Sunday, March 16, 2008

San Benito Wine Country



Do you enjoy wine tasting? Try the treasures found in San Benito County wine country. Calera and DeRose Wineries! Another favorite is Pietra Santa Winery (viewed above in picture).

I will share a trip into Silicon Valley’s Deep South – most southern region of Santa Clara Valley and a little beyond that I explored.
If you keep driving south and exit east off of Hwy 101 at San Juan Bautista, you will find the fascinating, San Benito County Wine Trail close to Hollister. Tucked away in these foothills, is the great family-run winery of Pietra Santa Winery, surrounded by their own vineyards as far as you can see. The winery dates back to the 1850’s, and resembles that of a Napa Valley Wine Villa as you go down the driveway.

There are fabulous wines and olive oils for tasting, and the wine personnel have great stories to tell. There is a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright residence located on their property, which you may reserve for events. It is a real hidden gem close to home to visit. Be sure to allow time to visit DeRose Vineyard and Calera Winery this same day of your trip. Ummm, will this be the year’s best kept secret?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Newest discovery off the beaten path in Silicon Valley

In continuing my off the beaten path of Silicon Valley series, I recently made the trek to Mt. Hamilton and Lick Observatory.  You may get more information in my article written in 2008 on Suite101.com.

I have been saying I wanted to make this drive for about 20 years – I decided to go last week. On a February day, clear and sunny, the hillsides a very lush green, this was an excellent day to make this drive. This is a spectacular drive and the finale of seeing Lick Observatory is a first-rate experience. 

While I drove my car, I did pass many bicyclists on the way. I have read that there are 365 curves on the way – this should give you a “sense” of the drive. Elevation of Mt. Hamilton is 4,360 ft (1,330 m) – the tallest peak above Silicon Valley (and in Bay Area). Only 20 miles from San Jose, one would think it is a ½ hour drive. Be sure to allow about an hour and a half one way – remember to take your time and enjoy the drive on the way up/down.

The significant item is Lick Observatory on top of Mt Hamilton. This is where important research is being done by astronomers everyday. Lick Observatory was created by a donation from James Lick, a very prominent gentleman of San Francisco bay area.

Yes, my regular story of this drive will be coming soon – I wanted to share photos and information with everyone now.

The trip was complete when I viewed the dawn of this year's California Poppies on the drive down the other side of the mountain!

Sightseeing tours of Mt. Hamilton? Only with private incentive trips and small groups (10 participants) and in vans.

This is one of those trips that provides us an inspiring experience and, best of all, is local to Silicon Valley residents.

Always, travel that unbeaten path and discover new things!