Thirst for Knowledge: Ladera Vineyards

I’m not sure when I had my first glass of wine, probably in college and it was probably cheap gunk. It’s likely that I shared it Megan, that much is probable. Even if we weren’t each-other’s first, many of the glasses I have since enjoyed have been with her. For full disclosure here, I love Megan. We knew each other (along with another friend, Emily) before we were born. Yes, we go back to when the world spun without us and we were just twinkles in our parents’ (then neighbors and friends themselves) eyes.

Now we don’t drink the cheap gunk (except if it’s a class reunion and one of us happens to have a secret bottle hidden in her purse, then we don’t discriminate…we gulp) and we’ve refined our tastes enough to be welcomed at wineries around the world. I’ve invited Megan to share a story with us today and I hope you’ll welcome her here at L’occasion. Megan runs her own blog — Running the Dream, Living with Boys — where she shares what she knows about running (a ton), kids (more than she’ll admit) and friends (she’s a pro). Since she and her husband are wine-lovers, I’ve asked her to give us a glimpse at an early visit to Ladera Vineyards (in Napa…see, she’s all grown up) and how that trip influenced her perspective on wine:


He tries to get me in a good mood.
Here’s the vintage we bought together, remember? (He’s priming me.)

Of course I do, it was a lovely day. Sun bright, red hues scattered our table. The glass tops bounced sunbeams, showcasing elements from a beautiful cabernet.

The tour at Ladera was quaint, quiet, and picturesque. Nestled against Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, the backdrop is perfect for a stroll. Certain moments transport me to my family’s farmland, the dust and the dirt felt kinetic somehow. Up and down the vines, back and through the rows we sauntered. Our tour group consisted of us and the knowledgeable, passionate guide. We had the place to ourselves. And in this moment a thirst for knowledge was born.

The gorgeous setting at Ladera Vineyards.

The gorgeous setting at Ladera Vineyards.

Since our 2013 anniversary trip to Napa and Sonoma wine country, my husband has undergone a transformation. He loves learning, always welcomes tackling another subject. The thirst for knowledge is now literal, furtive and pleasantly consumable.  He is drinking up this new hobby and overtaking our basement. He is now an avid collector.

Furtive you say? Undeniably. Too often I don’t know the case is showing up until that delivery truck booms down our lane and there she stands. I should really get her name and invite her in for coffee. We smile and nod, exchange knowing glances as she jumbles with the hefty contents and I sign (agreeing to accept and celebrate prohibition indeed ended). Sometimes I want to refuse. I want to see the contents, I want to drink the contents but I don’t want to hassle with storing the contents.

A floor to ceiling wine fridge adorns our laundry room. An obnoxious fan is needed to circumvent the dryer heat. The fridge is fully stocked, no slot remains. And the rest is boxed in the basement guest room with a few orphan cases in my children’s game closet. We live in Minnesota. He tells our visitors not to turn up the space heater too high. We have to protect the wine. He discusses excavating, carving out a wine cellar under (or beside I can’t recall, I was probably fuming and not listening at this point) the house. Plots out measurements, lightly brings up potential storage ideas (no matter how improbable or outlandish). Something had to be done, I had to intervene. So I put him on a wine freeze.

Ladera 3

Megan’s wine: clever boxes, short on storage.

Turns out his wine bestie (they corroborate and find cases to split, vintages to boast) was also put on said freeze. We adoring wives certainly enjoy the splendor of a vine pairing, a fine Pinot or even the occasional buttery Chardonnay. But we are out of room. And our three-boys-under-six season of life doesn’t lend to weekend wine tastings or extensive gatherings to level off supply and demand.

I admit we are consuming together and enjoying vintage comparisons. We set out flights of the same Cabernet from 2010 and 2011 to compare the quality, to remember the year, the conditions and climate. The experience feels inventive, creative even. So I’m at an impasse on the wine journey. I want to embrace this passion, this new found hobby my husband insists on perfecting but I need to sort the towels and sheets too.

A conundrum, not a third world problem by any means but a spacy nuisance—yes that sums it up.  Don’t feel sorry for me, not a bad spot really. Maybe I’ll just start inviting more friends over and celebrating the small stuff. The baby started crawling this week, break out the good stuff. Call the neighbors, alert my mom’s group—ladies and gents we have some fine wine to sip today. He’s on the move!

Megan and her husband enjoying the day at Ladera.

Megan and her husband enjoying the day at Ladera.


Ladera Vineyards

150 White Cottage Road South
Angwin, CA 94508

10 am thru 3:30 pm
Please call for a reservation.

11 am and 2 pm, Daily
Prior Appointment Only.



Do you have a winery or vineyard that turned you from tourist to wine-lover? Megan and I would love to hear about it in the comments section.

12 thoughts on “Thirst for Knowledge: Ladera Vineyards

  1. Frogs Leap in Napa. There’s a pivotal moment standing in their garden listening to Seth, our guide, weave the tale of a college student growing into a winemaker under the tutelage of another famous winemaker. He pulled us into the sweat, struggles and triumph of starting a winery while sipping their Cabernet. Magical!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it interesting how ‘doing what you love’ evolves. How seeing something with new eyes for the first time opens up a world of possibilities? I’ll put Gundlach Bundschu on my list to visit. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

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