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NEWS
March 7, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
When I was in Solvang  a couple of weeks ago for the Garagiste Festival: Southern Exposure , afterwards I headed to Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos for dinner. The place is only open Thursday through Sunday and I'd never happened to be up there on any of those days before that weekend. I scarfed up more than my fair share of rustic flatbreads from the big wood-fired oven in the back. If I hadn't been able to get in (Full of Life which takes no reservations), I could have eaten just down the street at the year-and-a-half old Bell Street Farm , a little restaurant and market set in a turn-of-the-(20th)
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NEWS
December 21, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
These wine books are sure to fit someone on your list, from the aspiring sommelier to the merely curious . To wrap and put under the tree: a couple of serious reference works, a wine atlas that can also be purchased as an eBook, a guide to newly fashionable sherry and a couple of good reads. The most novel, though, is a Scratch & Sniff introduction to wine from a master sommelier who knows his stuff.  "The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert" by Richard Betts (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)
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TRAVEL
November 4, 2007
Oregon Wine country A visit to the wineries in Oregon's Willamette Valley will not be complete without a visit to the Hopewell B&B, a little piece of heaven on a 12-acre farm. You feel right at home in your own private cottage. Hopewell B&B, 22350 Hopewell Road, Salem, OR 97304; (503) 868-7848, www.hopewell bb.com. Doubles from $125. Les and Lola Brown San Juan Capistrano
TRAVEL
December 13, 2013 | By Michael Mello
SONOITA, Ariz. - Images of emerald grape leaves waving in the summer breeze usually don't fill the pages of Arizona tourism brochures and magazines. Still, they're becoming a more common sight as Arizona's young wine industry grows. That's right: Wine is made in Arizona. I had the same reaction when friends told me about Sonoita, a tiny crossroads about an hour southeast of Tucson, in the southeastern corner of the state brimming with young fields of Mourvèdre and Tempranillo.
NEWS
August 31, 2011 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Remote bays and elegant dining meet on this small-ship Tasmania Food & Wine cruise by Adventure Smith Explorations . The six-day trip explores Australia's island state with two November sailings. Tour the wine-producing region of Launceston, hike on remote Flinders Island, stop at scenic bays in Freycinet National Park and visit the former penal settlement of Port Arthur on this itinerary. When: Cruises leave from Tasmania, Australia, on Nov. 7 and 26. Price: $2,370 to $4,961 per person, depending on cabin choice; price is based on double occupancy.
NEWS
November 23, 2012 | By S. Irene Virbila, Restaurant Critic
If, like me, you haven't cottoned to the fact that it's the latter half of November, and that December starts in just over a week, listen up. If you're planning on a wine country trip in January, the Napa Truffle Festival   is coming up Jan. 18 to 21, the third such event. The festival celebrates Tuber melanosporum , the winter Périgord black truffle (not to be confused with the much less pungent and pricy summer truffle). Food writer and editor Colman Andrews will be speaking.
NEWS
October 15, 2012 | By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
Vermont-based Country Walkers offers a tour of Argentina that explores on foot the wine country of Mendoza as well as the lakes of Patagonia. Add on three extra days in Buenos Aires for free by booking selected spring tours. The walks on this eight-day trip are considered easy to moderate (the tour operator doesn't call it hiking) and usually last a half day. Near the start point in Mendoza, the group visits such places as Bodega Norton, a winery that dates to 1883, and the Horcones Valley at the base of Mt. Aconcagua, almost 23,000 feet above sea level.  From there, it's a short flight to northern Patagonia near the border with Chile and the country's lake district.
NEWS
October 28, 2013 | By Anne Harnagel
Cyclists searching for a more sybaritic approach to bike touring might want to check out this offering from Trek Tours. Its five-night, six-day California Wine Luxury tour will have you pedaling through the Napa and Sonoma valleys, with stops at noteworthy vineyards, fine restaurants and luxe accommodations. The average daily distance is 40 miles, but there are options for shorter and longer rides. Day one begins at San Francisco's Westin St. Francis, where your biking group will assemble and then be shuttled to the Benzinger Family Winery for a gourmet picnic lunch, tour and tasting.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 24, 2012 | By Philip Brandes
A weeklong road trip through the Santa Ynez Valley wine country drives two middle-aged buddies to unexpected tests of both their varietal and moral palates in “Sideways: The Play.” Adapted by Rex Pickett from his novel (which also spawned the 2004 hit movie), their oenophilial odyssey makes an enjoyable if at times leisurely debut in its stage incarnation at Ruskin Group Theatre. In the comic misadventures of his narrative stand-in, the perpetually unpublished author Miles (John Colella)
NEWS
August 29, 2013 | By Mary Forgione, Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
California Wine Month is September, a time when grapes are harvested and fruit gets crushed. Lodi south of Sacramento welcomes wine lovers with a $20 "passport" that's good all month and includes discounts and savings at local wineries and other attractions. The deal: The 2013 Lodi Road Trip Passport contains coupons for free wine tastings, discounts on tastings and bottles of wine, and free food pairings at 49 vineyards in the Lodi area. Restaurants and hotels offer discounts in the passport too. Also, the Holiday Inn Express Lodi is offering a package for $159 a night midweek/$164 a night on weekends that includes room, breakfast, a bottle of Lodi Zinfandel and two passports.
