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From Hollywood to Vine with Vineyard {511}
Adventures in Wine, Food, Film and Travel


Irene Ojdana
August 30, 2016 | Irene Ojdana

Sun Valley Wine Auction

For the first time, Ed and I recently participated in the 35th Annual Sun Valley Wine Auction weekend, held in the mountains of beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho. The event, a fundraiser for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, brought in almost $1.4 million.

Sun Valley Wine Auction 2016

Checking into our hotel, the Knob Hill Inn, we asked for a quiet room. When we looked out of the window in the room, we saw what we wished for: we were facing a very quiet cemetery. Who knew that Ernest Hemingway was buried there? We visited the grave and saw people had left liquor  bottles, hats, and other mementos. Our room and the service at this hotel were terrific, and we'd recommend the hotel to anyone visiting Sun Valley.

Hemingway's Grave in Sun Valley, Idaho

To kick off a much-less-quiet weekend, we attended at a magnum pig roast at the gorgeous Flaherty residence (hosted by Tim Flaherty and Rob McGowan), for vineyard owners and winemakers, as well as for major supporters of the Festival. We had a chance to schmooze with both new and old friends, including our Calistoga neighbor Suzanne Phifer Pavitt, proprietor of Phifer Pavitt Wine. We all brought a magnum of our wine, so there was no shortage of great wine to pair with the delicious roasted pig. We were also entertained by Hawaiian hula dancers.

Sun Valley Wine Auction 2016 Pig Roast

The next evening, we had dinner at the home of our good friend and Ed's Notre Dame University classmate Peter Hendricks, Mayor of Sun Valley. Peter is married to Lisa-Marie Allen, who is a four-time U.S. national figure skating medalist and competed in the 1984 Winter Olympics. She now coaches and judges skating competitions, and whom we finally got to meet. Peter cooked up some great steaks that night.

The Wine Auction Gala finally arrived Friday evening under a tent at Dollar Mountain Lodge, where the bidding for fabulous auction lots proceeded fast and furiously. We had a great dinner and our wine at a table Vineyard {511} sponsored. Lively entertainment was provided by country band Silverado Pick-ups, straight out of Napa Valley, with musicians/winery proprietors like David Duncan of Silver Oak Cellars and Jeff Gargiulo of Gargiulo Vineyards.

The next two days Ed and I poured our wine at tastings for both the trade and attendees, picniced with tapas provided by local restaurants, and ended our stay at a great brunch before heading back to California. We are looking forward to participating in this fun charitable event next summer!

Time Posted: Aug 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM Permalink to Sun Valley Wine Auction Permalink
Irene Ojdana
August 30, 2016 | Irene Ojdana

A Long Weekend in Iceland

For the last 18 years, Ed and I have travelled to a new destination for a long weekend with 2 other couples. We take turns planning the trip each year. This year, Ed and I put the trip together, and it turned out great. The litmus test for this is that we are still friends with the two other couples.

Our main base of operations was Iceland's most populated ciy, Reykjavic (population 120,000), from which we took day trips to glaciers and volcanos, as well as to sculpture gardens. Reykjavic is an extremely lively town, and, in what is their summer (mid 60's F), sunbathers and picnickers fill Austurvollur, the green square across from our Hotel Borg, and sit in outdoor cafes drinking their great, strong coffee and beer. We checked out the town, did some great shopping and scarfed down the famous Icelandic hot dogs. Yum.

Eating hotdogs in Iceland!

We also toured the gorgeous, futuristic-looking Harpa Concert Hall. Designed in 2011, its facade is multifaceted glass panels, which reflect the outside light off the harbor. It is home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Icelandic Opera.

Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland

For our out-of-city exursions, we were met at our hotel by an Icelandic guide with a Santa Claus beard, Bermuda shorts and Eagles' t-shirt. In this outfit, he drove us in a super jeep with wheels almost as tall as I am to the Langjokull Glacier. It was windy and cold, but walking on the glacier was amazing! This was the most ice we saw.

Glacier in Iceland

Glacier Landscape in Iceland

We also saw amazing waterfalls and volcanos in the Thorsmork Valley.

Volcano in Iceland

We also had to eat, and Reykjavic is also known for its gourmet restaurants; we tried a new one every night. We ate lots of local fish and lamb at Fishmarket, Grillmarket and Fish Company, but the most dramatic and unusual was Perlan, which sits on a rotating platform, as well as sits on the city's hot water storage tanks. It has an expansive dome on top, which can be seen for miles. As we ate a delicious dinner there, we saw changing panoramic views of Reykjavic as the platform revolved. A great experience to end our long, but not-so-icy weekend.

Perlan Restaurant in Iceland

Time Posted: Aug 30, 2016 at 10:21 AM Permalink to A Long Weekend in Iceland Permalink