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If you were to step foot in wine country today, you would notice an instant jittery feeling of excitement in the air. You can feel, see, and smell this intriguing energy, which can only mean one thing—it’s harvest season! These are the months that winemakers and wine enthusiasts live for, it’s the Christmas morning of winemaking that makes all their hard work worth it. Harvest is the best time to visit wine country and you don’t want to miss out on experiencing this special time of year. Amazing wine, amazing vibes, and amazing weather… have we convinced you yet? Harvest some happiness in your life this fall by visiting one of our recommended wineries!

Fantesca-KWG-SF15Fantesca Estate Winery | Napa Valley, CA
Inspired by the rich female heritage of the property, Susan and Duane Hoff founded Fantesca in 2004 on the beautiful hillside of Spring Mountain knowing that they would have an incredible reputation to uphold. 150 years ago, the vineyard produced the grapes that Hannah Weinberg would use to craft one of Napa’s first award winning wines. The notoriety continues to this day, as the winery’s portfolio boasts the only Chardonnay crafted by Heidi Barrett, who has received numerous 100 point scores from Robert Parker. Private visits are arranged by advanced appointment to ensure that every guest gets a true sense of what it’s like to be a Fantesca collector.

Buttonwood Farm Winery | Solvang, CA
Had you visited the farm a couple hundred years ago, one would have likely been greeted by horses, goats, chickens, and more. Today, Buttonwood Farm is still proudly operating as a family owned winery where the words “organic” and “sustainable” have been relevant long before they became mainstream. Enjoy a variety of distinctive, well structured, and balanced wines with a unique Buttonwood flare. Don’t just take our word for it though, Buttonwood wines routinely receive acclaim, including a recent award of 91 points from Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Sit back, grab a glass, and enjoy some great wine in the beautiful tasting room that features artwork by Seyburn Zorthian or take the opportunity to explore the captivating picnic grounds Buttonwood has to offer right in the middle of Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. It truly is a hidden gem.

KlinkerBrick-KWG-SF15Klinker Brick Winery | Lodi, CA
Klinker bricks get their name for the unusual sound that they make when banged together but what really makes them unique is their deep color and enormous density. These qualities are what gave Klinker Brick Winery it’s name five generations ago, and have lead growers Steve and Lori Felton to produce world-class, Old Vine Zinfandel for the past 15 years. While Old Vine Zinfandel is their specialty, the winery has added several distinct new wines including a dry style Rosé and a captivating, pungent Cabernet blend called Bricks and Mortar. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy all that the winery has to offer in a beautiful tasting room boasting lofty ceilings and historic concrete brick walls.

Peju Winery | Napa Valley, CA
Judging by its celebrated presence in the Napa Valley today, its hard to imagine that 32 years ago the Peju Family Winery was simply just a vision. Over the years the winery has transformed from a simple grape growing venture into a landmark winery with a reputation for elegant, complex and balanced wines in the classic Bordeaux variety. The family owned and operated winery takes pride in featuring organic and sustainably farmed fruits in all of its wine selections. As if the delicious wine itself wasn’t enough, tastings are held in an exquisite 50 foot tall tower. Rest assured that your visit to this beautiful property, nestled in the heart of the Napa Valley will be a warm and welcoming one thanks to the amazing hospitality provided by the Peju family.

VinaRobles-KWG-SF15Vina Robles | Paso Robles, CA
It’s no secret that Europe and California both have a lot to offer when it comes to great food, great wine, and great hospitality. The two prime locations may be thousands of miles apart, but even a great distance is no match for partners Hans Nef and Hans R. Michael. In the mid 1990’s, the partners were able to successfully combine the finesse of European influence with bold natural California flavors to create an incredible selection of ultra premium wines at Vina Robles. Today, visitors have access to a chic 14,000 square foot hospitality center where the excitement extends far beyond the delicious wine. Numerous tasting menus, delicious food parings, gourmet lunches, and even an incredible amphitheater are all elements of the lavish accommodations at Vina Robles where you can be sure to expect gracious hospitality and an excellent wine country experience.

Steven Kent Winery | Livermore Valley, CA
Growing up in a family that had been making wine for six generations, Steven Kent Mirassou wanted to continue this passion for winemaking with a focus on his love of great Cabernet Sauvignon. While Cabernet Sauvignon has been grown in Livermore since the late 1800’s, Steven Kent Winery has raised the bar, crafting small lot vintages that according to Wine Enthusiast, produce today’s greatest Livermore Cabernets. Visit the winery’s Barrel Room, or the Reserve Room on the weekends, in the heart of Livermore Valley wine country, to taste for yourself the superior wines of Steven Kent Winery.

PenchRanch-KWG-SP15Pence Ranch | Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Since his early adult life Blaire Pence has had a passion for two things: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  After traveling abroad to Europe and having the opportunity to experience what Pence believes to be the worlds greatest wines, he decided that he would bring the brilliance of Burgundy to the California coast. Today Pence Ranch sits on a heavenly 200-acre property that was fastidiously designed to produce unwaveringly rich and flavorful produce. The main focus is still rooted in Pence’s passion for wine, however, the ranch also produces other crops to remain sustainable and provide the crew and visitors with delicious home grown meals. Bring a picnic and enjoy an exceptional wine tasting experience alongside the shaded pond area.  The dedication to excellence can be tasted in every sip of the tasting menu at Pence Ranch.

Riverbench Vineyard & Winery | Santa Barbara, CA
Riverbench is a name that resonates with high quality Santa Barbara Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Since 1973, they have been committed to producing some of the region’s best Burgundian varieties, but they haven’t stopped there. In 2008, they introduced the first Certified Sustainable Sparkling Wine in Santa Barbara, their Jumper Blanc de Blancs, expanding their impressive reputation to the world of sparkling wines. All of their delicious wines are poured in two charming tasting rooms, one at their vineyard in Santa Maria, and the other in the Funk Zone of downtown Santa Barbara.

AnabaWines-KWG-SF15Anaba Wines | Sonoma, CA
What sounds better than spending the day tasting Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Rhone varietals, and Rhone-style blends? How about tasting them in an elegantly renovated century-old farmhouse that’s powered entirely by sustainable wind energy? At Anaba Wines this is the exact standard of hospitality that wine connoisseurs from near and far have come to expect.  Overseen by talented duo Ross Cobb and Katy Wilson, the wines produced from this extremely sustainable vineyard have received numerous awards throughout the years. If you have the chance to visit Anaba Wines make sure that your taste buds are prepared to embrace some of the finest wines of Sonoma County!

