Summer Vibes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Disclosure: I was invited out to Monterey Bay Aquarium for a day to see their new exhibits and to experience all they have to offer for summer fun!

There’s something about summer that has me always wanting to visit the Monterey Peninsula.  Something about being close to the water, exploring Cannery Row, and experiencing the Monterey Bay Aquarium that brings joy for me and so many others!

So, what’s new at the Aquarium?

This summer is the last chance to see Tentacles at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It will be closing down at the end of the summer.

But be sure to check out their new exhibit: Viva Baja! Life on the edge.  An exhibit that focuses on Baja, California and the species that can be found there from desert tortoises, to tarantulas to garden eels and the beauty of the fish found in Baja waters.   There’s something for everyone in this exhibit.  The exhibit will be around for the next 2 years at the Aquarium.

Where you just may not know what you’ll run across:

Such as these Garden Eels, that have become a visitor’s favorite.. Your family will LOVE these guys…

And then, of course, you can experience some of your favorites such as the:

Seeing a feeding of the Sea Otters:

Or another crowd favorite: Watching The Open Sea feeding…. and waiting for those Sardines to make their sneaky and beautiful appearance: So hard to get a good photo!

You can have lunch right at the Aquarium where there offerings are pretty good. The cafe is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm where you can enjoy casual food that’s perfect for the whole family including brick-oven pizzas, made-to-order burgers, fresh-tossed salads and mouthwatering desserts.

The Restaurant is open from 11am to 3pm. Relax in their beautiful restaurant with spectacular ocean views. It’s the perfect spot to sip a glass of wine and savor inspired seasonal dishes with selections such as Pacific Rockfish Tacos and Smoked Pork Loin. Please note seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

or you can enjoy one of the restaurants along Cannery Row.  Your ticket to the aquarium lasts all day and you can have in and out privileges, as needed.  You just need to show you ticket upon re-entrance!

Aquarium Summer Hours: 9:30am to 6pm

Adult: 49.95

Child (3-12, under 3 free): 29.95

Student (13-17) or college ID: 39.95

Senior (Age 65+): 39.95


Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Xinomavro Wine: The Story of Naoussa

Disclosure: A few weeks ago, I was invited out to a lunch to be introduced to Xinomavro, a wine varietal well known out of the Naoussa Wine Region of Greece. More insight below!

One thing I’m learning as I continue to learn and explore wines is that there’s always a new varietal you may not have heard about right around the corner.  In this case, it was the Xinomavro Grape Varietal, which is the most well known grape varietal being produced out of Naoussa, Greece.

This small wine region within Greece has family owned wine grape-growers and owners that strive in producing the best quality Xinomavro Wines out there! They were recognized as a wine growing region of Greece in 1971 with the PDO Naoussa designation.  This means those wines with this designation is reserved for those wines produced from select Xinomavro grapes, grown in a specific way and with a specific yield in the approved-growing Naoussa zone. This zone covers a total area of 700 hectares and wines made here are grown according to the traditional Naoussa method. The vineyards are planted at altitudes of 150-350 meters. It is also the last grape to be harvested during harvest season stretching to the end of September.

Xinomavro Wine:

Their prime characteristic is their tannins, which adds structure to this red wine varietal.  The high acidity in the wine is great for pairing food such as tomato spiced dishes, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken as well as some cheeses and vegetarian dishes.  Their aromas is what will intrigue you with beautiful red fruits of sour cherry, berry or pomegranate along with the contrast of mushroom, smoke, olives, spices or dried tomatoes.

The Tasting:

When I first sat down that afternoon to try the wines I had no idea what to expect.  There were a total of 8 wines involved. All of these 8 wines were part of the PDO Naoussa.

The first wine (2014 Vaeni, Naoussa) stood out to me in that it was a wine created by the cooperative that is made up of 240 growers with less than 1 acre of land dedicated to the Xinomavro grape.  In that particular wine they use 3rd and 4th year Oak barrels to truly bring the fruit forward in the Xinomavro wine. The retail value on this wine is just $10.00!!

Another wine that truly stood out to me during the tasting was the 2010 Melitzani, Naoussa.  What stood out to me about this wine was how easily it was to drink.  If I were to have an everyday glass of wine, this would be the wine I’d pick from Naoussa.  To me, it was that enjoyable to drink. Not only that, but the complexity truly showed when mixed with food.

Other favorites from the tasting that stood out to me included the 2011 Foundi, 2013 Markovitis, and the 2013 Karydas.

Key Takaways:

One thing I love about tastings is the distinct qualities of the wines presented in front of me, but also when a group of wines from one distinct wine region are showcased together, but yet, can taste so distinct from one another.  I really got this from the wines of Naoussa.

There were the wines that really tried to bring the fruit forward like mentioned in the first wine above, then there were the wines that had more youth on them, and how, as the wines aged (something Naoussa Wines do well) the wines really smoothed out and brought an entirely new element to the wine.

Naoussa Wine is a wine worth exploring.  There are 3 distinct classifications of Naoussa Wine: Naoussa Xinomavro Wine, Naoussa Xinomavro Reserve (aged 2 years) and then Naoussa Xinomavro Grande Reserve (aged 4 years).

And the best part about these wines? How affordable they are: They retail anywhere from 10 dollars to 15 dollars a bottle.


Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Did Your Passion for Wine Come From? #MakeTime #Sponsored

It’s funny.  When I lived in Minnesota, I did not have a love for wine.  The wine I tried in the past, usually boxed wines, or bottles around the home that were offered to me, I found I did not like.  I always thought I hated wine.


Then I moved to California.  During that time in my life I was on the path of finding myself, finding my own passions in life such as taking photos, writing, and the moment that changed my perspective on wine.  That moment was my first time walking into a grocery store in California.  I was in AWE that there was an entire aisle dedicated to wine in the grocery store, so inspired that I had to buy a bottle and bring it home. (Lets just say, buying wine, when you know nothing about it, is a pretty overwhelming experience!)  It started with the labels for me, how pretty the labels were determined if I would purchase a bottle of wine or not.

Well, from that first experience to now, lets just say, it’s completely changed my entire perception on wine, and lets just say, it’s kind of become my obsession (*cough*passion*cough*).


From that first time of purchasing a bottle of wine to my first winery visit to my first California Wine Tasting to my new found goal of getting to visit ALL of the California wine regions, and eventually ALL of the US wine regions, it’s become my absolute passion. And it’s leaked in all around my home from my wine collection brewing to the wall decor around the home, it’s everywhere!


Now that it’s summer, bringing my love of wine and the outdoors comes together more than ever this season!

Wente Vineyards KNOWS what this is all about with their Summer Concert Series.  Learn more about their “Make Time for Music” initative, and their amazing summer lineup right here.

And to get you inspired for a nice glass of wine, be sure to check out all their GREAT wine selections.

I truly want to know WHAT You passion is, and how your love of wine began?  We all have a story as to how we fell in love with it, whether it was from dinner parties, the perfect pairing, or even growing up with it, what’s your story?

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment