Article: Who Actually Makes Kirkland Wine?

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12 Great Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at the Sonoma Coast Villa, Resort and Spa

As the air turns crisper, so does the wine and nothing pairs better with the holidays than the hospitality of California wine country at Sonoma CoastSipping wine, enjoying cheeses, and sitting by the fire with good company is the ideal way to get in the holiday spirit. Sitting on 60-acres of wine country, guests of the resort can enjoy the spa, restaurant, and nearby attractions such as Sonoma Coast State Beach, Bodega Marine Library, Sonoma Wine Country and more.

The Tuscan-style property features limestone fireplaces and vaulted ceilings among acres of rolling hills just five miles east of Bodega Bay in the Russian River Valley area of Sonoma County that will make you want to cozy up just in time for the winter. Come take advantage of the rich coastal and redwood forest landscape, the authentic California farming culture, and the region’s deep-rooted wine culture this holiday season.

Unique, complimentary activities at Sonoma Coast include heading to the dunes to catch some fresh crab, taking a midday picnic by horseback through local mustard grasses to the nearby giant redwoods, enjoying a charcuterie plate assembled with local cheeses by the fire, barbecue fresh-caught oysters beachside, a custom Russian River wine tour, or even a little grape stomping. Start your day with a breakfast buffet offered daily with fresh farm to table selections and rise with the sun on Saturday mornings during yoga class to get centered, clear your mind, and find your calm before you start the day.

By the Numbers

100: There are over 100 wineries and 50 tasting rooms within a thirty minute drive on Sonoma Coast and over 475 wineries within an hour’s drive.

8: Minutes to drive from Sonoma Coast Villa & Spa to Bodega Bay.

60: Acres in the beautiful rolling hills of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.

Wine O’Clock

Gather together or on your own, watch the sun set and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine and cookies. After all, it’s that special Sonoma time called Wine O’Clock. Don a jacket or a comfy sweater and sit by the outdoor firepit nightly for s’mores, hot cocoa and popcorn while enjoying vintage and holiday classic movies under a night sky lit by stars and a silvery moon. Is there a better way to celebrate the holidays then with good times, wine, food, locale, and accomodations? We think not.

About Sonoma Coast Villa, Resort, & Spa

Five miles east of Bodega Bay, Sonoma Coast was originally a horse and gun club for the owners of the Blue Boar restaurant in San Francisco in the 1970s and then converted into a vacation retreat in 1982. Now being reimagined by Auric Road which specializes in petite resorts in honoring historic properties, indulging in our love for culture and adventure (think kayaking, hiking, biking, star-gazing, horseback riding, beachcombing, wine tours, and eating local), the 18 rooms in this Tuscan-style villa can be booked as can the one private four-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house. Other Auric Road petite resorts include Hotel Joaquin in Laguna Beach, California, Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs, California, and Rex Ranch in Amado, Arizona.

Michigan’s Oldest Winery is Now Making Sholom Kosher Wine Again

St. Julian has partnered with Rabbi Jason Miller and Kosher Michigan to resume the production of Sholom Concord wine.

First introduced in the mid-1940s, Sholom, a deliciously sweet wine made from 100% Michigan Concord grapes, has been a popular offering from the Michigan winery. It ceased production in 2020 due to the loss of the winery’s longtime friend and rabbi. In order for a wine to be deemed kosher, the wine must be made under supervision of a rabbi, include only kosher ingredients and must be processed using equipment rabbinically certified to make kosher wines. The kosher certification allows many different communities to enjoy its fresh grape flavors and aromas.

“Kosher certification is something that we take very seriously. We want to be respectful of different communities and know that we are providing a legitimate option for those looking for kosher qualification,” explains Apollo Braganini II, President at St. Julian Winery which is located in Paw Paw, in Southwest Michigan.

Rabbi Miller visited St. Julian Winery this past summer. After meeting the team and touring the location, he agreed to a partnership with the winery to assist in the production of Sholom.

