Wednesday, July 13, 2011
How do you begin to describe an experience that is out of this world? Trust me it's very hard. I have so many thoughts, ideas, pictures and people in my head. So I will begin.......at the beginning.
I don't remember how I first heard about the contest, all I know was that there were two methods of entry. One entry was to create a video of why you loved Beringer and were Michael Bublés biggest fan. I knew right then and there that there was no way I was creative enough to win that part of it (from watching the winning video I was right). The second part was to find a code so that you could enter online. Being that I was a huge fan of Beringer White Zin, I figured it would be easy for me to find the code. I searched high and low in our area without any luck. I was bummed. Then a friend mentioned that she had an extra code that she would give to me......Yipee! She sent it to me right away. By the way, Thank You so much Casey...I owe you one!
In all honesty, I knew very little of Michael Bublé. Since I am a big fan of Beringer White Zin, I was trying to win for the winery tour/wine tasting. I just figured Michael Bublé would be the icing on my cake (little did I know he wasn't just the icing, but the whole cake too....YUM)
March 21st: I received my code and continued to enter daily until the last day on 5/31.
June 6th: I was notified by email that I was a first prize winner. There were 34 first prize winners plus a guest each and 1 grand prize winner and guest for a total of 70 people.
A trip to see Michael Bublé in concert, as well as a winery tour.
That same day I had my paperwork notarized and in the mail.
June 8th: I received an email that I was a confirmed winner. Talk about being excited! I couldn't wait to go on this trip.
After that, all the details were worked out: coach air travel, hotel stay and ground transportation. We were also informed that for our wine tour we were to wear "Wine Country Casual". Our Bublé performance "Napa Valley Chic". Does anyone really know what those mean? I googled it and came up with so many ideas that I finally decided to just go with what I felt was right. Besides it gave me an excuse to go shopping for myself which I don't usually do. During the story you will see my interpetation of both.
July 6th: Stan, the girls and I drive 2 1/2 hours to Seattle. On the way, we dropped our daughters (8 & 5) off at Grandmas house in Sultan, then off we went. That night we confirmed our flight for the next morning.
July 7th: We got up, had breakfast then headed to the airport. We discovered that flying on United you have to pay for your luggage. (We were used to flying on Southwest which 2 bags fly free). Stan decided to pay for the one bag with cash. That completly befuddled the attendant. He had to find out HOW to accept cash. After being gone for about 7-8 minutes he comes back and has a special luggage tag and then he proceeds to print out our boarding passes. We went on our jolly way.
As we were waiting to board we heard our name being called. Stan went up to the desk and asked what it was about. The attendant wanted to make sure that we knew our seats had changed. We did know that we were now towards the front of the plane, rather than in the back where our original seats were. We start to board and soon discover that we had been upgraded to Business Class. If you have ever flown with Untied you know what I am talking about. We were SHOCKED!!! It was just like flying in First Class! Our seats had so much room and our chairs reclined all the way back as well as had foot rests. We had our own personal reading lamps. Our personal blankets felt just like melted butter they were so soft and smooth. For once in our lives we wished that our flight was longer than just 2 hours.
Stan sleeping like a baby:
Stan and I enjoying our comfy airplane seats:
It felt like we had our own waiter. As soon as we were settled in he came around with orange juice and water. All through the rest of the flight our "waiter" waited on us.
We arrive at the airport and head to baggage claim. We see a man holding up our name. He was to be our driver from San Francisco Airport to Napa Valley. We continue on to retrieve our bag and it was the first one there! That never happens! Our driver brings our car around and it's a plush town car. I was informed that it would take 1 hour and 10 minutes to arrive at our hotel. We sat back and enjoyed the ride.
We arrive at our hotel The Meritage and are told that our room is ready....always a nice thing to hear. We check in and locate Tina to get our credentials for our stay. She gave us what we needed as well as a Michael Bublé cd to play in our room "to get in the mood".
Credentials and Michael Bublé CD
We take our things to our room and are pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. There was a complimentary bottle of wine just for us.
$25 Bottle of 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel • Mendocino:
Stan in our room:
Me on our comfy bed:
At this point it's 1:30 and we are now hungry for lunch. We head to the restaurant in the hotel. Stan had pizza and I had a wonderful sandwich. We head back to our room so that we can check out the rest of the hotel and surrounding grounds. We took a hike through the vineyards.
