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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 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 6, 2016 in California, Destinations, Food, USA, Wine Travel | 7 comments

Wine Bloggers Meet in Lodi, California Wine Region

Wine Bloggers Meet in Lodi, California Wine Region

It didn’t take me long to find the local Italian restaurant. I sat at the bar, ordered a nice cool glass of rosé and an antipasti plate, which the menu said consisted of handcrafted Italian salami, cheese, olives, and veggies. It did not say: the most delicious aromatic Italian truffle cheese you’ve ever tasted in your life. Wait a minute, where was I? The next thing I knew, the owner, Jim Murdaca, gave me a tour of the vegetable garden, which produces most of the fresh produce used at Pietro’s Trattoria, a Lodi establishment since 1957. We didn’t tarry long in the garden – the temperature that day was upwards of 100 degrees fahrenheit. As we headed back inside, Jim stopped to pick a plump tomato. I returned to the bar to finish my glass of rosé from local winemaker LangeTwins, and minutes later, a  waitress served me a caprese salad made with the recently plucked tomato, basil (also from the garden), and a balsamic vinegar.  Buonissimo! That was...

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Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in California, Wine Travel | 10 comments

Wine Tasting WSET Style: Wine Discovery Session

Wine Tasting WSET Style: Wine Discovery Session

Wine and wine tasting can be intimidating. I recall watching with both envy and disdain as some wine snob at a tasting swirled the wine around the glass (while holding not the stem but the base of the glass), thinking, how do they do that? I am proficient with a pair of scissors and multiple makeup brushes. But that wine swirling thing, barely. And definitely not while holding the base of the glass. C’est la vie.   The good news: it is not a requirement to know how swirl wine in a glass to enjoy wine. Nor is it required to pass the  Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) exams. I’ve mentioned taking this course in previous articles and how helpful it has been for me in not only learning about wine, but enjoying wine. The happiness I get from drinking a glass of wine I like has increased tenfold. Why? A key component of the WSET program is known as the Systematic Approach To Tasting, or SAT. As...

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