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The Grapevine

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Posts Tagged ‘Food & Wine’

Spain’s High-Speed Rail

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Travel Spain’s high-speed rail system

High Speed Train in SpainThe completion of Spain’s high-speed rail system is great news for travelers looking to sample the great foods and wines available throughout the regions. The opening of this new high-speed rail line connects Continental Europe to Costa Brava, which is home to Spain’s top-ranked golf courses. The last part of the rail link, Barcelona-Figueres decreases the time it takes to travel between many key cities. Spain’s new 500-mile high-speed rail means the system has a total of approximately 1,864 miles. With the completion of this new section between Barcelona and the French border, Spain’s rail line is second only to China’s in size.

If you are planning a trip to Spain or France to enjoy the great cuisine or fine wines, it just became a lot easier to get around. The northbound trains will provide connections to France’s TGV line to Paris, allowing passengers to reach “The City of Lights” in five and one-half hours. The new link will also complement the region’s two airports, Girona-Costa Brava and Barcelona International. The southbound section of the new high-speed rail system will connect eight of the nine routes with Barcelona-Zaragoza-Madrid service.

In related news, Eurostar, the high-speed passenger service that links London and Continental Europe, has launched a new direct service from London to the three southern France cities of Lyon, Avingon, and Aix-en-Provence. A trial service period is being offered through June. This non-stop service is a treat for anyone looking to explore the wineries and towns of the Rhone Valley, in southern France.



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United States Wine Festivals in 2013

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United States Wine Festivals in 2013

California Family Winemakers

Having a Great Time at the Family Winemakers of California Festival in San Diego

Okay you wine aficionados, get out your smart phones and add one or more of these United States Wine Festivals to your calendar.  This wine festival listing is not exhaustive but it is a really good start.  Besides sampling great wines from lesser-known wineries, at many of these wine festivals, you’ll also be able to nibble on small bites or indulge in gourmet food.  We have listed events that will be held during the Spring, Summer and Fall. Check back every so often because we will update our Wine Festivals List as we learn of more events.  And if you are an event planner and want your Wine Festival listed here, email us.

Wine travel is a great way to enjoy wines from regions not close to home while enjoying this great country we call home.

Many wineries are heading into harvest season, a particular exciting and stressful time for a winemaker.  If you are lucky enough to have wineries in your local area, go to their sites to see if they have scheduled any harvest festivities.  These are a great way to spend a day or weekend.

Many of the wine festivals we have listed can be combined with a business trip so let us help you plan just the right one.  Do you need some assistance with lodging? Give us a call because we have excellent pricing on hotels and resorts all around the US.


California Wine Festivals

California Wine Month

Sept 1st – 30th

There will be numerous festivals, dinners and other wine-related events at wineries throughout the state.  Check with your favorite winery for specific activities.  We will also provide updates as the date draws near.



Hawaii Food & Wine Festival

Sept. 1, 2013Aloha from Hawaii

Malama Maui is a premier epicurean event. World-class chefs use farm-fresh Maui ingredients to create delicious flavors.



Music City Eats – Nashville

Sept. 21st – 22nd

Celebrity chefs, celebrities and chefs get together for this fun-filled weekend of food, wine and spirits festival.  Participating chefs and personalities include Michael Mymon, Jonathan Waxman, John Besh, Trisha Yearwood, Tim Love and Vinny Dotolo, plus many others.



Savor the Central Coast

Sept. 26th – 29th

Sample more than 200 wines and savor culinary treat from over 30 chefs. Celebrity chef Michael Voltaggio will be present.  There brewmasters and artisans also share their craft.



4th Annual Food & Wine All-star Weekend – Las Vegas Lamb Chop with Red Wine

Oct. 4th -6th

The beautiful properties Aria, Bellagio and MGM Grand partner with Food and Wine Magazine for a fun-filled epicurean weekend. Sommeliers, celebrity chefs and mixologists share techniques in demonstrations.



Hawaiian Aloha Calendar 2013Lahaina Plantation Days

Oct. 18th – 19th

This is one of the best events since the Halloween Street Party in Lahaina,  Enjoy the block party in downtown Lahaina with a host of foods and island music.