“Over the past few years, many people – including a local Michigan rabbi – reached out to me about Sholom wine, telling me that they love the product but that it wasn’t available anymore. I reached out to the team at St. Julian and they also said they’ve heard from many fans of Sholom who miss it and want it back. We began discussing whether it would be possible for me to certify the wine as kosher.”

“After a visit to the winery and more in-depth discussions, it began to seem like a reality that Sholom wine would be in production again. Kosher Michigan is following the exact same kosher supervision process as the rabbis who previously certified Sholom wine for many decades, so there should be no concern that the highest kosher standards are being followed.”

“While this is the first wine that KM has certified in its fifteen years of existence, it just feels like this is the right one to start with. There’s such a rich history with Sholom, a huge following, and a local Michigan connection” explains Rabbi Miller.

Kosher Michigan is a kosher certification agency founded by Rabbi Miller. KM certifies thousands of products throughout North America and India. Rabbi Miller is from Metro Detroit, Michigan and has served on several local and national boards. He is also an alum of the Rabbis Without Borders fellowship through the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, among many other accolades.

Sholom can be found at St. Julian’s online store, their six tasting rooms, and at select retail partners.

St. Julian is Michigan’s largest and longest-operating winery and has been family-owned since its founding in 1921. In addition to the winery in downtown Paw Paw where they produce hundreds of award-winning wines, sparkling juices, spirits and hard cider, St. Julian also offers tasting rooms in Dundee, Frankenmuth, Rockford, Troy and Union Pier and distributes to thousands of retail partners throughout the Midwest.

Over 25 Reasons to Follow the Saxon Wine Trail


Hiking the Saxon Wine Trail is divided into 6 daily stages averaging 8 miles, or 5 to 6 hours of walking per day. 2022 is 30th Anniversary.

The Saxon Wine Trail, a 50 mile walk and wine tasting experience through more than 850 years of wine making, is easily divided into six stages with an average of eight miles or five to six hours of walking a day. This region of German, nicknamed the Saxon Rivera, follows parts of the Elbe River as it winds its way through countryside near such historic Saxon towns as Pirna, Meissen and Dresden, all renowned for their porcelain, art, architecture, history and castles. With temperatures averaging about 75 degrees during summer and orchards and vineyards brimming with fruit, the trail is also lovely in autumn when the leaves are ablaze of colors. For those who’d rather drive, it’s 34 miles by car.

Either way, according to Victoria Larson, USA Press Representative, State Tourist Board, visitors can sample over 60 grape varieties – including Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, but also Traminer, Scheurebe and the Goldriesling, which is only grown on the Elbe.

“You will pass beautiful villas and magnificent castles,” says Larson. “A detour into the old town of Dresden leads to the Zwinger, Semper Opera and Frauenkirche. In Radebeul, you can take time to visit the Saxon Wine Museum Hoflößnitz and the beautiful 850-year old winery in Europe at Wackerbarth Castle where you can treat yourselves to fabulous tours, meals and a great gift shop. The journey continues to Meissen: the imposing castle hill with the cathedral and Albrechtsburg Castle can be seen from afar. The WineExperienceWorld of the Saxon Winegrowers’ Cooperative Meissen offers information and insights into the history and current practices of winegrowing in the area.”

In the last 40 years, Saxony has experienced a true renaissance of wine growing with young and experimental vintners leading the way. Although Saxony is still Germany’s smallest and northernmost wine region, currently there are not only many professional growers but also about 1000 hobby winemakers. Typically grapes are grown on hillside terraces requiring that most tending and harvesting be done by hand.

The northern starting point of the Saxon Wine Route is the charming village of Diesbar-Seusslitz with its beautiful baroque castle surrounded by formal gardens.

The most prominent winery of the route is Schloss Proschwitz housed in a baroque-style castle built by one of Saxony’s oldest families who lost their home after WWII but bought it back after reunification. With dedication, labor and love, they recreated one of Saxony’s leading and largest privately owned wineries. Their wine production includes a range of wines from Pinot Gris and Pint Blanc to Müller-Thurgau and Goldriesling, a Saxony speciality. The castle and vineyard are year-round destinations for events and weddings as well as the concerts that are part of Dresden’s famous music festivals.  

