Permalink 05:13:25 pm by main, Categories: Wine Tours

By Ralph & Lahni DeAmicis
Spending a day in Napa and Sonoma is a delight, especially for adults, but even in wine country it’s not just about the wine, there’s shopping too! After all, due to the nature of alcohol, there is a limit to how much wine you can taste. Not only do you want to stop before you have a hard time climbing back into the car but also, the taste buds become saturated after a while so that unless you cleanse them with water and food, all of the wines start to taste the same. Of course, due to differences in physiology, some people will want to keep tasting new wines after others have reached their saturation point. To make sure that the trip is interesting to everybody, pick wineries later in the day that combine good wines and great gift shops. Here are some favorites and why.

When you come to wine country via the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a group of wineries on Route 121 just north of where you turn off of Route 37. Our best recommendation these days is the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. Every day their gift shop gets more interesting. For the moment, the wine tasting is complimentary and the attached Olive Oil Company, where you can sample the flavored oils, has their own gift shop too making this stop a winning combination. Make it the first stop on the way into the valleys or the last stop on the way back to the city.

Just to the north of Jacuzzi is Cornerstone Place (look for the gigantic blue lawn chairs directly opposite the entrance to Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves). Cornerstone’s combination of unique stores, fascinating galleries, playful gardens, food and wine tasting is also a great way to start or end any tour.

Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery: They have, without a doubt, the best winery gift shop in Sonoma. Because they have been around for so long (the winery started in 1906) people often relate them to their previous incarnation as a ‘jug wine’ producer, however today they make excellent wines that are a great value, in part because they own so many vineyards, and have for so long. For the moment, their wine tastings are also complimentary and people always come out smiling. The historic Plaza is just minutes away, which is a wonderful place for shopping, filled with a wide variety of galleries, tasting rooms, clothing stores and specialty items.

Leaving the Plaza, head north up the Valley of the Moon where there are several wineries that we think have especially great gift shops. B.R. Cohn Winery has a wonderful collection of items and their olive oils are as good as their excellent wines. A little farther up the valley is Imagery Estate Winery where many of their products are based on the original art that they commissioned for their wine bottle labels. Chateau St. Jean Winery devotes a large part of their main tasting room to their gift shop with branded products with a wine and food tilt. Just past them is Landmark Winery which has a charming gift area that includes a tribute to their John Deere family tractors.

When you go up the Napa Valley, there are some wineries that really shine gift-wise. In the heart of Rutherford, Rubicon Estate is the most elegant gift shop in Napa; stylish, unique, and accompanied by great wines, a charming espresso bar and graceful seating outside that can accommodate the whole family. Plumpjack Winery, which is just off the Oakville Crossroad, naturally offers great wines, but it also has one of the most charming gift shops, in part because it's so comfortably close to the tasting bar. At the base of the Silverado Trail, Darioush offers unusual gifts with a Persian flair in a spectacular building that shouldn’t be missed.

Many times, late in the day, we have dropped shoppers of at the north end of St. Helena, close to the restaurant called simply ‘Market’ to enjoy the nice variety of shops. We’ll catch up with them at the south end of town in the parking lot of Sunshine Market, a great place to pick up that sparkling water for the road. Thanks to the wonders of mobile phones, one segment of the party can go shopping while the others continue their wine tasting. Everyone is happy! There are a number of good wineries close to St. Helena including Beringer, St. Clement and Merryvale, all of which have very nice gift shops.

For non-winery shopping, the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, just north of St. Helena, and Copia, The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in downtown Napa (next to the Oxbow Market) both have spectacular, cooking related gift shops. Of course there is always The Premium Outlet Mall in Napa (take the First Street exit on Route 29.) This is especially popular with international visitors who can reconnect with their old friends named Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor and Liz Claiborne (just to name a few.)

One of the most important goals on a tour is to find places that everyone in the group is going to enjoy. We make it a habit to ask our clients about themselves, so that we can connect the dots in the best way. Our client’s safety, comfort and enjoyment are our main concerns, and sometimes the thing that makes the best accompaniment to a day of wine tasting is a fabulous new pair of shoes.

