After our reception on Thursday evening, we woke up bright and early on Friday to do a ton of touring and exploring through the vineyards.

We also got a great education on the whole wine making process, at which time I was wishing I could house these barrels in my garage.

Loved seeing this in action.


We had the most incredible tasting and lunch on a terrace on Alexander Valley Mountain.

You can’t really beat lunch with a view like this.

Later Friday afternoon we had a great (outdoor) wine education class where we learned about pairing different wines with fruit and vegetables, and describing their flavor in great detail. I loved this because up until last week, the only thing I knew about wine was how to drink (alot of) it.

And again… with an outstanding view.

Just when I thought I’d seen the most beautiful sight, I’d see another one. Totally cool.


We then headed to Matanzas Creek Winery for a reception with local artisan food purveyors.

Seriously, I could not stop eating those oysters. They were to die for. It was also here that we got to sample fresh goat cheese curd – I’m pretty sure it was 24 hours old? It was incredible and by sample, I mean we downed cracker after cracker until it was gone. So good.


We headed indoors for a great dinner, and while the lighting wasn’t the best for photos, I did snap a picture of the menu so you can visualize what we stuffed our faces with.

The atmosphere here was just lovely.


Saturday we headed to a food photography and styling session.

There were tons of incredible props, and I’ll keep it real and tell you that Lori and I made one plate that was a disaster and a second plate that probably came in last place. Everyone I spent the weekend with takes such gorgeous photos.


We had (another) lunch outdoors which was unbelievable.

Those are braised leeks above and we ate them multiple times this weekend. I’ve had leeks before and enjoyed them in things like breakfast hash, but I couldn’t get enough of them here. They were so… caramely.

Plus… we had tons of wine.

I don’t think it is any exaggeration to say that the wine flowed like water here. I have never seen so much wine in my life. I didn’t hate it.


That evening, we first headed to tour the Kendall Jackson garden with Ruth Reichl.

The garden took my breath away and was stocked with everything you could imagine. Even more wine!

We then headed inside for dinner, where Ruth gave an inspiring keynote and we ate even more.

I wish that I had a good shot of the corn pudding because it is all I’ve been able to think about since Saturday. It literally melted in my mouth. As I’ve said a million times by now, all of the food was just unreal.


I just still can’t get over what an amazing weekend it was. I’ve always wanted to travel to wine country, but my husband is not a fan of wine. He’d gladly take me, but I never thought it would be enjoyable since he really dislikes wine. This weekend completely changed my mind on that, and even makes me think he might like some wine. I just need to force a bit down his throat from now on.

I’ve also decided that I might be changing my stance on dessert, and want to have a big dinner party with a two-bite dessert and a glass of late harvest Riesling. You have to come though so the party isn’t just… me.

Thanks for looking at my crazy amount of pictures and allowing me to share this trip with you guys. And thanks so much to Kendall Jackson for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow… when Tuesday Things are really Wednesday Things.

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46 Responses to “Sip, Bite Blog: Part 2. {wine country overload}”

  1. #
    Sana — September 27, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

    I can’t get over how amazing these pictures are! Great job!


  2. #
    J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) — September 27, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

    All of the pictures are outstanding! And all of the food looks exquisite. Looks like a fabulous time, and the weather looks perfect!


  3. #
    Bev Weidner — September 27, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    It was SUCH a wonderful time!

    Oh, wait. Hmmmmm. Right. Yep. Yeeeee-eep. Yep.

    As I pour my next glass, I’ll try and find the strength to move past the pain in my heart.

    Oh, and tell Ruth I love her.


  4. #
    Lori @ RecipeGirl — September 27, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    Loved it all, especially meeting YOU finally!!! Wanna go back!


  5. #
    Cait's Plate — September 27, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    INCREDIBLE! Seriously – some of these pictures are just absolutely breathtaking!


  6. #
    Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) — September 27, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    Wow…just WOW! I had a wine class in culinary school, but I wish I knew more. I feel like such an idiot when it comes to wine and food.


  7. #
    Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal — September 27, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

    Your photos are amazing! I want to frame (or possibly take a bite of) the 4th of your opening sequence. Thanks for sharing your amazing experience! I’m so jealous.


  8. #
    bridget {bake at 350} — September 27, 2011 @ 9:40 pm

    Beautiful pictures! And, um, I’ll be checking my email box EVERY DAY for an invite like that one. How FUN!


  9. #
    Hilliary @ Happily Ever Healthy — September 27, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    These pictures are amazing! Looks like you had a fabulous time! Thanks for sharing


  10. #
    Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga — September 27, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    I have always said, if it wasn’t for cold winters, I’d live in the Bay Area b/c of the proximity to Napa & Sonoma. When I first visited the wine country in 2003, that sealed the deal. We were moving to Ca. And we did. 6 mos later :) That whole area between SF, Marin Co, the wine country, Russian River Valley, Tahoe…fabulous.

    I am soooo happy for you that you had this AMAZING!! trip! Wine flowing like water; people who are bloggers and who “get it”, the food photography session, the amazing food…oh, trip of a lifetime. So happy for you :)


  11. #
    JulieD — September 27, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    Looks & sounds wonderful!! Can I come to your dessert party?


  12. #
    Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray — September 27, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

    I will *happily* indulge in two-bite desserts and delicious Riesling with you. Actually I could sort of go for that right now. You game? :)


    • Jessica — September 27th, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

      Uh… obviously.


  13. #
    Mama Pea — September 27, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

    I spy a Gigi updo. :)


  14. #
    Noble Pig — September 27, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    Oh the memories…I still can’t get the food and wine off my mind. Hope all is well.


