March 2009 Archives

The Go-Ahead-and-Ask Economy, Continued

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By Robert Farmer

I was speaking to a Bay Area hotelier recently who was decrying his abundance of inventory. That is to say, he's got a bunch of empty rooms that, when they sit empty, cost him money--sometimes lots of money. What, I asked, is he doing about it? More to the point, what can he do about it? You'd think the obvious answer would be to reduce the room rates into an "offer you can't refuse" category. But, for several reasons that we won't get into here, that's not the obvious answer. So the question became, What is he willing to concede in exchange for putting people in his rooms.

bardessono.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Every once in a while, a destination comes on line that not only exceeds the current standard, but redefines it as well. Such is the case for Bardessono, a Napa Valley resort that combines cutting edge design with the highest standards in hospitality and unparalleled sustainability.

Aesthetic Achiever, Sustainable Star
Open since February 2009, the 62-room hotel, spa and restaurant ascribes to the most rigorous guidelines for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) construction, deftly integrating energy-conserving solutions such as solar panels and on-site geothermal wells for heating and cooling with a flawless contemporary aesthetic that at once complements and enhances its surroundings.

Surroundings, I might add, which are nothing short of spectacular themselves.

Traveling While Drinking

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Can the Wine Tourism Trend Save Travel?
By Robert P. Farmer

While it's no new concept in the valleys of Napa or Sonoma, the idea of wine tourism is starting to take root across the globe. From France to Germany and Australia to Chile, people are increasingly booking passage based less on the destination itself than on the wine produced in that destination.

Wine lovers everywhere are discovering that it's more fun to drink their way through vacation than to sit idle on, say, a beach reading the latest trashy best-seller. Wine Tourism is providing a renewed sense of purpose for leisure time and it is not limited to wine aficionados. Thanks in part to concerted efforts by wine-producing regions to espouse their industry and leverage it for fun and profit, the wine tourism trend appears to be something travelers can savor.

Wine Country Personalities: Penny & Doug McKesson

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dougMckessonPersonality.jpgMoving from Southern California to Sonoma in the mid 70's, Penny & Doug McKesson never looked back.  Switching gears from running restaurants to owning a small town bike shop, Penny & Doug went to work immediately becoming an integral part of the community.  This culminated in Doug winning a seat on the Sonoma City Council in 2002 and becoming Mayor in 2006.  Over the past 34 years they have developed close friends and relationships which give them access to places in Sonoma that many locals are not even aware of.

The Go-Ahead-and-Ask Economy

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By Robert Farmer

I know I know. It's all bad news all the time when it comes to the economy. And if you're like me at all, which I think you probably are, the wall-to-wall doom-and-gloom in the press and everywhere else makes you want to head for the hills--or, at least to the rolling hills of California's Wine Country. That in and of itself is a good thing, but it also happens to harbor some even better news for those intrepid travelers who are fortunate enough to get away.
By Courtney Cochran

What recession? At Meadowood - the Napa Valley resort known for its luxe accommodations and tucked-away ambiance - weekends just got a lot more interesting. Indeed, in honor of its 45th anniversary, the resort is putting variety - and unapologetic luxury - back into wine country travel with an impressive lineup of wine- and wine country-themed events known as its Wine-Inspired Weekend Series.

Wine Country Day Trip for Under $20

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Livermore_Valley Wine Trail-med.jpgSubmitted by the Tri-Valley, California  Convention & Visitors Bureau

Start your day in Pleasanton, CA at the farmers market on Main & Angela Street (Saturdays, 9 am - 1 pm). Browse the vendors and sample fresh fruit and specialty foods. Afterwards, take a stroll along Main street to check out the wonderful art galleries, shops and more.

For a special treat, stop at the Meadowlark Dairy, the only drive-through dairy for a soft serve ice cream cone.  It is only $1.75 for a small ice cream cone.

Then, Head to Tommie's Deli and Sandwich Shop on 2nd Street in Livermore and order the Lite-n-Tasty, a small sandwich with (Bread/meat (4.oz.)/cheese & stuff) for only $6. Armed with your sandwich and maybe a piece of fruit from Pleasanton's farmers market, you are ready to hit the wineries for complimentary wine tasting!
By Courtney Cochran

I can recall, with embarrassing clarity, buying Chuck Shaw by the caseload in the drearily cash-strapped era that followed my graduation from college.  And though I quickly "graduated" beyond the realm of such inexpensive sippers around the time of my first raise, today's tough economic times have many of us - yours truly included - contemplating a reunion with bargain sips like Mr. Shaw's and others of his ilk.

To be sure, the crisis thinking fueling these considerations isn't limited to wine consumption alone.  Wine country visitors, as well, are wondering where they can cut corners on visits in order to spend less while still enjoying their fair share of the pleasures wine country has to offer.  They're looking for easy, smart ways to extend their spending power at a time when all of us are getting by on less.   

And so, in a valiant effort to keep the good times - and the good drink - flowing, we're here to help you do just that.  Read on for our top suggestions on where to save and - as important - where to splurge in wine country this season.    Because if one thing is a constant no matter the economic clime, it's that we can all use a little affordable luxury every now and then to keep our spirits afloat.

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