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Ralph & Lahni DeAmicis are the authors of the book ‘Your Day in Wine Country, Touring the Wineries of Napa and Sonoma’. They are also the owners of a custom tour service, Amicis Tours, based in downtown Sonoma and can often be found driving clients around Wine Country and introducing them to a wide variety of wineries in both Sonoma and Napa. Discover a wealth of Wine Country information or contact them to schedule a tour via their web site at http://www.YourDayInWineCountry.com


Permalink 06:55:22 pm by main, Categories: Wine Tours

Looking for winery tours? Here is some info I received from a new wine and vineyard tour company in New York.

LI Vineyard Tours is happy to announce that we will be offering trips to the East End of Long Island, NY to visit 3-4 Vineyards, twice a week.

Pick up will be at the Freeport Recreational Center on Merrick Road in Freeport, NY. All fee\'s are $55.00 dollars per person and does not include tasting fee\'s at the vineyards. All trips to the Vineyards will leave at exactly 10:00 a.m. and return at 6:00 p.m. later that evening. Tickets are to be be purchased in advance and will run for a 13 week period every Monday & Tuesday. All Reservations for Wine Tours must be called in advance.

We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express & Cash. No checks or Money Order\'s will be accepted at pick up.

For Further information please call (718)-WINE-TOURS / 718-946-3868 www.LIVineyardTours.com

LI Vineyard Tours is an associate member of the Long Island Wine Council, an associated member of the New York Wine Council, The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Long Island Conservation & Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission. We can also are be found on the I Love NY website, LongIslandExchange.com & LongIslandTourism.com websites & The Wine Press ( The official guide to Long Island Wine Country ) We are extremely professional and our pricing is fantastic !!


Permalink 07:44:14 pm by main, Categories: Wine Tours

This is a good article that will really give you some insights on how wine tasting rooms operate and what kind of experience you can have in them. This is article is fairly extensive and pretty much gives it all (save the few odd setups, or "rules"). I learned some things from this article, granted, I don't go to tastings much, but it was still useful.

Most tasting rooms are similar in the way they operate. When entering the tasting room, a tasting room staff member will greet you. Walk up to the tasting bar and say you would like to taste some of the wines. Some wineries charge for tastings and others do not. Occasionally a souvenir glass is included when you pay a tasting fee. You may have a choice to taste all the wines you would like on their list, or to choose a certain number of wines to taste, such as five wines.

Let the winery consultant guide your tasting. We have experienced consultants who pour the wine and tell us what we are about to smell and taste. Others will ask us what we observe about the wines. However, the latter is less frequent. There is a certain risk that winery staff takes if they ask your opinion. I recall a look of disappointment when one tasting consultant asked me what I thought a wine tasted like and I replied, "Leather." The consultant thought it tasted like coffee. I do not drink coffee and now I have a sneaky feeling that it must taste like leather.

If you go to a tasting room on a less busy day (usually in the middle of the week), you will enjoy the opportunity to talk about the wine, winery and vineyards. Most tasting room staff members are knowledgeable about the wines they are pouring. A mere one percent of the wineries we have visited had a staff member who admitted that he just helps on the weekend and pours the wine. He told us he did not know anything about the wines he was pouring.

Most of the time, you will stand at the tasting bar. Some tasting rooms have bar stools next to the tasting bar. This is a very welcome addition if you are tasting at your third winery of the day. Some wineries use tables for wine tastings. At McGregor Vineyard and Winery along Keuka Lake in New York, you will sit at a table. The wine consultant will bring a plate of bite-sized food and will discuss the wine list with you. We also had a "sit down and be served" experience at Gloria Ferrer in California.

The "sit down at a table" theme continued at Schramsberg in California. After a tour of the caves at Schramsberg, the tour group gathered in a small dining room that had three tables set for a group of people. Our tour filled two of the tables. The wine consultant talked about the sparkling wines and then served us at the table. This afforded a great opportunity to talk about the wine with the other people at your table. This intimate approach occurred after group tours at Pine Ridge Winery and Quintessa in California.

