January 2011 Archives

Annual Monterey Wine Country Wine & Food Festivals

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February

February 12 -- River Road Wine Trail: Valentine's Passport
Wine Education: This is a great opportunity for wine lovers to visit Monterey Wine Country and enjoy the vintages and ambiance of these artisan vintners. Eleven wineries will open their doors for this Valentine's Passport. They will feature rare vintages, music, food and celebration all things amour. As a Passport-carrying V.I.P., guests will receive a souvenir glass, a special gift, entry into a grand drawing, and special discounts. Monterey CA
Fee: $20 Advance/$25 After Feb 1 Time: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Phone Number: (831) 386.0316

February 12 -- Red Wine & Chocolates at Château Julien

Celebration: The perfect pair! Enjoy a sumptuous selection of chocolates to complement Chateau Julien red wines including Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, La Conviviance & Black Nova throughout the weekend. Château Julien Wine Estate, 8940 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel CA
Fee: $7/$4 Wine Club Members Time: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Phone Number:(831) 624.2600

February 27 -- Steinbeck's Birthday Celebration
Celebration: Steinbeck Birthday Celebration is in recognition of John Steinbeck and the inspiration he continues to provide through his legacy. For Monterey County residents, museum admission and all of the Birthday Celebration activities are free. For all others, the activities are included in the general museum admission price. National Steinbeck Center, One Main Street, Salinas CA
Fee: FreeTime: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Phone Number: (831) 775.4721

Message Boards: Wine Tasting Without a Car?

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platypusToursShuttle.jpgRecent question in the Napa Valley message boards:
Hi!! My husband and I are planning a much needed vacation from the east coast. I know nothing about Napa...are there places to stay where you will not need your car? Planning on REALLY and safely enjoying the vineyards! Thanks!!

Answers from one of our members:

yesilovewine:
Several options are available to you- book a tour with one of the reputable companies such as Platypus ( there are many out there, they just came to mind first) and plan to spend this time on a bus filled with a variety of folks who may or may not share your wine preferences. My experience is that the wineries to be visited are determined by a collective decision ( read: "majority rules").

You can hire a private driver/limo service to take you around and either leave it to them or share in the decision-making of where to visit, you can use a service called Napa Bee Driven and they will drive you in your vehicle to wherever you choose to visit.

In downtown Napa, there is a burgeoning collection of tasting rooms that would be within walking distance to several hotels and B&B's so you could taste there.


CLICK HERE to read the other responses!

See other tours & sightseeing transportation companies in Napa Valley.


Maximize Your Vacation Dollars in Virginia

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Hillsborough_View2.jpgNo need to break the bank when planning a trip to Virginia Wine Country. We found a recent article from "Virginia is for Lovers" that schools visitors on how to stretch your dollar as far as possible when you vacation in the area. Many of these travel tips can be applied to any Wine Country region you planning to visit!

1.Shop Smart. Check out the latest discounts and promotions.

2.Plan Ahead. Advance bookings yield huge savings.

3.Stay longer. Extend your stay and many accommodations will offer you a cheaper nightly rate. One B&B is offering 33% off a second night when you book online and 66% on your third night.

4.Think outside your accommodation. Save money on things to do and find ticket and dining savings in addition to your room night(s).

5.Consider your fuel costs. Many accommodations are still using gas cards to attract visitors. Be sure to inquire and look for these savings specifically.

6.Leverage your status. Are you a senior citizen? Did you serve or are you actively serving in the military? What memberships do you hold? All of these should be considered when making travel arrangements.

7.Travel mid-week. If you're looking for a good deal at a B&B or cabin, try booking your visit in the middle of the week. Not only do your odds of availability skyrocket, but the rates plummet.

Read the full post HERE.

Ready to travel? See special deals and packages on hotel stays in Virginia!

Heart of Virginia Chili Cook Off

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chili.jpgLet's hope the snow has stopped long enough for visitors to attend the annual Chili Cook-Off. What better to warm up then with a big bowl of piping hot chili! Visit Central Virginia's wineries: Cooper, Grayhaven, James River and Lake Anna on January 29-30th, 2011. Sample chili at each winery and vote for your favorite one.  Passport tickets are only $10 and include a souvenir wineglass, tasting at the four Virginia wineries and a chance to win amazing prizes upon completing the trail.

BUY TICKETS

*Can't make the event in January? Virginia Wine Lover - shares their favorite chili recipe HERE.

More Upcoming Virginia Events in February:

Restaurant Month in California

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All around California, restaurants are celebrating the month of January with fabulous dining specials and savings for lunch and/or dinner. Splurge, savor, and save is the name of the game. See if your favorite restaurant or one you always wanted to try is on the list in the regions below.

