Showing posts with label travel books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel books. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review

Sculpterra Winery is Family Friendly


Having children along need not keep parents from wine tasting. Paso Robles has a few family friendly wineries that have plenty to keep children happy and occupied as parents do the tasting. My personal favorite of these is Sculpterra.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review

Photo©Barbara Radisavljevic

Sculpterra Owner Dr. Warren Frankel Cares about Families


He showed how much he cared for his own when he moved his medical practice from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County to Templeton in 1970. In 1979 he bought a 90-acre ranch in Paso Robles on which to raise his children. Trust me,  There couldn't be a more beautiful place to raise children than the location Dr. Frankel chose. He and his wife Kathy also have room to keep the horses they like to ride and plenty of room to ride them through the vineyards and orchards.

But Dr. Frankel cares about more than his own family. He and some other doctors got together to found His Healing Hands, a medical ministry that sends medical missionaries on short term missions to almost every corner of the world to bring medical care to the poorest of the poor. They are often on the scene after a major disaster like Hurricane Katrina. I personally know people who have participated in these short term missions with Dr. Frankel, and I've met Dr. Frankel himself at Sculpterra. When you buy wine at Sculpterra, part of the profits go to support His Healing Hands. Read more about Dr. Frankel here.

Dr. Frankel loves his country and the people of Paso Robles. He is a concerned and active citizen. I often hear him express his views about local issues on our local radio stations "Morning Exchange" and "Sound Off" programs. Every year he also hosts an Independence Day party at the winery for the community. In the past he has treated those who attend to free hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, apple pie, bottled water, and wine. Read more about these parties on my blog post, Independence Day at Sculpterra Winery.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review

Photo©Barbara Radisavljevic

What Does Sculpterra Have to Offer Kids?

Sculpterra's sculpture garden is full of renowned sculptor John Jagger's gigantic sculptures in bronze and granite. (Miniature versions of many of them are for sale in the tasting room.) If you are anywhere near the tasting room you probably will be able to see at least one large sculpture near you. There is also usually a place within view of the sculptures where parents can sit and drink their wine as children explore the paths that lead to the sculptures.

This sculpture by John Jaggers is my favorite of all of them.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review
"Sweet Dreams" by John Jagger at Sculpterra

I can imagine "Gentle Giant" wowing the younger generation. It, like the other sculptures, is huge. They make even adults looking at them feel small.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review
"Gentle Giant," by John Jagger at Sculpterra Winery, Photo © Barbara Radisavljevic

The Work of Resident Artist Dale Evers 


I've always loved what our local artist Dale Evers did with an old car door. I first saw the dog in this door outside Dale's Paso Robles studio. You couldn't miss it as you walked by.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review


Then one day when I was at Sculpterra after almost a year's absence, I saw this right between the parking lot and the path to the tasting room entrance. Look familiar?

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review

Of course, that's only one piece of Dale's work on display at Sculpterra. Every time I visit Sculpterra I find more of it. He works in metal and much of his work is very delicate. So it is with the butterfly chimes below. I was really surprised to find them at Sculpterra because they used to live nextdoor to our Templeton house at ZinAlley winery. Here's how they looked there.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review


Now they live at Sculpterra in Central Park West.

Central Park West


Here are the chimes in their new home.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review


Central Park West has all kinds of activities for children and adults who like to play games. Of course, everyone likes to push the chimes to hear them ring. There are also two stone chess tables, a bocce ball court (on the other side of the picnic tables), a cement foosball table, and a custom made table tennis table. Parents can sit in the comfortable chairs to drink their wine. The very top photo in this post gives you another look at the game tables from a different perspective. Equipment for the games can be checked out in the tasting room.

Sculpterra Mural, "Legacy of California Wine in Art" 


Another part of Central Park West I hope people will show their children is the "Legacy of California Wine in Art." (See above.) Artists Bob Bentley and Steve Kalar collaborated to present this mural of the history of wine in California.

Art is Everywhere at Sculpterra


Besides the sculptures and art panels scattered around the area near the tasting room, there is plenty of wall art by local artists for sale inside the tasting room. One art wall is reserved for each month's featured artist. I was last there in December 2018, and the Artist of the Month was Drew Davis. I had actually found him painting in front of the tasting room that day and we talked for a bit. You never know what or who you will find on a visit to Sculpterra.

Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review
Artist of the Month Wall Featuring the Work of Drew Davis, ©Barbara Radisavljevic



Sculpterra: The Family Friendly Winery in Paso Robles: A Review
Drew Davis, Photo ©Barbara Radisavljevic

A Visit to Sculpterra Is Educational


Look at the mural shown above and talk with your children about California's history as you look at the individual pictures on it. It begins with the missions and so far ends with the arrival of the railroad.

As you walk through the sculpture garden, talk about the artists and their work. Talk about sculpture as an art form. Do a bit of research before you go and learn enough to teach your children. Help your children notice the characteristics of the sculptures. Ask how the sculptures make them feel or how they think the artists may have felt about their subjects. Note the expressions on the animal faces.

Like most wineries I visit, Sculpterra grows herbs in the gardens surrounding the the tasting room. See if your children can identify them. Point out the various birds and beneficial insects the garden attracts.

If you're really lucky, you may even get to watch an artist work. And on Sunday afternoons there are usually free concerts outside.

Find out when harvest will occur in the fall and plan to observe it. On some of my visits to Sculpterra I have watched Dr. Frankel's son Paul, the winemaker, at work and he doesn't mind answering questions. In this video he explains how they handpick the grapes at Sculpterra. This short video is one of a series that may be good preparation for your family to watch before they visit Sculpterra.




Everyone in Your Family Will Find Something to Enjoy

For personal reasons related to family history, I don't drink anything alcoholic, so I can't comment on tasting Sculpterra's award-winning wines. I do have many friends who have joined their wine club. It's a shame to live in wine country and not drink wine. But I can always find something new to see and enjoy at Sculpterra when I'm the designated driver. If I had children at home, I would certainly not hesitate to take them with me on my visits. I know they would come away enriched by the experience. And for sure, there's enough to see and do here to keep designated drivers and those too young to drink from getting bored. 

Next time you are in Paso Robles California, make a point of stopping by Sculpterra. You will be glad you did. Learn more about Sculpterra and other wineries on the California Central Coast in this beautifully illustrated book.



See more Sculpterra photos here: Sculpterra is a Great Place to Find Unique Gifts from Local Artists
See also my article on HubPages: Sculpterra Winery: Where Art, Wine, and Music Mix for more about Sculpterra and links to the videos I made there on my first visit.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Choose a Way Auckland Travel Book Review

Traveling to New Zealand? Then grab a copy of Choose A Way Auckland, a travel guide whose interactive style gives new meaning to the term "choose your own adventure."
Auckland, New Zealand, is a popular tourist destination these days so if you're headed that way, here's a book that I'd recommend you take with you. This somewhat unconventional travel guide is called Choose A Way Auckland. It's an ebook whose interactive style gives new meaning to the term "choose your own adventure."

This travel guide won't tell you where to stay or which airline to choose to get there. Instead, an insider, author and travel blogger/photographer Rhonda Albom who lives in Auckland and loves the city, comes on the trip with you, traveling on your Kindle (or tablet, phone, or reading app), offering you choices that direct you to all the best places in Auckland to visit while you're there. Plan ahead or choose your itinerary on the go. Here's how it works.

Remember those mystery books you read back in elementary school? At the end of each chapter you were given choices, to go one way or another, to one page or another, and who knew where you'd end up? In Choose A Way Auckland, the author offers you choices, too, depending on the time of day, whether you're in the mood for an active or relaxing activity, whether or not you're exploring Auckland with children, among other criteria that fit your particular situation. In this case, you'll not only know in advance where you'll end up, you'll be given background on the place, specific directions to get there, hours of operation, price of admission, and friendly advice on how best to enjoy the destination.

I really enjoyed this book!

I'll admit, I'm not much of a world traveler at this point in my life, but I do enjoy armchair travel and this book captivated me (because of its fun layout) as well as entertained and educated me about a part of the world that I really didn't know much about.

One of the things I like best about the book is the very specific driving, riding, or walking directions with not only distances but landmarks to look for along the way. With that information along with the map links, the guide makes it very easy to navigate in and around the biggest city in New Zealand. You'll definitely want to keep your Kindle or iPhone with you during your trip so that if you do get turned around, you'll be able to pull it out and find your way quickly and easily with Rhonda's excellent directions.

Another feature of the book that I really like are the specifics in terms of family versus adult entertainment. While there's plenty to do that includes the kids, there are also lots of adult activities, some of which are more adult-oriented than others, very helpful to know about in advance.