Occasionally the winemaker will be on hand and may give a tour and conduct your tasting. Our most memorable tour was at The Lenz Winery on Long Island in New York. The winemaker had us taste his wines from the stainless steel tanks. He asked us what we thought and more often than not agreed with us. His tour proceeded to the barrel room and with thief in hand had us taste the wine from some of the barrels. Tasting wine from the barrels or tanks can give you an idea if the wine is ready or what more aging will do to it. The winemaker at Prince Michel Vineyards and Winery in Virginia has special barrel tastings. He discusses his wines and the stage they are at when you taste them.

One of our favorite tastings was during the tour at Del Dotto Winery in California. The tour led our group through the over one hundred year old candle-lit tunnels. Our guide stopped along the way and had us taste wines from the barrels. If we liked the wine, we took a ticket attached to the barrel. After the tour, we could order any of the wines we tasted. The wine would be bottled and shipped to many destinations.

Visiting winery tasting rooms is a great activity. Try to limit the number of tasting rooms you visit in one day. We try to visit two or three in a day. Tasting rooms are less crowded on the weekdays. Call ahead or check their times on the Internet before you start your adventure.

About the Author

Terry Sullivan is a retired educator and wine enthusiast who designed the website Wine Trail Traveler. He looks forward to relating his travels about wineries to website visitors. Wine Trail Traveler also offers educational modules and wine recipes.

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Permalink 02:58:27 pm by main, Categories: Wine Tours

If you have not experienced a California wine tour to the Livermore Valley, their wineries are sure to delight you with the quality and variety of their wines. This area has a delightful mixture of large and small wineries waiting for you to explore.

The Livermore Wine Country is located in San Francisco’s East Bay Area approximately 30 miles east of San Francisco. It includes wineries in Livermore, Pleasanton, Sunol, and Castro Valley. This is one of the oldest wine regions in California. The first commercial grapes were planted in the 1840s by Robert Livermore.

If you have not experienced a California wine tour to the Livermore Valley, their wineries are sure to delight you with the quality and variety of their wines. This area has a delightful mixture of large and small wineries waiting for you to explore. Many are only open on weekends, but will make appointments for tasting during the week. Wine tasting is almost always complimentary.

Many of the Livermore wineries are located on or near Tesla Road, a main road south of the city that runs west to east. Driving along this road, be sure to stop at: Cedar Mountain Winery, a small winery well known for their wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon and Ports; Steven Kent, producer of world class Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; and Tesla Vintners, a community tasting room that pours wine from 6 small wineries including Fenestra, John Christopher Cellars, Little Valley, Red Skye, The Singing Winemaker, and Thomas Coyne. It’s convenient to be able to sample wines from many wineries at one stop. Tesla Vintners provides free tasting. If you’re lucky, you’ll visit on a day when live music is provided as well.

Mitchell Katz Winery, stands on the site where the Ruby Hill Winery was built in 1887 in the town of Pleasanton. Mitchell Katz built his winery here in 1998 using bricks and keystones from the original winery. Stop by and enjoy the beautiful facility and sample their many fine wines.

A small winery located in a wooded area in Castro Valley, Chouinard Vineyards is a fun winery to visit. On Sundays throughout the summer you can listen to San Francisco Bay Area artists performing for Chouinard’s “Music in the Vineyards” concert series. 2006 prices are $35 per carload. Chouinard Vineyards has many varietals to sample, including their gold medal winning Port. You won’t find a friendlier tasting room.

There are two fantastic places to eat in Livermore. Café Garre, located at Garre Winery on Tesla Road, makes a terrific lunch stop. Enjoy their fabulous Mediterranean cuisine featuring fresh local foods. There’s a selection of superb salads, sandwiches, and pastas that are sure to please. The Restaurant at Wente serves gourmet lunch and dinner in a casual but elegant atmosphere at Wente Winery’s Arroyo Road location. This award winning Livermore restaurant serves regional American dishes influenced by Italian, French, and California cuisines. The menu changes daily. The food always looks lovely and tastes delicious. When the weather is nice, dine on their outdoor terrace to view the rolling hills, colorful landscaping, and sycamore trees.

In addition to wine tasting, the Livermore Valley also offers challenging golf courses, unique wine country accommodations, hiking, and shopping. Experience the Livermore Wine Country for yourself.

Kathy Howe and her husband, Steve, spend much of their free time tasting and enjoying wine. Their interest in wine is reflected in their Web Site, http://www.cheers2wine.com – a Comprehensive Guide to the California Wine Country. Learn about California wineries, romantic restaurants, and wine country accommodations throughout California. Plan a California Wine Tour with up-to-date information on winery events and access free wine tasting coupons.


Permalink 05:32:17 am by main, Categories: Wine Tours

this is an interesting article about taking wine tours to the various wineries on a bicycle. I have heard of bicycle wine tours before so this article gives me more insight on how they work. I would imagine that one would still have to be sober enough to operate the bicycle after touring all of those wineries and tasting all of those wines. Maybe the excercise will work of some of the alchohol.

While some people prefer a guided bus tour of wineries, or even
hiking through the vineyards, most wineries are now offering
guided bike tours of their vineyards. What a wonderful way to
explore the vineyards! The following paragraphs will discuss
different options many wineries are now offering that are
associated with bicycle wine tours, as well as discuss how to
choose the right size bicycle to rent for your tour.

There are many different options available that are associated
with most vineyard tours on bicycles. One of the main options is
how many days you'd like to tour. Most often vineyards will
offer single day bike tours, Multi day tours, group bike tours.
There are normally options available to suit the desires of
anyone wanting to take a wine tour of a popular wine vineyard.

Single day bike tours are very popular for beginning bicyclists.
During single day wine tours by bicycle tend to be easy riding.
They are often very casual, and include lunch features such as a
wonderful picnic lunch, or lunch at the winery.

Multi day bicycle wine tours are often a little more complex.
These tours are several days ranging to up to a week. Some are
designed with a bike path from inn to inn, or from one side of
the vineyard to the other. These guided tours are most popular
among the more experienced bicyclist, as sometimes the bike path
can be rugged!

Group tours of wineries by bicycle are extremely popular among
families, co-workers, and groups of friends. Group tours are
often discounted, and can be fun for everyone who actively
participates. The cost of these tours often include lodging
expenses, as well as the cost of some meals. You should check
with the individual wineries before you make your purchase.

The best quality bicycle are offered by most vineyards for
rental to those who wish to participate in a bike tour of the
vineyard. This ensures the bicycle will be perfectly fit for the
type of tour you choose. Rates will vary from winery to winery,
so you should check the price list from several vineyards to get
an idea of what your bike rental will cost.

As for sizing, that can be tricky. There are some general
guidelines for each type of bicycle, but these can vary from
vineyard to vineyard. If you are in between sizes, there are
some tips you should remember. You should always choose the
smaller bike, as it will give you more stand-over clearance.
Also, you should try to remember that choosing the bigger bike
will give your upper body more room between the saddle and the

About the author:
James Brown writes about Sports Authority coupon Codes, FogDog Coupon and Bikes on Sale

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Permalink 12:13:40 am by main, Categories: Wine Tours

This is another article about planning tours for the California wine country. It is a 10000 foot view of wines and vineyards in California, giving a brief description of different wines, California climate, and then going into planning your visit. This article could have spent more time talking about tips for successful tours and should have saved the other topics for another article. The information is useful, for a general unfocused article.

If you are planning a trip to California, then you might want to consider scheduling some time for a trip to visit some of the many California wineries. With the gorgeous weather and lush scenery this can be a wonderful way to experience some of the finer US wines.

California wine is well known all over the planet and with over 200 days of sunshine each year this state boasts an ideal climate for growing wine of all kinds. In California, you will find 6 predominate varieties of wine. The Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine with a melony or herbal taste and is a good pairing with seafood. The Chardonnay can have a buttery taste and goes well with chicken as well as seafood. Of the red wines, you will find Pinot Noir which has a fruity taste, the Zinfandel which can be fruity, herbal or spicy, the Merlot which can have a fruity and floral flavor and the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Along with the varieties above, you can find many other types of wine to peak your taste buds and California winery tours offer not only an inside look as to how the wines are made but also wine tasting as well as yearly festivals and events based around processing and harvesting. If you time your visit to California right, you can make the most of your winery tours.

If you are thinking about adding some California wine tours to your schedule, here are some things to consider:

1. Plan your visit. As with anything else, planning ahead will help to insure a successful tour. The first thing you should do is decide which areas of California wine country you want to visit. Most places are near each other, so you can map out a visit where you can see a couple of wineries in one day. You can start by looking at websites which give information on wineries including tours and special events. Also, try the winery organizations and trade bureaus.

