Groupon: Things to Do All Around LA!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Groupon!  All opinions are my own.

When I first moved to LA, I always kept my eye out for the latest deals and discounts on things to do and places to see all around LA.  Things like taking a painting class, or a wine tasting experience, or a great dinner experience! I kept Groupon Things to Do: as a great to go place to look when first moving to the city:

lalights

  1. It’d help me meet new people
  2. It got me out exploring my new City
  3. It helped to find things I never would have thought about.

This is when I fell in love with Groupon and all that they had to offer.

Doing a search today brought up fun activities such as:

Taking Basketball Shooting Lessons (do you guys realize how popular Basketball is in Los Angeles?)

Taking a Hollywood Tour (when you first move to LA, you have to be a tourist for a day and take in all the sites!)

50% Museum Prices! (LA has a lot of GREAT museums!)

And for those that enjoy wine like me, LA does not leave you out:

Take a Malibu Wine Excursion Tour:

Or Enjoy an Afternoon at Rosenthal Estates (Up to 46% off!)

I was also huge in taking part in the festival circuit: Finding the latest and new festival to attend:  There’s ALWAYS something happening in LA:

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Dessert Week Anyone?

Sylmar Olive Festival?

Sunset and Dine Food Festival? (the perfect combination, if you ask me!)

So, definitely be sure to check out ALL the awesome Groupon Things to Do in Los Angeles!  There’s something for everyone.

 

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Worth a Day Trip: The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, CA


Disclosure: As part of a pre-excursion event with the IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference) we were taken over to the Old Sugar Mill… my in depth experience below.

One thing I love about attending conferences and partaking in their pre or post conference excursions are the in-depth experiences that come with it.

This was exactly the case with The Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg, CA.  We got an in-depth look at 4 of the Tasting rooms within, meeting the winemakers and tasting room mangers behind the wines, and hearing their stories.

Before, I talk about the Old Sugar Mill, we have to go back in history a bit and talk about Clarksburg:

Before Clarksburg were Grape Growers, they were actually Beet Growers, and the Old Sugar Mill was exactly that: The Sugar Mill for the Beets grown in the area.  The one thing I took away from this excursion was the SMELL that came from milling beets!  BUT, eventually, people stopped buying sugar beets, and the Clarksburg Farmers had to look elsewhere for what crops to bring into their area: This is when they turned to grape growing.

The Clarksburg appellation – located 15 minutes south of downtown Sacramento –
produces some of California’s most coveted wine grapes planted on more than 7,000
acres encompassing over 35 varietals. Here, the same cooling breezes from San
Francisco Bay that influence the Napa and Sonoma valleys to our west ensure a slow,
even growing season, placing the Clarksburg appellation among California’s premier
winegrowing regions. In fact, many of Napa and Sonoma’s most renowned winemakers
have been coming to Clarksburg to buy their wine grapes since the 1970s. ~Clarksburg Wine Company

The Clarksburg Appellation is well known for their Chenin Blanc and Petite Sirah, however, during my visit at the Old Sugar Mill, lots of interesting things were happening beyond these 2 varietals:

Old-Sugar-Mill

The Old Sugar Mill today is host to a Grape Crushing Pad where wineries throughout the area could work with the Old Sugar Mill and have utilize their crush pad space to harvest and develop their wines.

Inside the space are host to 11 Tasting Rooms with a ton of picnic grounds to truly enjoy a day of good food and wine right on premise! Lets go explore some of the tasting rooms inside the Old Sugar Mill:

Clarksburg Wine Company:

It’s been well over 3 weeks since I’ve tasted Clarksburg Wine Company Chenin Blanc, but the taste is still savored in my mouth, especially after a 110 degree day in the Sacramento Valley, that first taste of wine is everything.

And on a hot, hot day, I’m partial to White Wines, so when that Chenin Blanc touched my lips, lets just say, it’s been left there since.

Clarksburg-Wine-Company

(Inside the Clarksburg Wine Company Tasting Room)

Now, I was also very fortunate to try their 2013 Cabernet Franc, and with my side of Pork Loin, it was a pretty spectacular pairing.

I really enjoyed the wines from Clarksburg Wine Company, and will be back to take some home with me!