Gold Country. You may not find gold, but with savings on food like these, you might as well have! Restaurant Week in Gold Country is January 32-30 with a grand finale on January 30th where the area's finest chefs will offer a unique opportunity to be an El Dorado Epicurean in a countywide progressive dinner. More Details

Monterey County. Catch some fresh seafood in Monterey during Restaurant Month. Participating restaurants are offering prix fixe dinner menus for $20.11 all month long. More Details.

Napa Valley - see our Food Writer's top restaurant picks for deals and steals. Or see the full list of Napa Valley restaurants and their specials here.

Santa Barbara Wine Country
  • Santa Barbara -Dubbed "Film Feast", the prix fixe restaurant program coincides with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival all happening January 27-Feb 6, 2011. Film goers and foodies are invited to choose from "Short" (two-course), "Feature" (three-course) and "Epic" (four-course) length seasonal menus at participating restaurants. MORE DETAILS.
  • Santa Ynez Valley - The foodie fun begins January 23rd and ends January 29th. It's this region's first time participating in Restaurant Month and they will be featuring special 3-course tasting menus for $20.11. A list of participating restaurants is listed, but you will need to contact restaurants directly for specific days, dining hours and to make reservations. MORE DETAILS.

Warm Up This Winter in Monterey

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the-inn-at-spanish-bay-guest-rooms-suites.jpgFireplaces with a View

By the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Snuggle up by the fire this winter in Monterey Wine Country. Whether you're looking for a fireplaces with scenic views, fireplaces with people-watching views, or just views for two, below are a few places that should be at the top of your list:

Restaurant Week in Tri-Valley/Livermore

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2011RestaurantWeek.jpgEnjoy a true culinary extravaganza-Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week between January 23rd - January 30th!  During this fabulous event ,  food lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy a prix fixe meal, specialty dish or special offer at Tri-Valley restaurants. Some of the finest, most renowned chefs and restaurants in the Tri-Valley will showcase their culinary styles for diners. The event will feature an array of well-known restaurants, casual dining establishments and local purveyors that will provide one of a kind dining experiences offered during this week only.  

Participating Restaurants include Terra Mia, The Peasant and the Pear, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, The Farmer Restaurant at the Pleasanton Hotel, Blue Agave Grill, Eddie Papa's American Hangout, Campo Di Bocce, Swirl on the Square, Porters Restaurant at Poppy Ridge.

No tickets or passes are required for Taste of Tri-Valley Restaurant Week. Diners simply dine out at as many participating restaurants as they like all week.

Visit www.trivalleycvb.com/tasteoftrivalley to download and print restaurant coupons for Tri-Valley Restaurant Week!

January Wines of the World: Sierra Barbera

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The Calaveras Winegrape Alliance will host its January Wines of the World event Thursday, Jan. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Murphys Historic Hotel. Guest presenter is Matt Hatcher, owner of Hatcher Winery, who will pour a number of Sierra Foothill Barbera wines. According to Hatcher, "The reputation of the Sierra Foothill Barbera is growing quickly, and guests at the event will find out what others have discovered - that Sierra Foothill Barberas are truly among our finest red wines."

Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy. It produces good yields and is known for its deep color, low tannins and robust fruit flavors of cherry, red and blackberry. Outside of Italy, Barbera is rarely found in Europe except for small plantings in Greece, Romania, and Slovenia. However, in California, Barbera is one of the most successful of the Piemontese (the area in Italy most Barbera grows) grapes to be adapted in the state with more than 8,000 acres of plantings.

Hotel 2.0

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h2hotel.jpgThis summer, the owners of the upscale Hotel Healdsburg unveiled the h2hotel--where eco-chic meets user-friendly.

by Ethan Fletcher

Designed by renowned San Francisco architect David Baker and packed with contemporary art, the hotel feels urban, hip, modern, and, most of all, open. On the ground floor, the hotel's excellent restaurant, Spoonbar, expands onto the sidewalk, creating a fun intermingling between people indoors and out. Inside, the hotel's "recepto bar" serves Flying Goat espresso on one side while guests check in on the other.

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Read About Spoonbar Restaurant

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Flights of Fancy

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sevenstones.jpgEight artistic interludes in Wine Country.

by Sarah Sung

Wine enjoyment and art appreciation have always seemed like close cousins. However, there are some wineries, tasting rooms, and galleries throughout Wine Country that are taking this connection to the next level. New exhibits are opening throughout the region, making sure your next "tasting" experience is multi-sensory.

In Living Color
Gallery Meets Tasting Room at Ma(i)sonry

This historic 1904 stone manor is one of only two buildings in Yountville listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The gallery within displays art and artifacts from as far back as the 16th century. "It's as if you have just walked into someone's home, and you are both immediately comfortable and yet immediately intrigued by all that is going on around you," owner Michael Polenske says. "Ma(i)sonry is in every way a celebration of life's aesthetics. Every collection onsite has been created by the hand of an artist, artisan, or designer, and, of course, that includes the wine."

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