And for Transportation…
Beau Wine Tours | Napa Valley, CA
California is the home of thousands of acres of world renowned wine country; Sonoma County and Napa Valley happen to be two of California’s most popular destinations for those looking to enjoy beautiful scenery, delicious wine, and a relaxing ambiance. Here you will find yourself surrounded by rolling hills of romantic vines, luxury hotels, golf resorts, five star restaurants, world-class theatres, and more. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, Beau Wine Tours can help you discover the many hidden gems that are sprawled amidst this sensational area. With two decades of experience the company has created relationships with many of the attractions that people come from all over to see. Anybody who appreciates the highest level of service and comfort—without compromise—will surely be satisfied when booking a ride with Beau Wine Tours.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

Powers GalleryWine appreciation and Art appreciation have a lot in common. Everytime you explore both, you can usually find something that your really like and enjoy.  This Saturday, you will have a chance to try some terrific wines with me and explore Powers Gallery in Acton, MA.  I hope you can take some time out of your day to join us.  I will be there this Saturday, October 3 from 2-5 PM. The Wine Team from Colonial Spirits and I have put together a fantastic line-up of high scoring wines for you to try.  There is also be a plenty of great art for you to look at as well. Grab a friend or two, and stop by!  See you all there.

Here’s the Lineup…

Follow the links to my reviews of these Very Good Wines!

Table 1

Zuccardi-2012-Emma-BonardaNV Besserat de Bellefon Champagne “Cuvee des Moines” Brut Rose

2013 Lafond Winery “SRH” Chardonnay

2012 Lafond Winery “SRH” Pinot Noir

2012 Dr H Thanisch “Bernkasteler Badstude Kabinett” Riesling

2012 Zuccardi “Q” Malbec

2012 Zuccardi “Emma” Bonarda

2014 Gran Passione “Gavi”

2012 Gran Passione “Barbera d’Asti”


Table 2

2014 Mudhouse Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ)

2013 Tablas Creek “Patelins de Tablas” Red Blend (Paso Robles, CA)

2013 Lamoreaux Landing “T23” Unoaked Cab Franc (Finger Lakes)

2013 La Val Albarino (Rias Baixas, Spain)

2013 William Hill “Napa Valley” Chardonnay

2012 Kanonkop “Kadette Red Blend” (Stellenbosch, South Africa)


Chateau-Ste-Michelle-2013-Mimi-ChardonnayTable 3

2013 Eroica by CSM (Columbia Valley, WA)

2013 Chateau Ste Michelle “Horse Heaven Vineyard” Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Chateau Ste Michelle “Mimi” Chardonnay (Horse Heaven Hills, WA)

2011 Northstar “Columbia Valley” Merlot

2012 Spring Valley Vineyard “Uriah” Red Blend (Walla Walla Valley, WA)


This tasting should be awesome! I hope you can join us.

Cheers – Ken!

As summer comes to a close, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming change in seasons. What better way to end an amazing summer than to dive into a wine country extravaganza? We’ve handpicked 12 unique wine country regions that we think will make the perfect final getaway to end your summer with a bang! So, grab a glass of vino and cheers to another amazing summer getaway.

Lodi, CA
Known for its agricultural abundance and Mediterranean climate, it’s no wonder Lodi is California’s largest producer of top quality wines and wine grapes. This developed wine region is home to more than 75,000 acres of vineyards and is a leading producer of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel! Wine enthusiasts will enjoy a warm welcome and a friendly face as they travel Lodi Wine Country and enjoy a diverse range of wines, delicious foods, and great hospitality.

KWG-CalaverasCalaveras County, CA
From its rustic wine country and pastoral mountainous landscape, to miles of underground caverns and caves, Calaveras County is the perfect setting for almost any activity. A few of the many activity choices include rappelling hundreds of feet at Moaning Cavern Adventure Park, zip lining along the Sierra Nevada, and golfing a calming 18 holes at the beautiful Greenhorn Creek Resort. When the snow falls in the winter, the skiing and snowboarding runs are fun for everyone. After a full day of activities, there are plenty of restaurants and tasting rooms to grab a refreshing glass of wine, including the Creekside Bistro at Bear Valley Mountain.  Come check out Calaveras County for a thrill a minute any time of year!

Traverse City, MI
Traverse City, Michigan is a prime destination for the active vacationer. Enjoy sailing, kayaking, and boating along miles of sandy beaches and clear Caribbean colors of the water, or play a round at one of the many top-flight golf courses near the deep lakes and winding hills of Traverse City. Whatever activities you decide to do, be sure to set aside a day to taste the wines in the area, which are becoming increasingly known for their uniquely fresh and intensely fruit-forward wines!

KWG-LoudonLoudoun, VA
No matter what interests you, you’re likely to find it in Virginia. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Potomac River, just 25 miles from Washington, DC, Loudoun County is not only a fantastic east coast culinary destination, but it is also a part of a premier wine region. The unique boutique wineries in the area have inviting tasting rooms in everything from rustic barns to architectural marvels. So pick up your palate and head to DC’s Wine Country!

Tri-Valley, CA
Hand crafted beer is back on the rise. Judy Ashworth, owner of the former Lyons Brewery Depot, had stocked national beer brands in her pub until a customer introduced her to his home-brewed pale ale. When tasting his beer, she said “so this is what beer should taste like!” Since then, Judy, among many other in the Tri-Valley’s beer industry, has been an advocate for local craft beer. With over 100 breweries and brewpubs to choose from, the new Tri-Valley Beer Trail is the perfect way to experience many unique craft beers.

KWG-PismoPismo Beach, CA
Located half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway, Pismo Beach is a picturesque vacation spot. It is a place where you can surf alongside locals, have lunch on the boardwalk next to the 1,200-foot pier, and then take a short drive to wine country. Besides the numerous ocean activities, visitors can go horseback riding, golfing, and even sky diving! So if you’re looking for a wine destination where you can experience Classic California, take a trip to Pismo Beach.

Amador County, CA
Located in the heart of Gold Country, Amador County has something to offer for everyone. A few of Amador County’s highlights include its quality wines from about 40 wineries, charming small towns though out, and plenty of outdoor activities such as river rafting and hiking trails. Another standout from this region is Taste Restaurant in Plymouth. It has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in the United States with an award winning wine list. If you are looking for a place to visit that has it all, take a trip to Amador County!

While the state of Kentucky is very well known for its bourbon industry, it has also played an important role in the history of wine in the U.S. Not only is it home to the first commercial vineyard in the country, but it’s wineries also once produced more than 50 percent of the United States’ grape harvest and wine yield! A visit to a Kentucky winery will captivate you with it’s bluegrass countryside and its romantic scenery.

Leavenworth, WA
In Leavenworth’s downtown Bavarian Village, there are an impressive 20 wine tasting rooms and many restaurants with inspired wine lists awaiting your discovery. With the surrounding foothills’ abundance of vineyards and wineries, you’ll find everything from hearty reds and refreshing whites to German-style Glühwein. Leavenworth is also an ideal spot for those craving an outdoor adventure. With so much to taste, see, and do, come see what one of the most popular and unique Washington destinations is all about!