2. Make sure you make reservations. You may find that the wineries require an appointment if you want to try some wine tasting so it is a good idea to call ahead of time. Also, if you are traveling to California, be sure that you have your travel and hotel plans already booked before you start to look into winery tours. When scheduling tours, it is best to limit yourself to no more than 3 vineyards per day. You want to allow yourself enough time to see everything and traveling between wineries can take some time as well. If there are special events, you want to be sure to allow enough time for those too.

3. Know what you want to see. It will be in your best interest to know exactly where you want to go and what you want to see before you start on your trip. That way you won't waste time arguing over which direction to go in. If you can get a driver that knows the area, all the better.

Some wineries in California are small while others are quite large. In some you may see the farmers picking grapes by hand while others use machines for harvesting. Either way, you are sure to have a fun filled day with your family and maybe even learn a little about the California wine business to boot!

Lee Dobbins writes for http://www.online-gourmet-foods.com where you can learn more about gourmet food and drinks such as red wine.

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Permalink 08:32:01 am by main, Categories: Wineries, Wine Tours

Link: http://officialwinery.com/winery/Wine_Tour_Companies/3-0.html

This article is about wine tours and visiting wineries and vineyards in the northern california region outside of San Francisco. It gives some basic information on what kinds of wine tours you can take, what is available and what you should do when tasting wine at a winery. It is an OK article that gives an overview of what you can do. While you certainly can't make plans from the information in this article, you will know what you should begin searching for.

For all wine lovers, a trip to San Francisco should also consist of a day trip to some of the fine vineyards that are in driving distance of the city. Many of these vineyards have charter packages available that will pick you up and bring you on a tour through the vineyard and allow you to sample their wines and then take you back, no worrying about drinking too much and then driving.

The wines that are available in the Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley of California have been known to change the minds people who claim that they don't have a taste for wine. The vast majority of the wines here are fine quality and are specially selected to show the level of quality that these vineyards have to offer. Whether you are an experienced wine taster or not doesn't matter, you will receive an excellent education about how the wine is made as well as be informed of all the different varieties available in the area.

If you aren't the tourist type and don't want to take one of the chartered bus tours you can also check into the smaller and more intimate option of an SUV tour. Granted, a tour like this will be much more expensive than the bus tours, but if you have the money to spend they are well worth the price just for the level of personal attention that you receive and the piece of mind that someone else is driving instead of you. You will also be able to take in some of the smaller independent wineries that don't make themselves available to the larger bus tours. If you think you may want to try this type of tour, plan ahead at least a week because they do not have the flexibility of filling empty seats that they larger charters have.

When you are going to a vineyard or winery for a tasting experience there are some things you will want to keep in mind to make the visit as enjoyable as possible. One of the things that many people don't think about is wearing fragrances. Don't wear any perfumes or other scents as these will interfere with the taste and fragrance of the wine. Also, to avoid warming the wine you want to hold the wine by the stem. To cleanse the palate you should have some crackers or plain bread that you can eat between tastings.

A visit to the California Wine Country will give you a great education about all of the varieties of wines and the regions they come from as well as the differences between them all which will be fascinating even if you have never had a glass of wine in your life.

Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about wine and Wine Gift Baskets at http://www.oldworldvineyard.com

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Permalink 04:55:44 pm by main, Categories: Wine Tours

Link: http://officialwinery.com/calendar

Want to spend an afternoon in Virginia's wine country and select wines from three of the most unique Virginia wine regions during that single afternoon trip? Here is one tour that will give you variety in wine, scenery and vista's.

Want to spend an afternoon in Virginia's wine country and select wines from three of the most unique Virginia wine regions during that single afternoon trip? Here is one tour that will give you variety in wine, scenery and vista's.

Taste Virginia's most prestigious wine. Learn about Virginia wine with experts all in a single afternoon in Virginia's wine country golden triangle. Enter the world of Virginia wine as an insider. Travel the northern Virginia wine tour to the best Virginia wine businesses via the Virginia Wine Golden Triangle tour route. You can get an exclusive insider's view that other tours cannot offer

Gain privileged access to the best Virginia Vineyards. From the prestigious classified growths to exclusive boutique producers, you will receive a warm welcome and a personalized tour and tasting. Each site visit is unique and fascinating, as you meet the passionate men and women who make some of the greatest Virginia wines.