Elevation 10:

Elevation-10-Tasting-Room

During our afternoon speed tasting session over lunch, I was hooked by Elevation 10 by talking to the owners of the Tasting Room (Dominic and Rina DiMare).  And from there, it was my first stop on my Tasting Rooms to visit:

I was instantly drawn to their Wine Gelatos inside:

elevation10

I had to try one.

But, further investigation around the Tasting Room you will find fine Chocolates, other foodie type items.  And they EVEN will do Wine and Chocolate tastings for you at their tasting room.

They have a really nice Chardonnay, but what they’re known for is their Proprietor Blend, their flagship Red Wine.  Although the Combination’s change yearly, they are dedicated to having at least 2 of the varietals come from the Bordeaux wines, which they strive to make their wines after at Elevation 10.

Due Vigne:

Due Vigne is proud in making Italian Style Wines, and what they were doing with their wines captured my attention right away especially their 2014 Barbera (very popular in this region on California going South into Lodi!)

duevigne

Upon entering their tasting room, your eyes were instantly drawn to their cork board that showcased the varietals of wines they produced around their name.

At the tasting bar I was offered to try more of their wines, and I was curious about their Nebbiolo, a first time introduction to me: and after 1 sip, I was hooked to know more about this varietal.  Notes of Bing Cherries really came through.

Three Wine Company:

Anyone happen to follow Matt Cline?  If so, you may know a bit of his story, and also know he makes REALLY REALLY good wine.

But, when he makes wine, he has a desire to keep things small, focused, and find some GREAT areas for producing the wine, in the first place.

So, it makes perfect since that Matt Cline found his vision with his company, Three Wine Company, with his wife Erin, where they are showcasing their wine to the public at the Old Sugar Mill.  Three represents their philosophy in winemaking – the dirt, the micro-climate and sustainable wine-growing. Under three they produced old-vine Zinfandel, Mataro, Carignane, and Petite Sirah from Contra Costa County. In addition, they make Riesling and Albariño from Monterey County and Chardonnay from the famed Carneros region in the Napa valley.

ThreeWine

When I tasted his Old Vines Rose, it was the perfect drink to the hot, summer day we were having in the Sacramento Valley.  I’ll have to stop back to try more of his wines that he’s creating at Three in the months ahead!

The Old Sugar Mill is just 20 Minutes outside of Sacramento, and they’ve created a map for you:

Oldsugarmill_Directions_Map

It’s definitely worth a day trip to check out the 4 Tasting Rooms Above, or to Explore all 11 with a group of friends or a loved one.  Bring a Picnic Basket, and enjoy the wines!

 

 

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It’s Peach Season in the San Joaquin Valley!


Disclosure: I was invited down to the Central Valley with the California Farm Water Coalition to explore the San Joaquin Valley, Meet some of the farmers, and learn about California’s Water Processes for Farmers along the way.  Here’s a little bit of what we explored!

Nectarine

White Nectarines from Hudson Farms

I don’t know about you, but I love the summer.  The beginning of May and June for Berry Season!  The beginning of July for Fresh Corn, and of course, the middle of July when those fresh Stone Fruits start appearing (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc!)

A few little facts about the San Joaquin Valley: 

Did you know they GROW over 350 Crops in the San Joaquin Valley?  And California grows well over 400 crops across the state?

Did you also know that Fresno accounts for 20% of jobs in Agriculture?  When, across the US, just 2% of jobs go towards Agriculture?

There’s more Turkeys than people in Fresno!

Fresno is the #3 County in Farming in State of CA

California Produces 2/3 of US Fruit!

Wawona Frozen Foods:

Our first stop on our tour was to Wawona Frozen Foods!  Wawona Frozen Foods specializes in the growing and freezing of fresh fruits. Beginning as a small farm over fifty years ago, we continue today as a grower, processor and major supplier of fruit and fruit products.

Wawona-Frozen-Foods

Wawona Frozen Foods began in 1945 as peach growers and as Wawona Packing.  They began with Stone Fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines).