Looking at the back of our hotel while in the vineyards:
A cool looking tree beside the vineyard:
At the top of the vineyard (actual entrance to Meritage):
Our hotel room, top window that you can only see half of:
The Cave where they have wine tasting and the Spa:
Fast Forward to 5:30 pm, we go down to meet the other winners and to have a wine tasting as well as some very delicious cheeses. Everybody mingled and had a great time, especially since the wine was free flowing.
Meet and Greet with the other winners:
Three types of wine being served, two whites and one red:
Stan enjoying his wine:
Me enjoying my wine:
Fast Forward to 7:30. At this time everybody wants to take the shuttle to downtown Napa. We get to the lobby only to find out everyone was trying to go at the same time. They only had room for 10 passengers in the shuttle and it was leaving every half an hour. Needless to say, Meritage was NOT prepared for that many people leaving all at once. They were doing their best to accomodate everyone. They even handed out more wine to the 10 of us still waiting. They brought in another shuttle and we finally left at 8pm.
We arrive in downtown Napa and they are having a wine tasting street fair. I love street fairs. You can find some very unusual things at them. This went on for block, after block, after block. Stan I proceed to walk the whole thing and check it out. We even got to pet a yellow python! Now don't be sqeamish ladies, it really was sweet and gentle.
We heard some music and veered off to one of the side streets. The group was playing some fantastic 80s music. Stan and I stood there for a while singing along to our favorite tunes.
We made it back to the main street and got some wine in a plastic cup. The cup had a dent in it and I kept trying to push the dent out. The lady was watching me and laughing. She said it's a comfort grip. Yep, it certainly was!
We continued down the street and saw another band in the main square. We decided to stop and listen. It was fun watching people dance. At 10pm we got on the shuttle and headed back to our hotel.
Street Fair dancing:
July 8th: 7:30 we get up and get ready for the day. At 8am we had breakfast out on the Vineyard Terrace with all the other winners. It was a very nice sunny morning. We head back to our room and grab what we need for the day.
At 10am we load our bus and head for St. Clement Winery for a tour and wine tasting. We arrive at 10:45am and walk up the hill to the seating area. We are promptly served a glass of wine. Yes it was 10:45 in the morning, it must be 5 o'clock somewhere...Right?!
The wine we were being served:
The winners milling around waiting for the wine tour:
We start on our wine tour and are told all about the winery and house etc. Along the way we see an orange tree.
We were informed that the wine is now stored in stainless steel tanks, much to our amazement.
After the tour was over we went back to the seating area where our lunch was being served. We each had a lunch box with a sandwich, bag of chips, peach and scone. The sandwich was awesome! As we sat there eating, the hosts served us more wine. This time it was a red. If you are wondering, our glasses were never empty.
We also made some new friends, Patti & Bob from South Carolina as well as Marianne from Oregon.
Patti & Bob:
Stan and I (Don't ya just love the hat? I got it in the Bahamas 2 weeks before this trip):
Wearing my "Wine Country Casual"
Marianne said that I had stunning eyes (Thank You Marianne!) and wanted to take my picture. Here are the pictures she took:
Learning wine facts:
After lunch we head back to our hotel. We arrive at about 1pm only to find out that our room hadn't been made up. Oh well, we just figured they would get to it when we left at 3:30. We rested there for a while enjoying the Michael Bublé cd. I wasn't sure if it was relaxing or energizing. After all, I was going to see him perform live in just a few hours!
2:30: I start to get ready for the concert. I was so excited and wanted to make sure I looked my best, but what woman doesn't want to look her best for Michael Bublé... Oh ya and for my husband too!!
3:30: We get on our bus and head to Beringer Vineyards. We arrive at around 4ish. As soon as we stepped off our bus we were given a glass of wine. Which we took with us as we promptly head up the hill for our tour. We were also given the schedule for the night. We were told all about Beringer which was very interesting.
Old Winery Building:
We head over to where we will have dinner as we are being told more about the wines. By this time it was pretty hot outside. Thank goodness our dinner was under the trees. They also set up some chairs under the trees so we could sit back and relax out of the heat and mingle with the other winners. While we were waiting for dinner time and mingling with the other winners, we were served more wine and out of this world hors d'oeuvres. Again our glasses were never empty.
Tables under the trees:
Me taking a picture of Stan at the same he is taking a picture of me!
Stan taking a picture of me while I am taking one of him!
Flowers on our tables:
Our table and place cards:
We were seated for dinner and I looked at the placard to see what we would be eating and drinking.
We were given our appetizers which were served with a 2009 Private Reserve Chardonnay. It was so delicious!
