A Wine Trip Along The California Coast Finished Up Our Year
We started our travelling year with a 4 week trip along the California coast. It was such a great return visit that we booked a wine trip along the California coast to finish our year.
The Oceania Cruises trip on the Sirena was called the “Stars of the Vine”. There were 5 ports in California and one stop in Ensenada, Mexico. We cruised along the wine coast and had many opportunities to sample California wine in port cities. And onboard during California wine tasting sessions and lectures.
Even though it was a short trip, it was a challenging trip to pack and prepare for. We started in winter in Toronto, enjoyed warm temperatures in southern California and then finished up with colder weather as we finished in Vancouver.
Starting In Long Beach
We escaped the winter weather in Toronto and arrived in Long Beach for a week to start our trip. It gave us a chance to get on local time. And warm up.
Long Beach was all decorated for the holiday season. We loved the bright lights and fountain shows outside the Long Beach Performing Arts Centre.
There was much to see and do along the harbour in Long Beach. And we discovered an amazing variety of street art.
We were happy we went to Long Beach for a short stay before our wine trip along the California coast.
Catalina Island For Dolphins And Sea Lions
On our day anchored off of Avalon on Catalina Island, we took a fast boat trip and saw the playful dolphins and sea lions. When we headed along the shore, we found a large colony of sea lions lazing on the rocks. Sea birds played along the waves.
And then went off and searched for the dolphin pods. Just when we almost gave up, we discovered a large pod of hundreds of dolphins. They entertained us as they swam past in groups and porpoised along the waves.
Our visit to Catalina Island to see dolphins and sea lions was the perfect way to start our cruise along the California coast.
A Wonderful Surprise Wine Tasting In Ensenada
On our cruise along the California coast, there was one port in Mexico. We docked in the busy city of Ensenada and headed off on a jeep tour to the Guadalupe wine valley. The jeep ride was a lot of fun as our guide took us along the rain gutted roads in the country.
We arrived at the Monte Xanic Winery situated in the beautiful Guadalupe Valley. Rosalina led us through a delicious wine tasting. And then gave us a tour of the winery production areas.
It was to great discover the new wine region of Guadalupe Valley. An area we definitely want to re-visit one day.
Returning To A Familiar Ports In San Francisco
On our California visit at the beginning of the year, we stayed in Monterey and then finished our trip in San Francisco. So on this cruise along the California coast, we did not book excursions in either city.
We cruised into San Francisco while the fog hung over the Golden Gate bridge. The ship docked at Pier 27 in the main waterfront area of San Francisco.
It was easy to walk off the ship and we found things to see and do. We were amused when we saw a group of dogs in raincoats several times as we wandered along the waterfront. They certainly stayed drier than we did!
We were excited when we found out that fellow travel blogger Amber was around and able to join us for a day in San Francisco. We loved when we got to wander a city with a local. She came in by ferry from Napa and we strolled the waterfront for hours. She took us for amazing fresh seafood at Scoma. And then we had an Irish coffee at the iconic Buena Vista cafe.
It was a late port day in San Francisco. While the fog still hung in the air, we got a great view as we waved goodbye.
A Quiet Day In Monterey
In Monterey, the weather stayed grey. Fog rolled steadily down the hills. After we walked for 20,000 steps in San Francisco, we were happy to enjoy the luxury Oceania Cruises Sirena. We looked out at the familiar waterfront. And watched the sea lions play by the anchored ship.
But we passed on taking the tender boat to shore in Monterey. Even the little big of light we got as the sun went down did not lift the fog. Some days we just needed to relax on our vacation!
Wine And Cupcake Tasting In Santa Barbara
When we knew we were returning to Santa Barbara, we looked at excursions to book on our own. When we saw a tour called Cupcake and Wine Tasting with Santa Barbara Wine Country Tours ,we knew we needed to book this.
It was a wonderful day wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. We visited two wineries – Rideau Vineyards and Brander Vineyards. After a great lunch in the vineyard, we then made a stop for olive oil tasting at Rancho Olivos.
We finished up our day with cupcakes and wine in Los Olivos at Saarloos and Sons Tasting Room. A sweet way to finish for sure.
Cupcake and wine tasting in Santa Ynez Valley was a great way to enjoy a port day in Santa Barbara on a wine trip along the California Coast.
Enjoying California Wines Cruising Along The California Coast
On our visit to Calfornia earlier in the year, we travelled to different California wine regions. We started wine tasting in the Temecula Valley. And then stayed in Napa Valley where we had the opportunity to try out an excellent selection of Napa area vineyards.
No wine trip along the California coast was complete without learning more about California wines. Gillian Ballance was the master sommelier from California onboard for our cruise. We were happy that one afternoon the ship put on a free California wine tasting session. There were 4 different stations set up for different wine regions in California. And each station had at least 4 wines to sample.
On another afternoon, Gillian did a one hour talk on the wines of California. We learned a lot about the different wine regions. And the history of wine making in California. There was even California bubbly to enjoy during the talk.
On a California cruise, we definitely learned more about California wines.
Time With Family For The Holidays
On our way back to Toronto, we made a slight detour for a week to stay in Vancouver. We often enjoyed Vancouver for the holidays. And on this visit we even visited with two of our three children.
For holiday celebrations, we always looked for a turkey feast. But often we were in destinations where turkey was not readily available. So this year for our holiday celebrations, our son Nick cooked up a delicious meal. He and his friend made an awesome smoker. And we had the juiciest home smoked turkey dinner.
We spent time with our daughter Erika when we moved downtown. We found the city decorated with holiday cheer as we wandered the waterfront.
When we finally arrived home in Toronto just before Christmas Day, we were joined by our third child Kris. As a treat, we went out to the Windsor Arms Hotel for a Christmas Day Brunch. We made sure we got our fill of turkey for this holiday feast.
We often feel a bit like Scrooge at the holiday season. But David’s funny gift for me made sure that in the future, I always had turkey when I wanted it!
After our cruise along the California coast, it was great to have time with our children for the holidays.
We Enjoyed A Wine Trip Along The California Coast
We started our visit to California in the holiday season in Long Beach. On our cruise along the California coast we explored north from Long Beach to San Francisco. A fun day stop in Catalina Island gave us playful sea lions and dolphins. On a day trip from Santa Barbara, we had a sweet experience with cupcake and wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. And we got a great day wine tasting from Ensenada, Mexico too.
The cruise travelled through many of the wine regions of California. And onboard we had many other opportunities to learn more about California wines. There was always something fun to do onboard. And some days started with the most amazing sunrises and ended with sunsets at sea!
We headed from California north to Vancouver for the holidays to visit family. On other visits to BC we explored many of the wine regions in British Columbia. But on this final trip of the year, we did not add more wineries to our list.
Have you done a wine trip along the California coast? If you cruised, did you find fun things to do on your port days?
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