Not far away, Meissen, once the seat of the Saxon electors which gives it a special prominence in this historic land, also has extensive vineyards.

“Two trademarks of this 1000-year-old city on the Elbe are the Albrechtsburg, an enormous Gothic cathedral, and the well-known Meissen porcelain manufactory, MEISSEN, a must-visit destination for anyone interested in design and craft, jewelry, art and architecture,” says Larson.

The capital city of Dresden with its magnificent skyline is notable for the dome of the Protestant Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), the smaller dome of the Catholic Palace Church (Hofkirche), the roof line of the Semper Opera and the ornate gates to the museums in the Zwinger Palace.

Just down the river, the next highlight is Castle Pillnitz, the summer palace of the Wettin kings and Saxon electors. The baroque palace is home to the Arts and Crafts Museum of the Dresden State Art Collection as well as a castle museum and has an extensive formal garden and park. The most spectacular way to get to the palace is by paddle boat from Dresden as the riverbank is lined with beautiful villas and castles built by noble families who wanted to be near the king.

A magnificent winery in Pillnitz with views over the Elbe River Valley is Weingut Klaus Zimmerling, where visitors can stay for a wine tasting and view the fields and the outstanding sculptures by Malgorzata Chodakowska.

The last stop on Saxony’s Wine Trail is the medieval town of Pirna, the gateway to Saxon Switzerland. Pirna is famed beyond the borders of Saxony due to the paintings by Venetian artist Bernardo Bellotto, the nephew of the famous Italian painter, Canaletto, who often took his uncle’s name to further his own reputation. The medieval town is much as it has always been and features winding streets, leading visitors in between town houses, charming courtyards and numerous fountains, and taking you on a journey through the past.

Every autumn, towns like Pirna and Radebeul host wine festivals where visitors get to taste the local wines and meet regional growers. Saxony and Dresden is an easy car or train ride from Berlin or Frankurt both of which have many direct flights from the U.S. and Canada.

An Excellent Harvest for Californian Vintners

According to the Wine Institute, vintners across California are expecting a high-quality vintage for 2022 following a season filled with curveballs. For many California wine regions, this was a tale of two harvests, as a Labor Day heat wave divided the season into earlier and later picks. As harvest wraps up across the state, vintners predict that 2022 will produce memorable wines of great concentration and complexity.

In the North Coast, the growing season began with ideal weather conditions through early summer, until an extended heat event beginning in late August accelerated the harvest and reduced yields for some varieties. In winegrowing regions such as Lodi and the Sierra Foothills, mild weather conditions prevailed into early spring, followed by frost that dramatically reduced crop sizes.

Harvest timing was mixed this year, with some appellations, including Napa Valley, starting up to a month earlier than average and others, such as Paso Robles, experiencing an extended harvest. In the North Coast, growers harvested some red varieties as early as mid-August. The Labor Day heat wave caused multiple varieties to reach maturity simultaneously in some regions, which kept vineyard and cellar crews busy through a compressed harvest. Despite the year’s twists and turns, consumers can expect to enjoy excellent wines from the 2022 vintage.

California produces about 80% of the nation’s wine, making it the world’s fourth-largest wine producing region. More than 80% of California wine is made in a Certified Sustainable California Winery and over half of the state’s roughly 615,000 vineyard acres are certified to one of California’s sustainability programs (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing, Fish Friendly Farming, LODI RULES, Napa Green and SIP Certified).

Photo credit: Justin Liddell, Destination Films

Winemaker and Winery Owner Comments on California’s Growing Season and Harvest 

“The early part of the growing season was near ideal, with abundant early season rains and excellent spring and summer weather,” said Renée Ary, vice president of winemaking at Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena, Napa Valley.

The Labor Day heat event brought record-high temperatures to the region, followed by mid-September rains, which challenged winemakers to practice meticulous grape selection.