Temecula Valley Harvest Celebration

Nov. 2-3

Harvest time in CaliforniaThis popular 2-day event features over 30 wineries.  There will be food and barrel tastings. which is always a special treat to sample unfinished wines directly.






Barbados Food, Wine & Rum Festival Rum Festival Cocktails

Nov. 22nd – 25th

In its fourth year, this event celebrates the island’s prize rums, including many aged.  Epicureans and oenophiles will not be left out of this festive island party.  It’s a great time to vacation in Barbados.  Hurricane season is a distant memory and the crowds are thinner with the high season still weeks away.



Oregon Wine Festivals

Sept. 1st – Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon

The 3rd Annual Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon will feature a course that will take runners through the beautiful Willamette Valley.  Runners will receive a custom designed technical running shrit, a finisher’s medal and a Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir wine glass with the event logo. Non-runners can enjoy world-class Oregon wines and sample gourmet foods while cheering on friends and family.  Afterwards, everyone can meet up at one of the 200 wineries that make up the Willamette Valley Wine region.


Virginia Wine Festivals

Sept 7-8 – Great Grapes Wine Arts & Food Festival, Reston

Over 200 wines from 20 Virginia wineries, along with hands-on demos with wine and food pairings.



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Open That Bottle Night

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Open That Bottle Night

Last night we had an Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) and it was very successful.  Just a reminder for those who aren’t familiar.  OTBN was started by John Bretcher and Dottie Gaiter, wine writers for the Wall Street Journal.  The premise is to open that bottle of wine that you’ve been saving for just the perfect occasion, but that event never arrives and more times than not, you end up saving that bottle only to have it end of being past its prime when finally opened.  I’m happy to report, all of the bottles were lovely and more importantly, none were past their prime. Read More >

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European Culinary & Wine Immersion Cruise

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Bordeaux Wines & Basque Country Gastronomy Cruise

Drinking wine on the Celebrity Constilation

Drinking wine on the Celebrity Constilation

Enjoy a luxurious, round-trip cruise from Southampton, England with ports of call in Spain and France.  On this 12-day wine and food cruise, you will explore the great European vineyards of world-class Bordeaux and sample the unique culinary foods of the Basque region.

This magnificent food and wine vacation will include several special food, wine and cocktail activities including:

  • Cooking Demonstration with a cookbook signing
  • Hands-on cooking class
  • Dinner with Master Sommelier & Michelin Chef
  • Sake Demonstration
  • Wine tastings and food pairings with a Master Sommelier
  • Michelin-star chef dinner
  • Cocktails-at-Home Class with Mixologist

Also, at this great introductory price of $899*, you get inclusive and complimentary services such as:

  • Specialty restaurants, Fine wines, Champagne, Premium spirits, Non-alcoholic beverages, Pre-paid Gratuities for staff including housekeeping, bar service and dining room

Book with us and receive the Fine Living Enthusiast Special Treatment:

  • Private cocktail reception
  • Exclusive shore excursion including tapas bar and museum tour
  • Concierge Host
  • And of course, a bottle of wine

Francophiles – Live the dream!

Select your departure dates from one of the following:

  • Oct. 13, 2012
  • Oct. 25, 2012
  • Nov. 6, 2012
  • Nov. 18, 2102

* Cabins start at $899 but are filing up quickly so call today for availability. Suites are available from just $1,999.

We book air and have access to travel agent specials.  Give us a call for an opportunity at discounted airfare to London.  Also, ask us about pre- and post-cruise land vacations.

