Wine Wednesday: Byington Chardonnay Wrights Station

My husband is pretty damn good, but this Mother’s Day he outdid himself! He thought of everything I love and created a day that was all “Michelle”! Our special stop was to Byington Winery just outside of San Jose on your way to Santa Cruz. We had never been here and if you haven’t either, you definitely need to make a stop.

The road leading to Byington is narrow and wooded, so it’s a wonderful surprise to turn down a driveway onto a property with grassy hills and grape vines as far as you can see. We had a table reserved on “Wedding Hill” which you can obviously reserve to get married. It overlooks the vineyards on multiple sides and we were lucky enough to have a perfect sky blue day.

I had heard that Byington was known for their Chardonnay and they had three to choose from. I asked for something buttery and was given a tasting of their Chardonnay Wrights Station and I did not need to taste another variety…I was sold! OMG you guys…this was a perfect buttery Chardonnay! Peaches, caramel, and toasted almond flavors make this a bottle you will want more than one of. It retails for $30 but if you are a wine club member, you receive a 20%-30% discount. I bought a bottle of Sparkling Rose to bring home and I can’t wait to try it! 

If you are in the area, please do yourself a favor and visit Byington…and let me know so I can join you!

Wine Wednesday: White Oak Chardonnay


Sunday was a dreary day in the Bay Area and we finally saw a trace of rain, but you would’t know it was cold and cloudy by the looks of this fabulous Chardonnay in my dining room. If you’re on the hunt for a Chardonnay that is full bodied with a hint of butterscotch, then look no further!


White Oak Vineyards & Winery Chardonnay is a true chardonnay in every sense; from the honeydew melon and tropical fruit flavors to the toasty oak finish. My personal preference when it comes to Chardonnay is to taste a bit of fruit and not a ton of oak. There’s a reason this variety is one of White Oak’s best sellers that they’ve been producing since the 1980’s.


This bottle retails for $26 and is truly worth every penny. You’ll want to savor every sip…as I am right now while writing this post! 

Wine Wednesday: Wine Down Box

As you know by now, I’m a huge fan of Happy Hour…whether going out for happy hour or enjoying it at home. Recently, I discovered Wine Down Box where they send you everything you need to have your own happy hour. How convenient is that?! I was lucky enough to try their June pairing and it didn’t disappoint! 


The box included the following:

Maroon Wines
2013 Cathartes Vineyard Chardonnay

This 2013 Cathartes Vineyard Chardonnay was whole cluster pressed, then cold-fermented in tanks with minimal oak to express rich aromas of ripe citrus fruits. On the palate, the wine is nicely balanced with citrus fruits and hints of ripe tropical fruits. It has a nice acidity that maintains freshness from start to finish. 

Plymouth Artisan Cheese
East Meadow Cheese

Named one of Oprah’s top favorite things in 2015, this Vermont company knows how to make outstanding cheese. This cheese was aged 60 days, then cut and waxed by hand. It is buttery and creamy with slightly sweet notes.

Olympia Provisions

Loukanika is a Greek salami flavored with equal parts garlic & cumin, and a touch of orange zest. In order to keep tradition alive, Old Man Cairo passed along this time-tested recipe to his son (Olympia Provisions Salumist), Eli.

Each pairing includes a delicious bag of artisan Nita Crisp wheat bread crackers.


The wine was delicious. Definitely a bottle I would be more than happy to indulge in again. The cheese was also top notch and went perfectly with the wine. My husband is a fan of all things sausage, so the Loukanika hit it out of the park for him. The bread crackers that were included were perfectly thin and didn’t fill you up, yet added just what was needed. 

Subscriptions cost $45-49/month which is a lot less than what you would spend if you went out for happy hour and had appetizers and a bottle of wine! This would make a great gift…to a wine lover or to yourself. 

Wine Wednesday: Riverbench Winery Chardonnay


This week I got a special treat with an impromptu wine tasting at Riverbench Winery’s tasting room in Santa Barbara. Downtown Santa Barbara has an area known as the Funk Zone where there are vintage shops and 16 tasting rooms….all within walking distance of my hotel! Yippee! I wanted to find a good Chardonnay to take back to my hotel and put my trust in Google to point me in the right direction. Riverbench Winery came up with a review of a Chardonnay that will make anyone fall in love with the variety. 