“I think our 2022 wines will have a bit more concentration than the previous vintage, especially from the warmer, up-valley AVAs,” said Ary. “Our Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are some of the best ever and the Chardonnays are bright, balanced and focused. Given the range of ripeness, blending will be important for the 2022 vintage as we balance our early and later picks.”

At Silver Oak and Twomey Cellars in the Napa Valley, harvest proceeded at a fast and furious pace. Following a mild summer, the heat wave kicked harvest into high gear, contributing to overall yield reductions of 15% to 20%. Harvest continued at a leisurely rate after temperatures cooled.

“I think it’s going be a pretty intense vintage — concentrated and powerful,” said Nate Weis, vice president of winegrowing. “Quality-wise, all of the varieties did great.” He was particularly impressed by Pinot Noir from the Russian River, Anderson Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, as well as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. “The quality,” he said, “is off the charts.”

Robin Baggett, vintner and managing partner at Alpha Omega in St. Helena and Tolosa in San Luis Obispo, Central Coast, noted a wide range of harvest starting dates. “At Alpha Omega, harvest was a full four weeks earlier than last year’s in some vineyards,” he said.

Severe heat around Labor Day required vineyard teams to pick rapidly and strategically, he noted. “The fruit from our early picks is dark, complex in aroma and firm in texture, while fruit that remained on the vines during the heat event is riper with softer tannins and great flavor concentration,” said Baggett. “The overall quality in our Cabernet Sauvignon is very high with strong structure and terroir-driven characteristics. Petit Verdot and Malbec also performed extremely well.”

After a dry winter, Tolosa’s harvest saw two distinct phases: before the heat wave and after. Single-vineyard fruit came in at a steady pace until Labor Day, followed by a compressed harvest during the triple-digit heat. Lower yields — down around 30% — affected ripening speed, pushing everything to mature at once.

“Everything brought in before the heat wave is promising,” noted Baggett, “but you need to cherry pick among the lots brought in post-heat wave to isolate the best ones.”



Photo credit: Justin Liddell, Destination Films

Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, wrapped up harvest just before mid-October, which marks the winery’s earliest finish since 2004. “This is one for the record books,” said Lisa Amaroli, Benziger’s director of winemaking. “A heat wave followed by rain had a whiplash effect, pushing up sugars and then reversing them after the rain.”

The growing season was consistent and mild, resulting in healthy canopies. Signs pointed to an early harvest until Labor Day, when temperatures reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit at the winery’s Sonoma Coast property. This pushed some blocks into high sugars and quickened the harvest pace. September rain brought a sigh of relief, refreshing the vines and allowing remaining grapes to hang a bit longer.

“All white varieties we have seen from across Sonoma County came in in great shape and are very flavorful with just the right acid balance,” Amaroli said. “It was a good year for some Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards — albeit with lower yields — while Malbec and Cabernet Franc came in abundant, balanced and fruity.”

Jackson Family Winein Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, which has vineyards in several North Coast and Central Coast regions, began harvesting a couple weeks earlier than normal in many areas. Winemaster Randy Ullom summed up the vintage as “very memorable and wild.”

“In certain instances, the heat wave accelerated things and in others it actually slowed them down,” he said, noting that vines shut down during extreme heat in order to protect themselves, thus delaying the ripening process. “It depended on the appellation, the vineyard aspect and the watering capacity.”

Despite heavy rain in September, botrytis was not an issue due to the health of the vines before the rainfall occurred.

Ullom said he is happy with the overall quality of 2022 fruit. “Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley and Russian River look especially good,” he said, along with Monterey County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Sauvignon Blanc produced a larger yield than expected and continued ripening into October in Lake County due to the heavier crop. “That’s another first,” he said. “We’ll remember this for the rest of our lives.”

Vintners in the Lodi and Clarksburg regions encountered challenges this year, including a significant April frost event that dramatically reduced yields.

“We thought it all but wiped out some of our north Delta and Clarksburg Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, but it turned out that we did all right,” said Aaron Lange, vice president of vineyard operations at LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards in Acampo. The winery brought in about 25% of the normal yield for those varieties.

