Seeing The Walnut Harvest In Action!

Disclosure: I was invited on a California Farm Water Coalition Farm Tour of the Sacramento Valley this past October.  This was part of my experience while on tour.  All opinions are my own.

As we head into baking season, those, fresh, walnuts, come to mind, that are added to so many desserts in the coming weeks ahead!


But have you EVER thought about how a Walnut is farmed, or how it is harvested?  I have to admit, I never really knew the process either until a few weeks ago when I saw the process in action at Lester Farms.

Lester Farms is located in Yolo County, which also happens to reside in the Sacramento Valley (think area of Winters, CA.)


Upon arrival, we met up with Stan Lester, owner of Lester Farms.  The farm has been operating since the 1800’s, and has always been a family-owned farm.  The farm started in the Santa Clara area originally, but as Urban Sprawl began, the family begin to look for property elsewhere, and that is when they found the area of Winters, CA.

We then headed closer to the Walnut Trees to take a closer look:


One of the first things I noticed as we drove through the Walnut Trees was the black trunk below the white trunk.  What I found out, is that the Black Walnut Trunk is used for the planting, then another varietal is grafted on top of the black walnut trunk due to the sturdiness of the Black Walnut.


The previous weekend, rain has come in, and actually helped the Walnuts open up their hulls; the hulls are what surround the walnuts for protection as they grow. Once the hulls split open, it’s a good sign, the walnuts are ready to be harvested.  A shaker then comes through to knock the walnuts to the ground.


After the crew has gone through shaking the trees, a sweeper will then come through the rows of trees to sweep the walnuts away from the tree trunks in a long row.  Then another vehicle will come through to pick up all of the walnuts to bring to the processing area.

Once in the processing area, the walnuts are dumped into one area, where they are dropped below ground, then lifted into a conveyor belt to go through the cleaning process:


Watching them being dumped below was pretty cool watching… actually, it was pretty mesmerizing.


The Conveyor Belt where the Walnuts are lifted into the area where they will be cleaned:


During the cleaning process, machinery will take away the extra stems, and leaves that may come in with the Walnuts, then the walnuts are washed and cleaned up.


After the Walnuts are cleaned, they are then put in for the drying process.  The drying process can take anywhere between 12 and 30 hours!

And that completes the harvesting process for Walnuts!  A huge THANK YOU to Stan Lester and his team for letting us come tour his property during the harvest season, but not only that, the fact that ALL this happened in front of our eyes while we WERE there.


Lester Farms also owns a bakery in downtown Winters, CA, but more on that in a future post!

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Lodi Wine: Their Varietals May Surprise You!

Disclosure: I participated in an online conversation about Lodi Wine.  Wine Samples were sent out to me on behalf of Snooth.Com; This is what I discovered.

Since my first visit to Lodi over a year ago now, I’ve been intrigued by the region, and what the grape growers and wine makers are doing in this area of California.

This past August, during the Wine Blogger’s Conference, I discovered that the Lodi region has over 100 Varietals of Wine growing in their region!

And that they do more than just Zinfandel, although, they have gotten quite the name for themselves for their amazing, quality Zinfandels, what we’ve been discovering the last few months is that there’s a lot going on beyond Zin.

This tasting with Snooth.Com showcased that in a whole new way:


Imagine that, of the 4 wines sent to us, none of them were Zinfandels.

The 4 Wines were:

2015 Acquiesce Belle Blanc Wine: Retails: 26.00

Acquiesce Wines have been creating quite the name for themselves in the Lodi region, as this winery only specializes in White Wine Varietals. The ONLY winery in Lodi to be doing this right now.

And, Lodi is finding out, that they have quite the ability to make some incredible white wines, the perfect wine to drink on a hot summer day.

It was an honor to taste the Belle Blance Wine from Acquiesce, a fan favorite throughout the Wine Bloggers Conference this past August.

2014 Lange Twins Nero D’Avolo:

The Nero D’Avolo is an Italian Variety, and this wine from the Lange Twins was the first Nero D’Avolo I’ve tasted, but after tasting this wine from Lange Twins, it quickly became a favorite, and has peaked my interest to try other wines from this varietal.

Also, quite interesting, is that this vineyard was first planted in 2012, but 2 years later, they had to rip the vineyard out. so the fact of trying out this wine from a vineyard that has been ripped out is pretty meaningful for me.

The Lange Twins have replanted the Nero D’Avolo varietal, and will continue to make this wine in the future (a huge favorite of mine now!)

2013 Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah:

I fell in love with Klinker Brick Wines at the Wine Bloggers Conference this past August.  It was pretty surreal having Farrah pour us the Farrah Syrah (the namesake of the wine) during the Red Wine Speed Tasting Session!

