Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer Vacation

For the fourth summer in a row, Seth and I staycationed in the lovely Pioneer Valley. I am not against a traveling vacation by any means, and would actually love to get away. However, we've been instead allocating our funds towards improving our home (pellet stove, new windows and slider) and for school for me (Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science -- classes start a week from Saturday).

What with our money going towards our home and my education, there isn't room for travel. Instead, we have stayed locally during our week off and done some day trips. This year we started off our vacation week with the trip to the Boston Spartan Sprint, which I've already blogged about. That day also took us over to Hampton Beach, a fifteen minute drive away from where the Spartan Race was. Hampton Beach is a popular tourist destination. The weather was lovely, and Seth and I enjoyed walking the crowded boardwalk, which was lined with shops selling novelty gifts, arcades, and restaurants.

We also wet our feet in the ocean and got to see the famous seashell stage where they have free concerts. 

Later during our vacation week, we headed over to Mount Warner Vineyards. Seth and I very much enjoy checking out the local wineries in western Massachusetts and had yet to visit Mount Warner, in nearby Hadley, a ten minute drive from our house.

When we arrived, we found that the winery and farm was located at the growers' home. They grew all their grapes there and did the harvesting and wine-making all on-site. We got to walk around the vineyard and see all the grapes on the vine.

We then headed into the tasting room where we were able to try all the varieties that Mount Warner had to offer. 

White Wines


The Cayuga White was a lovely dry Riesling style wine. It was completely pleasing and perfect for the summer.

The Chardonel was Chardonnay-inspired and quite dry. I think it would be perfect for pairing with a variety of foods and for when I want a more robust white wine.

I recall this wine being a bit fruitier and totally pleasing. 

A nice blend, and I do like a good white blend. This included three local grapes and was definitely the most fruity of the white wines.

Red Wines

The Corot Noir was sadly the one wine that we didn't get to try. They were out of it! I'm hoping to find a bottle once they produce it this season and give it a try.

The secret was made with such a new variety of grape, Petite Pearl, that they weren't even able to list it on the bottle. However, it was totally delicious and had a great full mouth feel. 

The Sunset Red was a red blend. The vineyard owner, Bobbie, said that it was a perfect accompaniment for any casual dinner. A good pasta and pizza wine. I think that it would be perfect for that because it had a very mild unassuming taste.


I am not always a fan of rosés, but I was delighted to find this wine amazing! It was wonderfully dry, flavorful, and complex. We brought home a bottle!

Dessert Wines

Wow! Very unique. The fini! certainly had a higher alcohol content than the other wines. The warmth of the alcohol really hit you and the aftertaste was lovely and tropical. One of the most interesting wines I have ever had.

Our last wine was the Raspberry Rhapsody. The raspberry flavor on this one was not to be believed. I have had a number of raspberry wines, and I would have to say that this is the most flavorful. Bobbie served it to us with a piece of dark chocolate. The combination was amazing!

We had a fantastic time trying all the Mount Warner Vineyards has to offer. They sell their wine locally in some local market, like Atkins, so it will be convenient to get more of their wine whenever we want. During our trip to the winery, we purchased three bottles, the Neither and the two dessert wines, fini! and Raspberry Rhapsody.

Tasting and tours at Mount Warner are by appointment. I completely recommend that anyone in the area give them a call. The owner, Bobbie, was wonderfully welcoming and great about sharing all sort of cool information about the wine-making process.

My last adventure of the week, at the end of our staycation, was another trip up to Shale Hill, a fixed obstacle course in Vermont with almost sixty obstacles over a 10K course. I am officially obsessed with the place. Ever since my weekend there with the Spahtens, I have wished I was up there pretty much every second. I am not a bit one for time in the car. The fact that I am willing to spend almost three hours driving to Vermont and then another three coming back is a testament to how outstanding it is. 

I was hoping to go up there again and volunteer at the race they are having Saturday in early September, but I forgot grad school starts that weekend. I'm super excited to start graduate school at Simmons School of Library and Information Science, but it's definitely having an impact on my ability to race. I still plan to head up to Shale Hill once more before the Spartan Beast on September 21. I'm also hoping to be able to get up there again for either (or both) the Halloween Run and the Benson Polar Bear 8-hour Challenge, which would be as many loops of the course as one can do during the cold of February in Vermont. We'll see -- I am kind of cold-averse. 

It was great to have a week off to relax around the house and get in some fun day trips. Things are starting to get busy as the fall rolls around. Orientation for graduate school is next week and then things intensify at work when the students return. I have to get in as much summer fun while I still can!

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