NEWS
December 7, 2013 | By Susan Denley
On a visit earlier this year to California's Central Coast wine country, I fell in love not just with some excellent pinots, but also with a set of lawn furniture handmade from the staves of old wine barrels. And, yes, I did buy a couple of chairs and a table for a not-particularly-reasonable price, with no regrets. The chairs are oversized and comfy with staves that extend from the sides of the seat to hold a wineglass stem wedged between. Better yet every time I sit on my suburbs-of-L.A.
FOOD
November 30, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila, Betty Hallock, Rene Lynch and Russ Parsons
Whether the cook on your holiday gift list is interested in reading about family and food in Soviet Russia or the preparation of classic French dishes such as jambon au foin ("ham in hay"), baking pies or making authentic pasta carbonara, this fall has been an excellent season for food and wine books. Los Angeles cooks and authors are heavily represented: Valerie Gordon's "Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts," Kevin West's "Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving," the long-awaited "The A.O.C.
NEWS
November 12, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
Jon Bonné's new book, “ The New California Wine: A guide to the producers and wines behind a revolution in taste ,” is a wonderful, engaging read with an actual narrative and a cast of characters who think outside the box, care about sustainability, and have a strong curiosity and work ethic.  I loved meeting vintners such as Ted Lemon ( Littorai Wines ), Steve Matthiasson ( Matthiasson Wines ), Abe Schoener ( the Scholium Project ) and Morgan Twain-Peterson ( Bedrock Wine Co. )
NEWS
November 6, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
It's that time of year. The third Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles will be held this weekend at Windfall Farms. If you've never attended one, this is the place to discover wines from Paso's artisan winemakers. To bring you up to speed, the term garagistes is French for small-lot winemakers, often working in their garages and likely not to follow the rules. Or at least, that's the way the Garagiste Festival tells it. I'll go with its synonyms: rule-breakers, pioneers, renegades, mavericks.
NEWS
November 2, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
The roving tasting event Wine Riot is coming back, for the third year - on Saturday, Nov. 9. Founded by Tyler Balliet and Morgan First of Second Glass , Wine Riot is pitched to the younger and just-getting-into-it wine consumer. Lavish use of the words “hip” and "tech savvy" abounds in coverage of previous events. If that speaks to you, then by all means sign up. There will be more than three dozen booths pouring wines from around the world. Newbies should keep an eye out for the Wine 101 booth, which will get down with the basics of tasting, so you can discern, for example, the difference between oaked and unoaked wines or dry and sweet.
NEWS
November 1, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
Temecula is just 86 miles from downtown L.A. That's about an hour and a half drive when the traffic gods are with you. And yet the fun-loving, party-happy wine region is hardly ever at the top of avid wine buffs' bucket list. But now, with the opening of Farm House Kitchen, it can boast a serious wine restaurant to sweeten the wine region's appeal.  Part of the golf resort Temecula Creek Inn , the new restaurant cost about $2.5 million to renovate. That's a serious investment and Farm House Kitchen will be doing the heavy lifting, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus everyone's favorite, weekend brunch.
TRAVEL
July 26, 2009 | Susan Denley
There is little I love more than escaping to the country. Give me sunshine, the perfume of freshly mown hay, a view of planted hills rolling peacefully into the distance, top it off with great food and wine, and throw in a massive pile of lobster I'm about to dig into. There is no better place on a spring day than this vineyard spot.
TRAVEL
October 21, 2012
I am a subscriber and an online reader. I look forward to the Travel section. Seriously, it is one of the first sections I dive into. Today's write-up about Santa Barbara is wonderful, and I got lost in it like a good book ["It's Ripening on the Vine" by Christopher Reynolds, Oct. 7]. As fall finally arrives, it will be a short trip by rail from San Diego County. I appreciate the great writing and am considering a weekend trip there. Christopher Carmichael Santee, Calif. After reading Reynolds' description of the inns in the Los Olivos area, I feel compelled to put in a word for the ForFriends Inn. My husband and I stayed there for a getaway weekend last month and found the property and rooms beautiful and the innkeepers wonderfully friendly and charming.
NEWS
October 30, 2013 | By S. Irene Virbila
Coming up this weekend, SLO Wine Country's Rockin' Harvest Celebration . SLO, of course, stands for San Luis Obispo. That's just up the coast and could be a day trip if you're up for some driving (and bring along a designated driver). Didn't know about it before? No worries, this Central Coast harvest celebration is perfect for those who do not plan ahead. The event kicks off on Friday, with a backstage look at three San Luis Obispo wineries. For $50, “Rockin' Road Trip” takes you through the winemaking protocols at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery, Talley Vineyards and Saucelito Canyon Vineyard & Winery.
NEWS
October 28, 2013 | By Anne Harnagel
Cyclists searching for a more sybaritic approach to bike touring might want to check out this offering from Trek Tours. Its five-night, six-day California Wine Luxury tour will have you pedaling through the Napa and Sonoma valleys, with stops at noteworthy vineyards, fine restaurants and luxe accommodations. The average daily distance is 40 miles, but there are options for shorter and longer rides. Day one begins at San Francisco's Westin St. Francis, where your biking group will assemble and then be shuttled to the Benzinger Family Winery for a gourmet picnic lunch, tour and tasting.
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