California Central Coast Wine Tour, Days 3 and 4

If you read the previous blog post on our wine tour of California’s Central Coast with E & J Gallo, you’ve already read about how much fun we’ve had the first two days. We were not prepared for the fun to come and each day seemed to get better and better!

Day 3

On the morning of day three, we woke up bright and early to board the van to head to San Luis Obispo for more wine touring! The morning air was crisp and cool as the fog moved in and we headed out on Highway 1 for an unbelievably scenic route to San Luis Obispo (think Big Little Lies intro!)

For breakfast, we stopped at the famous Big Sur Bakery. One of the foodies in our group has the cookbook from the bakery and has always wanted to visit. Caroline and I got a chai tea latte and some breakfast goodies that were so yummy. The bakery was so cute, and outside was a cactus garden that brought fun, hippie vibes to the cute café.

Along the way, we stopped for some wine photo ops as a group. Who could say no to a morning glass of wine and fresh air?

The California coast was simply breathtaking. Highway 1 was closed for an entire year due to damage from a mudslide and we were so lucky that it had just reopened a month prior to our trip. You can’t beat the incredible scenic views!

We arrived late morning to Stepladder Ranch and Creamery in Cambria for a tour of the creamery and goat farm on our way to San Luis Obispo. Known for their amazing cheeses, the goat farm was founded in 1871 and has been family-owned and operated ever since.

Taylor, our tour guide, taught us all about goats and how the creamery is used to make goats milk which they then turn into cheese. We even got to play with some of the Momma goats and none of us were expecting how much fun goats can be! They are the most affectionate animals and we were all laughing and smiling while they tried to jump all over us.

After showing us the ropes, Taylor had us sample some fresh cheeses. By far, the best cheese I had ever eaten! We sampled all different kinds from cow’s milk cheese that they purchase from a dairy farm down the road and turn it into their own cheeses, and goats milk cheese. I even bought some to take home with me for a late-night snack!

We weren’t the only ones impressed by the cheeses; Curtis Stone gave Stepladder a shout out in a recent article by the Wall Street Journal! “The ingredients I’m most excited about right now are from a little place on the California coast called Stepladder Creamery. They make really interesting, funky cheeses and aged stuff. ” -Curtis Stone

We were so excited to learn that Stepladder Ranch is starting a cheese club, hoping to ship cheeses across the country at some point. We will be their first customers when they do!

After reluctantly leaving the Ranch, we headed a little way down the road to have lunch at Centrally Grown. With beautiful views of the coast, we had a fabulous lunch paired with wines from Talbott & Edna Valley Vineyard, which we were visiting the next day.

Finally, after a long day of traveling, we made it to The Cliffs Hotel and Spa in San Luis Obispo! Located right on the beach, the views of the ocean were amazing, and it was so relaxing to be at the beach after a long day.

We then hurried to happy hour to meet with Edna Valley winemaker, Kamee Knutson, who gave us an overview of the wines we would be enjoying at the vineyard tomorrow. We sampled some incredible rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay as we got to know Kamee. She was so friendly and enthusiastic about winemaking we all got so excited about the following day at her vineyard!

While we sipped and sampled on some of Edna Valley Vineyard’s wines, two members from the San Luis Obispo tourism center came and gave us a brief overview of SLO and the Central Coast. We were so taken aback that one vineyard nearby is 50,000 acres, more than the size of Rhode Island!

After our happy hour, we boarded the van to Grover Beach where we were greeted by a waitress holding a platter of rosé for all of us on the beach. That was quite the greeting!

The beach was set up with a beautiful table and chairs with tiki torches and beach chairs surrounding a bonfire. We were all in heaven.

(Photo above by the amazing Stephanie – her Instagram / photography is HERE)

Our dinner consisted of a Caesar Salad with king crab legs, artichoke, potatoes, and corn in a magnificent seafood bake, unlike anything we had ever experienced before.

After dinner, we gathered around the bonfire with some Edna red wine and made s’mores. Kamee insisted we try a s’more with a Reese’s cup and I will never make a s’more the traditional way ever again! We could not imagine a more perfect evening.

Day 4

The next morning, we had the option to sleep in or go kayaking at Avila Beach. I chose to sleep in, but Caroline made the better decision to go kayaking with some of the group. I was so jealous when she raved all about it, talking about paddling into the morning fog and seeing sea otters and sea lions! Her pictures were amazing, and I highly recommend Avila Beach Watersports to go kayaking along the coastline.

After Caroline rushed home to get changed, we all boarded the van to Edna Valley. One of the most remarkable things about California is how much the weather changes as soon as your only a few minutes away from the coast. The temperature rose 20 degrees! Luckily, we dressed in layers for the entire trip, which I would highly recommend.

At Edna, we were greeted with a glass of rosé, the trend in California I suppose, and did a quick round of the building, taking in the beautiful scenery that looks out onto the San Lucia Highlands and one of the Seven Sisters, seven extinct volcanoes along the Central Coast that helped to shape the incredible landscape!