Variable spring weather with unseasonably warm temperatures followed by cool, windy conditions contributed to shot berries and shatter in Zinfandel and other sensitive varieties, yet yield sizes came in around average.

The Labor Day heat wave impacted both scheduling and capacity, while the frost delayed ripening in the whites. “At most major wineries,” Lange said, “there was a major capacity crunch from a cooperage and fermentation tank perspective.”

Healthy vineyards did fairly well during the heat event, he added, and followed a normal development trajectory. White varieties looked good, Lange said, since vineyard crews picked most fruit prior to the heat wave. Larger canopies helped protect the reds from heat and sunburn.

Likewise, Monterey County faced some tough conditions in 2022 due to early-season temperature fluctuations and heat spells during veraison and in early September. Though the heat wave reduced yields, particularly for Chardonnay and Merlot, the September event was well-predicted, allowing winegrowers to take preemptive irrigation measures. Harvest got off to a quick and early start, about 10 days earlier than average, with multiple varieties ripening simultaneously.

“On the bright side,” said Heidi Scheid, executive vice president at Scheid Vineyards in Soledad, “we’ve found that the smaller cluster and reduced berry sizes have resulted in a significant level of complexity and intensity. We are seeing very good quality — and in some cases truly exceptional quality — for the 2022 vintage.”

In Paso Robles in the Central Coast, harvest kicked off early, requiring vintners to utilize their collective knowledge to manage quality, tank space and periodic restarts.

“Despite the challenges,” said Stasi Seay, director of vineyards at Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, “we remain optimistic and anticipate that vintage 2022 will produce fine wines on par with some of Paso Robles’ most memorable.”

The growing season began smoothly, with minimal frost incidents and temperate weather during bloom and set, Seay said. June crop estimates were slightly below average due to the ongoing drought, and summer was typical with no extreme heat until Labor Day weekend. Extended high temperatures caused vines to shut down, slowing the last of veraison. Unseasonal rains followed, along with warm autumn weather that helped with hang time and fruit maturity.

This was an unusually long harvest in the region, starting in early August and continuing through October’s end. “We are optimistic that this vintage will stand out,” said Seay, “given our hard work both in the field and in the winery.”

Miller Family Wine Company in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County, began harvesting on Aug. 8, a week earlier than expected. The season began with excellent growing conditions that continued into summer, followed by abnormally hot weather that accelerated ripening. Though yields were below normal, fruit quality remained high.

“The vineyard has responded well despite another dry winter,” said vineyard manager Greg O’Quest. “The minimal amount of rain was not enough to supply the vines with much-needed water, so supplemental irrigation began sooner than expected.”

Following a uniform bud break during the first week of March and a mild frost season, late spring brought unusually windy and cool conditions for fruit set. Summer boasted ideal weather with only a few days breaking the 100-degree mark. Typical high temperatures occurred in July and pest pressure was minimal. “The 2022 vintage was blessed with normal summer temperatures that allowed a full canopy to develop before the heat hit in August,” O’Quest said.

Late-season reds fared best in terms of yields, he added, and Cabernet Sauvignon has been a stand-out variety thanks to its hardiness and ability to deal with high temperatures. Smaller clusters this year resulted in deep, dark color and higher quality.

View the full 2022 California Harvest Report, including regional reports from Amador County, Calaveras County, El Dorado County, Lake County, Livermore Valley, Lodi, Mendocino County, Monterey County, Napa Valley, Paso Robles, San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains and Sonoma County. 

 DOWNLOAD THE FULL 2022 CALIFORNIA HARVEST REPORT

About Wine Institute 

Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and by showcasing California’s wine regions as ideal destinations for food and wine travelers to the state. To learn more about California wines, visit DiscoverCaliforniaWines.

Recipe for Homemade Hot Chocolate with Red Wine

K.C. Cornwell

Recipe photo from Holiday Wine Cocktail ebook

This homemade hot chocolate with red wine is a cocktail that doubles as dessert!

  • 2 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup brown sugar packed
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups whole milk or almond or coconut
  • 1 750- ml bottle fruit-forward California red wine such as Merlot or Zinfandel
  • Marshmallows or whipped cream for serving

Slow Cooker Method:

Whisk the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and milk together in a slow cooker set on high. Cover and allow to come to temperature (10-15 minutes), then whisk again and add wine. Cook on high for one hour, stopping to whisk every 20 minutes.

Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy.

Stovetop Method:

Whisk the chocolate chips, brown sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt together in a large saucepan or stockpot. Add milk and bring to a low simmer over medium-low heat, whisking often. Once hot chocolate is blended and smooth (about 8-10 minutes), reduce to low heat and add wine. Cook for 5 minutes more. Ladle hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream or marshmallows and enjoy.

Sheet-Pan Chicken with Chickpeas, Carrots and Lemon

Spice rub: 

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs, about 2 pounds (900 g) 
  • 1 can (15 oz/425 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • ½ pound (225 g) carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal 
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced from stem to root 
  • 1 small lemon, halved lengthwise (quartered lengthwise if large), then sliced 
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/3 cup (10 g) coarsely chopped cilantro, plus a few whole leaves for garnish

Serves 4

In a small bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients. Sprinkle all over the chicken and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a 9 x 12-inch (23 x 30 cm) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, combine the chickpeas, carrots, red onion, lemon, garlic, cumin, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to mix, then arrange in the baking sheet in an even layer. Arrange the chicken thighs on top, not touching, and drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil on top of each one. 

Bake on a center rack for 40 minutes. With tongs, set the chicken aside on a plate. Add the chopped cilantro to the vegetables and stir to mix and moisten everything with the chicken juices. Remake the bed of vegetables and replace the chicken on top. Bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes to allow the chicken juices to settle. Tilt the sheet pan and spoon some of the juices over the chicken. 

Transfer to a serving platter or to individual dinner plates and garnish with cilantro leaves.  

Photos courtesy of the Wine Institute.

Trendy Bloomington Indiana is the ultimate fall destination

Bloomington, Indiana is bursting with autumn adventures, fall flavors, and some of the best ways to enjoy fall foliage. Here’s how to enjoy autumn adventure by water, land, and even air.

Though it might be hard to convince some people of this, Bloomington in the fall when the leaves turn jewel shades of garnet, tangerine quartz, and tourmaline (or red, orange, and yellow) is more than  college football. Here in this college town where Indiana University’s campus melds into the historic downtown, there are seasonal festivals and flavors, cool, crisp weather, wineries, distilleries, and breweries as well as an amazing selection of ethnic restaurants including not one but two Tibetan eateries. In all, Bloomington, Indiana is a one stop shop for all the fall feels.

Here’s how:

On the water: Monroe County boasts three lakes, and each takes on a magical, majestic air and outdoor adventures during autumn. The rolling hills filled with orange, red, and yellow-leaved trees reflecting in the water is a breathtaking experience every visitor should check out during the fall season. Seasonal activities include boat rentals allowing visitors to cruise for the best fall foliage view. There’s also seasonal biking, fishing, hiking, campgrounds and more.

In the air: Nothing beats a fall foliage view from the top. While Bloomington is one of the Midwest’s top birding locations, nothing beats a bird eye’s view of the beautiful earth below. Bloomington is home to three popular hot air balloon companies including SkyVista Ballooning which offers a unique and customizable hot air balloon ride experience for everyone embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. For those who prefer to use their feet for a view from the top can climb the 133-step Hickory Ridge Fire Tower and snap a photo of the fall-toned tree tops. An autumnal view of Monroe County like no other. Nature lovers and avid hikers will be amazed by the Hoosier National Forest during fall.

Speaking of balloons, Bloomington is home to several seasonal festivals including the 10th annual Kiwanis Indiana Balloon Fest; Lotus World Music & Arts Festival; Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour, and more.

On land: Indiana University, one of the most stunning college campuses in the country, shows off its colors in the fall (on the football field and campus). Be sure to attend a fall football game and/or take a trip to the campus.

