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Madonna Inn's Dark and Stormy and Center of Effort 2009 Chardonnay 

When it comes to birthday drinks, this classic dark and stormy with rum, lime juice, and fizzy ginger beer can’t be topped. Of course, it helps to be swimming in the Madonna Inn pool with a gaggle of friends while you drink it!

Madonna Inn’s Dark and Stormy—$10; 100 Madonna Road, SLO.

The Chardonnay Symposium was a doozie (a big wheel of cheese smothered in honey kind of affair). Although I tried dozens of chardonnays from around the state and the world, I was smitten with Center of Effort’s 2009 Chardonnay, which is just down the road in AG. Layered with crème brulée, spice, and lemon verbena, this is the kind of wine you just can’t stop thinking about. It’s been a few weeks, and I’m still thinking about it. That’s how you know it’s a wine worth buying a case of.

Center of Effort 2009 Chardonnay—$30 a bottle; 2199 Corbett Canyon Road, Arroyo Grande.

Hayley Thomas is still thinking about it at

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