San Luis Obispo County is the perfect destination for wine lovers and travelers alike. From the charming ocean-side towns to the beautiful inland hills, SLO County has many sights to be seen. Its location, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, provides the perfect temperature and long growing season that defines it as one of the premier wine-growing regions of the world. Easy to get to and hard to leave, stunning San Luis Obispo County is full of coastal, culinary and cultural pleasures for the wine traveler.

Tri-Cities, WA
The Tri-Cities is located in the heart of Washington wine country. The sun shines on an average of 300 days each year, making it a remarkable destination for all kinds of adventure. With seven beautiful courses and two championship courses to choose from, Washington’s Tri-Cities is a golfer’s paradise. The amazing surrounding rivers of the Columbia, the Snake, and the Yakima create the ideal setting for kayakers, paddle boarders, fishermen, and more!

Yakima, WA
Yakima Valley in Washington State is home to more than 100 award-winning wineries and the beautiful Washington countryside. Take a tour of a vineyard with a winemaker to have true farm fresh experience. Explore the unique agricultural history of this region and visit the Yakima National Cultural Heritage Center and the Yakima Valley Museum. On your visit, don’t forget to spice things up and grab a bite at a Mexican taqueria or taco trucks, some of the culinary favorites!

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

The hot summer months are upon us, and July and August are taking no prisoners this year. It’s easy to get sucked inside where the air conditioner is cranked to arctic temperatures and an ice-cold beverage is only a short walk to the refrigerator, but we think it’s time to get out and get yourself a big lung-full of good ol’ fresh air. Summer is a time for adventure and exploration, and we challenge you to get out of your perfectly chilled office and into the great outdoors! We’ve come up with some wine country spots that we think will leave you feeling relaxed and recharged this summer…and a little buzzed of course!

KWG-ElDoradoEl Dorado County | Sierra Foothills, CA
If you’re an adventure seeker, history buff, foodie, or wine lover, El Dorado County should be on the top of your list for your next summer vacation! In 1848, gold was discovered in the American River near Coloma, and today with a name like “Gold County,” this rich history remains in the rustic mining towns and historic sites that dot the landscape. Aside from a vibrant history, here are endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, over 70 wineries to taste, and a number of culinary treasures to explore, “Gold Country” is a must-see destination this summer!

Sullivan Wine | Napa Valley, CA
It all started as a wedding gift of grape vine cuttings to founder Jim Sullivan and his wife Joanna, and quickly turned into the fuel that fed his passion for producing superior quality wines. Sullivan Vineyards in Rutherford, CA is a gorgeous estate that provides guests with a casual and welcoming atmosphere and beautiful vineyard views. Visitors to the winery are welcome to enjoy their tastings in the outside courtyard while admiring a collection of contemporary artwork and classic cars on display.

KWG-BouchaineBouchaine Vineyards | Napa Valley, CA
This summer, take a guided vineyards walk or grab your bike and cruise along the rolling hills of Bouchaine Vineyards, dedicated to planting the very best of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The beauty of Bouchaine goes far beyond the stunning landscape, but also in their use of sustainable practices that are used to give back to the land they are blessed with. Make sure to stop by their tasting room to taste their award winning wines, and join their wine club to taste on a private terrace overlooking the vineyards.

Keenan Winery | Napa Valley, CA
If you are looking for an outdoorsy tasting experience in the Napa Valley, look no further than Keenan Winery in the mountains of St. Helena. The 180-acre property boasts the stunning green and dusty brown landscape of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, and will make you feel like you’ve taken a summer getaway deep into the woods while still remaining in the world-famous Napa Valley wine country. Keenan is a well-known name in the Napa region, with 62 wines in the last 12 vintages earning ratings between 90 and 97 points by wine critics. For outdoor relaxation and incredible wines, visit Keenan Winery this summer!

KWG-OakFarm (2)Oak Farm Vineyards | Lodi, CA
Residing on a beautiful and historic 70 acre estate, Oak Farm Vineyards offers their visitors an elevated tasting experience and the opportunity to truly get a feel for Lodi wine country. Their tasting room includes floor to ceiling windows with breathtaking vineyard views, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and a cozy outdoor terrace where you can taste their portfolio of handcrafted, small-lot and single vineyard varietals. You won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to visit Lodi wine country this summer!

Calcareous Vineyard | Paso Robles, CA
Outdoor adventure is a given when you visit a winery like Calcareous Vineyard in Paso Robles, a winery dedicated to their land and the importance of “place.” Father and daughter Lloyd Messer and Dana Brown had a dream of expressing their passion for wine and this love for the craft remains evident in their delicious estate wines produced from their 3 vineyards. Guests are invited to enjoy a flight of their award winning wines at Lloyd’s Lookout, their hilltop tasting room, for a delectable tasting and breathtaking 180-degree views of Paso wine country.

KWG-WesterlyWesterly Wines | Santa Barbara County, CA
The Santa Barbara County wine region is extremely diverse, and this complexity is reflected in the impressive portfolio of Westerly Wines. The Westerly name is a well known one in the Santa Ynez Valley, and their limited-production wines never fall short of the high standard that they have set for themselves. They do not have a public tasting room, but they do offer private tastings on a limited basis for a truly exclusive one-on-one tasting experience. Summer in Santa Barbara is beautiful, and only gets better with a glass of Westerly wine in hand!

Moshin Vineyards | Sonoma County, CA
Whoever said all those hours of sitting in math class would never pay off in the real world obviously never heard the story of Moshin Vineyards. Rick Moshin, a former San Jose University math instructor, put his math skills to the test and designed a four-tier gravity flow winery for small-lot wine production, and this year Moshin Vineyards is celebrating this dream having become reality, with the 10 year anniversary of their tasting room and the family’s 25th anniversary of wine growing! If you are looking for a reason to celebrate this summer, head on over to Sonoma and raise a glass with Moshin Vineyards!

KWG-CathedralRidgeCathedral Ridge Winery | Columbia River Gorge, OR
Those looking for a unique outdoor experience this summer should make a trip to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. This region is home to Cathedral Ridge Winery, and provides a distinctive microclimate that allows for almost every variety of grape to ripen to perfection, building an extensive portfolio of wines that have received outstanding reviews over the years. The winery in Hood River offers visitors a scenic and serene tasting experience filled with stunning views and delicious wines, or if you are planning a trip to the famous Willamette Valley, be sure to stop by their other tasting room in Dundee!

Ironstone Vineyards | Sierra Foothills, CA
While visiting El Dorado County be sure to stop by the beautiful Ironstone Vineyards in the charming gold rush town of Murphys, CA. This family owned and operated winery is the perfect opportunity for visitors to learn about the history of the Sierra Foothills wine region, while tasting their delicious portfolio of wines. Their massive oak tasting bar was even once a saloon bar in New York! The rest of their property will not disappoint, with 14 acres of stunning gardens waiting to be explored, guests are welcomed to stroll along the grounds and find the perfect place for a picnic from their gourmet deli.

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

Dry Rose has become the latest craze in wine! We have been on this bandwagon for the last three summers. It is finally taking off. That said, we have found several terrific dry Rose’s to try this summer as we get into the hot summer months of July and August. One trend we have noticed is that many of the top scoring Roses are being made from Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir. We hope this trend continues as it has led to some very tasty wines. So as you pack up the picnic basket for the beach or a picnic, pick up one or two of these tasty Rose’s. We hope you enjoy this exciting category as much as we did!

Three-Rivers-2014-Cabernet-Franc-RoseWe open with our top scoring Rose which was awarded 92 points. This winner hails from the Walla Walla region of Washington State and is made from 100% Cabernet Franc. The Three Rivers Winery 2014 “Cabernet Franc Rose” for $14 is an absolute steal. I found it to be well balanced and savory and displays tasty mineral infused strawberry flavors with hints of watermelon and faint clementine. This terrific Rose is food friendly and would pair well with many foods. They only made 114 cases, so start your search soon…. Like now!

We have two wines that hit the 91 point mark. The first is the 2014 Tablas Creek “Dianthus” Rose for $27. This is the second year in a row this wine was a top scorer. This year’s blend is made from 46% Mourvedre, 41% Grenache and 13% Counoise. You will find it to be medium bodied, a little acidic and smooth as silk. I really liked its mild mineral infused red cherry flavors with hints of strawberry and faint watermelon. It finishes dry and its flavors linger for quite a while. This keeper will pair perfectly with grilled mahi mahi. Next up is the 2014 Ehlers Estate “Sylviane” Rose from St. Helena. This very good offering is made from 100% Cabernet Franc. On the palate, it balanced, mouthwatering and elegant. I loved its very tasty and gentle mild mineral infused watermelon flavors with notes of strawberry. This food friendly Rose would be perfect with Emeril’s grilled salmon with a pineapple, mango and strawberry salsa. This offering costs $28 per bottle and only 333 cases were made so call now if you want to try it.

Prieure-de-Montezargues-2014-RoseWe have several 90 pointers to introduce you to. We will start with this classic kitchen sink blend from Tavel that is very good. The 2014 Prieure de Montezargues for $18 is made from Red and White Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette and small percentages of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Bourboulenc. It is medium bodied, pleasantly acidic, mouthwatering and nicely coats your mouth. I really liked its mineral infused tangerine flavors with notes of peach. I also detected hints of watermelon, white pepper, spice drop, and strawberry mixed in as well. It was pretty complex for a Rose. It would be a very nice beach offering served chilled. I also think it would be great with grilled Bavarian Weisswurst! Yum!

Next up is the 2014 Ponzi “Pinot Noir Rose” from the Willamette Valley in Oregon for $20. This tasty Rose is medium bodied, slightly acidic and lively on the palate. I really enjoyed its mineral infused mild tangerine flavors with a hint of peach and touch of pink grapefruit. This winner would pair well with shrimp scampi. Another 90 point winner is a second label from Tablas Creek. Their 2014 “Patelin de Tablas” Rose for $20 is a traditional blend of 80% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre and 3% Counoise. This offering is medium bodied, pleasantly acidic and round in the mouth. Its flavor profile is a tasty tangerine and watermelon blend with notes of gentle minerality. I also detected a hint of lemon in the end. This is a very refreshing dry rose. It will be a crowd pleaser at your summer cookouts. With 1,800 cases made it should be easy to find. Pair it with salmon burgers off the grill.

Merriam-2014-Rose-of-Pinot-NoirOur next 90 pointer is the 2014 Merriam “Rose of Pinot Noir” from the Russian River Valley. It is also $20 per bottle. This wine is balanced and very easy to quaff. It displays pleasant watermelon and light red cherry flavors with nicely integrated mild minerality throughout. I also picked up a touch of strawberry towards the end.  This Rose is very food friendly and would pair nicely with shrimp scampi. There were only 143 cases made so call the winery soon to try some.

If you seek out organic options, consider this 2014 “Rose of Pinot Noir” by Sokol Blosser. At $20 it is fairly priced and should be accessible with 2,000 cases made. We found it to be light bodied, slightly acidic and lively. It displays mineral infused tangerine flavors with notes of red plum and strawberry. It finishes dry and its flavors and acidity linger for quite a while after the wine is gone. It was very popular with our mini tasting group. They thought it would be a nice offering to consider slightly chilled at the beach with sharp cheddar cheese.

Another 90 point Oregon winner is the 2014 Chehalem “Rose of Pinot Noir” from the Willamette Valley. This one costs a smidge more at $22 per bottle. This wine is medium bodied, balanced, round and a bit juicy. I really liked its tasty mild mineral infused red cherry flavors hints of strawberry. It finishes dry and is one of the more food friendly and versatile Rose options that you will come across. I would pair it with vegetable lasagna.

Blackbird-2014-Arriviste-RoseOur last two 90 pointers are a bit more money, but worth it if you can spend a little more. The first is the 2014 Blackbird “Arriviste” Rose from the Napa Valley for $25. It is made from 38% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Merlot. It was well received by our mini-tasting group and did not last long. It is medium bodied, round and mouthwatering. We really enjoyed its mineral infused Maraschino cherry flavors with a faint hint of mild orange. Our group thought this Rose would complement lots of foods. I personally thought it would pair best with a grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich. Our last 90 pointer is the 2014 Gary Farrell “Rose of Pinot Noir” for $28. This Russian River Valley beauty opens with a pleasant red cherry and orange bouquet. On the palate, it is light to medium bodied, a little acidic and mouthwatering. I was enamored with its tasty tangy gentle tangerine flavors with notes of mild minerality and gentle red raspberry. The finish is dry and very refreshing. This Rose was perfect on the boat with Dubliner cheese and various sliced Italian meats.

The Best of the Rest Rose’s
Donelan 2014 “Sonoma County” (CA) $20 (89)
A nice follow-up to last year’s winner. This Rose displays pleasant mild mineral influenced gentle strawberry and red cherry flavors with hints of watermelon. Pair with quiche tart appetizers.

Amavi 2014 Rose “Walla Walla” (WA) $24 (89)
This 100% Cabernet Franc Rose from Washington State is slightly acidic and easy to enjoy. The flavor profile is a blend of mild red cherry and gentle watermelon with notes of strawberry and faint hints of minerality. It is food friendly and would pair well with many foods.

Cypher-2014-Pistil-RoseCypher 2014 Rose “Pistil” (Paso Robles, CA) $24 (89)
This salmon colored wine is medium bodied, acidic and crisp. It displays tasty mild red cherry and strawberry flavors with hints of tangerine. Pair with grilled red snapper and mango with cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

Cakebread 2014 Rose “Vin de Porche” (Anderson Valley, CA) $25 (89)
This Rose is also medium bodied, acidic and crisp. I enjoyed its tasty mild mineral infused red cherry flavors with hints faint plum. It would be very nice at the beach on a hot summer day. I would also have it at dinner with baked stuffed shrimp.