Fall foodies enjoy all the season’s best flavors throughout town such as Apple Pie Wine at Oliver Winery, Oktoberfest at Upland Brewing Co, pumpkin pancakes at Village Deli, a Jack-O-Lantern Latte (made with local Dillman Farms pumpkin butter) over at Hopscotch Coffee, and so much more (there are over 350+ restaurants in Bloomington!).

And because fall season is also spooky season, for those interested in the other kind of “spirits” Bloomington is a great destination for Halloween vibes. Graduate Bloomington Hotel, a pet friendly place to stay, has a room dedicated to the hit Netflix show Stranger Things and if that’s not creepy enough, Bloomington offers cemetery hikes and tours with more Halloween activities to be announced soon. Mystery lovers will enjoy Indiana University’s Lilly Library Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects exhibit on display now through December 16.

Explore What’s New and Cool Now in the San Juan Islands

Where else can you celebrate the birth–the first in more than a decade–of a new Orca calf, dine at a Roman restaurant, journey to islands accessible only by ferry, attend a re-enactment of the Pig War Crisis, try the latest IPA from the only brewery in the San Juan Islands, taste the newest sparkling wine in a limited release from an island winery, and listen to a podcast by the creator of San Juan Sea Salt? I can’t think of any place by the enchanting San Juan Islands,

The romantic sounds of the ferries beckon as make their way across the waters, carrying passengers from the mainland to Lopez, San Juan, and Orcas, three of the archipelago of 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County. Located off the coast of Washington State, four ferry service the most populous Islands: San Juan Island home to Friday Harbor, the county seat Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island. These three offer the majority of lodging and dining options and tourism activities. 

A New K…K…Killer Whale

For the first time in more than a decade, there’s a new calf in the endangered orca group known as K Pod. Recently the Center for Whale Research (CWR) field biologist Mark Malleson and his colleagues confirmed that K20 ‘Spock’ was traveling with a new calf, after previously receiving video and photographs of a possible new calf earlier this year (April and June). These captured images of K20 with her new baby traveling in a tight group with other family members.  K45 is the first calf born into K Pod since 2011 when K27 ‘Deadhead’ gave birth to K44 ‘Ripple’ (male). The mother, K20 (born 1986), is part of the K13 matriline and has two siblings, K27 ‘Deadhead’ (female, born 1994) and K34 ‘Cali’ (male, born 2001). Spock is also the mother to K38 ‘Comet’ (male, born in 2004).

On the Food and Restaurant Front

Aloha to the Orcas Hotel

Owner and Chef John Cox, with wife Julia Felder, have opened a new restaurant at the landmark Orcas Hotel. Norbu’s joins the classic Orcas Café with a Hawaiian-inspired menu featuring fresh, tropical flavors using the best ingredients, including tuna direct from the Honolulu Fish Auction and a wide selection of rare rums and spirits. Norbu’s is open for dinner service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as for a special Jazz Supper Club on Monday evening. For more information, contact John Cox orcascafe@gmail.com or visit www.orcashotel.com/eat-and-drink

Roman Orcas

Roses Bakery Cafe, in the old fire station building on Prune Alley, was a longtime Orcas Island landmark. It was sold in late 2021, and has been reimagined as Monti, a Roman-inspired restaurant, market, and wine shop. Monti, which is named for a neighborhood in Rome, uses both handmade and dry pasta and offers authentic antipasti, pasta dishes, pizza and more as well as desserts made in house by Brea Currey of Seabird Bakery. The menu features a few changes each week and is influenced by owner Erin Gainey’s deep attachment to Rome, where she lived for periods of time in her youth. Monti is open Friday through Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made at www.montimontimonti.com.   

