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Vineyard 511

From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}

Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel

Irene Ojdana
 
May 20, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Spain and Portugal Douro River Wine Cruise

The Douro River, in Portugal's stunning Douro Valley, is where Ed and I experienced the most beautiful wine growing regions in the world aboard an AmaWaterways wine cruise, sponsored by The Dry Creek Winegrower's Association. But first, in order to get to the cruise, we had to fly into Spain's capital, Madrid, and stayed there for three nights to enjoy the city and Spanish wine and cuisine.

On our first night there, we at Restaurante Botin (founded in 1725). It's the oldest consecutively open restaurant in the world, according to The Guiness Book of World Records. We ordered the suckling pig (so popular in Madrid), which was roasted in the restaurant's original ovens to a golden crispness on the outside and milky tenderness on the inside.

                                                                          

After dinner, we toured Botin's ancient wine cellar.

                                                                        

The next day, we visited Madrid's famous Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas, where its famous bull ring is situated and which dates back to 1929. The outdoor sculpture there depicts the bravura of the bullfighter.

                                                                       

On our last night in Madrid, we and our friends were lucky to score the chef's kitchen table at the Michelin-starred A'Barra Restaurante for a 21st Century meal paired with both Spanish and French Wines, including Rioja and Bordeaux.

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

After our too-short, 3-day stay in Madrid, we boarded the ship on the Douro River on the Spanish border. The cruise was hosted by the Dry Creek Winegrowers Association of Sonoma. Some of our friends had signed up, so we said "all aboard!"

Ed and I had visited the Douro Valley before, but wanted to see its magnificant scenery again. Deep gorges alternate with tranquil valleys (mostly unpopulated, which we loved). Terraces on both sides of the river run down to rocky hillsides planted with vines.

                                                                     

                                                                     

The Douro River rises in Northeastern Spain and flows in a westerly direction for 360 miles. For the next 70 miles it forms its border with Spain and then, for its only navigable stretch--the part which formed our cruise-- cuts across Portugal for 130 miles to reach the Atlantic at Porto.                                                              

The first morning of our cruise landed us in Pinhao, in the heart of the prime port-producing region. There we discovered the Pinhao railway station, with its series of 24 fine blue and white tile murals, illustrating the history of winemaking and the culture of the area.

                                                                  

                                                                 

The train station, built in 1879, replaced the flat-bottomed boats that were previously used to carry wine in casks from quintas (wine-growing estates) downstream to Porto.

                                                                

Now the wine is transported by tanker trucks.

During our cruise, we visited quintas for wine tasting, such as Quinta da Avessada, in the village of Favaios. There the "winegrower," with the nickname 'Mr. Bean" because of his resemblance to the actor, told us about the emphasis on preserving the unspoiled landscape of the Douro wine region.

                                                                                                                                   

During another tasting, this time in Guimares, we sampled a very nice wine, new to us, called Vinho Verde. Although the name translates as green wine, it's usually drunk as a white wine. It's young, being released 3-6 months after harvest. It has a slight effervescence from the added carbonation.

                                                                

When Ed and I were much younger, we drank very inexpensive Mateus Rose wine out of round, squat bottles from Portugal. Who knew that the Mateus family owned an enchanting palace surrounded by extensive gardens, just outside of Vila Real, Portugal?                                                              

                                                                

On our last day of cruising the Douro, we toured the city of Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, behind Lisbon. We took a cable car up a hill to Pont-Dom Luis, a bridge designed by a colleague of Gustav Eiffel in 1886. The bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, where port wine tasting rooms and storage facilities are located. From up there, we had dizzying views of the city below.

                                                                 

We are now ready for our next wine cruise of the Bordeaux wine region. 'Till then.............

                                                                

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                     

 

                                                                    

 

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                      

                                                                      

                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

                                 

                                        

Time Posted: May 20, 2019 at 5:30 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 12, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

NVFF Screens "Wine Country" The Movie

The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) recently held a pre-release screening of the film "Wine Country," at Napa Valley's Cameo Theater, in Saint Helena, for the Patrons of the NVFF. The Festival invited its Patrons to a reception held just prior to the screening at the very nearby Martin art gallery. Among the contemporary art work there, including the remains of a gargantuan dinasaur (having recently sold for $3 million), patrons nibbled on non-dinasaur treats.

                                                        

"Wine Country," a Netflix comedy, was written, produced and directed by Amy Poehler (SNL). It's about five women (including Poehler and other former SNL cast members Maya Rudolf, Rachael Dratch and Ana Gasteyer), who take a trip to Napa Valley to celebrate one of the five's fiftieth birthday. The film was shot at Napa wineries, including Artesia, in Carneros, and Quintessa, in Calistoga, and in and around the Valley, especially in my town of Calistoga.

                                                         

The film was sweet, raunchy and entertaining, ala SNL.                                                       

                                                      

                                                     

                                                         

Time Posted: May 12, 2019 at 6:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 12, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

San Francisco Food & Wine Society Luncheon

Ed and I recently attended a San Francisco Food and Wine Society luncheon at the wonderful restaurant of Auberge, in Napa Valley's Rutherford. After a delightful reception on the terrace overlooking the beautiful Napa Valley, we went inside for very special food and wine paired luncheon.

                                                      

My favorite wine was the full-bodied 2012 DuMol, Ryan, Pinot Noir, and my favorite dishes were the Kurobuta pork chop

                                                      

for the main course, and the ultra light yuzu posset angel food cake with mandarins and mandarin sorbet for dessert.

                                                      

Of course, the best part of any event is sharing it with good friends.

                                                      

                                                      Belinda Irons, Irene Ojdana, Peter Rossler, Ed Ojdana

                                                     

                                                     

                                                     

                                                     

                                                     

 

 

 

Time Posted: May 12, 2019 at 4:30 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 12, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Jonathan Club Tasting

Ed and I poured our wines recently at the two locations of the Jonathan Club, a private social club with Santa Monica Beach and Downtown Los Angeles locations.

The downtown location is in a lovely old building, which dates back to 1894. The beach location, less formal,  was added more recently. The club was originally a male-only organization, but voted to add women in 1987 and now has 650 female members.  Prior to admitting women, in a position I held to place graduates of the Job Corps Training Program in jobs, I visited the downtown location for that purpose. Unfortunately, I had to ride up to the club office in the freight elevator because only men could use the regular elevators. This time around, I finally made it to the main elevator!

                                                                    Ed Pouring 2014 Vineyard {511}

                                                                Napa Valley Diamond Mountain District

                                                                            Cabernet Sauvignon

                                                                      Jonathan Club Santa Monica Beach

                                                     

Time Posted: May 12, 2019 at 10:00 AM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 11, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Tasting at Charles Krug

Ed and I were able to have a reunion with friends we had met while on safari in East Africa. As I mentioned in my previous blog, "Out of Africa," we were in a group of five people (including ourselves) in Africa, and we were surprised to learn that two of the five--Katherine Gard and Tom Furlong--were from the neighboring Napa Valley town of Yountville.

So the four of us caught up at a wine tasting I arranged for us at the Charles Krug winery with other friends of ours, owners Katie and Peter Mondavi.

                                                  

                                                          Tom, Elizabeth, Ed, Katie, Irene and Peter

The Mondavis put on a wonderful tasting, tour, and pizza lunch for us at the beautiful Charles Krug, the oldest winery in Napa Valley. The winery dates back to 1882, when Charles Krug opened it for public tastings. There we tasted some wonderful wines that included a 2016 Merlot, 2014 X Clones, 2015 Voltz, and 2015 Cold Springs.

Our tour included one of their huge barrel rooms, where we saw their "Big Red" immense, old oak barrel, which dates back to 1944.

                                                 

Now that's a barrel!

                                               

                                                  

                                                 

Time Posted: May 11, 2019 at 5:00 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 1, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Notre Dame University Symposium on National and Global Affairs

Every other year, Ed and I attend a symposium on National and Global Affairs put on by Notre Dame University (of which Ed is an alumnus), in Washington D.C. We look forward to this event because we get to hear from the leaders of our country about the state of the union and the world in such interesting venues. We heard from speakers from both sides of the aisle. In the past, we've heard from Hilary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan and John McCain.