We were then served the most succulent duck I have ever had with a 2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Everything was just perfect.
What's for dinner?
2007 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (which I was told was $125 a bottle)
Our table mates (my name is Marcelle (Marci) and her name is Marcella (Marcie), it's very rare to find someone else with our names, let alone in the same trip and at the same table!)
As we were sitting there enjoying our most wonderful dinner the man sitting next to us told us to look across the way. He said that it was Jason Priestly sitting at another table. I said I didn't believe it as there was no way that was possible. I had thought this dinner was just for us winners. He said I am sure of it, I saw his name card. Yep, he was right!
Not long after that someone got up and had their picture taken with him. Being that my daughters and I loved watching 90210, I just had to have my picture taken with him. Besides he is looking pretty cute nowadays! After the picture was taken I was apologizing to him for all of us women taking up his time. He turned around and stood in front of me and shook my hand while saying it was perfectly fine.....AHHH what a very nice man!
Not shown in any of the above pictures are our new friends sitting to the left of us at our table: David and Gretchen. We hung out with them for the rest of the night.
When dinner was over we were to head over to the dessert area. After checking it out I saw the Blue Carpet where we were to get our picture taken with a Michael Bublé stand up.
Just sharing a glass of wine with Michael
Courtesy of PS Communications:
After I was done with my picture, walking towards us was the gorgeous woman that had been sitting with Jason. I stopped her and noticed that her name was Naomi Priestly. I asked her if he was her husband and she answered yes. She stayed there talking with us for quite sometime. She was so sweet and very kind. I had a great time talking to her and realized that I didn't think our conversation was finished. I had lots of other thoughts and questions for her.
Finally the four of us head towards the desserts. Gretchen and I didn't get very far. We found the dessert wine, a Beringer 2006 Nightingale. It was so sweet and yummy! As we stood there enjoying it, we asked if we could buy some. The man serving us the wine said of course and that we would have to go into the Rhine House. He said that he would sign our bottles because he was the winemaker Roger Harrison listed on the bottle!! Cool!!
Grethen and I promptly head for the Rhine House store. We found out that you can only buy this wine there, so I decided I was going to buy 2 bottles. However, when the clerk started to ring it up I realized that I got a 30% discount, I added a third bottle. That way both of my adult daughters as well as myself could have a bottle. We left the bottles there to be signed and to be picked up when the concert was over.
True to his word Roger Harrison signed my bottles:
During this time our husbands were enjoying themselves with all the wonderful desserts that we never had a chance to try.
A couple more photos of Jason Priestly as he was mingling in the dessert area:
It was now time to head to our seats for the concert. But on the way we had to get pictures of the Beringer House (Rhine House):
In the forefront Stan, David and Gretchen
Stan and David:
Gretchen in the forefront:
Now we head to our seats. Yes, that is a marvelous tasting Beringer Sparkling White Zinfandel. I had no idea they made such a thing as I always have just the Beringer White Zin.
By the way, there were about 350 people attending the concert. 70 of us winners, Beringer employees, Freinds of the Winery and the press. A very small and personal concert for us priveleged few!
The Grand Prize Winner: Antonio Saragosa
Winning entry: http://www.michaelbubleinnapa.com/contest/
Now wasn't that very clever!? I truly believe that she deserved to win!
After we got all settled in Naturally 7 came on stage to open. All I can say is WOW!!!!! I had never heard them before and decided after hearing them that I will be purchasing their music. The sounds that they can make with their voices....incredible....unbelievable......simply AMAZING!!!! If you haven't heard of them either, all those musical instruments you are hearing are actually them and not really instruments! Yes, Incredible!
OK, now for the good stuff, watch the videos of Naturally 7 and be amazed for yourself! I tried to imbed the video in Blogger, but it was taking too long and I was afraid I would loose everything. We will just have to make do with my YouTube links.
These are the incredible sounds they make!!!
At one point Naturally 7 had an interaction with the fans. Everybody was dancing along and having a great time!
After Naturally 7 was done with their performance, there was a short break. I saw Naomi Priestly head up the hill and knew that now was the time to continue our conversation (honestly I was not stalking her!). She was with another lady that she had met that night. They looked liked best buds! I asked Naomi if I could get my picture with her and of course she agreed (much to my husbands delight!). Then we started chatting again. Again I felt like there was some kind of connection between us. At one point the other lady left and Naomi and I continued talking and talking. We hadn't even realized that Michael Bublé had already started. I agreed that we would talk again later, but sadly we never got the chance. We both left to go watch the concert.