New Chef for New Leaf

Chef Andrew Martin and his wife, executive pastry chef Amy Nack, have been visiting Orcas Island for fifteen years. While their son attended Camp Orkila every summer, Andrew and Amy explored the island, falling more in love with it every year. When the executive chef position opened up at New Leaf Café, despite the uncertainty of COVID, Chef Andrew leapt at the chance. At New Leaf, he’s putting a regional spin on his specialty of Northern Italian cuisine, balancing flavors and textures, and incorporating local ingredients for a delicious brunch menu. One new item is a much talked about Bacon, Lettuce and Avocado sandwich on hearth bread, served with a smoked tomato jam instead of sliced tomato which gives it a sweet savory bite. For more information, contact Ayn Gailey ayngailey@gmail.com or visit www.outlookinn.com/newleaf

Events & Exhibits

A Porcine Sesquicentennial

2022 marks the 150th anniversary of what is known as the “Pig War” crisis – a little-known international dispute that shaped Washington State and our country. To celebrate this anniversary, park rangers are bringing back Encampment in August – a weeklong series of reenactments, demonstrations, and other fun activities with more than 50 costumed historical interpreters who will give visitors an opportunity to travel back to the 1800s. Demonstrations that will bring history to life include loom work, metalworking, fur trade, and what life was like for members of the military and their families. In the fall, the park will hold a formal commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the San Juan Boundary Dispute Resolution. For event updates, contact Cyrus Forman cyrus_forman@nps.gov or visit www.nps.gov/sajh/index.htm

Bison Antiquus

Bison grazed in the meadows of Orcas Island 16,000 years ago. Human beings harvested, butchered and ate bison meat in a meadow near Olga 14,000 years ago. Some of the most complete skeletal remains of prehistoric bison ever discovered were unearthed in 2003 in an excavation in Olga. Archeological staff identified a large male bison, with the head almost completely intact, a smaller male, and one other. A new installation featuring the bison presence and the significance of these particular bones will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibit. “This discover helps validate Indigenous tales of antiquity,” says Antoinette Botsford, exhibit chair. For more information, contact Nancy Stillger director@orcasmuseums.org or visit www.orcasmuseums.org/home.html

New Products, Services, & Shops

New Layer at San Juan Brewing Company

Kulshan and San Juan Island Brewing Companies have teamed up to bring beer lovers Marine Layer Cold IPA; a crisp and clean beer with fruit forward hop aromas, a touch of soft pine, and a maritime finish. Right in time to help San Juan Island Brewing celebrate their fifth anniversary, it’s the perfect refreshment when that cold fog bubble bursts and the glorious summer sun returns to the Salish Sea.

The Marine Layer joins a lineup of award-winning beers like the Bull Kelp ESB, Black Boar Porter, and Quarry No. 9 Pale Ale. For more information, contact Sean Aylward sean@sanjuanbrew.com

Sparkling Sea Rows

The future of the San Juan archipelago is bright and sparkling. Sparkling wine, that is. An extremely limited release, local fruit was hand-harvested and fermented with little intervention to express the terroir of the islands in Archipelago’s 2021 Sea Rows Blanc de Noir. Stunningly aromatic, Sea Rows is the latest in a lineup of pet-nats that push the boundaries in this, the fringe of all winemaking regions. 

Thirty-six cases were produced and are due to be released July 31. Archipelago specializes in sparkling wines made in the petillant-naturel style, with minimal intervention. For more information: Marti McConnell archipelago.beverage@gmail.com

For more information: www.whaleresearch.com/2022-37

A Recipe from the San Juan Islands Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Grilled Halibut with Maple Rock Farm Greens and a Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette

Serves 4

4 each, 6 oz. halibut fillets

8 oz. Maple Rock Farm salad greens

Verjus vinaigrette (recipe follows below)

  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 4 cups prepared whipped potatoes or wild rice

Season the halibut with salt and pepper.

Over medium high heat, grill four to five minutes per side (or until your preferred doneness) and set aside.

Gently toss the salad greens in enough vinaigrette to coat the greens liberally.

Plate 1 cup of whipped potatoes or rice in the center of your dinner plate.

Place the dressed greens on the potatoes or rice.

Place the grilled halibut on the salad greens and brush with melted butter.

Garnish the plate with a circle of vinaigrette around the potatoes or rice.

Garnish the halibut with pine nuts and chopped parsley.

 Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette

  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup local Mt. Baker Vineyards Verjus
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • 4 Tbs. chopped parsley

Place all ingredients above into a blender and process until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste.