My grandfather turned 80 today. He is an incredible man, always tells his grandchildren he loves them and always checks in with my parents to make sure we are doing all right. A former Marine, he and my grandmother left Wisconsin after they got married and he worked diligently to provide for his family of six (three boys and one girl), putting them through Catholic schools. He’s retired now and was pretty darn proud of the fact he turned 80.
Being in Arizona and having worked in athletics the past seven and a half years, I missed several family events: birthdays, graduations, holidays. This is one I made sure not to miss, so I bought the ticket and flew home to surprise my grandpa. The family first met at my aunt and uncle’s, where we enjoyed some snacks flown in from Wisconsin.
We set out for Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. in Buellton. There, we tasted several beers and visited with each other. My favorite of the day was the Hoppy Poppy IPA. All the crafts were wonderful but this one was especially delicious!
Once we had successfully downed our beer tastings (I think we tried seven different ones), we took off for Koehler Winery. My uncle Dan works at Koehler and he gave us several bottles of wine. The grounds at Koehler are stunning. There is a large grass lawn that is perfect for a picnic and a corral of sheep and emus next to the lawn. A new addition to the grounds is an upper patio area that overlooks the entire grounds. In addition to being a beautiful location, Koehler also has delicious wines. My personal favorite is the MagiNera, a red blend. If you are wine-tasting in the Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara area, definitely visit Koehler.
Our next stop was a teppenyaki dinner at Hama SATO in Santa Maria. We concluded the night at my aunt and uncle’s, where we enjoyed desert and games.
Words cannot express how glad I am that I went home for the weekend to celebrate with the family. I missed out on so much in the past and it is so nice to be able to enjoy times like these. Happy 80th birthday Grandpa! To many more!