Today is National Kissing Day

I always appreciate a great kiss – the one that makes you weak in the knees. But like the word “love”, there are so many different types of kisses – the peck, the air, the French. People are not the only creatures who kiss – Apes, cats, dogs and dolphins all kiss too! Kiss often, especially today.
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XOXO

Livermore Valley Wineries

vineyardIn a follow-up to my post “East Bay Booze Boom,” I thought I’d write about the amazing wine scene that’s also blossoming in the Livermore Valley.

I have toured there several times and always find the wines to be delicious, the sites beautiful, and the people friendly. And it’s so close to home!

Although wine has been cultivated in Livermore since the 19th century, it has only recently started to gain popularity. Wente Vineyards has long been the largest producer in the Livermore Valley, making around 700,000 cases of wine annually.

The region has a predominately gravel-based soil and lies on a unique east-west orientation, unlike many other wine-growing valleys. Due to a reliable onshore afternoon/evening breeze off of the Bay, there is a wide fluctuation in temperature between sites, making the growing conditions similar to St. unnamedHelena or Calistoga.

The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association has a great website that allows you to research different wineries, and plan a self-guided tour through the wine county. To the right is a list of some of the top wineries in the region.

Another great way to explore the area is on the Livermore Wine Trolley! This trolley is the newest way to explore wineries throughout the Livermore Valley.

They offer an all-inclusive wine tour, where you will be transported through lush rolling hills, beautiful canyons, and award-winning wineries. You can also book the trolley for your group’s own private charter.

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One other perk of staying local for your wine tasting tour is that the prices are much more affordable than those in Napa. For example, the top-rated wine tasting in Livermore on Yelp is at Bent Creek Winery.

There, you can pay a $10 tasting fee to try 11 of their wines, and then even apply that $10 towards the purchase of a bottle!

You don’t have to go all the way up to Sonoma, Napa or Healdsburg to get quality California wine anymore.

If you’re living in the East Bay, you can make an easy day trip out to Livermore with your friends to sip on some unique, local wine.

If you have been to any of these Livermore wineries, let us know how your experience was!

 

Top (Fur) Baby Names in the U.S.

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Around this time every year, we always find out what the top baby names in the country are. That’s always interesting, but what about our other babies’ names?

As a dog lover, this blog caught my attention a few months back. It included this infographic that broke down the most common names of dogs, and then went further and broke it down by most popular name by breed, too.

Apparently the top dog names in the U.S. right now are Bella, Max, Daisy, Bailey, and Buddy. My dog is named Bodie, so I was pretty close!

Our team here at Walnut Creek Lifestyle Group is full of dog lovers, and we wanted to share some photos of our fur children here with you to start the New Year. I think we did a little better on creativity with our naming!

Let’s start with my boy Bodie, an 8-year-old Weimaraner rescue:

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We got Bodie when he was 18 months old. We rescued him through NorCal Weim Rescue where they found him running around Fresno.  He quickly warmed up to us and became a loved member of the family. Bodie is a big, 90-lb Weimaraner (the type that basically takes you for walks rather than the other way around!), but he loves to cuddle and play. In fact, he usually feels left out if he doesn’t get to sleep on the bed!

Let’s move along to Liz, and her two dogs, Poppy and Willow. Poppy is a 3-year-old miniature poodle, and Willow is a one-year-old Cavapoo. Liz bred Willow herself, and Poppy is the mother! For those wondering, a Cavapoo is a mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle. Here are a couple pictures:

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Liz started breeding Cavapoos two years, ago, and kept Willow from the most recent litter. Cavapoos are wonderful dogs, combining the look of the Cavalier, the non-shedding coat of the Poodle, and the sweet temperaments of both breeds. Also, Cavaliers are great dogs, but have been so inbred throughout the years that the majority of them develop a deadly malady called Mitral Valve disease. Since poodles are not largely affected by the disease, the cross-breeding drastically lowers the Cavapoo puppies’ chances of inheriting that disease.

For more information on Cavapoos, you can check out Liz’s company California Cavapoos, which bring healthy, beautiful, friendly pets to the best families. Take a look at her Facebook page!

Lastly, our freelance writer Jeremy has had dogs in his family forever. From a golden retriever when he was a baby, to a black lab throughout childhood, to the current ARF rescue mix his family loves…meet Sydney, the 8-year-old Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler/Hound mix:

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Sydney (or “Syddie” for short – she responds to that especially well if you use a high-pitched voice) has an endless amount of energy and absolutely adores humans. If Sydney isn’t on her back with all four paws in the air, begging for a belly scratch within 30 seconds of meeting you, there’s something wrong. As you can see from the photos above, Sydney also loves to go to the Open Space in Walnut Creek!

Share some photos of your dogs – do you have any with creative names?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Bay Booze Boom!

The Bay area is leading the nation in innovation, and not just in the tech sector. A new industry on the rise in the East Bay is the alcoholic beverage market!

75e4cb_70530afefa2c4ac597c7198da59bd280With the craft brewing industry on the rise, many local entrepreneurs have hopped (get it?) on the bandwagon, starting many new breweries in Oakland, San Francisco, and even Concord! Many of these East Bay brewers are really pushing the envelope by making unusual beers, like sours, rare varietals, and other creative concoctions.

One such brewery in the sour beer market is Rare Barrel in Berkeley. They go the extra mile by aging their beer in oak barrels for about a year to develop the lovely tart flavors in their brews. Some other notable East Bay breweries are Linden Street Brewery and Pacific Coast Brewery in Oakland, Jupiter and Pyramid Brewery in Berkeley, and EJ Phair in Concord. Don’t sleep on 21st Amendment Brewery, famous for their Hell or High Watermelon beer, which just opened a huge new brewery in San Leandro. Or the popular Calicraft Brewing Co. based right here in Walnut Creek which is my favorite; I love their Buzzerkeley champagne beer.

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Beer is not the only game in town, however. The wine and liquor industries in the area have also been growing in popularity. St. George Sprits in Alameda has become well-known for their brand, and Hangar One vodka is named after the old World War II-era hangar where the distillery is based. Although they recently sold the brand to be produced next door, the distillery is excited to have more space to focus on new experiments in distillation. Some of their more creative liquors include Green Chili Vodka, Absinthe Verde (I know this one from personal experience and it was not a good one), Agricole Rum, and several Fruit Brandies. They have a great guided tour for $15, which includes a tasting of six spirits! They even have a small outdoor seating area where you can hang out with a drink after your tour and check out the San Francisco skyline from the other side of the Bay.

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Many wineries have also begun to spring up throughout the East Bay. Although this may seem like a new development, the East Bay, especially the Walnut Creek area, was actually one of the main wine-grape growing regions until prohibition in 1920. One such winery making a revival in the area is Urban Legend Cellars in Oakland. They source grapes from other local regions, and use various blending and oaking techniques to produce unique and delicious wines.

Walnut Creek has also been put back on the map with Shadowbrook Winery. This vineyard grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah, right on the foothills of Mount Diablo. Mark Lavezzoli, the Winemaker there, combines traditional and innovative techniques to create some very tasty vino. The entire team there is very excited about Walnut Creek’s potential to produce a first-class wine.

With so many great beverages to try right here in the East Bay, it’s hard to find a reason to leave and another great reason to own a home in this amazing area.

Have you been to any of these places? Please share your thoughts – we would love to hear from you!