Too Much Wine Too Little Time

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San Diego Sunshine

I always enjoy flying to the west coast, not the actual 6 hour flight, but the fact that we can depart the east coast early in the morning and still arrive with a full day to enjoy.  Such was the case this past week when we headed out to San Diego.  After an 8:30am EST. flight we were on the ground by 11:00 am PST.  Following the obligatory stops at the baggage carousel and the rental car office, we were off to the Gaslamp Quarter for lunch.  After a quick lunch at Los Panchos de Charly, an excellent Mexican restaurant, we decided to tour all the Gaslamp Quarter had to offer.  The Gaslamp Quarter is located in the heart of downtown San Diego and it is an area that has gone through a major renaissance and now boasts many restaurants and shops that cater to tourists and the convention center crowds.

 One of the first shops we came too was the Wine Bank.  Located at 363 Fifth Ave, the Wine Bank offers thousands of different labels from Silver Oak to a 1978 Robert Mondavi Magnum Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are plenty of offerings to tempt the palate.  Originally opened in the 1960’s, the Wine Bank has recently gone through a major renovation and visitors are sure to enjoy walking through the large climate controlled wine cellar in the basement.  They also offer wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays or by group reservation.  For more information you can check out their website at

 The following day it was off to the USS Midway museumThe USS Midway is a retired aircraft carrier that is docked near downtown San Diego and is open for tours.  During the self guided tour you will see approximately 60 different exhibits and 25 aircraft.  The tour takes you from the engine room up to the bridge and everywhere in between.  If you are visiting San Diego and have the time, I would definitely recommend the tour. At $18.00 per person it’s not overly expensive but be sure to plan on spending at least 2 hours on the ship.  If you plan on visiting the USS Midway you can find more information on their website at










After the USS Midway tour we headed out to the Hotel del Coronado.  Built in 1888, the Hotel del Coronado or “Del”, is one of the most unique and beautiful hotels in the country.  While the nightly rate can be a little more than some would like to spend, a walk through of the hotel and beach is free and a great way to spend the afternoon.  The Del offers 12 different restaurants including the ENO wine bar.  The ENO wine bar offers guests the best in wines, rare cheeses and gourmet chocolates.  They also offer special events including Tasting Tuesdays, “Say Cheese” Wednesdays, Bubbly Thursdays, and $5 dollar Fridays. For more information on the Del and ENO visit their website at

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That night we visited Little Italy for dinner.  I have to admit that I am very wary when I eat Italian food anywhere other than home.  Every region has its specialty when it comes to food and I believe that the New York metro area has some of the best Italian restaurants in the country.  That being said, we did have a good meal at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto.  Filippi’s is a very old school Italian restaurant.  You enter through a store front and make your way to the back where there are red checkered table cloths and a very basic atmosphere.  Of all the restaurants we walked by, this was the only one that had a line out the door.  Throughout our whole visit, the line never got shorter!  While the food is not New York Italian, it is very good, the sauce, meatballs and sausage are all homemade and the portions are huge.  A dinner for four including a bottle of wine is very reasonable, anywhere from $80-110 depending on what you order.  They have several locations throughout California, including Napa Valley.  For more information visit their website at










The next morning we were off to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which is located approximately 45 minutes northwest of downtown San Diego in Escondido.  The Safari Park is a breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo.  A basic ticket to enter costs $37.00 and includes access to all the shows and a 30 minute tram tour called the Journey into Africa.  This tour takes you through an area that houses many different types of African plains wildlife.  There are also many exhibits that you can walk to throughout the park. The area is very large and it can take several hours to see everything.  For more information you can visit their website at:

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Our next stop was the Orfila Winery which is located 5 minutes from the Safari Park.  The Orfila Winery is a great way to end your visit to the park.  Opened in 1994, the Orfila Winery produces award winning Rhone-style wines from grapes grown at their vineyard and estate which is located 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Wine tastings are $10 per person and include the glasses.

 Below is a partial list of the wines we tasted while visiting Orfila Winery:


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2007 Estate Sangiovese

“These grapes are grown on the gently sloping hillsides of the Estate Vineyard, are a stellar example of this famous Italian varietal. Ripe cherry & strawberry fruit with subtle cedar and spice notes coat the palate, with fragrant vanilla and maple on the finish. Enjoy now or cellar three to five years.

We purchased the Sangiovese, it was one of our favorites and had a very reasonable price.

 2007 Estate Ambassadors Reserve Merlot

“The Ambassador’s Reserve is the flagship Merlot, rich and refined with flavors of cherry, mocha, and blueberry with hints of violet. Aged in French oak barrels for two years. Enjoy now or cellar three to five years.”

2008 Ambassador’s Reserve Chardonnay

“This Chardonnay is a rich and creamy wine which was barrel fermented in 100% French oak. Beginning with ripe green apple in the nose, followed by luscious tropical fruit and pineapple on the palate, and finishes with toasted French oak and vanilla flavors. Enjoy this Chardonnay well chilled!”