After the conference was over, my love of Klinker Brick carried on, as I had to visit the winery in person a few weeks later when I was in the area.  They have a gorgeous Patio area where you could really enjoy a bottle of wine.

I always love pairing a nice Syrah with a good red meat, especially if grilling during the summer.  The spices that come out of a Syrah are a nice pairing with the grilled meat. The Farrah Syrah would be perfect for this!

2013 McCay Cellars Grenache: Retails: 32.00

Lately, whoever I’ve been talking to, wine related, has told me, that they are huge fans of Grenache. So, when I saw McCay Cellars, wines I’ve huge fans of, was sending over a Grenache, I couldn’t wait to try!

And the minute the Grenache hit my lips, I couldn’t put the glass of wine down.  It was really, a wine, that could stand alone, but also pairs quite nicely with food.  As I drank this wine down, I knew, this would become my to go to drinking wine from now on, and it has!

Michael McCay always does a nice job, with creating, quality wines, the Grenache was spectacular, and a huge winner for me.

It was GREAT tasting the wines coming out of Lodi, and exploring more of this incredible California Wine Region.








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New Sparkling Wine Tasting Room in Healdsburg: Breathless Wines!

I first discovered Breathless Wines during A Taste of Sonoma this past Labor Day Weekend!  As I was in the midst of enjoying all of the Sparkling Wines throughout the day, friends pointed out the discovery of Breathless Wines.


They also pointed out that they were opening up a tasting room in Healdsburg.  I soon forgot this fact, until, last week, when I was browsing on Instagram, and saw a gorgeous photo of Sparkling Wines with a beautiful backdrop.  I did some further investigation, and realized that Breathless Wines Tasting Room had just opened in Healdsburg.

So, take me to this past weekend, when I looked over at my other half, told him about the new tasting room, and asked if he wanted to go?  He looked over at me, begrudgingly, knowing how much I wanted to go, and we said, “okay.”


So, we were off, on the search of Breathless Wines new tasting room. It wasn’t too hard to find, really, head towards Downtown Healdsburg, follow North Street to Moore Lane then look for the Breathless Wines Sign.

It’s in easy walking distance from Downtown Healdsburg Plaza and Shops. And trust me, it’s worth walking to.  I mean, just look at our beautiful sparkling wine flight:


A Sparkling Flight costs 14 dollars!  It includes a taste of Brut, Blanc de Noirs, and a Brut Rose. All these sparkling wines were made with the same sweetness level, but 3 different styles.  We also had a 4th tasting with their newly released Blanc de Blanc Wine.

If you’ve ever been curious about the Sabrage Opening!  Guess what?  You just have to stop into Breathless Wines now to experience it in person.  They offer a Sabrage experience right at the tasting room where you purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy, and they’ll walk you through the technique, and of course, show you this with your own bottle, which you’ll enjoy at the tasting room!


The Tasting room, made from Shipping Containers, was truly well put together, with the shipping container door opening outside with a bar to serve (you know, it’ll be put to great use during the summer!)


They also have a lovely patio area where you can enjoy your Sparkling Wines… which is set up for entertainment, which I’m sure, they’ll put to use in the future!

I know I’ve found one of my new favorite tasting rooms to keep visiting back to, or, at least, bring my future guests to:


Breathless Wines

499 Moore Lane

Healdsburg, CA

Hours: 10am-6pm, Closed Wednesdays

About Breathless Wines:

Breathless Wines is a family affair, built by the love of three sisters, Sharon, Rebecca, and Cynthia, and the passion for life that their mother passed down to them. The sisters are dedicated to creating refreshing sparkling wines that pair well with life’s special moments.

The Winemaker: Penny Gadd-Coster

Who has over 35 years of experience in making Sparkling Wine!

Penny, recipient of “Winemaker of the Year” in the North Bay Business Journal’s inaugural Wine Industry Awards, has garnered 12 Gold Medal and Best of Class awards in the past year alone for Breathless Wines. With more than 35 years of winemaking experience including having been the sparkling winemaker at J, and director of winemaking at Rack & Riddle since 2007, Penny crafts what many publications have lauded as the best sparkling wines available on the market today. By sourcing only the best grapes from the Carneros appellation, honing in on the best vineyards, and within those the very best clones, allows the personality across vintages to shine through with consistency year after year; variations in soil type in the Carneros region adds complexity to the fruit. Breathless Sparkling Wines are food-friendly and pair well with any plate — that’s the beauty of our bubbly!

And trust me, their Sparkling Wines are really, really delicious!  So, the next time you’re in Healdsburg, and looking to try some Sparkling Wine, be sure to put Breathless Wines on your list!



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