For the first time, Americans bought more wine last year than the French, but that was mostly because there are more of us: the average French person still drinks 1.2 bottles of wine a week, six times more than the average American.
This month the country’s famed wine region hosts Napa Valley Arts in April, complete with pop-up exhibits, special tastings, and exclusive events at area wineries—many of which have permanent world-class art collections. A few highlights: A free tour of Silverado Vineyards’ collection of Belle Epoche posters and plein air paintings (April 10, 17); the Yountville Art, Sip, & Stroll, with works from 50 regional artists (April 12); and “Celebrating Woodstock,” a special exhibit of photos celebrating the 45th anniversary of the iconic music event, on view at Markham Vineyards (opens April 19). Click here for a complete line-up.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.
Photo courtesy of Visit Napa Valley
Did you know that France's charming Champagne region—home of Moët & Chandon, the mother of all producers—is just a 45-minute train ride from Paris? It's one thing I learned this week when I met the lovely Elise Losfelt, the latest addition to Moët & Chandon's team of nine winemakers, who stopped by talk about the spring release of Moët’s Grand Vintage Brut 2006. The other thing I learned from Elise? How to open a bottle of bubbly without injuring your friends and loved ones. Watch her tutorial, and impress your significant other with your new skills while breaking out the bubbly this Valentine’s Day weekend.
Jennifer Flowers is the Travel News Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Travel + Leisure's Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from Washington, D.C. on the Weather Channel's Wake Up and Go.
EASY ESCAPE: Alexandria, Virginia
Just downriver from Washington on the western bank of the Potomac, Alexandria has that perfect mix of historic charm—and easy access to the nation’s capital. WHERE TO STAY The 45-room Morrison House is a great choice because it’s small—just 45 rooms—plus there are so many extras, from complimentary wine from 5-6 p.m. to free morning coffee and newspaper. PRICE $165 a night.
LUXE GETAWAY: Baltimore, Maryland
For those who love a good Four Seasons hotel—and really, who doesn’t?—the new Four Seasons in Baltimore is one more reason to visit the city. Plus, the Baltimore Museum of Art just reopened its Contemporary Wing, with works by Olafur Eliasson, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. WHERE TO STAY The 256-room Four Seasons opened in 2011 in Harbor East, with a terrace, heated whirlpool, and a spa. PRICE $339 a night.
WINE TOURS: Barboursville, Virginia
Two hours southwest of D.C., Barboursville, Virginia, is a serene wine country getaway. WHERE TO STAY The lakeside 1804 Inn is a romantic escape: you’ll sleep in a four-poster bed in this historic inn set between Madison's Montpelier and Jefferson's Monticello. PRICE $240 a night.
Earlier this year, I took a weeklong anniversary trip to San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma with my husband, Lee, an academic who gets hives at the thought of anything luxurious. Keeping him comfortable meant mixing extraordinary meals with unexpected finds and cheap local favorites. Here’s the best of our high-low itinerary that kept both of us satisfied.
Touring wine country with a hired driver was hot, but now it just means you can't control your drinking. Today, real oenophiles rent classic cars and self-drive their vineyard peregrinations. Wine industry veteran Ramiro Marquesini's new Slowkar in the Argentine winemaking capital of Mendoza rents lovingly restored Citroën 3CVs from the 1970s and 1980s. In Italy's Tuscan wine country, the father-son duo of Danilo and Federico Dini's five-year-old Chianti Classic Car outfits wine lovers with 1970s AlfaRomeos and Fiats for their tasting room tours. Both provide guides for the map-disabled.
Photo courtesy Slowkar
The grapes of Napa often grab the headlines coming out of California wine country but the discerning vino cognoscenti knows that the Golden State harbors some of the best wineries in the world along its central coast. In the thick of it is Paso Robles, a vast countryside of rolling vineyards where vintners sport rustic spurs on their cowboy boots and the pace of life is calm. The annual Harvest Wine Weekend kicks off today, Friday, and promises to be the most robust yet. Over 150 wineries will host grape stomps, tours, tastings, dinners, and pairings (wine and bacon anyone?). One oenophile who will be traipsing around Harvest is Paso Wine Man (above)—the unabashed, vivacious Paso wine country cheerleader whose verve for the region’s splendors knows no bounds.
T+L caught up with the wine man before the big weekend to uncover his wines of choice; find out what makes “Tuscany with cowboys” so special; and why Paso Robles's brand of reds can’t be made anywhere else.
Pack your scarves and a great digital camera: this fall, head west, to two of North America’s best wine regions. Outdoorsy types will want to unpack at Sonoma’s six-suite Chauvet, for easy access to the walking trails in Jack London State Park, while spa-goers will love the lavender-accented treatments at the rustic Farmhouse Inn, just 25 miles east in Glen Ellen. Or try something entirely unexpected with a stay at Sparkling Hill, a Swarovski-crystal-filled property in the northern corner of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. What do the hotels have in common, you ask? Unexpected amenities and bottles of standout Pinot Noir—best enjoyed in the fall, against a bright landscape swathed in fire red and tangerine.
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Wente Vineyards, the oldest family-owned winery in the country, is at it again. Travel + Leisure has long celebrated Wente for its picturesque golf course, a world-class destination uniquely situated amongst the vines. What many people do not know, however, is that they also have a gorgeous concert area, where one might hear anything from jazz to hip-hop, classical to electronica. This Saturday, check out their latest event: BottleRockIt. Originally called Discover the Wine Discover the Music, this 5th annual music festival pulls in heavy hitters like Dirty Vegas and GIVERS, while also providing exposure to the emerging artists of the San Francisco Bay Area. Twenty bands will amplify three different stages on this stunning estate. Concert-goers are given the opportunity to do some world-class wine tasting while they bop their heads to the delicious tunes. For $20, you can't beat that for a weekend getaway!
WHEN: Saturday, September 10, 2011. Doors open at 10:30 AM and performances begin at 11 AM.
WHERE: The lawn at the Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room; 5565 Tesla Road, Livermore, CA 94550
Joe Harper is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure.
Waiting for a flight home for Christmas once, I ran into a blowhard I knew from college who announced that the only present he was bringing his parents was a bottle of extraordinarily good wine. He dropped and broke the bottle of red on the linoleum at LaGuardia before we’d boarded the plane. Blowhard frat boy or not, I felt bad for the guy.
I was reminded of this tragic holiday vignette when I heard about VinniBag, an inflatable bag that cushions your wine bottle (or bottle of olive oil or Vermont maple syrup or vintage McCoy vase) from the sharp, hard, pointy things of the world. The smart bags are reusable, deflate easily to slip in your luggage, and make an unbreakable and practical gift for Mummy and Pater.
Photo courtesy of Ellessco.
Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.