                                                                                  NOTRE DAME INSIGHT & OUTLOOK

                                                                                 ON NATIONAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS

                                                                        

This year, some of the distinguished speakers were Vice President Mike Pence (heard in the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center); Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (heard in the Smithsonian National African American Museum of History and Culture); Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN (heard in the United States Institute of Peace); Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, IN.; Lindsay Graham, Senator R-SC; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; and United States Attorney General William Barr, (all heard in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium).

                                                                                               NANCY PELOSI

                                                                       

 

                                                                                             MITCHELL MCCONNELL

                                                                         

 

                                                                                           PETE BUTTIGIEG (ON RIGHT)

                                                                         

At this writing, and at very contentious political times, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Mayor Pete Buttigieg have both thrown in their hats to run in the Democratic primary for President of the United States. Only time will tell.

While in Washington D.C., Ed and I got in some time for culture at the Hirshhorn Museum, on the National Mall, where we viewed a hilarious sculpture by Jimmie Durham, an American artist from Arkansas, made out of a car and volcanic stone and acrylic paint, dated 2007. Perhaps the sculpture depicted the contentious political times.

                                                                       

However, we even were lucky enough to catch the cherry blossoms!

                                                                       

They always lighten the political mood!

                                                                       

                                                                      

                                                                    

                                                                

 

                                                                         

                                                                         

                                                                            

 

Time Posted: May 1, 2019 at 5:07 PM
Irene Ojdana
 
May 1, 2019 | Irene Ojdana

Out of Africa

Although our February trip to East Africa had nothing to do with wine, we experienced the most magnificant animals, up close and personal. We took a zillion photos while in Kenya and Tanzania, but just want to share a few that recall some of the wonderful encounters and spectacular sights we experienced.

                                                                       WELCOME TO KENYA

 

On our first game drive out we came upon this amazing creature just sittin' in a tree!

                                                                                             

                                                                                              LEOPARD IN CENTRAL MERU

                                                                          

 

     Later that night we came upon two lions.

                                                                                      LIONS SPOONING IN THE MOONLIGHT

                                                                          

The next day, we spotted several baby lions curled up in a tree. Who knew that lions climbed up into trees? I didn't.

                                                                          

                                                                         

 

We visited a Maasai village in the Serengeti National Park.  Originating from Kenya, the Maasai are among the more well-known African tribes, like the Zulu and the Bantu, due to their more distinguishing customs and homes near popular game reserves in East Africa. A Maasai warrior invited us into his mud hut, called a boma, to meet his wife and child.

                                                                                                

                                                                                                     MAASAI WARRIOR

                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                           MAASAI MOTHER AND CHILD

                                                                          

 

One of the places in which we stayed was Richard Branson's beautiful tented camp in Narok in the Rift Valley.

                                                                              

                                                                                     RICHARD BRANSON'S TENTED CAMP

                                                                         

 

Did you know that giraffes are the tallest land animals in the world? And so graceful! Unfortunately, they are beginning to become scarce and may soon be designated an endangered species.

                                                                     

                                                                                                 GIRAFFES IN NAROK

                                                                         

 

                                                                               HIPPOS IN THE SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK

                                                                        

 

Oh boy, did this surprise us!

 

                                                                                        CHEETAH ON SAFARI VEHICLE

                                                                        

               

                                                                                                       TANZANIA

Instead of zip lining, we swayed over nine suspension bridges in the Nanyara National Park.

                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                       

 

                                                                                THE RIM OF THE NGORONGORO CRATER

                                                                       

 

                                                                 MAASAI VILLAGE IN THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA

 

                                                                        

                                                                        

                                                                       

                                                                       

                                                            FAREWELL LUNCH IN THE BUSH PRESENTED BY THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL

                                                                                 NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA

                                                                       

The other couple in our small group of 5 we discovered was from another Napa Valley town-- Yountville-- of all places. Now we can easily continue the friendships we formed in Africa.

 

 

                                 

                                                                        

                                                                          

 

                                                                       

                                                                       

                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                

Time Posted: May 1, 2019 at 3:30 PM