Wawona-Peaches

In 1963, they turned their Stonefruit Packing into Wawona Frozen Foods with their first pound of peaches! Throughout the years, there were over 15 Packing Houses in the area, now, Wawona Frozen Foods is the ONLY one left and produces 70-75 billion pounds of frozen peaches!

peaches

Today, Wawona Frozen Foods works with 40-45 outside growers!  They hand deliver the bins, trucks then pick up the bins, and deliver back to the processing plant. The Peaches get picked 4-5 days later than fresh houses for a more mature, ripe fruit.

90% of Peaches being produced are freestones while 10% are the clingstone varieties (used for canning!) There are over 60 varieties of Freestone Peaches available, at Wawona, they work with about 40-45 varieties!

In 1 Shift, during peak season, they can process around 45,000 pounds of peaches! That’s about 80,000-90,000 pounds per day!

They even have their own lab for inspecting the fruit quality, and for food safety!  Their fruit goes to suppliers like Costco, and they are a huge supplier for local, school programs! (You know those fruit cups?) Guess where they come from?

 The Peach Tree Fruit Stand:

After touring Wawona Frozen Fruits, we drove a few blocks over to their little Peach Tree Fruit Stand!  Trust me, it’s worth a visit:

The-Peach-Tree-Fruit-Stand

At the Fruit Stand, they have both fresh and frozen peaches available for purchase, along with their well known Peach Jewels, a frozen mini peach pie that you bake in the oven as you dust them in sugar.

Fresno-Fruit-Trail

Probably one of the most adorable Peach Stands I’ve ever seen!  Their Peach Stand is apart of the Fresno Fruit Trail, an entire trail around Fresno County of the fresh bounty produce you can find in the area!  Spend an afternoon exploring the Fruit Stands, talking with Farmers of the Area, and stocking up on the fresh produce, direct from the farmers of the area!

Hudson Farms:

Our next stop was a few towns over in Sanger, California to the adorable Fruit Stand of Hudson Farms, which sits right on their farm property.

Hudson Farms are huge producers of Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums!  They also provide Fresh Corn, Armenian Cucumbers, Red Onions, Fresh Cut Flowers, Jams, and more at their fruit stand.  They are 5th and 6th Generation Farmers.

Liz Hudson greeted us in a very kind way upon our arrival with a plethora of food offerings: Fresh Peaches, Nectarines, Peach Cobbler, Fresh Jams, and more!

fresh-fruit

She even pulled out a Corn Cob, and had us try FRESH, RAW Corn!  Which was the best:

fresh-corn

But, let’s be serious for a moment:  The drought the past 4 years was really rough for the San Joaquin Valley, and especially for Hudson Farms.  Last year, their well dried up completely!

In the past 3 years, they’ve added 3 new wells to their property!  And, guess what?  Adding a well to your property doesn’t always guaranteed that there will be a water supply waiting for you on the other end!  Imagine putting in a 130,000 dollar investment to not find water on the other end?  This is just one of the risks that farmers take! A well can cost anywhere from 75,000 to 125,000!  Not only that, but there’s a huge waitlist for putting a well in, it can take up to a year or more!

Luckily, this year, has been a good one for Hudson Farms!

Liz even showed us the difference in sized fruits, and how some customers are looking for the “bonus size”, and they’re willing to pay a little more if you have that for them:

Nectarines

Notice the nectarine in the bottom left corner?  She showed us that is what you want to look for when picking a nectarine out at a Farmer’s Market or in a store, look for the yellowish color inside, near the stem! This will help tell you that the Nectarine is ripe and ready to go.

While we were there, they were in the process of harvesting fruit for Wawona Frozen Foods!  So we actually got to sneak a peek of the harvesters:

Peach-harvest

Stone Fruit Harvesting is a very labor intensive job!  To this day, they still climb up ladders and hand pick all of the fruit being harvested.  They can harvest a tree up to 4 different times.

Upon arriving back to Liz’s Fruit Stand, we noticed the herb garden and flowers right behind it! We asked her if we could walk through. I was instantly drawn to the Sunflowers that were in full bloom season:

sunflowers

And yes, you can buy Sunflowers right out of her fruit stand!  And guess what?  Her fruit stand is a part of the Fresno County Fruit Trail also!

I really wanted to showcase these 2 places on our first day of the tour!  Future posts will talk about Olive Oil, Melon Growing, and Grapes that Turn to Raisins!  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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