Chateauneuf-de-Pape, aka CDP, is not just an AOC, but a quaint hillside town ridiculously overrun with amazing wine!  We headed out from Aix with our guide Michael sharing wine trivia and experiences + learning a lot from him about wine in France and the CDP AOC/Cotes-du-Rhone region, specifically.  We were headed into the heart of the souther Rhone valley where Grenache reins supreme and its not unusual for wineries to span hundreds of years passed down thru a single family.

First stop, Domaine de Beaurenard (, translated to the beautiful fox.  We tried both white and red CDP.  The 2006 vintage was showing its age – in a good way! – but the younger wines clearly still need some time in the bottle.  Winemaker Paul Coulon et fils.

Next up, Clos de Papes – a personal favorite of Michaels and definitely a low-key affair.   We tried both a new and old white CDP + reds from 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2006.  The last was only by lucky chance that the winemaker himself had been in the day or so before and pulled to cork on that fantastic vintage!  Lucky us!  The prices were significantly higher – mostly in line or slightly about high-end OR Pinots, so we opted for a bottle of their 10 euro table wine and look forward to having that while relaxing in Marseille.

We drove up to the remains of the chateau of Chateauneuf itself – built as another home of the Pope, which was dismantled by the same peasant workforce who built it after it fell to disuse.  We had a chance to see the rocky soil and gnarled old vines up close, as well as taste a grape or two that will be ready for vendange in @ 2 weeks.  Just down from the ruins, lunch included a delicious rose from Bandol, duck, bull, and a lovely fig tarte at Le Verger des Papes.  We also visited the cave at Le Verger and tasted wines from a mix of local makers + saw some of the old roman ruins now used as storage.

Last stop of the day and by far the best, Domanie Serguier.   The wine was delightful and the winemaker incredibly accommodating and informative.  We tried whites and reds of both Cotes-du-Rhone and CDP – and then we tried 4 right out of the barrel.  Interesting in that she was using different sized barrels to different effect.  Elected a white CDP to take with us and started on our way to Marseille.

Beautiful day to be in the Rhone Valley!!


Walls Walla onion rings

Once a year – and once is enough – we end up at Burgerville for the onion rings..  and usually a milkshake.  The big sweet onions make amazing fried goodness!!  

So the day went like this:  breakfast at Toast – can’t go wrong with the Big Ass Sandwich, some time tending the garden, the OK City finals of American Ninja Warrior, pickup party at Colene Clemens, a stop at a new winery that’s been in the list forever – Domaine Serene, the Burgerville and home.  

Picked up some awesome rosé at DS!  They had a classic car show on for the evening so we took a peak at some amazing modern and vintage cars – the Spyder 918 belonged to the owners son at a price of @ $850k!  Damn!  And it was one of three!!  

Orange Line Wines

Stopped into Orange Line Wines ( for the first time – just opened this month – and met the owners.  They provided great suggestions for wines similar to what we’ll find in southern France next month.  We had the lovely rose with a dinner of grilled squash, potato/mushroom raclette bake, and an amazing fennel, arugula, citrus salad with an orange vinegarette..  I added shaved pecorino and marcona almonds to the salad.

First Wine Party

Finally invited some of the neighbors and friends over for wine!  We’re working up to the open house we’ve been promising  – decided to start a little smaller and see how it would go.  Everyone had a lovely time and we all stayed up later than we should have on a work night..  Looking forward to the next!

John & Cynda, Chris & Aimee, Lee & Kathy, and Bart..

Wine (rack) Wednesday

To get the new furnace, we have to get rid of the old furnace and patch the wall behind it.  To patch the wall, we have to take down the shelves.  To take down the shelves, we have to move all of the boxed wine over to the other side of the basement near the wine rack.  So what better time to unbox all of the wine and get it on the rack in its temporary home!  Not inventoried, but at least organized and accessible!  🙂


Went on a shopping spree at the local farmers market today – tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, snap peas, berries, broccoli, and beans!  The plan was for a vege dinner, but we settled for tomato sandwiches.  I can’t wait for that to be tomatoes from our garden!

Happy Independence Day!

We started the day at the Hyde Street Pier across from the hotel, then walked up to Lombard Street – the crookedest street in San Francisco.  From there we went back down to Fisherman’s Wharf and toured the SS Jeremiah O’Brien.  We stopped in at the famous Boudin Bakery for some fresh bread and then caught the bus over to the Golden Gate Bridge.  We walked out to the middle of the bridge and watch the whales feeding in the bay!

By happy accident, we took the right bus going the wrong way and ended up near Golden Gate park.  We cut through the park over to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and found a great place for Mexican street food called Street Tacos. 

We were running a bit late for our 3:00 pm checkout, so we uber-ed it back and got there just in time!  Off to SFO!!

We got into Portland before the fireworks, but were too tired to go out and watch..  Time to sleep and get ready to go back to work..


On the Coast road

We left Esalen @ 11 am and headed north up CA 1 through Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Monterey..  I called Richard in hopes he would be in Half Moon Bay for the weekend, but alas, we were a week too late!  Drat!  We pressed on past Santa Cruz into new territory for both of us.  Stopped in at the Bonny Doon tasting ( room and then had a bite to eat at the  Whale City Bakery ( in Davenport.

Kept driving north all afternoon and made our way into San Francisco by dinner time.  A little tired and not very hungry, we ended up in Ghirardelli Square ( at the Bluxome Winery ( for a sip and a snack.

The tomatoes are coming!!

Lots of new growth on the tomato plants and we’re finally starting to see fruit!  It looks like we’ll have something to harvest in @ 4-5 weeks.  Yea!

John and Cynda are hosting a neighborhood get together on Friday night, so I decided to make cheese wafers.  So delicious – though not particularly diet friendly:

We found a new favorite Rose – and it’s not a Pinot!!  The cab franc rose from Isenhower is light and crisp – and only $14!

Bonjour Provence!

SOOO excited!  Bought tickets to Marseilles today  – 10 days in Provence to explore the food, culture, and wine.  6 days in Aix-en-Provence and then a long weekend in Marseilles.  Its going to be tres magnifique!


Knowing the weather was going to be pretty unbearable from @ noon forward, we struck out early for a nice long walk by the river..  Picked up coffee from our fav Either/Or and then went to check out the progress of the deconstruction of the Sellwood Bridge – one span down!  The sun is already getting intense, but we decide to go check out the single track trail on the river side of the Springwater  trail that starts (or ends) directly across from where the rookery trail intersects with Springwater.  What we discovered is an awesome extra loop – you can either do the rookery loop – or crossover and also do the river side loop, extending the overall length from @ 3.5 miles to 5+.

Yesterday’s debate was resolved and we joined the EcoPower gym for the year – it’s on like Donkey Kong!  I issued a 10 day challenge – go to the gym 10 times between now and when we leave for the beach.  Paul countered me with MyFitness Pal – download and use the app to track food for the same period.  Challenge.  Accepted.  Fingers crossed we get results!