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Posted by on Feb 20, 2017 in California, Destinations, USA, Wine Travel | 0 comments

5 Ways To Enjoy Downtown Napa Without Wine

5 Ways To Enjoy Downtown Napa Without Wine

If you’re planning a trip to California’s premier wine region and are wondering what else you’re going to do (aside from wine tasting), I have good news for you. Stay in downtown Napa, and you’ll be in walking distance or a short shuttle ride to so many activities you won’t even have time to go wine tasting. Ok, I exaggerate. Still, if you’re looking for a less alcoholic way to spend your time in Napa, I encourage you to stay in downtown Napa. This is the closest city to San Francisco in Napa Valley, and has more options for activities – you could actually spend your entire time here and never take a sip of wine. This is wine country, however, so I’m not encouraging that! Here are my top 5 Ways To Enjoy Downtown Napa Without Wine   Hot air ballooning     Hot air ballooning was an unexpected adrenaline rush for me. If you’ve never been in a hot air balloon, I can’t say enough about how...

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Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in California, Tasting Rooms and Wineries, USA, Wine Travel | 23 comments

An Abandoned Chateau In Napa Valley Gets New Life

An Abandoned Chateau In Napa Valley Gets New Life

In the sunny courtyard of a nineteenth century French chateau, our host guided us through a classic tasting while the Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and other 70s music icons played in the background. Though it was fall, it felt like a perfect spring day, clear and crisp, with no humidity. The company was congenial, the wine was superb and I couldn’t have imagined a more magical day. It was the kind of day that I’m certain has been the cause of many impetuous declarations regarding an immediate move to Napa Valley. My certainty arises because I said it myself. Unlike most winemakers in Napa Valley, Jamie Whetstone owner and winemaker at Whetstone Wine Cellars, is not growing Bordeaux varietals. A free spirit, Jamie has made a name for himself growing Rhone varietals and Pinot Noir (most vineyards located in the Russian River Valley), and producing exceptional wines. Jamie arrived in Napa in 2002 with the idea of staying for a year, then returning to his home in South Carolina to...

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Posted by on Dec 26, 2016 in Destinations, Italy, Postcards | 18 comments

Postcard: Polignano a Mare, Italy

Postcard: Polignano a Mare, Italy

  Polignano a Mare is a romantic seaside town built upon limestone bluffs. It is easy to see why it is known as The Pearl of the Adriatic — the water is a million shades of blue and green and the waves are crystal clear. Located in Puglia, on Italy’s southeastern coast, it’s an area mainly for tourism, good food and wine, and of course, fantastic beaches.  I fell in love with it immediately. I loved lying on the beach and soaking my feet in that cool clear water. I could have been happy to spend a week doing nothing else in Polignano a Mare. But what I liked best were the views of the Adriatic ocean. Priceless! Though it was only April, the weather was perfect and the beaches were almost deserted. Each day I soaked up the early spring sunshine as I walked to my favorite coffee bar – where I often stayed until evening apertivo hour.  La dolce far niente  (the sweetness of doing nothing) was...

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Posted by on Dec 13, 2016 in Cultural Exploration, Destinations, USA | 6 comments

Discover An Old World Christmas Market In Wisconsin

Discover An Old World Christmas Market In Wisconsin

I have a confession to make: I’ve felt a bit like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas lately, when it comes to the holidays. I still go to friend and family dinners, and I exchange a few gifts, but I haven’t decorated in a long while. It all seems like a lot of work to be enjoyed for such a short time. And the older I’ve grown, the more my friends and I have gotten away from exchanging gifts. Maybe it’s shallow of me, but I always felt part of the fun of Christmas, or any time really, was finding something to gift someone, something especially for them. This year, I was saved from my Grinch-y self by an invitation to visit the Osthoff Resort on Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I’d never heard of Elkhart Lake, but via a quick Google search I learned that it was the perfect place to find some Christmas spirit. There’s something about a small town all dressed up in tinsel, street lamps glowing, and a...

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Posted by on Nov 30, 2016 in Architectural Travel, Cultural Exploration, Destinations, France | 7 comments

Rolling On The Rhone River With Viking Cruises

Rolling On The Rhone River With Viking Cruises

September of this year saw me fulfilling a long-standing dream of taking a European River Cruise. From Provence in the south to Lyon in the  northern Rhone region of France, I spent seven days on board the Viking longship Buri. During the week long cruise, we stopped at six ports along the Rhone River. Each port was a mini history and culture lesson. Often the food and wine of a particular area was a special treat at dinner, as when we arrived in Tournon Sur Rhone, where just across the river are the famous Hermitage AOC Vineyards. That evening, we drank a local Syrah.  Food, wine, art, and architecture – all the things I love about Europe – were part of the cruise experience, which Viking does so well. This was my first time in France, and I was not disappointed. Many of my readers know that I’m a big Italophile, but this year I went to France instead of Italy. Who knew that France has almost as many...

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