Also, the information in the book will help you budget your trip. Time-wise, you'll know how many hours to plan for each activity ("three hours from ferry to ferry" for the vineyard zip line trip). Money-wise, Rhonda makes it easy to decide where you want to splurge and what activities are still fun, just more frugal. Same goes for food and restaurants; Rhonda's personal favorites sound awesome to me!

To get the most out of the book, follow the instructions and the links to "choose" your way through the 39 stops and adventures included in the guide so you don't miss out on the fun. After your first day you'll be given a shortcut to a list of destinations to help you enjoy the book even more.

Choose A Way Aukland was released April 11, 2016, and is being offered at a discounted price of $1.99 for several days, so you might want to grab a copy now before the cost goes up to its regular price of $6.99. Even at full price, this is a must-have if you're planning a trip to New Zealand (or if you live there). You'll enjoy the book, too, if you're an armchair traveler like me. Choose the link below that suits your needs.

Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble
Kobo Books


Visit author, photographer, and award-winning travel blogger Rhonda Albom's blog.

Find more travel-related reviews on Review This!


~Susan
Read more of my reviews.




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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Guide to France and a Review of It...Well, More Like a Love Letter!

Why I Love France! 

I'm traveling in Europe, and decided to spend a while in France. It's just as awesome as everyone says! Well not everyone thinks so, of course, and France has a reputation for being unkind to Americans, but my husband and I wonder why. Everywhere we go we are met with kindness and people go out of their way to help us.  This is a welcome change from our Italian experience!


Colosseum Rome
Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Yes we loved Italy;  the ruins, the food, the art, the beauty, and everyone at all our hotels. But the average Italian on the street? Not so much. They all seem in a hurry, and not interested in helping anyone, let alone Americans who don't speak Italian. In fact they seem sort of angry. 

If we hadn't had our guidebooks, and my Google translator app for my phone, I think we would have been lost a lot more than we were. (We were totally lost several times in Florence and walked miles out of our way!) They are sort of rude, even to each other. Just not what I expected at all.

Like I said, the people in hospitality are generally nice. But don't get me started on the people at the train stations! (The ticket office people I mean.) At restaurants they can be either really nice, or really snotty. It's a toss up!

Florence Italy
Florence, Italy


We Love France Even More Than Italy! 

But we love France! Everyone here seems generally happy and nice and they go out of their way to help, not just the hospitality people, everyone on the street. I had 4 different men try to help me with my luggage at the train station even when it meant they might miss their own train! And the station employees are also very nice and helpful. 

Our train to Lyon broke down so it was unavailable; a train employee cheerfully informed us they would find a solution, and they did!  20 minutes later a bus arrived to take us to Lyon and he drove like a madman to get us to the station on time to make our connection. (We barely made it!)  We were not even able to get to our correct car or we would have missed the train.  

I was worried after our Italian train experiences, but not to worry.  The French ticket agent just smiled and said no problem, you're on the train and that's what counts. So refreshing! All the people around us smiled and smiled. They even tried to talk to us and since I speak some French it was totally enjoyable. 


Toulouse France
Saint Sernin Basilica, Toulouse, France

So here we are in Toulouse which is sort of like a mini Paris. It's called the Pink city because many if not most of the buildings are constructed from pink bricks. And it's breathtakingly beautiful too.  Since it's Christmas time, there are lights everywhere, and everyone seems to be in a great mood.  

But the difference between France and Italy  is that when French people hear us speaking English, they stop and tell us where to go for good food!  Ah, the French and their food. All I can say is the reputation is deserved. We love it! 


Palm Tree Cathedral Toulouse France
Jacobins Convent ceiling, Toulouse, France also known as the Palm tree ceiling

Before we left the USA, I checked out several travel books, and after my research I decided that the Fodor's ones are not only tried and true, but they are the most helpful for the kind of traveling we are doing; we don't have a schedule or a plan other than to stay where we like the vibe, and move on after we're done exploring. So if you're going on a trip, I highly recommend the Fodor's guides! We are using this one: Fodor's France 2015 (Full-color Travel Guide).

But there are older ones available too, and of course guides for any country you can imagine.  So far every recommendation has been totally helpful and thorough. I don't think you can go wrong using a Fodor's Travel guide!

For more stories and photos about my travels, follow my travel blog: Peace, Love, Travel Light!  More countries coming up! Do you have a favorite European country? Let me know, as we are open to seeing new ones! 

All photos,© Heather Burns




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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