Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Weekend in the wine country - Valle de Guadalupe

We are happy to have friends in both California's Sonoma County and Central Coast wine country.  Both locations are beautiful, with lots of hiking, biking, great food and wine, and nice friends. :) 
It seemed natural to want to explore Mexico's wine country, Valle de Guadalupe, where 90% of Mexican wine is produced. The Valley is just northeast of Ensenada, less than 2 hours south of San Diego. These Baja California wines are just starting to be exported north of the border. Here in Mexico, we've found California wines are difficult, and there is a big import tax on them. Chilean and New Zealand wines are more common as well as some largest production Mexican wines, like L.A. Cetto, that are distributed across the country.

We gladly accepted an invite from friends Robin and Katie on Agave Azul to join their brother and wife on a stop in the Valley before continuing south towards La Paz.

We crossed the border at Tecate which goes directly in the Valley
The obligatory Tecate sign

Adobe Guadalupe was our home for 2 days, a beautiful hacienda style compound w/ just 6 guest rooms 

Guard carefully writes down our license plate before entrance

The grand living room
Nancy gets some piano time

The two days and nights weren't enough.  We've heard there are over 160 wineries in the Valley with numerous fine dining restaurants to match.  We visited small boutique wineries where they produce just one red and one white yearly as well as one of the largest wineries, Monte Xanic, with annual production of 55,000 cases.  There were lots of Cabernets (pronounced with the "T" at the end), good Red blends with Grenache the prominent varietal. Also a surprising number of good Sauvignon Blancs and crisp Roses which are welcome in the hot climate.
Shindig and Agave Azul 

Vineyards at Adobe Guadalupe

Tasting Room at Sunset (Adobe Guadalupe)

More photos of Adobe Guadalupe's 60 acre grounds

The winery hosts were so welcoming, enthusiastic and usually 
bi-lingual. Many times we were the only clients there, which gave us great attention and insight into their winery operations.  After two days of tasting and tours, multi courses dinners with wine pairings, and a few country lane walks, we moved slowly down the pretty highway towards Ensenada.

It was a beautiful visit and even better knowing that we can stop again on our way back north next spring. 

Wine tasting at Vena Cava

Crush of Cabernet Sauvignon 
"CS": labeling system for the Cabernet Sauvignon

Corazon de Tierra - a beautiful night of fine dining

Katie and Nancy at entrance to Vena Cava tasting rooms
An upside down boat 

Tile entrance to  two wineries:
Tres Mujeres and  Solybarro 

2 Km/Hour: Slowing Down in Valle de Guadalupe 

Friday, October 16, 2015

T-Mobile Smartphone in Mexico

This summer I dropped Verizon to try T-Mobile's North America phone plan.  (Canada, US and Mexico)

When I signed up for the service the T-Mobile guys didn't have all the details on how well it would work in Mexico or what partner cellular network was used.

Now that we have crossed the border here are my findings.

I'm using an HTC android phone and after crossing the border at Tecate the phone went into 3G mode and no data functions worked.  I was able to make outgoing calls to the US though.

After playing around with different settings I discovered that roaming was turned off.  Once I turned it on..... everything worked fine.  4G network from Telcel was discovered and data functions worked just fine.

I have a Google Voice number and call forwarding is working too.
I cannot call out using Google Voice.  (didn't expect this would work)

Turning the phone into a hotspot and tethering a computer works too.  The plan I have limits the tethering data to 7GB in the US.  I suspect the same is true here but I haven't tried to hit the limit.

Outgoing calls to the US require you to prepend a "+1" to the number.

So far so good.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What we did on our summer vacation

Summer is over; it was an amazing four months! 

We moved back into our house July 1st, and thoroughly enjoyed the time catching up with friends and places. We visited Nancy's mom several times in Placerville and had a fun family reunion later in the summer with both brothers and sister.  Nancy played lots of chamber music with her cello, while Rob went road biking and hiking with friends and snuck in a trip to Fiji. All around us, we marveled at the growth, innovation and youth at the heart of Silicon Valley. And yes, the traffic has gotten a lot worse.

Some notable trips were sprinkled across the summer.  Highlights included Nancy taking our niece Ali to Boston as Bryan finished up his college session there, and a "Mom's trip" w/ Kate to NYC to visit sons Bryan and Conor who are both working there. Rob accepted a generous invite to join friends on their awesome catamaran Kiapa. Off he went to Fiji to chase the wind and scope out future cruising waters for the future.  We enjoyed a weekend in Reno with friends at the annual Hot August Nights, admiring many shiny objects on the street as well as the Barrett Jackson car auction. Together we flew out one more time to New York City to visit Bryan and have fun family time playing in the Big Apple. On the way back, we spent the week with our sailing friends, Mike and Katie, exploring the Colorado urban and mountain high life amidst the vibrant yellow Aspen colors. 

We also decided it is time for a new homebase and start by selling our Los Altos home.   In July we worked hard with our real estate team to give our house a well deserved face lift.  After living in our renovation construction zone, we went on the market and sold it within one week.  We are very happy that a young couple, both working at technology companies, will now be calling Los Altos home.  

It's time to return to Shindig in Mexico and continue living our dream!

Amor y Salud - Nancy and Rob

View of Manhattan Skyline from Bryan's neighborhood
Great day trip to Coney Island and Brighton Beach, a Russian neighborhood
Wheel of Wonder at Coney Island

One of the Reflection pools at the 9/11 Memorial
Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi"

Double Elvis at the Museum of Modern Art in NY

Rob's host Lionel and Irene on the SV Kiapa

Incredibly clear water in Fiji.  Fish hide in the coral. 

Rob learns from the Master; Banana and Bacon Sandwich
Sunset at Musket Cove
Kiteboarding at the Blue Lagoon!  Perfect setup and launch area.

Dinner and Broadway Show Night

Nancy and Kate on Brooklyn Bridge

Selfies! Nancy and Ali at the Boston Commons Gardens
Outdoorsman, windsurfing, cycling and hiking friend
Josh, Central Coast

Time off the water with Sylvia and Tom (SV Cinnabar)

Elaine and Nancy and Bigfoot

Yes, a moose in Colorado on the hiking trail.

Aspen Fall Colors

Chllin' Out at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resorts

Cows roam freely on a Colorado mountain pass
"Smile for the camera (iPad)" 


Quartet Night at Tom's &
Dessert after playing
Quintets at Margaret's

Nancy's Steinway remains safely house at a friend's place

Great Times with Bryan

Rob's 30th high school reunion was awesome!

Maxfield Family Reunion with Nancy's mom, Margaret