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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

F&B

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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Arsenic found in American wines

November 2, 2015 3:45 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

red

Lola Gayle, STEAMRegister.com Wine is a big deal for a lot of people. In 2014 alone, Americans consumed almost 9 million gallons of wine. That accounts for about 2.80 gallons per person! But there’s something hiding in that lovely bottle. New research has found that all but one of 65 American wines tested contained arsenic in… read more

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Startup: New Wine Brand Named After Ancient Tradition

January 20, 2014 10:59 am - Posted by Jody in Drink

A new wine brand has been launched that combines an old tradition and mystical symbolism. Called Kukeri Wines, its first release is a Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon. The brand’s concept, which has directed its striking label design, is to highlight ancient tradition using the original artwork.

The brand is the brainchild of the winemaker Petar Kirilov, a founder of VinoEnology.com, who wanted to create a label to tell the story of old Thracian tradition.

“Kukeri” is an ancient Bulgarian ritual that may date back as far as 8,000 years to the ancient Thracians – and to Dionysus, the god associated with wine, fertility, and rebirth. It’s performed by men dressed in colorful hand-made costumes, wearing a bold and scary masks as well as large bells (chanove) tied around their waists. The masks symbolize the good and the bad, which co-exist in our world. The Kukers dance around to scare away the evil spirits, to celebrate the beginning of the spring, and to express their wishes for good harvest, good health, land fertility, and happiness.

Petar decided to incorporate into the label design an original artwork crafted by a well-known Bulgarian artist, Anatoly Stankulov.

The Kukeri wine label explodes with rich and vibrant colors, each with a symbolic meaning. Red symbolizes sun, fire and the fertility of nature; Black is the color for Mother Earth; White is the symbol of water and light.

“By developing a brand with a name that combines both old tradition and mystical symbolism,” Kirilov explains, “We have created a unique wine which represents all the good things happening to us every day.”

The first release is 50 cases of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 vintage from a single vineyard in Mount Veeder, Napa Valley and will be priced at $79.00.

Kirilov’s vision is to develop Kukeri Wines to become a boutique brand, which will produce small lots high-quality wines from Napa and Sonoma County.

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The US Continues its Love Affair with Wine

December 2, 2013 9:51 am - Posted by Jody in Drink

Good news for wine lovers in the States, our numbers are growing and we are getting more adventurous.

As the economy continued to stabilize in 2012, wine consumption increased for the 19th straight year.  Overturned blue laws, relaxed restrictions on direct shipments, and customers trading up to more premium-priced wines all led to the industry’s success last year.  According to The Beverage Information Group’s recently released 2013 Wine Handbook, the wine industry grew 1.9% last year to reach 318.0 million 9-liter cases.

Consumers’ interest in sweet wines, un-oaked chardonnays and red blends helped spur the Table Wine category to increase 1.8% to reach 292.4 million 9-liter cases.  Domestics grew 2.0% and imported table wine increased 1.5%.  The Champagne and Sparkling Wine category also posted positive results.

The off-premise saw a 2.2% increase in cases and a 4.5% increase in dollars, but on-premise wine sales began to slow toward the last half of 2012 due to economic uncertainty.  Total wine dollar sales grew to $28.9 billion last year with off-premise accounting for 56.4%, while on-premise accounted for only 43.6%.

While the on-premise had its struggles, direct-to-consumer wine shipments saw success, contributing $1.4 billion to the industry.  Direct shipping data is now detailed in the 2013 Wine Handbook, including data by volume, region, price category and varietal.

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