Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

  • Spa Style & Self Care Reflections, Rituals and Resources for Joyful Living

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  • About Spanista

    Ginny Shiverdecker, Creator of Spanista is Spa Wellness Enthusiast, Adventurer Seeker and Brand Builder.
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Dear Wellness Seekers,

Castello di Amorosa, Napa Valley’s Italian Castle Wine Legacy is a must see, especially for Italian wine lovers. We plan to spend the day exploring the highlights of Napa Valley as to enjoy the extremes of its contemporary offerings. So we set off to our destination experience Castello di Amorosa and arrived late morning. It was clear that this was going to be a busy day by the amount of touring traffic we encountered upon entering but somehow we got lucky to be pointed up the road toward a parking spot just steps from the Castle entrance. It felt like a Cinderella moment in an SUV. A sign of a good day ahead.

When approaching the Castle & Winery one can feel a bit awestruck by its architectural beauty. With our Australian friends Launa & Howie pictured, we opted for a Reserve Tasting experience, got our tickets and ventured in to tour the Castle first. I visited the castle a few years ago in Spring when is was less busy. There were many tourists now moving like swarms of bees along tour routes. So we looked for an alternative direction to enjoy a quieter, more personal view of the surroundings.

The Castle first opened its doors in 2007 and sits on 175 acres of rich soil, a forrest, a lake and  a stream. It is a pet project of 4th generation vintner, Dario Satuii who also owns and operates the V. Sattui Winery named after his great-grandfather who originally established a winery in San Francisco in 1885 after emigrating from Italy to California.

The Castle interiors, which include 107 rooms on 8 levels above and below ground, cover approximately 121,000 square feet. Key details and building techniques are architecturally faithful to the 12th and 13th century time period. Among many other features – it has: a moat; a drawbridge; defensive towers; an interior courtyard; a torture chamber; a chapel; a knights’ chamber; great hall with a 22-foot coffered ceiling.

The masonry, ironwork and woodwork was fashioned by hand using old world crafting techniques. Building materials included 8,000 tons of locally quarried stone and some 850,000 bricks imported from Europe. A feature is a 500 year old fireplace that took 18 months to build. As you might guess this labor of love took several years to build.

Our first stop is the Chapel where a powerful spiritual force washes over you in this tiny place. It was easy to slip into Spanista Reflection mode inspired by all the symbols of faith one associates with Italian Catholicism – beautiful sculptures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, frescos and candles flickering in the shadows where sun swept walls were kissed through windows full of streaming light. Among the rows of heavy wood artisan chairs was a special etherial looking creature that appeared to be a permanent occupant – the Chapel Cat.

We moved on to tour all the rooms of extraordinary Italian old world authenticity until we were moved to thirst. There are two tasting room options – one is the underground Grand Barrel Room where there is a large square serving bar and a unique array of castle and winery themed merchandise. The other is our choice – time to head for the Reserve Tasting Room -Il Passito. This secluded and lavish space is perched high above the courtyard. It sets you apart from the mainstream activity. We were fortunate to have a table come available just as we arrived. The room hummed with active conversation of its guests – many languages were spoken. The Wine Tasting Hosts were a buzz with activity. Our Host was very nice and attentive. We sampled four wines – two white and three reds and then asked for their best we could enjoy getting us 2 more as a bonus. Our Host accommodated us with a couple of extra very worthy choice . They Castello di Amorosa Reserve Wines included:

~ 2012 “La Rocca” Chardonnay

~ 2013 “Gewurztraminer” Dry Anderson Valley

~ 2010 La Castellano Cabernet Sauvignon Super Blend

~ 2011 Sangiovese Napa Valley

~ 2010 Late Harvest IL Passeto After Dinner Wine

~ 2010  IL Barone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ***

We relaxed into the moment once again – searching for a taste of heaven that would appeal to our mood and restore us – a desire to escape to the true heart of Italy’s finest if just for the moment – we found it in 2o10 IL Barone Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley***. Smooth, aromatically pleasing and gets better with every taste. The one we all agreed was the BEST of our tasting time here.

From this experience our Spanista Self Care Takeaway is – never underestimate to power of old world Italian culture to have a profound effect on the soul if you open up to it. The memory embedded by taste experiences seals your deepest sensations into your heart. Because of this we will always recall this very happy moment together when we open an Italian bottle of wine anywhere in the World.

Life is indeed good. What is your favorite Italian inspired wine? Is there a positive memory associated with it?

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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Dear Wellness Seekers,

Matanzas Creek Winery Surprises & Delights Spanista as promised by the locals who shared insight about the BEST winery in Sonoma County. It is an easy 15 minute drive from our Hilton Hotel that fit well with my formula: Great Wine + Ambiance = Happy Experience!