Sidebar 2014 Rose “Russian River Valley” (CA) $25 (89)
This dark pink colored Rose is made from 100% Syrah. Its flavor profile is a blend of strawberry and watermelon with nicely integrated notes of minerality with a hint of red cherry. I would enjoy this Rose with grilled weisswurst at a picnic on a hot summer day.

Susana-Balbo-2014-Crios-Rose-of-MalbecSusana Balbo 2014 “Crios Rose of Malbec” (Mendoza, Arg.) $12 (88)
This good value dry Rose made from Malbec is medium bodied, slightly acidic and displays a hint of sweetness. I liked its mild mineral infused strawberry and Maraschino cherry flavors with a hint of red raspberry. It would be a nice beach option slightly chilled and cheddar cheese.

Wittmann 2013 Rose “Trocken” (Rheinhessen, Germany) $13 (88)
This light pink colored wine from Germany is a nice wine. It is medium bodied, a little acidic and mouthwatering with mineral infused strawberry flavors and a hint of tangerine and a touch lime. It is a perfect summer wine to serve chilled with grilled lime and garlic shrimp.

Red Newt 2014 “Kelby James Russell Dry Rose” Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes, NY) $16 (88)
This Rose from the Finger Lakes is medium bodied, slightly acidic and rather dry. It displays minernal infused tangerine and strawberry flavors. It finishes quite dry and its flavors linger for a little while. This nice summer wine would pair well with Ipswich fried clam strips.

Yorkville Cellars 2013 Rose “Vin D’Une Nuit” (Yorkville Highlands, CA ) $22 (88)
Our last recommendation is another organic offering. This one from Yorkville Cellars is medium bodied, slightly acidic and refreshing. I found it to display mild mineral infused strawberry flavors with hints of red cherry. Like the others, this Rose would be a good beach wine served slightly chilled.

I hope you find some these gems and enjoy them. Please also check back to our complete list of recommended Rose’s as we are always adding to the list.  If you find a gem that you like.  Please provide a comment and share.  Cheers!  Ken


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Take the gloom out of June and start planning your summer getaway! The Fourth is right around the corner, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate America’s birthday than by raising a glass of patriotic pinot to cheers good ole’ Lady Liberty & Uncle Sam! You may immediately think cool cocktails & ice cold beer when you imagine yourself poolside this summer, but we have some wine country recommendations that will make you second guess the longneck & reach for a nice big glass of vino instead. Kick back, relax and follow our lead on where to taste, stay & spend time in wine country for an unforgettable summer getaway—wine style!

Where to taste:
LangeTwins Family Winery | Lodi, CA
At LangeTwins, winemaking is a family affair, and it is a passion passed down through generations since the 1870s. Their state of the art winery has a modern feel that makes guests instantly aware of their quest for perfection and devotion to sustainability. The Press Room provides a welcoming space for visitors to come together and taste their impressive portfolio of wines, and those wishing for a more in depth tour can participate in a wine & cheese pairing experience behind the glass cellar doors.

Castello di Amorosa | Napa Valley, CA
Dreaming of an Italian summer getaway? It might be closer and more accessible than you’d think! Castello di Amorosa provides the perfect slice of medieval Italy, right in the heart of the Napa Valley. The 121,000 square foot fortress is four stories high and has 107 rooms, with additional levels underground. Guests can taste New World wines within the atmosphere of an Old World castle, complete with a drawbridge, moat, dungeon and torture chamber, secret passageways, courtyards, church, 12,000 square-foot barrel room and more! It’s a “must-see destination” for sure, and paired with their delicious wines, your Italian getaway dreams will come to life!

Monticello-KWGMonticello Vineyards | Napa Valley, CA
Monticello Vineyards pays a tribute to Thomas Jefferson, who once said, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.” The property boasts a downsized version of the elaborate plantation home that Mr. Jefferson once resided in, where winery guests can enjoy private tastings and dinners. Jay Corley and his three sons have carried out Mr. Jefferson’s love for wine and viticulture through their hands-on, family-oriented approach to winemaking. This dedication and love for the craft is evident as visitors taste award-winning wines in the comfort of the cozy tasting room. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 4th than to raise a glass to one of our founding fathers at Monticello this summer!

C.R. Sandidge Wines | Cascade Valley, WA
Ray Sandidge is one of the top Winemakers in the Pacific Northwest, a humble fact that is backed up by a quarter century of International and National award winning wines. The Sandidge Family believes faith is a prerequisite for success, and their faith in their winery endeavor has led them down a path of success with delicious wines that are cherished around the world. Guests are invited to see what all the buzz is about by joining the Sandidge family at their tasting room in the Village of Manson on the north shore of Lake Chelan for a friendly and knowledgeable tasting experience this summer.

Maryhill-KWGMaryhill Winery | Columbia River Gorge Area, WA
Owners Craig and Vicki Leuthold once had a dream of opening a winery in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and have made this dream come alive over the years by constructing a stunning portfolio of over 50 exceptional and affordable wines at one of Washington’s largest and most visited wineries. Each year their 3,000 square-foot tasting room greets more than 70,000 visitors from around the world, and their welcoming outdoor terrace provides free live music throughout the summer. With delicious wines and an unbelievable location, Maryhill Winery is the perfect package deal for your summer vacation!

Westerly Wines | Santa Barbara County, CA
Winemaker Adam Henkel was originally fascinated by the viticultural diversity of Santa Barbara County. He has made it his mission to express the unique characteristics of the region through exceptional winemaking practices that result in the high quality wines that Westerly is known for. The Westerly name resonates in the Santa Ynez Valley, and each of their impressive varietals exemplifies Santa Barbara County in a bottle. This summer, transport yourself to beautiful Santa Barbara by uncorking a bottle of Westerly Wines.

Where to stay:
Inn at the Tides | Sonoma Coast, CA
Summer is a time to wind down and kiss your worries goodbye with some much-needed relaxation. Alongside the Sonoma coastline is the enclave of 86 guest lodges that make up the Inn at the Tides, your picture perfect sanctuary for summer rejuvenation. Their two restaurants, swimming pool, spa, and central location with easy access to all that Sonoma wine country has to offer make it an ideal place for every kind of traveler to stay this summer!

What to do:
NVWT-KWGClimb Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train
Calling all train lovers, foodies, wine-os, history buffs, and adventure seekers, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers a unique way to tour the beautiful Napa Valley that is unlike any other wine country experience. Climb aboard one of their distinctive train cars, each with its own special charm, and soak in the rolling stunning vineyard landscape as you taste exceptional Napa Valley wines paired with incredible culinary bites made with the finest local ingredients. It’s a bucket list experience you won’t want to miss this summer!