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Food & Wine Vacation in South Africa

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Culinary Vacation for the Food &Wine Enthusiast

from $6,125 with many extras included

This incredible package includes 2 nights at the luxurious One & Only Hotel with its 5,000 bottle, tri-level wine loft and Michelin-starred chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa, 1 night at the Grande Roche with its award-winning cuisine, 2 nights at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and 2 nights at Lion Sands Private Game Lodge plus more…


  • Round trip coach air on South African Airways from New York (JFK) or Washington (IAD) Airport to South Africa OR Tambo International Airport
  • Domestic coach air in South Africa as per the itinerary (Johannesburg – Cape Town – Nelspruit – Johannesburg)
  • Accommodation as per the itinerary
  • Most meals (7 x breakfast, 6 x lunch, 7 x dinner)
  • Ground Transfers
  • All park fees and safari activities
  • Cape Peninsula Tour
  • Winelands Tour

Satisfy your food, wine and adventure passions with this amazing South African vacation extravaganza. For dates and a detailed itinerary, give us a call or send us an email with your contact information.  We’ll be happy to discuss this extraordinary gourmet lovers’ vacation with you.

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Cape Town Whales and Wine

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Starting from $2,399 including taxes, fuel surcharges and Sept. 11th fee*

There is NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT CHARGE on this amazing vacation!

Begin your African adventure in Cape Town, the Mother City.  From your base at The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, you may venture out to the Constantia region, home of the first vineyards in South Africa.  There will be plenty of leisure time for you to explore the history and culture of Cape Town from her natural attributes to her historical sites.    In the evenings, you may enjoy the award-winning culinary offerings from the onsite, South Africa Restaurant of the Year, The Greenhouse, or stroll along the world-renown Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, for additional dining options or shopping.

Whale in HermanusMarvel at the magnificent whales from your room at The Marine, the 5-star Relais & Chateaux Hotel set high atop the cliffs.  Spectacular views are yours from one of the best land-based observation posts in the world.  

This vacation of natural wonders includes:

  • International flights: New York or Washington, DC to Johannesburg
  • Domestic flights: Johannesburg/Cape Town/Johannesburg
  • Accommodations as specified
  • Traditional Dinner – Cape Malay Experience a unique and authentic cuisine of the Western Cape, dating bak to the 17th century (excluding beverages)
  • Wine CellarPicnic lunch at a local wine farm within the Hermanus area 
  • A bottle of South African wine
  • Singles pay same individual price as doubles/couples – no single supplement

* Pricing for the following dates:

May and Sept 2012

Additional travel dates:

  • April and Aug. 11-31, 2012 (from $2,699)
  • June, July and Aug 1-10, 2012 (from $2,999)


  • Costs of obtaining a passport, gratuities, travel insurance, items of a personal nature and other services not mentioned

Restrictions apply.

Call or email us for details on this amazing vacation.

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Culinary Safari in South Africa 2012

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from $6,024 including international air

South African Cuisine & Cooking on a Culinary Safari
Gourmet Buffet on SafariVisit one of the Top 10 Bucket List Vacation options, South Africa.  Plus, learn to cook indigenous and traditional South African dishes. You’ll have the unique experience of cooking with game. Afterwards, sample the interesting results in a gourmet game lunch.  Experience the unique terroir of South African wines on a picnic lunch.

In the village of Franschhoek located in the heart of the Cape Winelands participate in a cooking demonstration to learn about and cook with, uniquely South African ingredients.  Then take a guided walk through the surrounding countryside accompanied by an interesting, unforgettable talk about indigenous fynbos – ‘fine bush’, which is vegetation unique to the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Culture & Nightlife
In your free time, explore the culture and history of Cape Town and her natural beauty. See the Mother City’s Table Mountain, one of the 7 Wonders of Nature, along with lush valleys and sunset views of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Spend your afternoons relaxing by the breathtaking pools and end your day dining at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront or the award-winning restaurant at your hotel resort.

Safari and Fine Dining
Lion Sands Open Air Safari VehicleAt the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park enjoy early morning safari drives and evening game drives in open Land Rovers in search of the Big Five safari animals.  After freshening up after your morning game drive, you’ll join the Chef  to prepare Potjiekos a stew prepared outdoors using Dutch and Malay spices over an open fire, in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot.

Twelve Aposteles TerraceYour stay includes lavish 5-star accommodations at:

  • The luxurious Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa lies where earth, sea and sky meet poised above Atlantic waves and flanked by the majestic Table Mountain and her Twelve Apostles mountain range in glorious Cape Town. You’ll escape in the hotel’s two breathtaking pool gardens, which are magically perched above the ocean, and indulge in the Azure Restaurant with its exquisite cuisine while marveling at the  endlessly seductive ocean views.
  • Le Quartier Francais offers a  secluded country bed and breakfast retreat situated in the  heart of the Cape Winelands. Enjoy the elegantly decorated en-suite bedrooms with a rose-filled central courtyard and swimming pool, but yet you are only steps away from the picturesque, historic village of Franschhoek.
  • View on the deck at Lion Sands LoungeLions Sands River Lodge is situated in the southern portion of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, adjacent to the Kruger National Park.  The lodge comprises of a private lounge, bar, two swimming pools and a river island viewing deck.   Your air-conditioned thatched bedroom has an en-suite bathroom, romantic outdoor and inside showers and wooden viewing deck, are decorated in a contemporary African-style.

This magnificent vacation escape includes:

  • International airfare from NY or Washington to Cape Town via Johannesburg
  • Domestic flights per itinerary
  • Accommodations as specified
  • Meals as specified– (10) Breakfasts, (5) Lunches, (3) Dinners
  • Game drives as specified
  • Entrance fees as specified
  • English-speaking guides for sight seeing per itinerary
  • Cooking demonstrations of traditional cuisine
  • Souvenir apron and chef’s hat
  • Gourmet wine dinner in the heart of Franschhoek wine country

Call us 619-944-5202 or send an email from Contact Us for more information on this fabulous culinary and safari vacation deal!

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Location is key ingredient to Mardi Gras, just like in wine

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Mardi Gras is a holiday founded on ritual, tradition, and prestige, and of course, delicious delicacies served on Fat Tuesday. So why shouldn’t one hold their celebratory beverages to the same standards? And to receive an unparalleled Mardi Gras celebration, one heads to New Orleans.

Location matters when you celebrate a traditional Mardi Gras just as much when one considers the perfect Port or Champagne.  These are wines that embody the traditions of the lands where they originated, yet they are frequently imitated by manufacturers that use grapes that are not from these regions. Read More >

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Burgundy & Provence On a Wine River Cruise

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A Food & Wine Travel Extravaganza

Côte d’Azur to Paris – October 30, 2011   from $3,039/pp

Eiffel TowerWhether you’re a wine connoisseur or just an everyday enthusiast, you’ll expand your horizons on this exciting Burgundy & Provence Wine River Cruise. As you leisurely float by the legendary vineyards along the Saône and Rhône Rivers, a distinguished wine authority is available to describe how various grape varieties are cultivated; and will teach you what to look for in a good wine.

wine river cruiseHere are some of the activities you can enjoy on this European wine 11-day adventure:

  • Wine tasting in a wine cellar in Beaune
  • Chardonnay excursion in Burgundy
  • On-board Beaujolais Wine Tasting
  • Food & Wine pairing dinner on-board
  • On-board Wine & Chocolate Tasting
  • World-renown Chateauneuf-du-Pape excursion
  • Visit the France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon
  • Two-night stay in Paris to explore and sight see
  • Architectural highlights of Roman, Christian and medieval influences

Join us for an adventure Bacchus himself would enjoy!  Call today to secure your spot on this extravagant wine and cuisine exploration.  This is one of the best ways to enjoy food and wine travel without blowing the budget.

Ask us about Paris/Nice or London/Paris/Nice pre- and post-cruise extensions on an independent traveler basis.

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What exactly is a themed cruise and why would I want to go on one?

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If you like to combine your personal interests with your travels, then you should take a themed cruise

tasting various winesA themed cruise is a specialty cruise where you will have the change to incorporate your favorite hobbies into your travels.  Whether you are a jazz, blues, rock or old school music fan, then there’s probably a music cruise that will allow you to enjoy these passions while on vacation.  There are cruises designed for those who are interested in fine wine, gourmet cuisine, cooking classes, chocolate tastings, beer, spirits or even culture and historical pursuits.

At Fine Living Enthusiast, we specialize in food and wine, and smooth and traditional jazz cruises. When taking a specialty cruise with us, you’ll get the chance to indulge in your passion, increase your knowledge and depending on the itinerary talk to experts on the subject matter. Read More >

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