VJB Cellars Kenwood, California

VJB Cellars 60 Shaw Ave. Kenwood, CA 95452

All the elements of an Italian village; The piazza, food, wine, and family. I had researched quite a bit before our trip to Sonoma, mainly because I was so excited but also knowing our trip would not be an entire week, planning was vital for a memorable experience!

Under the travel category of my bucket list, a trip to Italy holds top billing. Experiencing Italy as if I were living there in a small village speaks to my soul, so when I discovered VJB cellars through my Sonoma trip research I knew this was a contender on my list of wineries to visit.

Created in 2012 by Henry Belmonte, his vision was to replicate a small Italian village and offer a friendly environment for the whole family so visitors would leave with a cherished memory… and of course drink some amazing Italian wines! As a child he recalls visiting a winery with his parents that welcomed the entire family so that experience became the inspiration  for VJB Cellars.

I have to say, my experience was not only memorable but educational. My knowledge of Italian wines is very limited so this wine tasting became a very informative pleasure!

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After enjoying a wonderful lunch with our guys on the piazza we ventured into VJB’s tasting room. We were greeted by Matt, a tall, dark and handsome wine educator. For $15 we sampled 5 Italian wines and a few not listed.

As Matt presented us with our tasting list, we were instructed to take notes while we sipped and listened to the story of each wine. I now have a great fondness for Italian wines, half of which I cannot pronounce! Another added bonus, VJB Cellars has compiled a list of their wines with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions, a map of Italy displaying the appellations of the wines, and a chef’s recipe for visitors to take home.

NOTE: VJB’s limited produced wine varietals are sold exclusively through the winery and they offer a wonderful wine membership, Club Enoteca. Details can be found on their website. http://www.vjbcellars.com

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This Rosso Family Blend was one of my favorite from our tasting experience. I brought home a few bottles!

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 My partner in crime, me Sweet Sis & I enjoying VJB’s piazza.imagejpeg_4 - CopyThis winery holds a very special memory in my mind so on my next trip out to the Sonoma region I will be sure to stop back in for a visit! If you want to experience a little slice of Italy while in California wine country add VJB Cellars to your trip, it will not disappoint. Ask for Matt!

Diane Rogers

 

 

Thanksgiving: Finding Gratitude

The holidays are upon us. And as usual they seem to all of a sudden throw us into a bit of a panic once the candy hangover from Halloween dissipates. Sometimes I think it can become an “Ugh.” feeling instead of a “I’m in the holiday spirit!” one. Partly, I believe this panic and unsettling sentiment manifests from the way that Christmas is stuffed down our throats the day before Halloween.

I recently experienced a dissatisfied mood that overcame me while I was out shopping for Fall candy sprinkles for my leaf cookies I make every year. It was the day after Halloween and I was on a mission to purchase my festive sprinkles. The past 2 years they have been hard to come by and this year ended up being the worst (had I looked at my crystal ball I would have stocked up on the darn things!) I hit every grocery store, Target, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc… It used to be I could get these tiny little leaf sprinkles anywhere. Not the case anymore. It seems that Halloween and funky neon sprinkles of every shape and size have taken over the Fall sprinkle slot on the store shelves. While on this futile mission I was inundated with Christmas and it was giving me anxiety, a bah humbug attitude. Anyone who knows me, knows I love Christmas. I love to decorate, bake, throw dinner parties, watch cheesy Hallmark movies. But for some reason this year I was feeling a bit like Scrooge on steroids. BAH HUMMMM BUGGG!

What came to my attention is that Thanksgiving is being sandwiched so tightly in between Halloween & Christmas and pretty much is taking a back seat to the orange, black & purple “Day of the Dead” and retailers want you shopping for Christmas while out buying Halloween candy. I have nothing against Halloween, I loved decorating the yard when my son was young, creating his costumes every year, trick or treating, and handing out candy to all the adorable little ghosts & goblins, but I am disheartened that Thanksgiving is ending up on the clearance shelves at the beginning of November. So, with my mind trying to regroup and put the focus on Thanksgiving before Christmas, I Googled the word thanksgiving:

  1. the expression of gratitude, especially to God.
  2. (in North America) an annual national holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal including turkey. The holiday commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621….

Gratitude, being grateful I thought. Harvest, reaping and celebrating. Giving thanks, Thanksgiving….O.K, now that I remember what this holiday is all about I want to focus on what it means to me. A day to rest, to reflect and remember all that I am thankful for. I know the holidays can be tough for so many, so I want to place positive energy out into the Universe; I ask God to lay His blessings & comfort on all those who are hurting. I want to enjoy pumpkin muffins, lattes and whatever they can make out of pumpkin because I love pumpkin. I want to bake apple pie and watch football. I want to go for hikes in the crisp Fall air and enjoy the burnt umber colors of the setting sun. I want to give to others in any way I can daily, may it be a warm smile to a stranger or holding the door open for someone when I am in a rush or blessing that person that just cut me off on the road (instead of gesturing at them, I think you know what I mean.)

We can spread blessings in so many ways and these small, daily deeds feed the Universe with positive energy and it will feed our souls too. We can find peace in the chaotic. We can find gratitude in the giving. We can find reflection in the frantic if we slow down and give thought to what we are thankful for. So many others this year will be struggling with finding blessings after all of the tragic things that have unfolded recently. So I ask you all to stop and really think about what you are thankful for and while doing so send out thoughts & prayers to the Universe over all of those who need blessing. Be part of the collective Universe for blessing others. May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving while giving and being thankful… My cup runneth over.      Diane Rogers

collective

  1. done by people acting as a group.
  2. a cooperative enterprise.

Fall Table Setting: More!

I have created additional ideas to add to my initial Fall Table Setting post. What am I loving about the current trends for holiday decorating? That your own palate can be created so that your holiday décor flows seamlessly with your personal style. This creates endless possibilities! Have fun with it!
Diane Rogers

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Fall Tradition: Gingerbread Cookies

Fall is in the air! Fall is by far my favorite season. The crisp morning air, the changing foliage in vibrant reds, yellows, and raw umber, and cozying up with my fur throw in front of the fireplace. I love it. It is also the time of year when I begin holiday baking. One of my yearly traditions is to make gingerbread cookies. They are a favorite among family & friends and I love the entire process. It gets me in the holiday spirit.

This tradition is older than my 19 year old. I found the recipe in a small gingerbread book that I picked up at a garage sale for 10 cents. I tweeked it because the first time I tried the recipe I didn’t have cardamom so I substituted with allspice and I make them a little thicker so that the cookies stay soft. The cookies came out so delicious I have stuck to my version ever since. I have even had several people try them who weren’t fans of gingerbread and they became hooked. I use royal icing to give the cookies their finishing touch.

This tradition gets me in the groove to start my season of baking. From this, I move on to three kinds of biscotti, chocolate truffles, snow balls, and haystacks to name a few. Let the holiday baking begin! What’s your holiday baking tradition?

Diane Rogers

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