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Winery Excursions with Princess Cruises

private event santa barbara

The past two days I’ve been sharing with you some of the fun things we did on our Princess Culinary Cruise. Today is all about the winery tour excursions!

We went to two wineries over the course of two days. The first was Fess Parker winery in Santa Barbara, CA (Cat Cora was our host, can you believe it? She was very nice and super down-to-earth). Fess Parker played Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett in the 50’s and 60’s and his family still runs the winery today. The wines were so good that I signed up for their wine club before we’d even left to head back to the ship! They also served an absolutely delicious lunch. My favorite was this fresh plum bruschetta:

bruschetta santa barbara

The bruschetta was prepared and served by the lovely Pascale Beale who regaled us all with an exciting story of how she met Julia Child and subsequently became a close friend in Julia’s later years. Pascale herself is a lovely woman who is clearly an impressive chef in her own right. She’s the kind of person I’d love to invite to dinner, just to hear her stories. I purchased one of her many cookbooks and she signed it for me!

pascale beale

And THEN…that lovely lady tweeted this:

Pascale Beale tweet

What a class act!! I just love strong, smart, warm and inspiring women like her. You always know when you meet one: they’re old souls, genuine and inquisitive. What a gem. I’m really touched that she took the time to tweet!

If you’ve never been to Santa Barbara, you should put it on your bucket list. Having lived in SoCal for many years, I’ve been there several times but it never gets old.

Good morning, Santa Barbara! Can’t wait to see you. #ComeBackNew

A photo posted by Kristy Bernardo (@thewickednoodle) on

The next day we were back at sea but arrived in Ensenada, Mexico early in the morning for our second winery tour with Suzanne Tracht as our host. This time we visited Monte Xanic, an absolutely stunning oasis in the middle of Baja – not a place I ever thought I’d see a winery, especially one so beautiful!

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

I spent my twenties in SoCal and we used to drive down to the Baja peninsula all the time. But we hung out at Papas & Beer, not gorgeous wineries. I had no idea something like this even exists here! When you take your next Princess cruise, be sure to visit!

Monte Xanic

After our wine tasting, we walked down a small hill where they’d set up tables by a small pond (lake?) for lunch. And let me tell you, it was one of my all-time best lunches in my life. Absolutely amazing!

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

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Every course was a close-your-eyes-and-sigh experience. Here are a few of my favorite dishes from the day:

Monte Xanic

And an oyster course, one of which was smoked. To die for!

Monte Xanic

Monte Xanic

But the Abalone was my utmost favorite. One of my top favorite dishes of ALL TIME (and I eat at VERY nice restaurants frequently, so that’s saying something!):

Monte Xanic

These two wineries spoiled us and set the bar extremely high. I live in VA wine country and I’ve never had an experience so refined as we did here. Princess cruises did a stellar job getting these excursions organized; this trip will definitely go down as one of my best! I’m still looking into last-minute NYE Princess cruises and am hoping to snag something. Doesn’t that sound like the BEST thing to do for NYE?? With any luck, I’ll get back to one or both of these wineries!

Princess Cruises first culinary cruise
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Wednesday 25th of November 2015

[…] without question, my favorite part of our entire trip. And that’s not easily chosen with all the amazing things we experienced! For starters, the food was exceptional. We started in the galley with champagne and appetizers, […]