Tri-Valley-KWGVisit Tri-Valley, CA
Just east of the San Francisco Bay Area lies the five cities that make up Tri-Valley: Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, and San Ramon. Each has a unique quality, yet all five are bustling with opportunities for recreation and entertainment while still maintaining the small town charm that is rare to find so close to San Francisco. From incredible cuisine made with bountiful local produce paired with exceptional Livermore wines, to championship golf courses, and beautiful hiking and horseback riding trails, there is truly something for everyone’s perfect summer getaway!

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken


The weather is heating up, school is ending, and the beach is calling your name, which can only mean one thing…it’s officially summer! We can’t think of a more appropriate way to welcome the new season than with a classic summer road trip, so dust off that portable BBQ, swap your shoes for a pair of flip flops, and don’t forget the summer playlist! To add a twist to your travels this year, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite wineries along the West Coast – you won’t want to miss these world-class tasting rooms.

Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard – Solvang, CA
Nestled in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley, Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard offers more than just wine to its visitors. With 39 acres of sustainably managed vineyards, it’s no surprise that Buttonwood also maintains a bountiful farm harvesting olives, pomegranates, peonies, herbs, summer vegetables, and peaches. Kick off your summer road trip at their tasting room this summer for a variety of exquisite wines, including their flagship Sauvignon Blanc, and delectable foods to pair them with!

VinaRobles_KWGVina Robles Winery  – Paso Robles, CA
For wines that combine traditional California grapes with a balance reminiscent of European varietals, look no further than Paso Robles’ Vina Robles Winery, just an hour and a half north of Solvang. There’s no better way to embrace your new adventure than with wines that boldly combine Old World roots with New World endeavors! And since you’re road tripping, why not spice up your trip with a summer concert in their incredible outdoor amphitheater? Don’t miss out on a chance to see some of your favorite artists, like Little Big Town, Third Eye Blind, Rob Thomas, the Plain White T’s and more! Nothing says “road trip” like good music and good wine, and both are waiting for you at Vina Robles!

J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines – Paso Robles, CA
One of the first vineyards on California’s Central Coast, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines presents over four decades of winemaking knowledge and devotion to its visitors. Visitors to their Paso Robles tasting room will enjoy the intimate atmosphere of a family-owned vineyard while tasting rich and diverse wines grown on over 3,000 acres of vineyards. Offering four tiers of award-winning wines, J. Lohr is a place you won’t want to leave Paso Robles without seeing!

Wente-KWGWente Family Estates – Livermore, CA
With over 131 years of experience in the wine industry, Wente Vineyards in Livermore, CA is a true veteran in the winemaking world, and continues to be respected as a leader in the world of wine. The Wente family maintains a standard for quality and integrity in every aspect of their business. They continue to bring fresh ideas to the table, constantly evolving and innovating with the changing industry. Recently, they have opened the Winemakers Studio, which is a traditional-style tasting bar with a variety of Wente wines on tap.  Be sure to take a break from your travels and visit the studio for a growler of your favorite varietal!

Tamber Bey Vineyards  – Calistoga, CA
Our next stop is Napa, because what would a wine-tasting road trip be without Napa? The passion for horses is obvious to guests when they arrive at Tamber Bey Vineyards, but the passion for winemaking becomes even more apparent once visitors taste a flight of their delicious portfolio of wines. Varietals include fruity Sauvignon Blanc, crisp Chardonnay, heady Pinot Noir, and smoky blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Cliff Creek Cellars – Gold Hill, OR & Newberg, OR
Goodbye, California, hello Pacific Northwest! Located just northeast of Gold Hill, Cliff Creek Cellars evolved out of a family farming legacy that began in the late 1800s. Today, the vineyards consist of 20 acres of Syrah, 20 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, and several more acres of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese. Any of Cliff Creek’s red varietals would be perfect for a relaxing summer evening post-drive, but you can also enjoy their featured White White Wine of the summer. Don’t forget to check out their tasting room in Newberg on your way north!

Adelsheim-KWGAdelsheim Vineyards – Newberg, OR
One of Oregon’s founding wineries, Adelsheim Vineyards set the stage for the development of Oregon’s wine industry. Located on the Chehalem Mountains, the winery resides in the new iconic viticulture area of North Willamette Valley. Offering its visitors a cross between traditional elegance and new-age innovation, Adelsheim Vineyards is the ideal place to end your Oregon travels and transition into Washington wines.

Hamilton Cellars – Benton City, WA
Wine country continues in Washington! Hamilton Cellars in Benton City is a relatively young winery, but the Hamiltons’ determination, passion, and finesse would tell you otherwise. Their impressive portfolio of wines contains varietals that have received a number of awards, such as the Gold Medal from the Seattle Wine Awards as well as placement in the Great Northwest Wine Competition! Their new facility in Benton City is also the only Net Zero solar winery in Washington – what better way to celebrate a sunny road trip than by visiting this environmentally conscious, sun-loving winery?

JBookwalter-KWGJ. Bookwalter Winery  – Richland, WA & Woodinville, WA
With locations in Richland and Woodinville, J. Bookwalter Winery offers its visitors the best of both worlds. For a unique tasting experience, head over to Richland – just a 20-minute drive from Benton City! – and enjoy a gourmet meal at the winery’s restaurant, Fiction. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, head to their Woodinville location near Seattle for a tasting while soaking up the spectacular views on their sunny patio during summer months. Either location would be perfect for a wine-infused afternoon.

Tsillan Cellars – Lake Chelan, WA
Tsillan Cellars sits in an oasis on the southern shore of Lake Chelan, Washington. Visitors are able to enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding mountains from this beautiful Tuscan-style winery while tasting their impressive profile of wines. Their wines have collectively been awarded more than 200 Gold Medal, Double Gold Medal, Best of Class and Best of Show awards in major regional, national and international wine competitions. Lake Chelan is a bit of a drive from either Richland or Woodinville, but we think it will be the perfect place to relax after a long trip!

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

April is about embracing Mother Nature and exploring the new beginnings that surround us during the first full month of spring. This month, we’ll cover the entire Pacific Coast and even venture on over to the Eastern U.S. for a look at Kentucky’s exciting and evolving wine industry. World-class wines, stunning sights, and a variety of adventures await us. So whether you find yourself sprinkled with April showers or surrounded by bright blooming flowers, we hope it will be with a glass of wine in hand and a breathtaking view in sight.

LODI-KWGExplore the Varietals of Lodi
Leading California’s production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel grapes, Lodi is a region that has set the bar high. Home to California’s first third-party-certified “green” sustainable winegrowing program, over 20,000 acres of Lodi’s vineyards produce wines with nothing but the best interest in you, your community, and your earth. We can’t think of a better place to embrace nature than in a place friendly to wine lovers and earth lovers alike!