THE Virginia Golden Triangle Wine Tour- quality wines from here just disappear; it would be easy to pass over this wine region, suspecting that itÕs just a bit of plank fun. And that would be a grave mistake as this is a cracker jack Virginia golden triangle region for some of the best Virginia wineries. Lip smacking, rich and intensely full flavored, itÕs a fruit driven wine style supported by subtle American and French oak. Excellent food friendly wines that are already drinking well and a list of International award winning wines.

This tour covers the Shenandoah (SWX) and Loudoun Valley as well as Blue Ridge Wineway wine regions. This is the one tour that focuses on high-end boutique wineries. This tour is known for being insightful, and memorable. Here is the ONE tour route that brings you all three regions in one afternoon tour - The Virginia Golden Triangle Wine Tour.

We are more than a wine tour route location, we are wine geeks, boasts Jim Bogaty, Founder, Veramar Vineyard. Both first time visitors and regular wine country patrons have delighted in this tour. Some have even gone so far as to say, This tour far exceeded my expectations. It was like having a private wine class in wine country. Not only was the wine we tasted beyond words, the scenery on this trip was so extraordinary that it rivaled our experiences in Tuscany.

This wine tour will create for you a unique and lasting experience. The Virginia Golden Triangle Wine Tour is closer then you think. Begin at noon at Veramar Vineyard with a box lunch.


Stop 1- Veramar Vineyard

Veramar Vineyard is situated on a private, 100-acre estate in the heart of Virginia Hunt County at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Shenandoah River. A small, family-run winery dedicated to producing naturally dry, full-bodied wines. Around Veramar Vineyard are a great number of bed-and breakfasts, championship golf courses and antique shops as well as some of the finest restaurants in Virginia. So, if you are in the mood for romance, or to enjoy fine wines, or simply want a picnic outing in the country, hike the Blue Ridge Mountain trails, come and be our guest as you experience Veramar Vineyard. Wines: Light fare, i.e. cheese & crackers (Catering available for groups of 50 guests or more). 540-955-5510 www.veramar.com

Stop 2- Breaux Vineyards

You're invited to come and enjoy the internationally acclaimed wines of Breaux Vineyards. Our Napa meets Mediterranean style tasting room offers views of the beautiful Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains.

Stop 3 -Piedmont Vineyards

Virginia's first commercial vinifera vineyard, located on the pre-revolutionary farm of Waverly in the heart of Virginia's Hunt Country. Picnic area, private parties, wedding and reception facilities. Wines: Hunt Country Chardonnay,

So come, visit wineries in the Virginia Wine County (VWX) and sample our wines, each a taste of seasons past: The snows of winter, April showers, summer sunshine and crisp fall nights. It's all there in the bottle, waiting for...YOU.

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Permalink 12:18:49 am by main, Categories: Wine Tours

Link: http://officialwinery.com/calendar

Experience Virginia's spectacular fall foliage, crisp autumn air, a perfect bouquet of Virginia wine in your glass . . . and a hardy Cheers! from Virginia wines! October is Virginia wine month, and many growers across the Old Dominion are optimistic about this year's crop. A dry fall is 'GREAT GRAPE WEATHER'.

'Celebrate the harvest of the grape during VirginiaÕs Wine Month

Experience Virginia's spectacular fall foliage, crisp autumn air, a perfect bouquet of Virginia wine in your glass . . . and a hardy Cheers! from Virginia wines!
October is Virginia wine month, and many growers across the Old Dominion are optimistic about this year's crop. A dry fall is 'GREAT GRAPE WEATHER'.

The month-long celebration supports 'Vision 2015,' the Commonwealth's first industry strategy developed by the 9-member Virginia Wine Board under the leadership of Gov. Mark Warner to strengthen and expand Virginia's wine industry.