I wasn’t alone when I ventured into the tasting room, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be welcome. My husband was with me, but so were Toddler D and Baby K. We were greeted warmly and told to bring the kids right on in. Another couple from Tucson were enjoying the Bubbly tasting menu with their adorable dog, Molly, who more than enjoyed having Toddler D as a playmate for a bit. I went for the Chardonnay tasting and each taste was better than the last. I started with the Rose of Pinot Noir and then had the Reserve Chardonnay, Chapel View Chardonnay, Estate Chardonnay, and the Bedrock Chardonnay. I ended up buying a bottle of the Chapel View which to me had the perfect slightly buttery taste and had me craving more. 


The tasting room is beautiful with a long L-shaped couch and quarter wine barrels that have steel tops, which coincidentally make for perfect drums if you are a toddler. I can’t wait to go back and try their Pinot Noir and Sparkling Wines!


Wine Wednesday: Livermore Wineries

The weekend is upon us and if you’re in the Bay Area looking for something to do, I think it’ll be a perfect weekend for wine tasting! I know it’s not “Wine Wednesday”, but there should never just be one day dedicated to wine…it should be every day!

It’s hard to believe but one thing I haven’t done much of is go wine tasting. My husband and I are vowing to change that, especially since there are countless vineyards so close to us. A few weekends ago we ventured to Livermore and met up with our nephew and his family to try out 3 wineries; 3 Steves Winery, Garre Winery, and Wente Vineyards. We’ve tasted Wente wines before, but the other two were going to be brand new experiences. I reached out to the 3 wineries to let them know we would be visiting and they were all welcoming to us, our kids and the dogs!


We packed a picnic, all the kids, the dog, the stroller and headed out for the quick 45 minute drive to Livermore. Our first stop was 3 Steves where we were greeted by Steve Burman…one of the “Steves”! He was extremely welcoming and ready for us to start tasting. We had a large round table outside where the breeze was perfectly blowing and the sun was shining. There was an area for the kids and dogs to play and the view was gorgeous. We tasted 8 different varieties and every single one was memorable and noteworthy. 



We started with the Brut Sparkling Wine, fermented in the bottle and not in the tank, which is the traditional Methode Champenoise style. This was a perfect and welcoming start. Next up was the Sauvignon Blanc which won the Livermore gold medal. This was so delicious! I came home with a bottle and am hoarding it for the perfect warm afternoon to relax with. We tried their club Chardonnay which is currently sold out. It was buttery but with a distinct crispness. Next up and so impressive was the 2013 Interino Chilean Blend. An incredible blend of Chilean Cab, Carmenere, Malbec, and Syrah. Each grape is hand de-stemmed by women in the local village which not only provides a softness to your palette…you bet I now have a bottle of this at home! We enjoyed the Three Cabs Blend and Cienega Valley Younger Vine Zinfandel which comes from 45 year old vines. Next was the Cienega Valley Ancient Vine Zinfandel  whose vines were planted in 1906! I thoroughly enjoyed the Small Lot Cab and also came home with a bottle of that. If you are in the area, please stop by 3 Steves. We are looking forward to going back very shortly not just for the fabulous wine but also for the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. 

Garre Winery
Garre Winery

Our next stop was Garre Winery which unfortunately didn’t blow our minds like 3 Steves did. We were greeted and asked about outside seating for the kids and the dogs and were shown where the outdoor patio was. That was the extent of our interaction with anyone at the winery. We got our own tastings to bring back outside and the wines were ok. They started us with their Sangiovese Rose which they refer to as their “patio wine” followed by 5 other reds. All of their bottles are under $20.


Our last stop was Wente Vineyards. Wente is a great wine which I’ve boasted about being able to find for really great prices at Costco. Their property is large with multiple areas to taste and have events. Their tasting menu offers two options so we went with the Winemaker’s Flight. As soon as you step onto the property you are offered a “welcome wine” which happened to be a Sauvignon Blanc and was a perfect welcome! We had two great tasting room employees who tag teamed our group. We tried the Small Lot Pinot Noir Rose, Nth Degree Chardonnay, Sonata, Duetto and Small Lot Petite Sirah. Every single wine was great. The Nth degree Chardonnay was crisp with a buttery aftertaste which I enjoyed. 



Some fun facts for you…90% of the country’s wine is grown in California…only 4% of which is in Napa and the first Chardonnay grape was planted by Wente in 1912.