Hautetravel

#Miami Beach Photo-cation : Haute #Travel

Happy Monday! As you start off your week, here is a little travel inspiration for you, straight from Miami Beach, Florida.

Wishing you a haute and happy week ahead!

20140407-072204.jpg

Advertisements

Napa Valley and Sonoma County Wineries to Note: Haute Travel, The Haute List

paradise among the vines in Napa

paradise among the vines in Napa

Happy Friday!  Friday calls for some wine (maybe other days of the week do too), and I love my wine.  But in case you didn’t know, for the past 4 years I have been writing about wine and wine-related fun for Examiner.com as Boston Budget Wine Examiner and NY Budget Wine Examiner. When I started doing this, it was because as my interest and experience in wine grew, so did the number of people asking me for wine input.  As a result, I have kept this haute list of my top Napa and Sonoma wineries in my gmail for years, sending it to whomever asks, and now I am sharing it with you (complete with my obscure starring system). Enjoy!
wine hills in Napa

wine hills in Napa

Sonoma Wineries I love: (stars mean I really, really love them)
I need to explore Sonoma more, but this is an initial list to get you started!
  • *Cline – (this is a regular at any wine shop, but worth buying and visiting if you have a chance.  I love the smooth, fruity and easy drinking nature of all Cline wines.
  • Jacuzzi  – yep you read right – Jacuzzi is named for the family who invented the Jacuzzi, and this winery is right across the way from Cline.  They had some nice smooth reds which we really enjoyed, and a name I will never forget!
  • Longshadow Ranch – This is a get, relaxed winery which lends well to bringing your picnic to enjoy with a great bottle.  We grabbed an Outlaw Red for our lunchtime stop, and enjoyed some great country music while we ate and drank!

dc napa

Napa Wineries I love: (again, stars mean I really, really love them)

  • *Domain Chandon (especially nice on a nice day) – Sparkling Wine, enough said.  But great varieties and an amazing setting.  Etoile, the on-site restaurant, is not bad either if you like 4 stars and fancy.  I love most of the wines from Chandon, but especially the Blancs de Noirs, and the Sparkling Red (actually, obsessed with the Sparkling Red).
  • *Joseph Phelps (serene setting and you can picnic there, though you need a reservation) – When I did a tour of 15 wineries in 5 days, Joseph Phelps had all positive notes in my tasting book.  Their Insignia is divine, and their Viognier is the first and best I have had yet. ($25 per tasting session)
  • Frank Family– great still and sparkling wine, great laid back ranch feel.
  • Swanson – very cool, intimate, and exclusive still wine and cheese tasting.  Starts at $25 and you need a reservation.
  • *V. Sattui – Expansive place with really budegt-friendly and tasty wines, inexpensive tasting fees, and a huge deli to buy food to picnic.  This is a stop for many tourists in Napa, so prepare for a bit of friendly food chaos. The wines are great table wines, and they even have some nice dessert wines.  I like the Off-Dry Riesling for a fruity, sweet treat and the Madeira for soaking berries in for dessert.
  • *Domain Carneros – Good sparkling wine, even better views…the scenery and mansion that is the Domain Carneros tasting room is one to be admired.   Enjoying a glass of wine here is a great treat for any special occasion.

domain carneros

  • Sterling – not my favorite wine, but a favorite Napa wine stop – Sterling is a household name, and has a huge estate to prove it.  They offer a gondola ride to their winery, which has really cool views.
  • Cosentino – Good intro Napa wines, Cosentino was my first Napa winery. They have a bit more earthy reds, but they suite the style of the region.
  • *Miner Family – Delicious Pinot Noir and Cabernet are what I remember best about Miner Family.  A must do, hough they sell out of the good stuff quickly, so buy your bottles early in the season.
  • *Schramsburg – another Sparkling wine favorite, you need a reservation for their awesome wine cave tour, but it is totally recommended. I like their Cremant, cause it’s a smooth celebratory wine (smooth as creme).
  • Rubicon Estates – the Copola family of movie fame owns this estate, and make some of my favorite wine shop wines, the Sofia line!  Had to stop here and say hello, and grab a quick tasting with some seriously famous people.
  • Mumm Napa – Awesome patio, decent sparkling wine.  I have other favorites, so I stick to those, but this is a great tasting environment when in Napa on a sunny day.

There is my list so far, and I hope to see it grow on my next few visits to the lovely valley.  Hope these recommendations make your next trip to Napa a haute one!

Cherokee National Forrest on a Whim: Haute Travel

A view from the top

Fur covered hills from the top of the mountain

From rolling hills, to vastly dense trees, to streams of rivers, these are the views one can relish on a trip to Cherokee National Forrest.  Now I made it here on a whim, while visiting Murphy, NC for a work engagement, but it was still a great trip to take, albeit short.

Let’s first start with, Murphy, NC; a small town on the TN/NC border, which is surrounded by mountains and forest as far as the eye cans see.  A stay in Murphy will get you some good (and relatively cheap) eats (at places like Mama Mia’s, Shoebooties Cafe, and Doyles-check out the Tiki bar here open in March), a slow pace, and some darn good nature. We started the week exploring Murphy’s Riverwalk, which is a truly lovely and peaceful trail along the Hiwassee River.  It starts and ends in different places, like the local ball field or the old train depot, both of which provide you with great access to the trail, and also give you insights into the Cherokee History of the area.   This is a must-do to kick of a great nature trip in this part of the country.

murphy riverwalk at leech place

murphy riverwalk at leech place

Old rail bridge in Murphy

Old rail bridge in Murphy

After settling in, we implored the locals on the best routes to get into the forest.  If you put this area into Google Maps, you will get a driving path around the forest, to the Bald River Falls area, about 1.5 hours from Murphy.  But what we learned from the locals was that there is a semi-paved mountain path which leads through the middle of the forest, and can only be found if 1. you know it or 2. you look for a bike trail into the area.  Given the time we had, we opted for the bike path route, and mapped our way to the Trout Hatchery at Telico.

The ride up the mountain was partially rough terrain (good thing we rented an F150 pickup), but otherwise paved or gravel roads.  As you ascend the mountain, you get to see just how vast and dense this forest is, with trees covering the area for hundreds of miles.  The trees were dense, but given that it was still winter, not lush green – though one can only imagine.  Seeing the dense forest reminded me of fur covering the hills, and was a different site than some of the rock hikes I have done.

trees on the mountain

trees on the mountain

Along the way we also caught sight of some great waterfalls as we followed the Tellico River through the path.  Though we didn’t make it, I would recommend a trip further in to the biggest falls in the area, Bald River Falls.

small waterfall on the path

small waterfall on the path

We stopped off for a bit of hiking on some of the trail area (you can camp out here, as they have set up lots of stops and facilities on the Tennessee side).  The trails here are natural, and in our case, leaf-covered, but still easy to navigate.

Cherokee Forest trails

Cherokee Forest trails

As the sun was setting, we decided to head back to town about half-way to Bald River Falls…still catching some nice sites along the way.  I would relish a trip back to this area in spring or summer…maybe with a kayak or two.

a river runs through it

a river runs through it

Seeing as Spring is approaching, I am looking forward to more outdoor fun and haute travel to come!