The Virginia's wine industry is believed to be the major growth highway to riches for state tourism. It has been called 'Grapes of Gold' for Virginia. Virginia's burgeoning wine industry is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in the state. Today more than 92 wineries ∆ up from six in 1979 ∆ are in production, and most of them will be open to the public for tours and tastings during 'Virginia wine month.' The industry contributes millions to the state's economy and continues to expand in both quantity and quality, garnering national and international awards for excellence. More than 500,000 people visit Virginia wine country annually. In addition, Virginia's wines continue to garner national and international awards, including a 'Best of Show' in International competitions. Further, Clarke County's own Veramar Vineyard has won gold medals in both National and International wine competitions.

Begin you Virginia wine month on the Shenandoah Wine Country (SWX) Trail. In the north it begins at Veramar Vineyard, and then meanders to Deer Meadows, North Mountain and Shenandoah Vineyards most within a half hour of each other along interstate 81. En route, you'll pass by thoroughbred horse farms, dairies, orchards, woodlands, Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains and along the Shenandoah River that will transport you to an earlier, simpler time. In addition, there is Civil War Battlefields, Berryville, Winchester, Cedar Creek, Cool Springs, New Market, as well as the fabled Shenandoah Caverns.

Stop 1- Veramar Vineyard

Veramar Vineyard is situated on a private, 100-acre estate in the heart of Virginia Hunt County at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Shenandoah River. A small, family-run winery dedicated to producing naturally dry, full-bodied wines. Around Veramar Vineyard are a great number of bed-and breakfasts, championship golf courses and antique shops as well as some of the finest restaurants in Virginia. So, if you are in the mood for romance, or to enjoy fine wines, or simply want a picnic outing in the country, hike the Blue Ridge Mountain trails, come and be our guest as you experience Veramar Vineyard. Wines: Cabernet Franc, Rooster Red, Norton, Chardonnay, Tres Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Aurora Corona & DÕOra. 540-955-5510 www.veramar.com

Stop 2 Deer Meadow
Deer Meadow, one of the smallest of Virginia's farm wineries, Deer Meadow has been handcrafting quality wines since 1987. Our wines include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechal Foch (join the fan club!) and Afternoon of the Fawn.

Stop 3 North Mountain Vineyard
North Mountain, just a few miles away. The 1864 Civil War action at Toms Brook swept across the winery's fields, and every April a living history encampment is set up to reenact the battle. The winery released its first vintage in 1986. Owners Brad Foster, Krista Jackson-Foster, and son John Jackson produce a Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, Claret, Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as several specialty wines.

Stop 4 Shenandoah Vineyards
Shenandoah Vineyards the stateÕs fourth oldest winery located between Winchester and Harrisonburg but closer to Edinburg and Woodstock. In 1976, owner Emma Randel and her late husband, Jim, planted 5,000 vines on property that had been in her mother's family since the mid-1800s. Current winemaker Frederick Burroughs, who has been with Shenandoah for eight years, produces wines in the handcrafted Old-World style with a nod to the new.

Cheers From Veramar Vineyard

James C. Bogaty is Founder, Owner/Operator of Veramar Vineyard, President of the Shenandoah Valley Wine Grower Association, and Member of the Board of Directors for the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association for Clarke County, Advisor to the Virginia Wine and Food Society and is a published writer and event speaker on Wine, Food, Travel and Agritourism with a Virginia focus. www.veramar.com

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Permalink 12:46:01 pm by main, Categories: Wine Tours

Link: http://officialwinery.com/articles/winetourssection.html

Read this article for a single person's account of their experience touring the wine country of France.

Read Jetsetters Magazine at www.jetsettersmagazine.com

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Reflected sunlight from the water outside dances on the chestnut ceiling of my cabin the first morning I awaken aboard the luxury barge La Belle Epoque. I get up to look out the open porthole window and am greeted with a friendly squawk. A large white swan approaches expectantly, followed by several mallard ducks. We are eye level with each other. Having no bread to offer, I quickly close the window.

After a shower in the tiled bathroom and rub-down with a thick nautical blue towel, I head upstairs. On an antique oak sideboard in the main salon hostesses Fanny and Barbara have laid out a breakfast of granolas, yogurt, and fresh fruit. While I was still gazing at the ceiling of my cabin, Captain Lee had been in the village of Auxerre buying fresh baguettes, croissants and pain chocolate.

La Belle Epoque is one of several luxury canal barges operated in France by European Waterways. Once a working canal barge, it has been redesigned with both elegance and passenger comfort in mind. The salon is hunter green, rose and mahogany, with comfortable banquettes and vases of fresh flowers. There are a sun-deck, Jacuzzi spa, sauna, fitness studio, and bicycles for guests to ride along the canal paths.

It`s a fine fall day in France, still summer in the afternoons, with nights that offer a crisp reminder of winter to come. This state-of-the-art hotel barge carries just twelve passengers, with six crew members to take care of every possible passenger need.

Nick, our guide, had picked us up in Paris the previous day in front of the Hotel Ampre. A two-hour journey by minivan through rolling French countryside had brought us to the medieval town of Auxerre, where La Belle ƒpoque and her crew awaited. We enjoyed a champagne welcome accompanied by freshly-baked popovers. After meeting the crew and getting settled into our cabins, we explored the cobblestone streets and fashionable shops of Auxerre.

At the junction of the Canal du Nivernais and the River Yonne, Auxerre was a pivotal town on the ancient north-south road through France. It was a big market town for lumber and wine as well as an important spiritual center. Surrounded by timber-framed buildings are a 15th century tower with a large decorative 17th century clock.

Our first dinner aboard La Belle ƒpoque introduced the talents of chef Guy. 'Scallops Mating with Snails', followed by a charolet filet with red pepper pur≥e and potatoes gratine au dauphin. Dessert was shortbread with raspberry coulis. A white St. Veran and a red Aloce Coton (wines of the Burgundy area) accompanied the meal, and we discovered there is no limit to the number of bottles we may consume.

Monday morning, about 'tenish', La Belle Epoque glides gently away from the Auxerre waterfront. Before the week is ended, we will travel through 31 locks to the town of Clamecy. Barge speed is limited to 3 mph on the canals and 10 mph on the rivers.

Soon we reach our first ≥cluse or lock. La Belle Epoque slides into a chamber to rest while a set of gates at each end closes so that the water level can be raised or lowered. Potted flowers and a picturesque stone house indicate where the ≥clusier (lock keeper) lives. At Captain Lee`s call he comes out to manage the gates. Timing is important, however. If we arrive while the ≥clusier is at lunch we will just have to wait. The French take their dejeuner very seriously.

In France there are over 2,700 miles of inland waterways including a 750-mile network of connecting canals. Many locks are hundreds of years old. Most canals were built in the 19th century, but some are two centuries older. Because canal barges were originally horse drawn, poplar trees were planted along the way to protect the horses from the sun.

The Canal du Nivernais passes through western Burgundy, crossing the Yonne Valley and sometimes merging with the Yonne River itself. It was originally built to transport wood from the Morvan forests to meet the firewood demands of Paris. This wood trade was the main source of income for this area until the 1920s. The canal saw the last of its merchant traffic in the 1970s.

As we glide by a rolling patchwork of green hills and picturesque vineyards, lunch is served: quails in cr≤me fra”che sauce, tuna pasta salad, caprisi salad, fruits, a white Savignon St-Bris and a red Chitry. There are two kinds of cheese with exotic names Delice de Bourgogne and St. Mair de Tourraine.

After lunch there is another lock, and while the barge rests we pile into European Waterways` minivan. Nick takes us to St-Bris le Vineux, a little wine village above a network of medieval passages. At the stone farmhouse (complete with satellite TV dish) of Monsieur Bersan, we descend into an ancient cave for a wine-tasting. The cool air is strongly scented with damp, wet wood and thriving mold. Everywhere there is a flat surface, wine bottles lay in horizontal slumber.

'This is the only place in Burgundy

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Carolyn Proctor, Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent - Read Jetsetters Magazine at www.jetsettersmagazine.com To book travel visit Jetstreams.com at www.jetstreams.com and for Beach Resorts visit Beach Booker at www.beachbooker.com

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Almost all of the major wine regions usually sponsor a wine tour, or have one of their own with their own winery. To get a better experience of the wines in a particular area, it is usually a good idea to take the wine tours that go to several wineries. They can be as simple as a bike tour to an expensive yacht trip.



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