friends

Winding Down in Wine Country

Chandelier hanging in tree at Viansa Winery Summer is finally over and Joe and I just returned from our last trip of the year to sunny California.  We visited family in Sacramento and fêted our dear friends Mike and Maggie in Sonoma.  Living in New Orleans, we don't get many chances to go wine tasting, so we packed as many stops as possible into a sliver of free time!

Our wine country tour focused around the Carneros Region of Sonoma Valley.  The area is just south of the town of Sonoma, off Highway 121, and makes some of the most delicious sparkling wines you've tasted.  We began our day early at Viansa, where for $10 a person, we sampled their reserve offerings and for $45, brought home a bottle of Cabernet.  The winery is impeccably landscaped and offers sweeping views from the rustic terrace dotted with tables, chairs, strings of lights and chandeliers in the trees.  We sipped, shopped, relaxed and strolled through the vineyards before moving on.

10 minutes up the road you'll find Gloria Ferrer- an expansive estate of the famed Ferrer family, who's been wine-making in Spain since the 16th century!  You may be familiar with their largest brand, Freixenet.  Much like the family she married into, Gloria has a knack for sparkling wine.  Her Pinot Noir-based bubbly, Blanc de Noirs is their most award-winning variety and offered a tasty start to our tour of the facility.  The $20 per person tour lasted roughly an hour and explored different varieties of sparkling wine as well as the wine-making process.

Last, but certainly not least, we made our way to Cornerstone Winery for Mike and Maggie's wedding.  It was a drastic departure from our previous stops.  In lieu of Tuscan architecture, Cornerstone boasts modern art and labyrinth-like gardens.  Everywhere you look there's a sculpture or art installation, intricately woven between shrub-lined walkways.  The ceremony overlooked a modern lily pond, dinner took place inside a tent filled with farm tables, and dancing spilled out of the barn and into windmills on the large lawn.

By the time Joe and I stumbled back to our hotel room, our heads were spinning from all the excitement of the fabulous day... and maybe all that wine as well!

New Orleanians Paint the Town Red

Red Dress Run There's never a shortage of fun things to do in New Orleans... even in the height of our hot and humid summer!

This weekend, the French Quarter played host to an annual event called the Red Dress Run.  Man, woman and child all donned their fanciest red frocks to run for charity.  Inevitably, the revelry spills onto the streets (and into the bars).  Organizers expected 15,000 people at this year's event (although most of those folks are just watching, not running) and I heard rumors that as many as 25,000 took part!

Here are a few pictures and videos for your enjoyment.  They're sure to give you a whole new perspective on the Chris De Burgh classic, "Lady in Red!"

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFcuN2zI3u0

WGNO: Sights and Sounds From 2014 Red Dress Run

 

 

 

Kingsway House: Contemporary Design With Rich History

Kingsway House Chandelier- Studio WTA A while back my neighbor told me he found his dream home.  Since his house is MY dream house, I figured this place must be amazing.  He was working on a movie that was being filmed at the Kingsway House, on New Orleans' historic Esplanade Avenue.  It's a 12,000 sq ft private residence that's rented out for movies, weddings and parties (my friend Kenny went to a party put on by Solange Knowles there)!

The home began as two separate residences in the 1860's and was combined into one in the 1930's.  Back then, it was owned by Count Leon Arnaud Cazenave, owner of the famous Arnaud's Restaurant.  In the early 1990's, the property was transformed into Kingsway Studios, which recorded the likes of Pearl Jam, Peter Gabriel, R.E.M. and Sheryl Crow.  In 2002, it was sold to Nicholas Cage.  Studio WTA worked on renovations for Cage and again for Sean Cummings, the current owner.

The Kingsway House boasts a floor-to-ceiling crystal chandelier- apparently one of only two in the world.  The decor blends modern minimalism with traditional New Orleans warmth. I think its absolutely stunning, but take a look at the pictures from Studio WTA's website and decide for yourself!

Whole Foods Goes All-American

20140701-141241-51161421.jpg You never know where you'll find inspiration and I certainly don't expect it at the grocery store, but Whole Foods Market had such a cute idea, I had to share it! Interspersed between flags, watermelons and 12-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, the store is adorned with these darling wood pallets for the upcoming 4th of July weekend.

They're painted very simply like the American flag, then lightly sanded for a vintage appeal. They have a big impact and if you could scrounge up some free pallets from a local grocery or big box store, they'd cost next to nothing to make!

I'm definitely going to try the project for myself.

Wood pallet flag at Whole Foods

Wood pallet flag at Whole Foods

Whitney and Jonathan's Peruvian Party

DSC02525 Honestly, I feel like half my blog posts somehow involve Whitney and Jonathan.  They are our dear neighbors here in New Orleans and happen to be some of the most unbelievably creative folks I know.  Recently, they got hitched in Peru and held a fantastic soiree at their stunning Garden District home to celebrate the occasion.

Of course, I just had to share some of the fun times and creative touches!  Whitney has two trademark elements at every party: beautiful flowers and great food.  This bash did not disappoint.  Their home was dotted with lush peonies, hydrangeas and wildflowers.  As for the food, they had the brilliant idea of hiring a gourmet truck called La Cocinita!  It was easy, required no clean-up and had all the guests buzzing.

As usual, the Peruvian party was a complete success!