  15. #
    Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) — September 27, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

    Those pics are fab.. I want to live in Wine Country right nooow!


  16. #
    Caitlin @ Cake with Love — September 27, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

    Wow looks like the perfect trip! Beautiful pics! I love vineyards, my parents are making they own wine, they started yesterday, my husband is very exited, they will probably ship some to us in a few months! The best wine is homemade all natural and made with love!


  17. #
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie — September 27, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

    Omg what a wonderful experience! That was a once in a lifetime opportunity! The food looks delicious, the setting gorgeous and all that wine! You are a very lucky girl! My boyfriend and I just went to a vineyard for the first time and it was so much fun!


  18. #
    Ida — September 27, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    Just when I thought your trip was over-the-top amazing, Ruth Reichel pops up in your post. How freaking cool!!
    When people say they dont like wine I think it’s just b/c they havent tried the right types. I’m sure you can convert your husband.


  19. #
    Michelle — September 28, 2011 @ 12:18 am

    If you can’t get your husband to go back to wine country with you, I’d go in a heart beat. Road trip?


  20. #
    Elaine — September 28, 2011 @ 1:58 am

    my mouth is watering reading this post! i’m not a wine person, but the FOOD, oh my gosh. what a cool experience!

    and were those black mission figs?? i’ve been buying them weekly at my local new seasons for 3.99/lb, but no regrets here. they’re so delicious and since they’re only here for a brief amount of time, it’s totally worth it!


  21. #
    Celestine — September 28, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    Thanks for sharing. It looked like an amazing and beautiful trip. I feel like I’ve been on a mini vaca, just reading it. Cheers to wine!


  22. #
    MelissaNibbles — September 28, 2011 @ 8:43 am

    This looks an amazing trip! So beautiful. Oh and I love the dark hair color on you. So pretty!!


    • Jessica — September 28th, 2011 @ 10:31 am

      Thanks girl! It’s really my natural color. :)


  23. #
    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots — September 28, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    These pictures are beautiful! I want to go there and drink lots of wine!!


  24. #
    Kathy — September 28, 2011 @ 8:52 am

    Oh how your pictures make me miss this part of the country. We had the opportunity to live there for a year anad a half. It is unlike any place else in the USA! Your pictures truly capture the essence of what wine country is!


  25. #
    stephanie @cookinfanatic — September 28, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    Beautiful pictures! This definitely looks like heaven to me, so exciting that you got to experience this! :)


  26. #
    Jen @ Darling Notes — September 28, 2011 @ 9:17 am

    I just returned from a trip to wine country and now I’m missing it even more after looking through your photos!


  27. #
    Michelle Walker — September 28, 2011 @ 9:21 am

    What an unforgettable experience! Everything looked fabulous. I saw Napa last winter and it was
    beautiful, but to see it in late summer when they’re harvesting the grapes-amazing!!
    Lucky you!!


  28. #
    Kristy Lynn @ Gastronomical Sovereignty — September 28, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    i’m so jealous. lucky bitch ;)


  29. #
    Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine — September 28, 2011 @ 11:17 am

    That looks unbelievable. Beautiful photos!


  30. #
    Lauren — September 28, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

    I am from Santa Rosa and my grandpa has a winery in Healdsburg. I also used to live right next to Matanzas Creek Winery! I was visiting this weekend too!!!! What a small world!!! Glad you got a little taste of northern california:)


  31. #
    Katie — September 28, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    Uh seriously. That looks like heaven. Your pictures are insane – I just want to sip and bit right through my computer screen.


  32. #
    Marcella @ Sweet Marcella — September 28, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

    Wow! What a magical weekend! Every single thing looks delectable :)


  33. #
    Tanya — September 28, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    Looks like heaven! I’ll be waiting for my invite to the two bite dessert and reisling party!


  34. #
    Matt - KJ Winemaker — September 28, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

    Great pics and post Jessica! So glad we had the chance to share the experience. Hope we get to do it again next year!



  35. #
    doniree — September 28, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    AHHHH everything about this looks and sounds amazing! I’d love to know some of the food photography tips you learned :) And THESE photos are SO pretty!

    Also, you just made me really thirsty.


  36. #
    Faith — September 28, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

    Your pictures are AWESOME! I love ’em


  37. #
    Brittany — September 29, 2011 @ 6:16 am

    GORGEOUS!!! These pictures are amazing.


  38. #
    Maddy — October 1, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

    Wow! I have stumbledupon your blog countless times, bookmarked TONS of recipes, but this is crazy. I want to go there!!!


  39. #
    Nicolette — October 2, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    I’ve been appreciating your desserts (and other food items!) for a little over a year. This is my favorite food blog and I love your creativity, ingenuity and sense of humor. I’ve been studying abroad in Réunion for about a month now but I have lived in Sonoma County all my life. I didn’t realize until now just how much I missed it, but seeing your pictures brought tears to my eyes. I think you really did justice to how beautiful it is and I want to thank you for that. I also read a bit about your recent life changes and I really hope that everything works out for you


  40. #
    Brittany — October 4, 2011 @ 7:11 am

    Your photos are amazing and now I want to visit wine country even more than I ever have!

    PS – How did you make the cool little collages with 1 large photo and 3 smaller ones?


    • Jessica — October 4th, 2011 @ 7:12 am

      Thanks girl! I used Big Huge Labs – the mosaic maker. I’m in love with that site, totally free.


  41. #
    Julie — October 19, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

    This looks like an amazing trip!



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