I’m not a wine snob.

Don’t get me wrong; I really appreciate those individuals who really, really know their wines. But you’ll never hear me trying to identify the region the grapes were grown in, discussing acidity, or trying to determine the grapes that comprise the blend that I’m drinking. That’s just not my style. However, with my closest friends, we’ll talk flavor profiles and the “nose” of wines that we’re drinking. But for the most part, we’ll just drink wine just for the sake of enjoying it.10325320_864137913612866_248038632594196761_n

On my trip to California with my sister, we determined that drinking wine would be a “must-do” on our itinerary. However, it was agreed that we’d take the road less-traveled and steer away from Napa. We opted to do something unique and different. We headed east of Napa to the town of Fairfield.

I know what you’re thinking. “Fairfield?”



Argentine Malbecs are my favorite wines; Jelly Belly jelly beans are my favorite jelly beans. Put them together and, well, I’m in heaven.DSC03210

So imagine my giddy delight when I did a bit of research and discovered that the Jelly Belly factory does a wine pairing!

My sister on the staircase.
My sister on the staircase.

We drove two hours northeast from San Jose and arrived at the Jelly Belly factory late in the morning. The tour was free, informative and provided opportunities for sampling. We weren’t allowed to take photos and we had to wear paper hats, but I didn’t care. We were having fun!

After the tour, we made our way to the tasting room, paid $15 each, and sat down at a table while the tasting was readied for us. We took our leisurely time sampling our way through the chocolates (who knew that Jelly Belly made delicious chocolate confections!) and the local wines that were paired with them.Candy pairings Afterward, we were given a wine glass as a momento. Nice! We made small chat with the woman who had tended to us, and informed her that a local winery was our next destination. To our surprise, she handed us a coupon for a 2-for-1 wine tasting at the winery. Very nice indeed.

We went downstairs to the store, bought plenty of Jelly Belly jelly beans, made our way toward the exit and stopped short. Shining like a beacon before us was a photobooth. Forever children at heart, we practically ran to the booth. Laughing the entire time we were in there, the photos were a perfect way to end our time at the Jelly Belly factory. I would gladly return there someday.

The truth of our happiness is self-evident in the photos.
We’ve grown older, but we refuse to grow up.  Gotta love the hats!



On our way to Wooden Valley Winery, we happened upon this little gem–il Fiorello Olive Oil Company. My sister and I were in for a unique treat–olive oil tasting. We spent nearly an hour learning the subtleties and “notes” of olive oils. They were paired with delicious hors d’oeuvres–many were accompanied by some amazing balsamic vinegars that are also produced on the property .

TSA almost confiscated this bottle at the airport. It’s 100mL–and legal–but an overzealous TSA agent made my life hell for a few minutes.

After ordering a glass of their Malbec, my sister and I wandered into their gift shop.

Armed with newly educated palates and a few purchases, we made our way to Wooden Valley Winery.


DSC03215It was a quick drive from il FIorello Olive Oil Company to Wooden Valley Winery. We entered into a simply appointed tasting room.  My sister and I ordered flights of wine.wine tasting begins After our initial tastings, we settled on getting a glass of our favorite wine to drink outside. The weather was perfect. We sat at a picnic table taking in the scenery until the winery was near to closing. DSC03229

It was way past our dinner time. Having come from the east coast, we weren’t yet used to the three hour time difference. Lucky for us, just down the road was a highly recommended restaurant.


Mankas SteakhouseI can’t speak highly enough of Mankas Steakhouse. Other than very limited parking, this was a near-perfect restaurant. The waitstaff was attentive, the food delicious, the drinks well-prepared, and the ambiance fun and friendly. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Our trip to Fairfield was definitely worth the time. I’m glad that my sister and I went “Napa-light” for this lovely day-long adventure.

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