ARCHIVE FOR THE ‘Wine Travels’ CATEGORY

Breathtaking Wildflowers in California Wine Country

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It’s spring! Just the word feels warm and wonderful. And nothing says it better than wildflowers.

In California wine country, you can admire beautiful pink Fairy Lanterns or Western Trillium on the Central Coast, between sips of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara or Rhone wine in Paso Robles.

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Napa Valley Winery Bacio Divino Cellars Boasts Passion In Every Vintage

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Our wine club members know we’re always talking about the passion evident at California’s small artisan wineries — winemakers who keep crazy hours and will do almost anything to make sure their bottlings are the best they can be. We’ve caught up with the owner of Napa Valley winery, Bacio Divino Cellars to see how it all started.

 

On the “passion scale” we’ve got to give Bacio Divino Cellars a ‘10’. The story of founder Claus Janzen is unmatched by any others we heard for its elements of dedication, energy and yes, passion.

 

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Wine in Ireland – Toast Saint Patrick’s Day!

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This may surprise you — it did us — but there are wineries in Ireland. Ireland is actually listed as a wine producing country by the European Union. Sure, Saint Patrick would have to walk many a mile to find a bottle of Irish wine, but it does exist.

 

The few Irish wineries are located in the southwest portion of the country, mostly around Cork.  We think it is because of the climate and not the name.   If global temperatures rise more, winemaking in Ireland may as well.

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‘The Cradle of Wine’ – Italy Entices Wine Lovers

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We’ve featured Italy many times in our International Series, and for good reason. This boot-shaped country is the world’s cradle of wine. Winemaking dates back thousands of years in Italy. Many cultures, from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks and Romans and more, have influenced wine in Italy.

 

This country has 20 winegrowing regions, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. Italy actually has hundreds of sub-appellations, and fine wine can be found from north to south. Italy’s length gives it a huge range of climates and soils so that it boasts the world’s most diverse terroir.

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A Great Restaurant in the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara Wine Country

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Mattei’s Tavern, Los Olivos
(805) 688-3550
Under new ownership since 2013, Mattei’s Tavern in little Los Olivos.

 

In the heart of Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos has become THE place to visit with its 19+ tasting rooms, and Mattei’s is the perfect choice for dinner.

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Upcoming Wine Country Events, Large & Not So

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Spring has sprung and wine events and festivals are blooming in all parts of California wine country. From an intimate Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Release Party in the heart of Yountville to the blow-out, 33rd Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival, there’s something for everyone, including a wine that you’ll fall in love with. Or two, or three. Enjoy!

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5 Reasons to Visit Wine Country Now

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Planning on a California wine country visit and wondering the best time to go? Consider the off-season. There are many reasons why timing your visit between November and April is smart. Here are just 5.

 

1. Avoid the crowds: We love Napa, but hwy. 29 in July and August can be slow going. And tasting rooms in other popular corners of California wine country, like Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Paso Robles, can be packed. Off-season offers almost no crowds, less traffic, and plenty of elbow room to taste wine.

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Terroir Matches the Spectacular Ambiance at Sunstone

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When the Rice family purchased 55 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley, little did they know they’d caught a terroir tiger by the tail. And that’s a good thing!

 

The family was new to winemaking, but they thought the slopes along the Santa Ynez River with their southern exposure, the soils with their rock and sand, the early morning fog and windy afternoons boded well for the grapevines they planned.

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Bike, Fly, Ride, Take a Train! — Different Ways to Tour California Wine Country

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Back in the day, the only way to see wine country was from your car. Times of course have changed. Here are our top picks for alternate ways to view different California wine regions:

 

  • Temecula – Balloon ride. The simplicity of this small valley and its temperate climate (just an hour north of San Diego) makes this the perfect up, up and away locale. Champagne is the traditional after soaring toast. (www.hotairtours.com or www.californiadreamin.com)

 

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One Little California Appellation You Won’t Want to Miss

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Carmel Valley in Monterey County is tucked away against the Santa Lucia mountains just 11 miles south of beautiful Carmel. It’s a delightful wine country, laid back, with worthy wines and a lot more sunshine than you’ll find on the coast. The warmer climate is good news for reds like Syrah, Zin, Cab and Bordeaux blends. This little appellation offers some great restaurants and about 20 mostly small family wineries making the most of this “secret” wine country.

 

Added bonus: Very nearby is the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, world renowned for its Pinot Noir. And if you drive just a few miles further south on hwy. 1, you’ll discover Point Lobos State Park. There’s nothing quite like watching sea otters floating on the kelp beds eating super fresh shellfish. Try a Chardonnay with that?