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The Insider’s Guide to Wine Tasting in Temecula

November 16, 2015 7:25 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

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Question: Where’s a wine region that has a history of being disrespected, but is now winning medals? Answer: Temecula, my friends. Those lovely rolling hills so near and yet so far have come into their own, and you can enjoy an easy short trip — or spend a week — sipping, rinsing and tasting, all without… read more

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Food, Wine and the Arts in the US on the Cheap

November 13, 2015 4:28 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

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Major cities like New York, Chicago and Miami are consistently named among the go-to travel destinations, but what about those places that are just waiting to be discovered? The Hotels.com ® Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®) has revealed up-and-coming destinations to fuel traveler wanderlust for less. From food and wine, to music and arts, Hotels.com is bringing those lesser-known destinations to the forefront for your next adventure.

Using the average price paid* for a hotel night by Americans in the first half of 2015, the Hotels.com travel experts recommend these cities:

Food

Los Angeles ($175) and San Francisco ($217) are consistently mentioned as two of the best food cities in the U.S., but a number of more affordable cities have received national attention for being underrated foodie destinations.

Kansas City ($131) is renowned for its sweet and spicy BBQ style and restaurants serving some of the best BBQ in the country, but its up-and-coming restaurant scene offers innovative Latin American, Japanese and Southern food options. The city is also home to a number of craft breweries and new distilleries.

Other Food Cities Under $135: Sacramento, Calif. ($113); Houston ($129); Cleveland ($133)

Wine

While Napa ($255) is the best-known wine destination in the country – offering a combination of top-notch wineries and critically acclaimed restaurants – there are many under-the-radar wine destinations to be found around the country.

Grand Junction, Colo. ($88) offers the picturesque backdrop of the Grand Valley along the Colorado River for anyone visiting Colorado’s Wine Country. In addition to the region’s 20+ wineries, the city is also a gateway for hiking, mountain biking and rafting activities.

Other Wine Cities Under $135: Salem, Ore. ($101); Walla Walla, Wash. ($120); Petaluma, Calif. ($120)

Music

New Orleans ($191) is the birthplace of jazz and home to some of the most vibrant music clubs in the country, but these destinations also boast a unique combination of music and nightlife.

Athens, GA ($111) may be best known for being one of the greatest college towns in the country, but it also packs a strong indie rock scene. With iconic venues like the 40 Watt Club and Georgia Theater and legendary bands that call the city home, Athens definitely holds its own.

Other Music Cities Under $135: Detroit ($121); Memphis, Tenn. ($123); Madison, Wisc. ($125)

Arts

New York ($245) is home to some of the best and most popular art and history museums in the world, but travelers looking to get their art fix on a budget can find it in these destinations.

Milwaukee, WI ($124) is a city full of great museums like the Milwaukee Public Museum – home to the iconic Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit, which features a three-quarter scale recreation of life in the city at the turn of the 20 th century. And the Milwaukee Art Museum is a work of art in itself, featuring a movable, wing-like brise soleil that opens up during the day and closes at night or during inclement weather.

Other Arts Cities Under $135: Tucson, Ariz. ($103); San Antonio ($131); Santa Fe, N.M. ($135)

Please visit www.hotel-price-index.com for more information about average hotel prices and the most popular destinations from the first half of 2015. To find more travel ideas and tips, follow Hotels.com on Twitter at @hotelsdotcom and #HotelExperts.

*Average prices paid per night inclusive of taxes and fees and based on data from the first six months of 2015.

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Celebrate These Emerging Wine Destination in the U.S.

October 9, 2015 2:00 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

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The U.S. is a big country with many wine growing regions outside of the better known Californian icons. While some areas such as Napa have long been known for their fine vintages, a growing number of destinations are appearing in states throughout the U.S., from Washington to Texas. Those looking to enjoy some of the fastest growing regions need to look no farther than one of these five wine destinations.

Finger Lakes – New York State

Already well-known for its award winning wines, the Finger Lakes region continues to grow and now offers over 80 wineries centered around Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka Lakes.

Walla Walla Valley – Oregon and Washington

While Oregon’s Willamette Valley has long been considered one of the best regions for wine in the U.S., a growing number of vineyards and wineries are popping up in Walla Walla Valley as well, making it one of the fastest growing wine regions not just in the U.S., but in the world.

Michigan

Michigan may be small, but it more than makes up for its size in flavor. Not only is this Great Lakes State home to more than a few wineries and wine trails, but it is one of the top five grape producers in the country. From the urban centers of Southern Michigan to the more rural areas of Northern Michigan, this region has quickly become one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country.

Texas Hill Country

Wine can now be found in areas throughout the State of Texas, from El Paso to Houston, and while all these areas offer up their own appeal, the region which has become the most well-known and fastest growing is the Texas Hill Country. Located in the “Heart of Texas”, not far from Austin, this warm, dry climate is ideal for grapes and has become home to a growing number of wineries. Today, the area includes over 30 wineries featuring a variety of grape species from Spain, France and Italy.