Friend and Naomi:
Naomi and I (I am really bummed that the picture is blurry, another reason to always take more than one):
I head back to my seat and promptly get my camera out and start taking pictures. But that wasn't enough, I then started the video. By the way, one of the biggest surprises of all is that we were allowed to take pictures and video of everything!! I have never heard of anyone allowing this. Just another awesome perk with this whole experience.
I soon realized that a lot of the women were standing up in front of the stage. Now was the time for me to make my move. I got up to the front and in the corner, where I could get some more pictures and great video.
Pictures courtesy of PS Communications:
Me in the far right corner with my camera:
Still in the right corner, but taking pictures of the fans:
This video is GREAT (funny)!!
With Naturally 7:
These flowers were at the front of the stage in the corner where I was standing.
With my flash on:
Without Flash (that's what they really looked like, pretty cool, huh?!):
A few songs later Michael Bublé invited his fans on stage with him. Who was I turn down that wonderful opportunity. However, I stood in the back and took pictures of the band. Then I headed over to the crowd and got my camera up and in position to continue the video.
I'm now on stage taking pictures of the Band Members:
Michael and all his fans:
Look at all those adoring fans!
Pictures courtesy of PS Communications:
Me directly behind the lady in the green dress:
Me on the right side back, you can see my arms and the camera in the air:
Ok here you go ladies....on stage with Michael (can I get any closer?)
It wasn't long before the song was over and he was done. I took video of him leaving the stage. We were all hoping that he would come back on for just one more song, but we were told it was over.
We head back to our buses to go back to our hotel. The bus was abuzz with all the exciting events that had taken place. Everyone was so excited and euphoric. When we got back to our hotel Stan and I headed for room to put our stuff away, with the promise to Gretchen & David that we would meet them in the bar.
When we got to our room we were shocked....our room had still NOT been made up! What a let down to come back from such an incredible experience to that. Since we were going down to meet Gretchen & David we decided we would stop at the front desk to tell them about our displeasure. They asked if we wanted our room cleaned and we replied with a yes and that we were going to the bar for a while.
We met Gretchen & David in the bar. We found a table and sat down. Stan and David were both thrilled to finally have a beer....LOL! They chatted, as Gretchen and I chatted. It wasn't too long after that that they had to go to their room as they had an early flight the next morning.
As we were leaving the bar, I saw the lady (sorry I never got your name) with the green outfit and peacock feathers in her hair. All evening I had been meaning to tell her how much I loved her outfit, but I never got the chance, until then.
After leaving the bar we decide to go outside for some fresh air. I decide that I want pictures of the hotel from the vineyard. There was a sign across the stairs that stated it was closed. However, I was only going up a little ways so that I could get pictures (guess that's the little bit of rebel in me). As I was taking pictures, one of the staff from the hotel told us the vineyard was closed. I told him that I was going to take one more picture and be down, which I did.
Heading back to our room for the night, even though it's blurry you can finally see my "Napa Valley Chic"
When we got back to our room we were very happy to see that it had finally been made up.
July 9th: We got up about 8am and went down to the Vineyard Terrace for breakfast. Everybody around us looked tired, including us. After breakfast we went back to our room to pack.
At 10am we head down to get on our transportation back to San Francisco with some of the other winners who had also decided they were going to stay a night or two there. We looked at the bus and thought oh darn the party is now over. Much to our surprise, it was a limo bus. Very plush on the inside with music and champagne. We debated for a while whether we should open the bottle of champagne or not. We opted to continue the party!
When we arrived in San Franciso the driver delivered us to each of our individual hotels. And well......that is a whole other adventure......
Now if you are thinking to yourself "Wow I would have loved to have been there" I heard rumors (can't be sure if they are true or not) that this will become an annual event. So keep your eyes open for that special little card with a code on it, that can create a whole new lifetime experience for you!
As I come to the end of my story, I want to take the time to thank the people that made this such an Incredible Experience.
*Thank You Beringer for everything! Especially for opening up my taste buds to some new and wonderful wines. Everything was perfect and classy all the way. I felt like a Movie Star!!
*Thank You Michael Bublé (even though I didn't know you very well at the beginning) for making my heart melt and allowing us crazy fans on stage with you, even though it felt like the stage was going to buckle under all of our dancing feet.
*Thank You Jason & Naomi Priestly for allowing us to take up some of your time for pictures and chatting. It was awesome meeting both of you!