Napa, oh Napa! To say I love Napa would be an understatement, and I know fellow wine lovers have the same affinity for California wine country. A drive through this beautiful region with the sun shining into a car filled with your best friends, plus a long list of wineries to visit, is truly a dream come true. My friends and I have shared this journey quite a few times, so I’ve had a chance to sip my way through many excellent wineries, including my favorite, which always deserves a stop each time we visit Napa.
B Cellars is located about 15 miles north of downtown Napa, just off the Silverado Trail. B Cellars was built on two principles: “producing artisan wines season after season and developing distinct flavors by blending wines from mutually complementary varietals.” During each and every visit to B Cellars, I see those principles play out in their top-notch small production wines.
I’ve experienced both the Oakville Trek and the Chef’s Garden Pairing, both of which are exceptional. Starting with a vineyard tour and barrel tasting, you have a little time to work up an appetite before the food and wine pairings. Yum is all I have to say! The thoughtful, personalized welcome is unmatched, and it really is a special touch that you won’t find at every winery. The hand-crafted bites include many ingredients grown on site, and the pairings are spot on and bursting with flavors.
There’s so many of the B Cellars wines that I love, but the Blend 23 and Sauvignon Blanc are my summer and early fall staples. After each trip, I have the chance to enjoy the wines at home, as a longtime B Society member. Maybe something you, too, should consider after your next Napa getaway? Until next time, wanderer – cheers!
Not to be missed is a trip to the island of Spinalonga, located in northeastern Crete. Spinalonga wasn’t originally an island, but instead was considered part of Crete. During the Venetian occupation, the island was carved out with a bastion-type seaward fortress built to defend Crete during Venetian and Ottoman rule. Years after the Turks were evicted from Spinalonga, the island became a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. As one of the last active leper colonies in Europe, nearly 400 inhabitants called Spinalonga home.
I only learned about the fortress aspect of Spinalonga recently. It was “The Island,” a historical novel written by Victoria Hislop, that sparked my reason for visiting. While just a 10-minute boat ride from Plaka - Spinalonga seemed a world away. Walking through the deserted streets, my mind wondered what it was like to live with the disease, deal with the initially poor living conditions, and bear the separation from loved ones.
As I followed the path, I entered one of the churches on the island and spent a few quiet, emotional moments at the cemetery. Making my way back to catch my return boat to Plaka, I realized that despite the sad history of Spinalonga, there was still a reminder of hope and healing through the breathtaking views of Crete’s clear, blue waters.
When visiting Crete, be sure to take the short boat ride to wander through Spinalonga and journey through its vast history.