With my hubby behind the wheel of our rental SUV armed with his trusted Garmin GPS he takes everywhere to guide him, we set off. The late afternoon sunshine was blessing us with warmth only September brings here which is perfect for grape harvest. Temps were in the 80’s with a gentle breeze stirring now and then. As we moved through the winding roads a golden glow fell upon the rolling hills of perfect rows of vines. We were so happy to be together and looking forward to our first toast to celebrate fulfilling one of our shared travel dream destinations. Alas, we found our first stop nestled in the hills just south of Annadel Estate.

As we arrived we could see a lovely mission style building tucked into the hill among massive tress and groomed rock gardens, including oriental lights and an outdoor patio that looked all so welcoming on this spectacular afternoon. We strolled through the walk up path taking in the beauty before we came to into the tasting room. Upon entering I was thrilled to discover that the aroma I took in the Gardens that appeared to be full of  freshly cut plantings, was recently harvested Lavender – one of natures true healing gifts. Matanzas Creek owners created a lovely Lavender Market featuring an array of offerings from their harvest with the freshness of the scent floating through the air – it was an intimate paradise of delight. We got lost in the presentation of creativity.

Howie helped draw us away from the Market to another indulgence by enticing us to enjoy our first wine tasting flight. We were enchanted by a lovely young gal, who hosted our tasting journey. During our conversation she shared she had taken her Legal Bar exam that week and was anxiously awaiting her result. She was a Wine Enthusiast and enjoyed this environment while working her way through school. Of the four wines we sampled, two proved to be very good measured by the noses and taste buds of my seasoned friends – as we tasted, we explored, we laughed, we learned and loved it all. The Mantanzas 2013 Sauvignon Blanc  and 2011 Pinot Noir were favorites for Howie & Launa who wanted to take a bottle of Pinot to Alaska with them to revisit the warm memory on a cold night. For Spanista, I was intrigued most by the love of lavender and the Pinot Noir.

We would have lingered longer but wanted to enjoy a stroll through the gardens before the Winery closed. Warmed by the wine we walked with our hearts fully open to the moment – taking in the intricate details of the talented gardner’s vision – the trickling water, the crunch of early fallen leaves and song of perfect pebbles under out feet. All under the warm late afternoon sunshine. The Lavender Garden proved most charming, featuring varieties of the plant marked to read. Perfectly groomed now you could inhale the healing powers of the harvest – and could imagine what the garden must have looked like in full bloom of purples and whites on the vista overlooking the valley of green and gold just a couple of weeks prior. A wonderful image of Nature at its finest.

We all agreed it was the perfect beginning – even for my hubby Bob who was out designated driver who did not drink a drop the entire trip – he said it best by saying his nose told the entire story without a drop to the tongue.

The surprise and delight of Matanzas Creek Winery and  California Wine Country is its ability to help us focus on living in the moment with all our senses present and engaged. This type of focus makes us happy therefore is a wonderful Self Care lesson to apply to our everyday lives.

What is your favorite winery in California Wine Country?

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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Dear Wellness Seekers,

California Wine Country Journey to Joy Begins With a Reunion. It was marvelous to meet our friends from Melbourne, Australia. This post is dedicated a treasured couple, Launa & Howie. An important aspect of Self Care is nurturing and treasuring life long friendships, especially those we love who live on the other side of the planet by spending quality holiday time together. Such memories are priceless and offer real joy.

We hooked up with Howie at  San Fran International and drove up to Sonoma where we were met by Launa. She just completed a special Board of Directors meeting as she is a Director for a global bank based in Australia and had just completed several days of meetings with SF tech firms like HP, Facebook and Ebay. We landed noonish so off to the rental car and then the ride north of the city. It took over an hour to arrive. Now it is time to relax so we checked into our hotel quickly as we were keen to head out for our first adventure before the wineries closed.

My friends are avid wine explorers and experienced world travelers. Originally from South Africa and Britain they share my love for adventure.

They have been to many remote places like Iceland to see the volcanoes and after the our time together they were headed to Anchorage, Alaska. Then via sea plane into the Kodiak Islands to see the polar bears in their natural habitats.

I wanted them to enjoy this visit to our celebrated wine country through my eyes. To me Sonoma represents the more authentic view of the Cali Wine Experience. Today there are hundreds of vineyards in each Sonoma and Napa Valleys, so the long weekend will allow just a sampling but will be great fun as I want them to enjoy the breath of savior-faire. That meant more than great wine – It meant great ambiance too. I was after a unique discovery – One building upon another for a special holistic memory that would last.

This is a busy time of year in the Valley of the Grape and Napa has become a destination for international tourists so I expected the weekend to be busy. That is why for the three hours we had on Friday afternoon to begin our excursion, we stayed in Sonoma Valley. We found our way to a lovely Vineyard and admitted to looking forward to sampling our first wine flight. Yummmm.