We then headed inside where we had a Chardonnay tasting where Kamee took us through each of the glasses poured in front of us and even had us try a Chardonnay she had just made that no one had ever tried before! We all had our favorites and were enthralled by each and every Chardonnay Edna had to offer. Before this trip, I was exclusively a red wine kind of girl. Now, I have realized that “there’s a chardonnay for everyone!” as Kamee would say, and I’m certainly a Chardonnay drinker now!

After our tasting, we each picked our favorite glass of Chardonnay and headed to the patio for a cooking demonstration by Kendra Aronson, author of the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market Cookbook! Kendra spoke a little about the SLO farmers market, one of the more famous and well-known farmers’ markets in the country and showed us how to make her famous pistachio pesto with crostini!

 

The pesto was the best we had all ever had and we paired it with some incredible salmon, also the best we’ve ever had! Everything in California was just so fresh, unlike anything I’ve ever had. Even something as simple as a salad just tasted so much fresher!

After an incredible day at Edna Valley Vineyards, Kendra took us all to the San Luis Obispo Farmers’ Market to show us just how amazing it is and introduce us to some of the farmers she mentions in her cookbook, where she got all of the ingredients for our lunch earlier that day!

Needless to say, Kendra was right. Everyone was so friendly and there was something for everyone whether you wanted to stroll and enjoy some live music, check out Bubblegum Alley, or shop for some local produce, no one was disappointed.

Afterward, we had an amazing dinner at Novo, one of the best restaurants in San Luis Obispo. We brought our Edna wines with us and enjoyed ahi tuna nachos, a hummus plate, and bread for the table that were all divine. For dinner, I ordered a ribeye and Caroline ordered a lo mein dish with fresh veggies and chicken.

It was the perfect end to such an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trip. We met so many amazing people that we are excited to keep in touch with and follow along with on all of their upcoming adventures. Thank you, E & J Gallo, Louise, Chelsea, and Kela for the trip of a lifetime. We could not be more grateful for such an extraordinary experience!

xx, Tonya Michelle

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Inside my stay at NYFW week with Innside by Melia.

Not only is NYC one of my favorite cities EVER — I love finding new chic and incredible places to stay that won’t break the bank. Innside by Melia is a must stay hotel — I can’t wait to share my thoughts below with you. If you’re headed to the Big Apple anytime soon, make SURE you stay here and if you’ve already booked somewhere — at least stop by for lunch, dinner or drinks at the restaurant located in the heart of the lobby. #WorkTripping

I was so excited to grab my room key and start my stay! I was a little early to check in, so I grabbed lunch at the bar and a much needed drink. Can we talk about how cute the bar is?  **warning: Don’t go behind their bar, haha**

Even in the cold temps you can enjoy their “outside” seating, it’s closed in and heaters are above! At night, this area is so romantic — a great date night or even fun atmosphere to grab drinks before heading out for a fun evening. I noticed a lot of people just came to the hotel to enjoy this area. That says a lot!

There is also their gorgeous dining area on the lower level of the hotel. You can enjoy a delicious brunch here as well. Can we also take a minute to appreciate the art? Stunning right? It looked like to be made out of artificial grass. Stunning!!

Woo Hoo!! I got my room key — time for some fun…

Does anyone else love putting on the comfy hotel robe and jump in bed? Innside by Melia had two robes and two pairs of slippers in the room. Luckily, I only needed one of each but having more is always great! I mean, doesn’t this look fun?!

Not only was the hotel lobby, restaurant and bar very clean and chic…the rooms are too. I can only image how hard it is to keep these rooms up to date, clean and on point. They did a killer job. I felt like I was at home in my own space, it didn’t feel like anyone else ever stayed in the room before me.

I stayed in the King View room — two huge floor to ceiling windows, a king sized bed, a work desk and chair, enough room for all three suitcases I brought and more. The build in was my favorite – it had a place to hang all my outfits, store my shoes below, a safe and extra space for my bags, accessories and makeup. I can appreciate when a room is designed to help you stay organized and it doesn’t make you feel crowded.

The bathroom was a decent size as well. I’m all about good water pressure it comes to taking a shower, anyone else?!! No complaints here with their shower. There was a huge drawer under the sink for more storage for hair products, makeup and hair tools! Win-win!

You can see behind me in this photo the storage I was speaking of! Also there is a cute mini fridge built in as well. All waters, juice and sodas are complimentary. Yassss!!! It always bothers me when my room doesn’t have water in stock.

Just some of the other great things they have to offer:

Located in Chelsea and in convenient proximity to NoMad, Garment District, Greenwich Village and Union Square.

Walking distance to famous New York City landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, the iconic Flatiron Building, Madison Square Park, and Times Square.

Modern, spacious rooms perfect for business and leisure travelers.

Unique suites with terraces featuring breathtaking views of the Empire State Building.

2 Meeting Rooms with capacity for up to 70 persons total

Fitness Center with outdoor terrace. (Talk about a view!)

I can’t wait to stay again with the Innside. It’s time to kick your feet up, enjoy an amazing stay and not break the bank during your stay. Trust me — you’ll love it!!

 

xx, Tonya Michelle

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