Truly Julie and MamaisHaute having a royal of a time at Castello di Amarosa!The rolling hills…the neat rows of grape trees that look like well uniformed soldiers…the pace of life that trickles as slowly as cabernet legs on a fine wine glass…Sonoma and Napa are exactly what a New York City girl needs to wind down and wine up! It’s hard to believe just 40 minutes or so from San Franciso is this dreamboat of a place…where boozing and comparing the sweet grape nectars of different years, vineyards, and myriad of grapes is pretty much your only task for the day. I breezed through 3 vineyards for wine tasting: Spring Mountain, Barnett, and Chalk Hill. Spring Mountain had my favorite wine of the whole trip..the “Elivette”. I smile just thinking about the taste…which could only be described accurately if I had time to list 100 adjectives. Barnett is located on top of a hill so it has dashing views, plus it’s still family owned so it has that charm. Chalk Hill is cool because it offers horseback riding…though, if you want to cantor or trot, they’ll only let you in the pavilion. All the rules for riding at Chalk Hill made me really miss my experience in Uruguay where I got to gallop freely on a beach. But I guess the US is a lawsuit happy place…pun intended…tighter reins. I also squeezed in a pool day at Calistoga Ranch. I splashed around with my nephew by day..and by night…dined at The Lakehouse. Just look at this crab cake…it’s so beautiful and sculptural that it looks like it belongs in the MOMA. I often get asked if my blog pictures are all my own. YES. And while I was a bit tipsy during my stay in the wine country…it was hard to take a bad photo of this picturesque place. Wine goggles or not…Sonoma/Napa are worthy of every praise. I’ll drink to that!
Truly Julie with the Ann Arbor gang!Look at this dreamy sunset with the Golden Gate Bridge as our majestic backdrop! How fitting…given these are my childhood/high school Ann Arbor friends that I hope to have in my life well into my golden years:) In addition to my longtime Michigan friends who now live in SF…this earthy city also sparks so many childhood memories for me because I visited my late grandmother here every year as a kid. And boy…was she ahead of her time. Long story short…she raised 3 kids as a single mom during the Korean War aftermath…worked several odd jobs including being a maid to raise enough money to move to SF (and to put my uncle through med school)…opened her own jewelry boutique…powder blue convertible Benz…4 bedroom home in Twin
Peaks…BAM! The way she lead her life imbued in me: you can either wait for things to happen…or make things happen. Ding ding ding! You got it…she always opted for the latter. I really do think I get so much of my go-getter, independent spirit from her. And perhaps that’s why she chose SF as her final destination. This city, too, marches to it’s own beat. It doesn’t effing matter if you wear a Patagonia fleece to a nice dinner. Never mind the hills with the 90 degree incline..people will still bike around town with a smile. So hippie…yet so hardcore. Love it. I took more hikes during my 3 day stay in the Bay Area than I have…well…in 3 years! I highly recommend the trails throughout Tamalpais Park. We trekked the Matt Davis and Dipsea trails and I highly recommend. You get waterfalls…massive redwood trees…ocean view…a litte bit of everything. The park site says these trails are meant to “intensify your pleasure”. I don’t know about all that…but it was a beautiful 8 mile hike:) We also strolled through Sutro Baths which has sweeping views of Golden Gate Bridge and mesmerizing acres of Bay Area’s iconic Monterey pinetrees. As my Americana tour continues (check out N’awlins, Philly, Boston, Brooklyn & Cambridge …I’m glad I got to revisit SF. As the saying goes: it’s an oldie…but a goodie. Just like my friends I’ve known since I was kiddie:) (Don’t worry…not quitting my day job to become a rapper) Check out the picture gallery below which includes the best ice cream place ever!
For the fourth consecutive year…I had the pleasure of hosting the Beacon Awards for Inside Broadway and the scholarship luncheon for Lighthouse International. Both charities are dear to my heart and by sheer coincidence they both fell on the same day this year! I had to somehow sandwich two newscasts between the events…but heck…I wouldn’t miss them for the world! A quick nugget on each organization and how you can get involved. Inside Broadway is an amazing not-for-profit that brings the magic of Broadway to dozens of inner city schools in the NYC area. It brings professional performers into the schools…or vice versa…it brings the kids to a show on the Great White Way. Inside Broadway is exactly what the name suggests. It gives kids access to Broadway…and it’s been doing so for the last 30 years! I was a theater kid and I can say with conviction that my participation in school musicals…and seeing Broadway shows with my family…definitely sparked my interest in one day “performing” in front of many. Furthermore…it shaped my confidence as a young woman. Learning to be comfortable under those hot lights gave me some of the swagga to make it in my cut throat biz of broadcasting. We honored Christie Brinkley (for her work in “Chicago”) and Nick Jonas (for his work in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) along with a few others contributing to the arts this year. But as always…my fav were the kids! Oh…I also loved that Nick Jonas spontaneously decided to sing a song for us! First time in the four years I’ve hosted that an award recipient treated us to a performance! As for Christie Brinkley and me…we’re just two Michigan girls living out our dreams in our Roland Mouret dresses:)
Lighthouse International is one of the oldest charities in the country! The kind folks over there have been helping the visually impaired since 1905. We gave away 8 scholarships this year…including one to a young woman who was once found outside an orphanage in China. She was left inside an apple box. Now she’s heading to Columbia University! I swear…every scholarship recipients’ story is better than any Hollywood movie. This event leaves me so inspired. Each and every recipient allows me to understand that: you don’t have to see to have a vision. I have volunteered at Lighthouse International’s Saturday School (so fun and rewarding!)…but there are dozens of ways for you to get involved.