pier. Again we saw people fishing, surfing, and even a few seals hanging around. There are lots of cute shops along the boardwalk that we went into and looked at the California souvenirs. We reminded each other again that we actually live in a place that people come to vacation. After our time at the beach we then went to dinner at Fig & Olive in Newport. It was the last day of Orange County restaurant week, so we took advantage of the $50 three-course menu. The food, service, and atmosphere were perfect! The entire day was amazing, and I'm so happy that I got to celebrate another great birthday with my boyfriend. 

Birthday kisses
Balboa Island
Pier
Sun is staring to set
More seals
Bull shark?
Happy birthday!
Love you <3
I'll be writing a blog about our Valentine's Day trip next so check back real soon.
XoXo,
Valerie