Meet the New Releases in Lake Chelan
Surrounded by the majestic Cascade mountain range and home to over twenty vineyards and wineries, Lake Chelan is the perfect destination for sipping and… well, everything! With an array of golf courses, endless mountain paths for hiking, trails for all levels of bikers, and of course, 50.5 miles of glistening lake for water sports, springtime in Lake Chelan is certainly the place for the adventurous soul. For the less daring, the quaint town offers lakeside shopping and dining. But don’t wear yourself out too hard – in April, Lake Chelan wineries release their newest wines. You won’t want to miss these!

KENTUCKY-KWGEnjoy a Glass… in the Bluegrass!
Kentucky has long been dubbed “Bourbon Country” as a result of its successful bourbon-producing industry, but that doesn’t mean the Bluegrass State falls short when it comes to vineyards: wine lovers can now experience more than 70 wineries in the state that was home to the FIRST commercial vineyard in the country! The beautifully unique Kentucky countryside makes this destination one of Mother Nature’s finest – and with tastings, lodging, and year-round events, what more could one ask for?

Sip by the Ships at Port Ludlow
When you approach Puget Sound territory, there is often a chance of rain – so why not make that fireside glass of wine a certainty? Hidden gem Resort at Port Ludlow is just a peaceful 90-minute drive or 15-minute seaplane ride from the bustling city of Seattle and is the epitome of Pacific Northwest beauty. Located in what was once a logging and shipbuilding village, the resort is the perfect link between mountain and sea. This waterfront getaway is the ideal place to cozy up on during those April weekends when the air is still crisp from winter and the traveler in you is warming up for spring!

Cherish the Seaside in San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo’s Boutique Hotel Collection is comprised of four award-winning properties, each honoring nature in their own way:

Travelers looking for a serene getaway will enjoy a stay at SeaVenture Beach Hotel, the only full service beachfront resort in Pismo Beach complete with its very own restaurant providing panoramic ocean views.

THECLIFFS-KWGWine lovers are also fond of The Cliffs Resort, which gazes down on the Pacific Ocean from atop seaside cliffs and takes a prime location in the heart of wine country amidst over 200 world-class wineries.

Wellness enthusiasts looking for spring rejuvenation seek solace at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, where opportunities for spa going, yoga practicing, meditating, and garden strolling are found.

Charming Apple Farm’s Wine Country Inn offers a home away from home for travelers looking for a getaway that is cozy and quiet, yet close to the historic mission, farmers markets, and festivities that the beachside town is abundant with year round.

Go Organic at Applewood Inn & Restaurant
Applewood Inn & Restaurant is a renowned bed and breakfast nestled in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley among redwood trees. Just as its name implies, the inn reveres nature – onsite organic gardens supply produce (think homegrown spring fruits, veggies, and herbs!) for its restaurant, while the entire property thrives on solar energy. This nature-powered inn is perfect for the earth-friendly traveler looking for a spring escape.

LEDSON-KWGAdmire Architecture at Ledson Winery
Distinctly unique gothic architecture sets Ledson Winery, “The Castle,” apart. Surrounded by acres of vineyards and oak trees, the 16,000 square-foot French Normandy winery is aesthetically pleasing both inside and out, and offers over 70 wines to choose from. You won’t find anything like Ledson Winery, a must-see on your next trip to the Sonoma Valley!

Unwind in Willamette Valley’s Le Puy A Wine Valley Inn
While petite, the eight-room Le Puy A Wine Valley Inn is full of personality and style. Each spacious, luxurious room has its own individual nature theme reminiscent of the inn’s Oregon location, complete with breathtaking Chehalem Ridge views. The quaint inn, which lies in the center of Willamette Valley Wine Country, supplies its guests with both proximity and privacy for sipping and slowing down.

PROSSER-KWGTour Prosser, the Heart of Washington Wine Country
When exploring Washington wine country, Prosser is one of the first places to start; replete with outstanding vineyards, the ever-fertile Yakima Valley – a wine connoisseur’s heaven- was the first AVA established in the Pacific Northwest. And during April, spring barrel tasting occurs! Aside from world-class wines, Prosser also supplies its visitors with endless mountain views, miles of farmland producing local fruits and vegetables, and activities such as kayaking, bass fishing, and canoeing in the Yakima River.

Educate Yourself at the Walter Clore Center
At the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Washington, wine is both palate-pleasing and education-promoting! Named after Dr. Walter J. Clore – the Father of Washington Wine – the center is a place to learn about, taste, and purchase some of the finest wines of the state. Of course, learning doesn’t have to be boring – during each month of 2015 the center is holding a blind tasting for wine lovers! If you’ve vowed to gain a deep appreciation for wine beyond the surface, you’ll want to add the Walter Clore Center to your list!

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

The weather is warming up, flowers are blooming, Easter candy is filling the shelves in every store, and suddenly we have to move our clocks forward and lose a precious hour of sleep. It can only mean one thing…spring is coming! As much as you may want to crawl back into hibernation and beg for another 6 weeks of winter, it’s time to face the sunshine and break out of your daily routine! Treat yourself this spring with the much-needed vacation you’ve been dreaming about all winter. What could be better than breathing in the crisp spring air as you soak up the stunning vineyard landscapes & sip on a cool fruity glass of vino? We can’t think of anything more pleasurable. So spring out of your winter rut, and into wine country!

Allison Inn & Spa
Amidst seven acres of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir vineyards in the beautiful Willamette Valley is Allison Inn & Spa, a sophisticated and spacious resort that provides the perfect place to relax in wine country. Rustic yet luxurious, the Allison offers guests a number of modern amenities, including a private terrace or balcony, a warm and inviting fireplace, a spa-like bathroom, and stunning hillside views. You won’t want to leave your cozy room, but be sure to take advantage of their amazing spa and signature restaurant!

Trione_KWGTrione Vineyards
Looking for a reason to go on vacation this spring? Trione Vineyards will give you plenty of reasons to celebrate! This year they are celebrating their 10th anniversary as winemakers, 40th anniversary as farmers and managers of Sonoma vineyards, and 80th (!!!!) anniversary of their tasting room in the Old Stone Winery building! Visit the stunning and historic vineyards of Trione in Sonoma and raise a glass to another year of delicious wine…it’s time to celebrate!

Vigilance Vineyards
Vigilance Vineyards is located at the Southern end of Clear Lake, and is home to the Shannon Family of Wines tasting room. The Shannon family is dedicated to their land, and of their 1,850 acres. Only 35% of their land has been converted to vineyards, the remainder is dedicated to preserving the natural wildlife that shares their home with them. They feel blessed with their beautiful land and wines, and are eager to share it with guests, inviting them to relax on their deck or hike throughout their vineyards. You will feel like a member of the Shannon family on your next visit to Lake County wine country, so plan your visit to Vigilance this spring!

