Hello, it’s me Bad to the Blonde – Dani on the Daily. Monterey 1 – Dani 0.
This Phoenix blogger escaped the Arizona heat and crossed off something on her bucket list that has been on their since she was in high school. Cheers! Why am I talking in third person?
I have had a lots of first time “trips” (yes, I consider my job vacation because in all reality I get paid to travel and it never feels like I am actually working) since my job as a reporter in motorsports takes me all over the country by both plane and rental car, usually both, and to places best described as those in the “middle of no where” since people have a problem with loud noises and parties that don’t stop until the sun comes up. I tend to thrive in this environment.
I love spur of the moment, last minute trips with good wine company! Wait, good company. (Good wine too is always important.) There was room for Nokona at the Chandler doggie daycare and my schedule was wide open. I couldn’t say no to Monterey wine tasting and Laguna Seca – that shit has been on my bucket list before I was legal enough to drink. I was invited, given a plane ticket with my name on it, and I was on my way to San Francisco for an all expense paid trip to Monterey for the USA World Super Bike races at Laguna Seca (and both wine tasting in Monterey and seeing a race at the renowned Laguna Seca racetrack were on my bucket list). Thank you Pirelli and Riders Discount.
Racing and wine tasting were on the itinerary. Wait, let me repeat that, did I say racing and wine tasting? Yes I did, because that is an unusual(and rare combo of the two, which is why I couldn’t say no because these are my two favorites things! I will say this was a definitely a first! I was going to the races (that’s normal). I wasn’t going to be working at the races (that’s a first). I would be drinking wine (that’s normal). I would be drinking wine as a VIP while at the races overlooking turn one (that’s a first).
The weather was perfect. I didn’t even wear the jacket I brought (except on the plane) and I always freeze near the ocean so we definitely came at the right time of year. I literally packed for five days in a carry-on (ok I could barely zip it and a tote bag was my purse for the weekend). Brian was quite impressed per recent travel experiences with me. Let’s just say my Ogio has it’s own nickname – it’s referred to as “the bomb”.
This is my best attempt at a Natasha “Tash” Oakley replica blog. It looks nothing like hers but then again, this is real life and how it would be for most everyday people like you and me. Carrying on…pun intended.
I wasn’t disappointed in my last minute decision to hop on another plane (#YOLO), though sad to put my fur baby back in daycare (that is the hardest part of traveling and she had been there for almost two week straight already because I was traveling for work), story of my life, but how many opportunities do you really have to check things off your bucket list?
Monterey was a mix of beautiful mountains up high and miles of vineyards down low, some curvy roads perfect for an afternoon drive or motorcycle ride, views of the vast ocean from restaurants and bars, tons of places to eat, drink, and be fat and drunk (that is my favorite saying). It really was urban perfection both hip and contemporary, but with a small town feel. I needed another week here to see more. There were also a lot more vineyards that didn’t receive my presence.
We stayed at the Monterey Marriott, thank you Pirelli, which was perfectly located within walking distance to everything we needed like beer and food, coffee, and beer. We did have to take a short, quick Uber to the hotspot known as Cannery Row but it was in the least bit inconvenient (we probably could have walked). I recommend staying at this hotel because of it’s prime location. Plus, it is across the street from Cafe Lumiere, the hidden gem for your morning fuel. We needed something before we went wine tasting and it across the street from our hotel. I ordered two iced vanilla lattes (pictured) and breakfast (not pictured because we ate it before realizing ). I had the avocado toast with smashed avocado and two poached eggs on house-made, toasted pugliese and it was topped with lemon and coarse salt. Brian had the ciabatta breakfast sandwich with bacon, cage free eggs and cheese on house-made ciabatta bread. I even had a bite of his bacon because he said it was so good (I am a vegetarian), oops.
Let’s get to the important part, the wine tasting excursion and where we went. I can’t say whether the racing or the wine tasting was my favorite part because I am in love with both, and both were a dream come true.
Brian hired us our own, private chauffeur Main Event Transportation (I think he found it on a random google search) because we wanted to take our time and not be surrounded by other people, and our driver Nicholas was amazing and deserves an A+++ for his personality, charm, awesome service (he constantly had to drive up to meet us so I could charge my camera battery because I was filming our trip for my YouTube channel – go subscribe and watch the videos) and, for well, putting up with me. It got a little rough by wine tasting #4. He knew the key places to stop at (so we did what he suggested) and pulled over for some photo ops…and some water and snacks. Here is where he took us (in order):
- Talbott Vineyards
- Cowgirl Winery
- Boekenoogen Vineyards and Winery
- Parsonage Wine
- Folktale Winery and Vineyards (I was too drunk to realize this was a real-life fairytale)
Talbott Vineyards was Brian’s favorite (we both voted it had the best wine of all five stops even though I only participated at four, and it had motorcycles inside so we didn’t feel guilty about wine tasting and missing the races on Saturday). Cowgirl Winery was my favorite because I am a country girl and we enjoyed a game of bag toss which I won. Boekenoogen Vineyards and Winery was so-so. I would skip that one – it had decent wine but decor and the vibe just wasn’t there especially not compared to Cowgirl Winery. You’ll see this all in my videos (link to the whole series is below). Parsonage Wine was, again, so-so, cool story and family orientated but they had a dog in there and I got to pet it. Folktale Winery and Vineyards was awesome but I was just too drunk to realize I was in a real-life fairytale. I also threw up, ok sprayed, all over the side of one of the grassy walls that surrounded the winery. Oops (as I bust out laughing writing this). I really think it was because I slammed like two bottles of water in the car.
If you watch the Wine Country Wine Tasting Series #1 from Carmel Valley a.k.a. Monterey, California on my YouTube channel in order from the first stop through the fourth (I was done and in rough shape after that fourth one but we did go to a fifth, go Brian go, I had only water and played lawn games as pictured below).
If you watch the Wine Country Wine Tasting Series #1 from Carmel Valley a.k.a. Monterey, California on my YouTube channel in order from first stop through the fourth, you’ll see most of this unfold also pictured below. I was done and in rough shape after that fourth one (go, Brian, go) but we did go to a fifth. I had water and played lawn games as pictured below.
I was spoiled with an amazing dinner after the races on Sunday at Fish Hopper Restaurant and Bar in Cannery Row. I want to go back! Brian and I love seafood and he had been here before so he knew what to expect. We ate basically in the ocean – the restaurant was built over it with an amazing view of the water. Here is what I had. It was almost to beautiful to eat. We had (another) bottle of wine, too.
Being from a small town, and having lived in San Diego too, I felt that Monterey was the perfect big, little town. It wasn’t hipster just perfectly urban. There was no traffic. No crowds or lines of people. I could have stayed and never left. My favorite part, besides the racing and wine tasting, were all the different and unique places to eat and drink. No two were alike. And I like food. And beer. They were each one of a kind.
I highly suggest a trip to “Sea Monterey” (pun intended – I crack myself up)! And, if we are just getting to know each other, no trip or “stop” is complete without a fun night out on the town and…a handstand. My pants were a little tight and I was a little drunk…