Paso Robles – California

California may be old when it comes to wine in the U.S., but there are still regions that are just getting started. While Napa and Sonoma may still have a hold on the production, the Paso Robles region of California is quickly becoming a contender in terms of wine making in the country. Home to over 200+ wineries and vineyards, this region is fast becoming famous for its blends.

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Rioja wine region of Spain is home to spectacular architecture

September 28, 2015 1:30 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

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Laguardia, Spain (dpa) – The Rioja Alavesa in the Basque region of northern Spain is an area of stunning natural beauty, where the local business is vineyards and bodegas (wineries) that range from small family businesses to spectacular buildings designed by the world’s best architects. Celebrated American architect Frank Gehry, creator of the Guggenheim Museum in… read more

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Summer is the Time for California Wine Country

August 7, 2015 11:32 am - Posted by Jody in Travel

PETALUMA, Calif. – Summer is a splendid time to take in the waters, wine and delights of Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California. Head across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, through the hills of Marin County, and then up Highway 101. The highway runs through California’s sensuous golden hills, past happily munching cows,… read more

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A Small Inn in Sonoma Making a Big Impression

July 31, 2015 11:14 am - Posted by Jody in Travel

The Farmhouse Inn

How does a relatively small Sonoma County inn find itself ranked among the world’s best hotels?

The answer lies partly in the simple richness of the guest experience; from the farm-to-table organic food served in the Michelin-starred restaurant, to the relaxing and energizing spa featuring botanical massages and wraps, everything at Farmhouse Inn is designed to make each visit to the wine country memorable.

Now, satisfied guests have had their say, voting Farmhouse Inn onto the short list of Travel + Leisure’s best hotels. Farmhouse Inn not only earned a #2 ranking among Small Inns in the U.S., but also ranked 8th on the 100 World’s Best Hotels list. That’s truly rarefied air, and it speaks to the elite experience enjoyed by guests. Not only that, but 2015 marks the third year in which Farmhouse Inn has achieved a ranking.

The hotel was also recently selected as the Best Wine Country Hotel/Resort in Sunset Magazine’s 2015 Travel Awards this June. The award honors the West’s top destinations and those displaying excellence in the tourism industry.

Guests quickly fall in love with the inn after the first visit—which explains the high praise bestowed by Travel + Leisure readers. The mission of this unique inn is simple: to provide an authentic, “insider” experience of California Wine Country. Hidden treasures abound in this large and diverse region, just an hour’s drive north of San Francisco. Through connections with local vintners and an intimate knowledge of the community, guests can expect a one-of-a-kind experience every time.

The passion of sibling owners, Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, comes through in a myriad of little details, like the farm fresh eggs on the breakfast table. As fifth-generation Sonomans, the Bartolomeis have deep roots in the community.


“Our goal here at Farmhouse Inn has always been to create a unique and vital Sonoma wine country experience. This last year we added nine new luxurious rooms, a completely new spa building, and complete revamped all outdoor spaces while maintaining the luxury and attention to detail the staff is known for. Our guests can see and feel the love that has gone into our intimate boutique hotel; that’s how we’ve created such a sense of loyalty with many of our guests returning time and time again,” said owner Catherine Bartolomei. “The recent accolades from Travel + Leisure and Sunset Magazine are just more evidence that we’re doing something quite special. Please come celebrate with us.”

Travel + Leisure readers rated hotels and accommodations on five criteria: rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food and value. See more http://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best/survey-methodology.

Sunset Magazine is the leading lifestyle brand in the West covering the West’s best flavors, destinations, design trends, and innovations. See more www.sunset.com/travelawards.

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Stellenbosch, South Africa – Wine and Landscapes

April 16, 2015 2:00 pm - Posted by Jody in Travel

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Stellenbosch offers scenic landscapes, great architecture, fine dining and a wine culture steeped in history. Demola Ojo was at the heart of the Cape Winelands, South Africa’s premium wine region… South Africa’s position as one of the leading tourist destinations in Africa is a result of the myriad of experiences on offer for the intending traveler.… read more

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There are as many types of cruises as there are plates on a buffet

November 25, 2014 10:35 am - Posted by Jody in Travel
When most people picture a cruise, the image that likely comes to mind is the big-ship variety, with their splash pools and lido decks. And while most of the 22 million people who will embark on a floating vacation next year will take this kind of trip, those intimate parties for 3,000 are far from the… read more
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Culinary masters including Marcus Samuelsson, Anne Burrell, Tyler Florence, Stephanie Izard, Ed Baines and Roger Mooking will be making their way to the island of Barbados, the culinary capital of the Caribbean, for the fifth annual Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival. The international gourmet event of the season boasts the ultimate Caribbean fare from November 20-23, 2014. Barbados reveals the schedule of events for the four-day epicurean extravaganza including location and ticket details at www.foodwinerum.com.