This enjoyed the Chardonnay and purchased it.













If you’d like to visit the Orfila Winery, they are located at 13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido, CA92025. You can also visit their website at

After the winery it was off to our next adventure, be sure to check back next month for part 2.  Until next time Salude!!

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Murphy-Goode 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

Murphy-Goode Winery was founded in 1985 by three friends, Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and David Ready, with a family tradition of wine making that continues today under the present owners the Jackson Family of Kendall-Jackson fame. In the early days Murphy-Goode was known for their Fume Blanc and Chardonnay harvested entirely from their own vineyards. As the popularity of the wines grew they found the need for more vineyard space. They were able to satisfy the need by creating partnerships with neighbors and local farmers all of whom shared the same vision as Murphy-Goode. One such neighbor was fellow winemaker Jess Jackson who had such a strong belief in the vision that he purchased Murphy-Goode in 2006. The family wine making tradition continues today, with a focus more towards the Bordeaux style and Murphy-Goode offers several very good reds. Murphy-Goode wines are fantastic for almost any budget with a variety of wines under $20, but also offering some higher end wines as well.  Tonight we are having the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon one of the very reasonably priced wines under the $20 mark which is a dark bold Cab with cherry and blackberry flavors along with a hint of thyme. Blended with Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc, the wine finishes with a rich deep and complex mouth feel. Pair this with your pizza, your steak or just about anything you choose.  Also, when checking out the Murphy-Goode wines, be sure to try their Zinfandels…they know how to make them well too!

Purchase your bottle at the link below:

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Summer staycation leads to rough waters…

This was one of the hottest summers we have had in a very long time, which was supposed to mean lots of time to spend out on the boat.  We had decided early on in the summer that we would be putting off the vacation until September and instead would stay around the house for a week in August.   The plan was perfect, weekends and long summer evenings sipping wine on the lake, the reality….not so perfect.

 I love to boat from early April through the end of November.  A few times I have even de-winterized the boat and still had a few snow storms to deal with before the weather finally turned better.  Often, I am one of the last boats on the lake, last year we finished boating the weekend of Thanksgiving.  I like the early and late seasons because there is a lot less commotion on the water and the fall foliage is beautiful from the lake.

Somewhere between last December and early April the head on my 4 cylinder I/O (inboard/outboard) decided that it had met its useful life and would no longer provide a barrier between water and oil.  Unfortunately, that memo was never passed on to me, so I was unaware of the nightmare that awaited me in the spring.  After my first boating trip in April, I realized that something was not quite right.  The engine seemed to have less power and the oil had turned an unnatural shade of white.









After some investigation I decided that the flapper valve in the exhaust was the culprit and proceeded to take apart the exhaust manifold to remove the offender. I thought that it was allowing water to pass through and dump directly into the engine. After a few hours of work and an oil change it was off to the lake to test the theory.

 No luck, after a short drive around the lake I had the same milky oil problem.  The next plan was to check compression in the head unit to see if there was a blown gasket.  After checking compression which turned out okay and changing the oil, I ran the boat on a hose.  In the 4 cylinder I/O that I have, water is forced up through a water jacket and pipes through the head for cooling purposes and there is also a pressurized water cooling system. So theoretically, if the problem was still present, the water would show in the oil from the hose. After 30 minutes the oil was perfectly fine. 

 I thought that maybe I had just left some residual water in the oil tank and if I changed it a few more times everything would be ok.  After a few more hours it was back to the lake.  After a short loop I checked the oil again, it was completely white!  Now I was faced with the dreaded decision of taking the boat to the marina.  I dropped the boat off the week before Memorial Day….

Two months and $2,000 dollars later it was August 1st and I was finally picking up the boat for my week vacation.  Many boaters will tell you that B.O.A.T. really means break out another thousand.  Well, in my case it was two!  A hairline crack in the head had caused water to leak into the 3 and 4 cylinders which is located in the back of the engine.  It didn’t take a lot of water to cause the oil to change and but because the crack was so small it took forever to figure out what was causing the problem.


Once the boat was repaired, we immediately got back to our regularly scheduled boating activity and enjoyed many wine cruises as the summer came to an end.  We even managed to drag Mr. Wine Babble himself away from the site for more than 5 minutes and he enjoyed a wine cruise with us.  Now that the fall is upon us, boating will slow down as the weekdays get shorter and the weekends are filled with football. Although, I am sure I will make it out a few more times as I have a couple more bottles of Santa Barbara wine to consume!  Until next time Salude!

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2010 NFL Sunday Begins


Today kicks off the official start of the Sunday NFL Football season. I am happy to say that my team, the New York Giants began with a big win 31-18 over the Carolina Panthers. Carolina was the very same team that beat us 41-9 to end the season last year, revenge is so sweet. It is early and this is just one win out of a long 16 game season. Nice to kick it off with a resounding win though!  Wine and food have always been a big part of game day for us, both at home and while tailgating at the stadium. I am looking forward to another season of game day parties. The good food and wine will flow as always! GO GIANTS!!!!!