TRAVEL

Chateau Chantal

Elegant Winery with Breath-taking Views

To top off a marvelous day, our nephew had one more place to show us. After our historical break, it was time to hit our last winery. This one was Chateau Chantal and it had visions of grandeur.

Chateau Chantal is more than just a winery. It is also an inn with 11 guestrooms, so driving up to it, one had the sense of driving up to something magnificent. I can imagine that a stay there would be quite nice. If northern Michigan is on your list, I can recommend staying here as your headquarters, while you spend several days exploring the area.

The beautiful aerial shot is an result of Bill bringing along his drone on this vacation. We’d already had it out once, showing the kids how it worked, flying it around their neighborhood. The grandiose vistas around Chateau Chantal inspired him to pull it out again.

Perched on the highest ground in the area, the chateau dominates the landscape and from it’s patio you can see just how beautiful the area is. The architecture is reminiscent of a chateau, but one on a rustic farm, not something like Château de Chambord.

Entering the front door left one a little confused about what to do. There was a host/hostess station, but no one was stationed there. An area appeared to be roped off for a line, but there was no line. So, we wandered in and the guys tried to figure out how to get tastings and perhaps a bite to eat. The tastings were great. The bite to eat was packaged snacks that tasted as if they’d been waiting for a while to be chosen.

Still the view was out of this world, so we enjoyed it. Most of the others agreed it was the best winery of the day. Personally, I gave wine honors to Black Star Farms, though it’s not a place I’d want to spend an afternoon. I thought be best experience was at Mari Vineyards and I still regret we didn’t have a picnic.

Winding Down from the Wineries

Remember the trials and tribulations of getting out of town. You know the ones where I had to stay up all night to get work from our editors delivered to all our customers, before we left town. Then there was the early morning flight and the five hour road trip. Well, it all caught up with me and after we climbed back in the car from visiting Chateau Chantal, I dozed off.

We checked into the Marriot Courtyard Inn in Petoskey and the rest of the crew went to dinner, but this girl went to bed. Before moving on to our next adventures, I will share a few pictures, but come back next week, because we’ll be going to Mackinac Island!

TRAVEL

Black Star Farms

Rustic and Awkward

Having lived on the Central Coast of California, we love wine tasting, but we also know it to be quite an adventure. When we first moved to the Central Coast, wineries and wine tastings were a very casual and free affair. As the area became more well known for its wines, the casual part stayed, but the free went away.

Bill has never quite gotten over the fact that today’s wineries all charge for a tasting, but he’s learned to live with it. We’ve also learned to live with the fact that few wineries are going to be offering up wines as good as we were introduced to in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. That’s especially true, if we’re visiting the wineries in nearby our Texas home in Grapevine.

In Michigan we didn’t know what to expect. Our first winery was Black Star Farms and it was a farm. A white clapboard building with a big covered porch was the tasting room, but one look around told us we’d much prefer to taste our wine on the porch. From the porch we could see barns, holding pens and other rustic sights.

I’m sure the awkwardness was all Covid’s fault, but I got the distinct impression we weren’t altogether welcome there. These days there seem to be doors opened out of necessity, but their occupants wish you’d had the good sense to just stay home. I’m sure a pair of kids also added to the scrutiny we received. There was no way for them to know these kids were perfectly behaved. All in all, I thought the porch would be the best choice for our visit. I love al fresco, but I got the feeling if we hadn’t asked to be on the porch, we would have been told to go out there anyway.

They shooed us out to the porch with papers from which to choose our tastings. There wasn’t much on the paper to help you decide what you wanted, nor did anyone seem interested in helping you out. Eventually they begrudgingly returned to collect our papers and we waited forever for them to deliver our selections. No one ever came back out to check on us either.

The wine itself was actually pretty good and Shad tried some of their other offerings, like bourbon. We took our time enjoying the tasting and the long porch was very pleasant. After a while we decided to move on to the next place, which was a little more exciting.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I would, especially if the pandemic is ever over. I think they might be happier to see you, then, but their product is lovely and porch offers a great place to relax. I hope you’ll join me next week to find out about Mari Vineyards. For now, here’s a few more shots from Black Star Farms.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Pinot Days in San Francisco CA

Pinot Days Brochure, San Francisco CA
Pinot Days Brochure

TRAVEL THERE: TASTING PINOT IN SAN FRAN

If you recall, this vacation went through a number of alterations before becoming a reality. In one of the original stages, a trip to Wine Country was penciled in, but by the time we went, Napa and Sonoma had been erased. Instead we enjoyed Pinot Days at City View At Metreon.

How We Got There

When you’re visiting your hip nephew in San Fran you do all kinds of cool things.  Take it from me, Uber is cool.  It’s like a taxi, but a lot more chic.

Since all I did was go along for the ride, I don’t claim to know all the details, but to quote Uber “request, ride, and pay via your mobile phone.”  That means you don’t call or hail a cab.  You request a ride at a certain time with the app and the car shows up.  If you wonder if you have time to go to the bathroom, the app tells you where the car is and how long before it will be to your pick-up point.  You don’t have to ride in a cab either.     A sleek black SUV picked us up and the driver was dressed very professionally.When we left the wine event my nephew punched a few buttons on the phone and by the time we got downstairs our car was waiting.

Uber’s website says they do have taxis, but that wasn’t our ride.  Nephew says it’s about the price of parking and since we were going to a wine tasting without a DD it was a lot cheaper than a DWI.  Dallas is an Uber city, but I haven’t Ubered here yet.  Let me know if you have.

Where It Was

Meteron is like nothing I know of in Dallas.  It’s like NorthPark‘s Food Court on steroids, but the anchor store is a Super Target and for kicks there’s an AMC Cinemark.  You got it?

Well, upstairs there’s something called City View which is a huge event space.  They do weddings, corporate events, whatever.  The “restaurant-centric mall with multiplex” is amid the Marscone Center and City View overlooks the Yerba Buena Gardens.  Yeah, it’s cool.

How It WaPinot Days, Meteron, San Francisco CA

I’m just going to be straight with you.  This wasn’t the most fun I ever had tasting wine.  I used to live on the Central Coast and spent Sunday afternoons at Castoro Cellars Tasting Room, Edna Valley Vineyard and other local wineries.  My first date with Bill was to a function called Art and Wine at the Dallas Museum of Art.  We’ve been to Dallas Opera Wine Tastings. We have also been to other wine festivals, like the Paso Robles Wine Festival.  We know from wine tastings.

The Metreon was cool and I loved looking out over Yerba Buena Park and San Francisco’s Financial District.  However, I got a little tired of Pinot and there was a crowd.

I love wine, but I’m no wine connoisseur.  Were I a wine connisseur, I’m sure the opportunity to compare so many Pinots in one afternoon of tasting was euphoric.  However, there were so many people crowding around the tables that there was really no way to have a decent conversation with the winemakers and that’s one of the things I like best about a tasting.

There was also nowhere to sit.  There were community baskets of crackers and cheese to give your palate a break, but no where to give your sore dogs a break.  Am I glad I did it?  Yes!  Would I do it again?  Probably not.

But come back next week, because we’re going to Golden Gate Park.