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Harvest Happenings 2010

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By Courtney Cochran

Those of us who pop a cork on occasion know these vinous spoils don't arrive from the vineyard ready to drink: There's real work that goes into coaxing wine from vine to bottle.  And each year, come harvest time, proof of this precious labor can be seen throughout Wine Country, as vintners and their trusted teams race against time and mother nature to deliver ripened fruit to the winery - where crush begins and ends within just a few frenetic weeks.  

We'd like to raise a glass to these teams, whose standout efforts allow us to enjoy each vintage's best at a more leisurely pace (cheers to that).  For word on where to go in Wine Country for the best 2010 harvest happenings, read on.

I Do: Wine Country Wedding Guide: Napa Valley

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nvWeddings.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

A wedding in wine country promises everything you've always wanted: Romantic photo ops among the vines, world-class food and wine, and access to some of the best hospitality perks you'll find anywhere (reception in a wine cave, anyone?). 

But as every time-pressed bride-to-be also knows, sorting through the thousands of potential wine country wedding locations, packages and service providers is a task that's likely to dampen even the most sturdy bridal spirits.

Fortunately, we appealed to one of Northern California's foremost experts on wedding planning, Jan Brenner of Here Comes The Guide to share her insights on some of the best-kept secrets in wine country weddings. So read on for the inside scoop on the topic - because we wouldn't have anything dampen your anticipation of such a singularly special day!
By Courtney Cochran

There's nothing like an escape to wine country to reinvigorate friendships and make lasting memories with the gal pals most important to you.  From wine blending lessons to sustainability treks and salsa lessons (not to mention divine food and wine), there's no shortage of delightful diversions to keep you and your gang occupied. 
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.

Top Ten Must-Sees On a Maiden Napa Voyage

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by Courtney Cochran

mondaviwinery.jpg

For most wine fans, a first trip to Napa kindles the kind of giddy excitement most kids feel on a first visit to Disneyland. And while the pursuits in this storied wine region are of a decidedly adult nature, they've been known to inspire the kind of sheer enjoyment that's nothing short of ageless. Read on for the lowdown on the top spots and activities we think any first timer should experience on a maiden voyage to Napa.

We've even included a fairy tale castle for good measure.

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