Masters and Makers @ Meritage and a Ski Trip to Bear Valley

I arrived at The Meritage Resort and Spa on Thursday before the inaugural Masters and Makers @ Meritage event that started on Friday. In an effort to be healthier on this trip I brought my own breakfast (bananas and peanut butter) and purchased one sandwich at Blend to have for lunch on Thursday and Friday. I think it worked out well and it will be a good plan for future visits when I'm staying for multiple days. Thursday evening for dinner I continued to try out new menus, this time at The Commons: A Wine Bar (formerly the lobby bar). I started with a wine flight and seasonal vegetables before trying two different entrees ... grilled cheese and Filet Mignon sliders. Both were fantastic and great versions of comfort foods that also paired well with the wines I was trying.

The first event on Friday was aptly titled "The Masters and The Makers" ... in essence a wine tasting with a wine maker, winery owner and a few wine buyers. I learned a lot, like oak barrels not only are made of American and French oak, but also Russian oak (a forest near Sochi is used by Trinitas Cellas during the aging process for some of its wines). There was also the astounding, yet not too shocking, statement that most wine in the US is consumed within a few hours/days of purchase. Lots of other notes were taken, but those two facts were among my top memories. After wine tasting I had time for a quick workout before dinner in the Estate Cave featuring wines from Pine Ridge Vineyards. The multi-course dinner, each paired with a different wine was among the best meals I've had in a long time and the reporters (who I assume eat out even more than I do) commented on how good it was.

Saturday there were three options for morning activities: winery tours, a blending experience (making and trying your own wine by blending a few red varietals), and a cooking class featuring Trinitas Cellars wines. I helped with the Winery Tour, which I had been on once before a few months ago. We started at Grgich Hills for a tour of the winery and cheese/wine pairing. Then we went to Pine Ridge Vineyards for wine tasting, a tour of their amazing caves and lunch, and finished at The Meritage and Trinitas Cellars for a wine/chocolate pairing. That night The Meritage hosted the "Gala and Grand Tasting" featuring 80+ wineries from the Napa Valley and Sonoma County, plus multiple food stations staffed by the resort's culinary team. My goal was to try all the food, and although I think I missed a few items, I got to most of them, all spectacular ... next year I'll have to try more of the wines too.

Although I wasn't sure about it when I set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, I knew I wanted to try to go skiing with my family at Bear Valley on Sunday (yes this is the reason why I didn't sample too many wines the night before). My alarm went off and I decided to do it ... I packed and was in my car heading up the mountain a few minutes after 4 a.m. I made it to the Bradley Lodge just before 7 a.m. After a quick breakfast and getting my ski stuff together (luckily I keep it all there), we loaded up the cars and headed up the mountain while getting a light dusting of snow as we got close. Although skiing in the snow is fun, we had my two nephews with us, so we were glad that the sun came out right as we were exiting the Bear Valley lodge and heading onto the slopes. It was a great day of skiing and both of my nephews did great, the oldest one is getting really good (and reminds me of me when I was young ... go straight down the hill, without turning, as quickly as possible). Once back at the Bradley Lodge it was great just to relax a little, eat well, and hang out with my family including one cousin's little baby and another cousin who had flown in from Boston for the weekend.
Pictures for those with iPads.

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