Join me Monday to experience the first Vineyard with us – MANTANZAS CREEK WINERY. A truly delightful beginning…

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,


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Dear Wellness Seekers,

Seasons of Spanista: Autumn Arrives With Aura of Peace is a celebration of this seasons ability to effect our emotional wellbeing through the senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch.  If we take the time to stop our fast paced activity and step back to see the bigger picture we can begin to reconnect with natures gifts.

Autumn is my favorite season for this very reason.

May I ask you – What does Autumn mean to you? Not just in the physical world around you but inside your heart? What about Autumn brings you deep emotional joy?

If you are open it, it’s abundance of riches will feed our souls with beautiful inspiration while our environment goes into transition. The clues are everywhere to motivate reflection  – Are we too going through a transition? Are we moving forward with the natural progression of things during our life on earth? This focused attention on the moment at hand helps us stay in touch with the real world and that in turn will help you stay in touch with your true nature. Through planning to be present and part of the transformation of this season you will experience the restorative powers inherent in the Seasonal Rhythm of Life.

A season so rich in stimulation can offer one an altered state of mind and heart  – serenity, enlightenment, happiness. One that surrounds you in an Aura of Peace – a state of tranquility. The photo of the glorious light breaking through the golden trees is one I wanted to share – it signals hope and the light of life is free and available to us all.  Spanista believes Fall offers us the emotional benefits of Peace and that is why I linked it with Asian symbol for Peace.

Could it be such for you?

Over the next few weeks you will experience Autumn through the eyes of Spanista.

I hope you will enjoy the many ways it stimulates your senses as it does for me.

Autumn is truly a celebration of joyful living.

To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,



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Dear Wellness Seekers,

Happiness? Get In Touch With The Seasonal Rhythm of Life Spanista Style. It starts with introducing you to The Seasons of Spanista. This is an original, holistic “Body Meets Heart & Mind Concept” that leads the way in redefining and evolving the connection between Spa Services and Self-Care because it puts the power in your hands. You take control of your Self Care Experience based on your needs and expectations. Its creation is a breakthrough as the first Self Care Lifestyle approach to triangulate a connection between massage, mindfulness and mood to achieve true happiness, health and wellbeing . And even more healing potential lies in the deep untapped beauty of The Rhythm of the Seasons.

Welcome back friends. The role of the Seasons of Spanista is to gently reconnect us with the real world as through it, we can discover our true nature of joyful living. We are drawn to technology like bees to pollen spending most of our waking hours living in the virtual world – talking on mobile phones, texting, reading computer screens, watching movies online. The sore shoulders, the tension headaches and attention deficit disorder are direct outcomes but we often do not connect the two. When do we take time to smell the roses, light a candle to feel the warm glow, green grass between our toes, touch the rich garden soil, taste the salty sea spray in our faces, the crunch of leaves under our strolling feet? The seasons reawaken the senses – they have a direct neurological connection to our emotional reservoir – the seasons stimulate our deepest desires – awaken us.

For example, simply inhaling aromas from botanical essential oils drawn from a season’s herbs can shift your mood completely, while applying it therapeutically with massage can reconnect you to how your body really feels – can help open the flow that allows mind, body and heart to get in sync again. It helps you focus on the here and now, to be in the moment so your true nature of joy can reveal itself.

The Rhythm of the Seasons gives us many pleasurable gifts that affect the 5 senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Each season is unique as it allows us to take pause, to witness nature’s ways, to find parallels to our way of living and to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. To see and reflect on the healing power and beauty in the outside world allows us to recognize beauty on the inside of us.

Connecting with the Seasons of Spanista can help you restore your equilibrium and wellbeing.

The Seasons of Spanista will tap into these gifts to guide us to nurturing a 100% Happy Heart. It is where East meets West, through focus on 4 meaningful themes and symbols of each season found in ancient Asian Culture. By cultivating an understanding of what happiness means to us along these 4 dimensions from seasons to season, year to year, over the arch of our lives, we unlock the key to a 100% Happy Heart over a lifetime. This is what embracing a commitment to practicing Self Care can do.

The Seasons of Spanista have valuable purpose to ponder:

Spring is a time to Dream
Summer is a time for Love
Autumn is a time for Peace
Winter is a time for Longevity

Moving forward I will share stories that explore The Seasons of Spanista through this lens with symbols that evoke the senses and draws upon the creative forces where East meets West.

The next post will begin to explore the splendors of Autumn and then the Spanista travel experience with my hubby and dear friends from Australia as we enjoyed California Wine Country.

To Your Self Care Journey to Joy,


P.S. So glad to be reconnecting with you – please let me know how you like the new Spanista site. There are more changes coming soon – this is just the first step. Thanks for your patience during the update. Please remember to sign up for the Spanista Newsletter too.












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