Silverado_KWGSilverado Vineyards
Silverado Vineyards is unlike any other Napa Valley winery, resting at the top of a flat-topped knoll in the Stags’ Leap District. The Mediterranean-style tasting room is a beautiful place to relax and taste their award-winning wines, including the new vintage of SOLO Cabernet Sauvignon released each year to honor the legendary Heritage-Clone Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. Join in on one of their quintessential tasting experiences such as an in-depth Library Tour to learn the Silverado story, a stroll through the vineyards with a wine educator on the Vineyard tour, or a personally guided Silverado Experience tour. Whatever you decide it will be a memorable visit to the Napa Valley!

Wine & Roses
Now that you are dreaming up a spring getaway to Lodi, it’s time to pick the perfect place to stay! Wine & Roses is the ideal romantic destination that will be the cherry on top to your wine country experience. They have a knack for pampering their guests, offering luxurious amenities while still making them feel right at home. Relax and soak up the stunning garden views from the comfort of your room, or venture out into downtown Lodi. Either way, Wine & Roses is the perfect spot to lay your head during your next adventure into Lodi wine country!

Miraflores Winery
Nothing says vacation like an exotic getaway to the Mediterranean, but if a quick rendezvous to Greece isn’t exactly in the cards this spring, Miraflores Winery in Pleasant Valley is the next best thing! The Mediterranean style tasting room—and a few glasses of their award-winning wine—will transport you right to the Mediterranean islands. Their tasting room is filled with a number of unique artifacts dating back to the 16th century, including their fireplace from the Island of Cyprus! Visit today for some much needed R&R this spring…Mediterranean style!

V. Sattui_KWGV. Sattui Winery & Italian Market
Don’t stop daydreaming about an Italian getaway just yet…V. Sattui has the intense feel of a small Italian village! Along with their stunning winery building and tasting room, they also have an amazing Italian marketplace where you can find more than 200 artisanal cheeses, house-cured meats, local baked breads, and more! So grab some lunch, a bottle of their exceptional vino, and begin your search for the perfect lunch spot amongst their two acres of picnic grounds. What says springtime like an Italian style picnic in the vineyards?!

Perry Creek Winery
Unique climate, soil, and topography are the recipe for success that makes El Dorado County an ideal winemaking location. With an average elevation of 2,401 ft. within the stunning Sierra Foothills lies Perry Creek Winery, known for their distinctive wines with rich concentrated flavors. With award-winning wines and picturesque views, Perry Creek has just what you need to break out of that winter slump and kick start springtime!

Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards
If Italy is more your style, get into the Italian spirit at Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards! Visit their beautiful Tuscan style Toccata tasting room in downtown Solvang for the ultimate spring getaway. Close your eyes as you indulge in their Italian style varietals and you will instantly transport yourself under the warm Tuscan sun! Buon viaggio!

OakFarm_KWGOak Farm Vineyards
Just south of the Mokelumne River in northwest Lodi resides the historic 70-acre estate that is home to Oak Farm Vineyards. Guests are welcomed to relax and enjoy a picnic on the 10 acres dedicated solely for their enjoyment. Here you will find yourself in awe of the beauty of the century old oaks, a private lake, and spectacular views. Visit their casual yet sophisticated tasting room and taste their small-lot and single-vineyard varietals that express their truly unique terrior while cozying up to the fireplace or relaxing on their outdoor terrace. Springtime in Lodi is waiting for you at Oak Farm Vineyards!

The following article was provided by our contributing partner – Touring and Tasting Magazine.

Cheers – Ken

Toskana 2006Tuscany could be called a triple threat – breathtaking scenery, delicious cuisine, and amazing wines. It’s not hard to see why it’s considered one of the most iconic vacation destinations in the world, especially for wine lovers. But it can be a difficult place to plan a wine vacation.

Most travelers to Tuscany follow the same general itinerary of taking photos in front of the leaning tower of Pisa, walking around the beautiful piazzas of Florence, trying as many flavors of tasty gelato as they can stomach, and drinking luscious Italian wine at a cafe tucked away on a small back street.

But for a true wine fan, why stop at sampling wines and cuisine in the major tourist areas?

To plan a wine vacation, you need to go beyond where the wine is served and get to where the wine is produced. But this isn’t so easy in Italy.

Taste Vacations Italy GrapesTouring on Your Own
We all know Italians have a reputation for being crazy drivers. And driving on the highways or in big cities can be harrowing. However, often the best way to get into wine country is to bite the bullet, rent a car, and brave driving with the locals. (One good car rental option is Auto Europe.) If you do, you’ll get to experience Tuscany’s spectacular rolling hills, its stunning strade bianche (white-colored dirt roads) stretching as far as the eye can see, and its large tracts of agricultural land spotted with majestic cypress trees.

You’ll also be able to taste Tuscany’s famous Chiantis and Brunello di Montalcinos, as well as its lesser known wines, at the wineries themselves – venues most travelers don’t get to see.

But even once you have a car, visiting Tuscany is not like visiting Napa Valley where you can drive up to almost any winery, walk into a tasting room, and start sampling wines. Many Tuscan wineries are not open to the public or have limited hours of operation. And often wineries are spread out and not in one convenient valley.

Hiring a Local Guide
To get around this, you might consider hiring a wine guide for the day to maximize your time and experience. Tour guides in Italy are licensed by the national government, which generally means they are extremely knowledgeable and professional.

In searching for a local guide, one good option is to ask for a referral from your planned lodging provider or simply to search online for “wine tours” in the region where you plan to travel. You can also check the Complete List of Wine Tour Operators, which you can sort by country.

Taste Vacations Tuscany HillsJoining an Organized Wine Tour
Alternatively, if you really want to participate in a wine vacation, consider an organized wine tour. Group tours have the reputation of being restricting in terms of itinerary, dining choices, and activities. However, tour operators are experienced professionals who know the local area and can generally plan an itinerary that visits the best of the best. In Italy, especially, this planning saves you the hassle of trying to do this on your own.

A good organized tour should also get you into places and in contact with people you would never be able to visit or meet on your own. Anyone can drop into a winery with a tasting room open to the public. Not anyone can visit a winery closed to the public, only open on Tuesdays from 3-6 PM, or requiring an advance reservation with an Italian-speaking office worker.

One of the most under-appreciated aspects of group tours is the incredible camaraderie that develops among the group: travelers and guides included. Guides are often local experts who will translate, explain, enlighten, and charm their way into your heart and help create what will not just be a wonderful trip but a lifelong memory. And your fellow tour companions are usually fun, outgoing, interesting people. Who else signs up for a wine tour?

However you choose to plan a wine vacation in Tuscany, you won’t be disappointed. It is a trifecta of amazing food, wine, and scenery.

Beth Peluse works for Taste Vacations, a luxury travel company that specializes in wine, food, beer, and spirits tours around the globe. Taste Vacations’ Tuscany food and wine tour includes wine tastings, visits to local food producers and sellers, overnights on winery grounds and even truffle hunting in the forests.

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