The Beginning and the End All Wrapped Into One

April 30, 2018

Last weekend, I crossed another SOMEDAY off my bucket list.   I really enjoy the experience of traveling but I am horrible about wanting to be away from home for long, leisurely trips.  Instead, I have started to focus on short little adventures.

Three day weekends are perfect for me! In my past years, I loved the experience of great wine.   And all though I occasionally enjoyed a glass at dinner, I had somewhat lost my gusto for fine wine.   And for some strange reason unknown to me, I have never been to wine country in California. (I know, right?) I mentioned this one night to a group of my girlfriends and before I knew it we had a trip planned.


I am here to report that in the wheelhouse of short trips, especially with friends, this is a trip to strongly consider.

Why? Beyond the wine and food, which I will get to in a moment this is a trip that is good for the soul.   

 Lynmar Estates View

The area is gorgeous.   The weather is warm. And although it is finally getting nice outside here, I can’t tell you how much the different California climate affected my mood.  I was 400% happier right out of the gate.

Enjoying the day

After a few glasses of wine, you get to know people really well.  And each day, we seemed to have a handle on solving world problems and life’s dilemmas.  


There were four of us on this trip.  Coreen and Cassie are from Des Moines and Chris is from out of state.  And today, I thought I would share our secrets for what turned out to be a fabulous trip!


Not So Secret Ingredient 1:   Find A Great Spot to Stay

I typically like to stay in a nice hotel with my own room and space when I travel.  But on this trip we decided to try something a little different and take advantage of the vast array of quaint rental homes.  

 VBRO rental

Coreen found a charming VBRO that was nestled in the redwood forest in the Russian River Valley and it was aptly called BOHO RHAPSODY.

This creekside sanctuary was perfect for us as we had hired a driver who would be picking us up and taking us to and from several wineries each day.   Holy smokes, just standing there each morning and looking up at these towering trees was in itself a wondrous experience.

Redwood trees

Not So Secret Ingredient 2:   Find an experienced driver/area guide

I had always envisioned a limousine driving us around.   But instead Coreen had experience with a young gentleman (Ryan) who booked all of our wine tasting appointments and drove us around using our rental car (making it less expensive than hiring a limo.)

Sonoma Tours


 Ryan customized both of our days not only utilizing his knowledge but all of his connections. He picked the wineries that we would experience and also gave us great restaurant recommendations. (Click on his picture to find out more about his company.)





So here are a few wineries that we visited and enjoyed…

Lynmar Estates

As a first stop on our wine tasting tour, it could not have been better.  It was 10:15 in the morning, the air was warm, the sun was shining and the grounds breathtaking. And then there was the wine.   

A Day at Lynmar Estates

I have traditionally not been a big Chardonnay fan but since this grape is abundantly grown in the Russian River area, I had the opportunity to taste ones that certainly changed my mind.    I ended up walking away with a case of it!

2014 Susanna Chardonnay

Another that impressed us was...



Gary Farrell Estate



It was here that I found a 2014 Toboni Vineyard Pinot Noir that inspired me to bring a few bottles home.  









And then we were then off to...


We not only enjoyed great wine and a beautiful backdrop but the company of a few dogs...of the cuddly kind.   

Puppy love

We were well into the swing of the day and enjoyed lots of wine, laughs and great scenery. I do believe that I ordered a few bottles from this winery or agreed to share a case of something with someone but for the life of me I cannot remember.   But heck, who cares, we were having fun!

Macrostie Estate

The next place we went wasn’t a vineyard but a tasting room in the town of Healdsburg.


Coreen had stumbled upon this gem on a previous trip and insisted we visit. We were glad we did.  Every wine  we were served was paired with a delicious food creation from their kitchen so we could taste the wine alone and then experience how it works with a food pairing.   

truffle salt!

Truffle salt! Are you kidding me? Can’t wait to throw some of that on some popcorn.

 Food pairings

Pipin’ Hot Pepper Jam & Relish on Kerrygold Natural Dubliner Cheese? Uh-huh.

Needless to say, we needed the food and, of course, enjoyed the wine.   There were a few other wineries along the way and I could go on and on.    But I won’t. (Thank goodness, right?)

One other standout place we visited was a restaurant called River’s End.   We heard that it was the best place to be for seeing the Sunset so of course we needed to make that work.

Sunset at River's End

The restaurant is perched on a bluff overlooking the mystical Russian River as it ends at the Pacific Ocean.  It is the beginning and end all wrapped into one.   At this special place, there is no cell phone service, internet service or data ports to plug into.   It was the perfect place to celebrate life with good friends and share new experiences.

Cassie and Chris are Oyster lovers and fell in love with the River's End's version of their Oysters on the half-shell (with caviar sprinkled on top).

Oysters on the half shell

Oysters are kind of a gag me moment but I bucked it up and tried one (one their second order) and actually enjoyed it.   No one was more surprised than me.

The last and most important ingredient to this successful trip...

Not So Secret Ingredient 3:  Find Your Gang

Don’t get me wrong, I think a trip to wine country would be a great trip for couples but I think it is an absolutely amazing one for a group of girl friends.    You discover yourself on trips like this.

Girls Trip

By the third winery of the day, you somehow find yourself sharing all sorts of stories and experiences with each other.   

You’ll laugh like you haven’t in years.

And you learn. You learn that you are not alone. That other women that you admire and respect have their own stories and life challenges and you discover that we are all the same.




No one has a perfect life with a perfect ending but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a perfect day!

One evening while waiting for our dinner reservations we did a little shopping.    This book found me in a little art store and it seemed to sum up some of what we were experiencing that weekend.

The Goddess Who Forgot She Was a Goddess

It was called “The Goddess Who Forgot She Was A Goddess”...a story from spirit.  We were simply four goddesses that weekend nurturing our souls, drinking great wine and enjoying all the beauty and joy that life offers.  

So to all of you, enjoy all the beauty and joy that life offers and has the potential to come your way.   It’s one of the reasons that we are so passionate about what we do at K. Renee.

Although I had a great little vacation, I am always anxious and excited to come back to my own personal sanctuary called HOME.   I don’t have to wait until my next vacation or adventure to experience beautiful surroundings - I get to experience that joy each and every day.





Don’t forget about our Alfresco Affair this Thursday from 4 to 8 pm.   The team is working on transforming our parking lot into a beautiful outdoor venue.   It is an open house so drop by when you can to gather, enjoy and appreciate some inspiration and live music.

Alfresco Affair