Wine Tasting at the Agua Dulce Winery in Santa Clarita, CA

Hello everybody! I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. While I enjoyed three long days off, I was bummed that my first weekend without any freelance projects ended up being spent in bed… sick. I felt the token scratchy throat on Wednesday but refused to believe I was getting sick… until Thursday night when the feverish flush and general “Oh Nooooooo” type exhaustion started setting in. I did get to do a couple fun things despite being all germy this weekend, and one of them was touring the beautiful Agua Dulce Winery in Santa Clarita, CA.

Sipping zinfandel in front of $3,000 barrels!

Sipping zinfandel in front of $3,000 barrels!

My husband and I had a LivingSocial deal and even though I felt crummy, I was determined to use it before it expired. We drove the 35 minutes north of Los Angeles into a quaint little desert town called Agua Dulce, or “Sweetwater”. We began our tour by learning about the types of barrels used for winemaking. Did you know that oak wine barrels can cost between $3,000 – $5,000 EACH?! The flavor, grain and texture all drastically affect the taste. Our awesome tour guide Steve explained how Agua Dulce’s barrels came from Hungary, France and some other place I can’t remember. Wild, right? Most wines chill out in the barrels for three to five years.

Inside this immaculate and chilly warehouse were racks and racks of fermenting wine and gigantic, steel machinery. These machines are used for blending the wines and mixing all of the spirits together. All of the gigantic tubs had ladders running up to them and I couldn’t help but think that this place was like the grown-up version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Wine made here!

Wine made here!

We headed outside to see the grape presses, but I was more enchanted with the gigantic bins of waste leftover from pressed grapes. They had a yummy winey smell to them, and it was pretty interesting to see how small wine grapes are in comparison to table grapes.

These grapes have seen better days

These grapes have seen better days

One of my favorite wines we sampled was actually a port, which is a red wine mixed with brandy. We got to try the port with some dark chocolate chips, so despite only being able to taste about 50% of it thanks to my cold, it was enough to know it was sweet and GOOD! If I had a glass of that, maybe I would have been feeling better… but lo, and behold, I was the DD and had to stick with my Dayquil buzz instead of wine, so I got sips to taste only.

Enjoying some port and chocolate. Note the tissue in my hand. Blech!

One of the coolest parts of the tour was getting to taste wine straight from the barrel. Our guide used a glass tool called a “thief” to suck out some of the wine. I didn’t catch all of the nuances in the taste, but it had a really fiery, intense “oaky” flavor. It was really neat to imagine how as time progressed the flavors would mellow and blend together to become more of the smooth tastes we’re accustomed to today.

Matt gets to taste wine right from the barrel with the "thief"

Matt gets to taste wine right from the barrel with the “thief”

After the tour, we had yummy sandwiches, homemade chocolate chip cookies and cucumber salad provided from the winery out under their gazebo. It was a hot Santa Clarita day, but it felt really good to get out of my bed and get some sunshine on my face. I’m pretty sure I needed it as I’ve been quite a zombie this weekend, logging an astonishing 13 hours of sleep last night. WHEW!

Enjoying the sunshine!

Enjoying the sunshine!

This trip made me even more excited for the upcoming Fitcation, a three day women’s blogging retreated hosted by the fabulous online community, Mamavation. I’ll get to hang with people like Kenlie from All The Weigh and try numerous wines from Sip the Good Life in Paso Robles, along with sporting some fancy new shoes thanks to Earth. I can’t wait! There’s nothing like having fun and blogging about it 🙂

If you’re ever in the Santa Clarita area, definitely stop by Agua Dulce! The people were really friendly and in addition to delicious wines, they had a cute little store filled with country clutter and wine gear. My friend Feeling Vine would love it!  Despite my husband’s reluctance, I bought some really cute mason jar lid coasters with pigs on them and a Christmas gift for April. Ah, retail therapy!

So now you know some of what I did this weekend, tell me what you did, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamavation Motivation

Hey gals and boys! TGIF, right?! This week has been a craaaaaazy whirlwind. I’ve been jamming on some client deadlines and projects, and in addition, I’ve got a personal project going on that’s keeping me very busy… HOUSE HUNTING! More on that and how it makes me want to stress eat later.

I’m pledging my membership to Mamavation and part of that pledge is to tell y’all why I want to be involved. Because Alpha Gamma Kappi Phi! Just kidding, but any time I hear the word pledge I think about sororities, of which I was shamefully never invited (nor interested). I was always more of a band nerd/online message board type of gal…

Anyhoodles, Mamavation is an awesome online community of women social media and blogging fanatics. The cool thing about Mamavation is it has a healthy living angle, and the creator, Leah, is a weight loss and health transformation success story, having lost over 170 pounds over two pregnancies. WOW. Beyond being an all around kick-butt lady, I’ve met her in personal several times and she’s always been super nice, incredibly intelligent and an all-around mentor and thought-leader in social media. Given that I pay my bills by twiddling with Twitter and frolicking on Facebook for brands, companies and public figures, I look up to Leah for her unique approach to creating meaningful conversations online. She’s the real deal.

Leah and Alyssa show off their pearly whites at FitBloggin 2013 in Portland, Ore.

Leah and Alyssa show off their pearly whites at FitBloggin 2013 in Portland, Ore.

I’ll be joining other Mamavation bloggers for a fun-filled fitness vacation in October in Paso Robles, Calif. Although I’m not a mom yet, I’m looking forward to the MOTIVATION, SUPPORT, KNOWLEDGE and FRIENDSHIP I can gain through Mamavation. That’s one of the very best things about social media and blogging — the friends you gain just by being yourself. (I’m lookin’ at you. Yes, you, the person reading this when you probably should be working!) 😉

So, there you have it — my pledge to be a Mamavation Gal and work off this double chin. I actually haven’t stepped on a scale in two weeks, which could be catastrophic, genius or just “meh”, but I’ve been doing ok food wise and slacking a bit on exercise. My goal next week is to kick it up, which should be easier as a bunch of my deadlines will have come and gone. Also, tomorrow I’m running the Neon Run 5k — so watch for that! It will be a glow bracelet, black light jamboree in downtown LA. I can’t wait!

I hope you have an amazing Friday, and tell me, what online communities or groups are you a part of???