Teaming up with island all-stars Ashley Davis, Jamar Drakes, Marco Festini Cromer, Cecil Gill, Creig Greenidge, Guise Mama and Omar Robertson, the team of world renowned chefs will partake in a wide variety of chef demonstrations, tasting events and seminars highlighting all things food, wine and rum for the annual epicurean event. Chefs will showcase their skills using special cooking techniques in intimate gatherings at some of Barbados’ leading hotels and restaurants. The festival aims to not only show travelers how to master the art of cooking and wine pairings, but also how to enjoy fine food, wine and rum all the more.

2014 Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival event highlights include:

  • Guests will be able to mingle with the international chefs and experience local flavor at A Night Out in Oistins.  Chefs will be serving up a variety of seafood including the island’s native Flying Fish on November 20. Watch a live cooking demonstration by Marcus Samuelsson, a mixology competition and a “Grill Masters” cook-off all while listening to calypso music.
  • Learn innovative culinary techniques during cooking demonstrations. Guests will have the opportunity to relish the complexities of Barbados’ legendary rum and gain expert knowledge on a range of hand-selected wines.
  • Explore the Rum Trails at Mount Gay, Four Square and St. Nicholas Abbey to learn about each distillery and unique tasting notes.
  • Sail the tranquil waters of the blue Caribbean aboard the Spirit of Barbados Luxury Catamaran during the festival’s Indulgence the Cruise on November 24. Guests will swim with the turtles and snorkel the wrecks of Carlisle Bay to return to a savory meal and premium bar with only sun, sand and sea on the horizon.
  • Visit authentic neighborhood eating establishments across the Country with the festival’s newest dining experience Food Trails, showcasing the island’s traditional and local food & beverage offerings.
  • Renowned chef Tyler Florence brings his creativity and innovative culinary style to one of the most exquisite seaside settings, The Cliff restaurant, for an evening of sumptuous cuisine, conversation, crashing waves and panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea.
  • Luis Torres, Co-Founder and Director of Constellation Academy of Wine hosts The Liberation of Food and Wine Dinner offering guests a chance to explore food and wine parings in a whole new light. Guests will journey through distinct flavor profiles and specific types of wine pairings.
  • Experience the Barbados Culinary Team at Bajan Fiesta, comprised of award-winning chefs and mixologists.
  • Savor it all at Ambrosia V, where international guest chefs join local chefs to serve up a variety of sample-sized dishes. Guest can sample the latest fare and mingle amongst an elegant island backdrop at Ilaro Court.
  • Explore and savor Mount Gay Rum, the oldest rum in the world, at the historic rum distillery in St. Lucy, and learn about Where the Rum Comes From. Start by following the brand’s 310-year rich history of rum-crafting experience at the Mount Gay Visitors Center then enjoy a traditional Bajan lunch on November 23.

For a full schedule of events and to purchase tickets for the 2014 Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival, please visit www.foodwinerum.com or www.visitbarbados.org.

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Imagine driving through the breathtaking coastal region of San Luis Obispo County along CA’s Highway 1 Discovery Route. The sparkling Pacific Ocean sits on one side, lush farmlands and grazing cattle on the other as you smell the salty sea air. You see a winery and stop in for an afternoon of wine tasting and laughter. From there, you cruise gently past the white sandy beaches until you check-in to the fabulous hotel, B&B or vacation rental of your choice located in one of the 10 quaint destinations that line the route. Then off to a notable farm to table restaurant and after an amazing dining experience head to one of the area’s craft beer breweries for a nightcap and music. Before you know it, you feel like a local. And, at the end of the day, you realize the artisan food, wine & beer scene in this spectacular region is as cool as it is endless and, well, you need to stay a few more days. Don’t worry, it happens all the time.

The 101 mile CA Highway 1 Discovery Route winds through 10 diverse artisan towns and seaside villages from Ragged Point, San Simeon, Cambria, Cayucos, Los Osos/Baywood Park, Avila Beach & Valley, to Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Oceano and Nipomo. And, right now, travelers are invited to enter to win a “Fantastic $5,000 Vacation.” The winner gets to choose where to stay from more than 500 incredible hotels, motels, vacation rentals and B&Bs; where to dine from over  400 restaurants; and what events to attend from a list of annual food, wine and cultural events. To enter, visit http://www.winecoastcountry.com/fantastic-5000-vacation/.

For more information regarding wine, craft beer and culinary options and multi-day itineraries along CA’s Highway 1 Discovery Route, visit: http://www.winecoastcountry.com/wine-craft-beer-culinary/

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