Laurel Glen Vineyard, a thousand feet up the slopes of Sonoma Mountain, has long been considered one of the iconic Cabernet vineyards of California. Originally planted as Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1960’s, the present-day vineyard was developed in the 1970’s by Sonoma wine pioneer Patrick Campbell. In 2011, Bettina Sichel, a veteran of the California wine industry, became the steward of Laurel Glen Vineyard after purchasing the iconic estate from founder Patrick Campbell.
During her 20-plus-year career, she has worked with some of the finest producers of Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1998, Sichel helped launch Quintessa and went on to develop its reputation and profile distribution over the next decade as director of sales and marketing. The daughter of Peter M.F. Sichel, the man responsible for making his family’s Blue Nun a household name in America, Bettina is the fifth generation of the Sichel family to work in the wine business.
Katie Bundschu is the first female winemaker in her six-generation California wine family and just opened the doors to Abbot’s Passage Winery + Mercantile, challenging conventional expectations while honoring process and history. Katie says, “For me, winemaking is a journey full of history & heritage. I’ve always kept my family’s story and process close to my heart. I knew we could create something different in Abbot’s Passage—something based on my point-of-view and perspective. As the first female winemaker in our six-generation California wine family, I felt I could add a new dimension to the Bundschu legacy. I understood the rules before choosing to break them, and more than 150 years after our family’s first harvest, Abbot’s Passage was born. My vision was a winery dedicated to creating distinctive wine blends that both honor process and challenge conventional expectations.”
Jamie Benziger: Benziger Winery
Growing up between her family’s two Sonoma wineries, it’s no surprise that Jamie Benziger is blazing her own trail in the wine industry. She interned in marketing with Gundlach Bundschu Winery during school, but it wasn’t until her first harvest working the lab at Benziger that Jamie realized her heart was really in winemaking.
In December 2017, her father Joe retired and Jamie took the reins as winemaker. As the second-generation winemaker at Imagery, Jamie has been on a roll. Not only was she named the 2019 Best Woman Winemaker in the International Women’s Wine Competition, but she was also included on Wine Enthusiast’s list of 40 Under 40 Tastemakers.
Dalia Ceja & Amelia Moran: Ceja Winery
The Ceja Family …. But mother and daughter,Amelia Morán and Dalia Ceja, are key to the winery’s success. Amelia serves as president and has been recognized for one first after another. Her husband, Pedro, began his winemaking odyssey picking grapes for Robert Mondavi and in 1980 they created Ceja Vineyards together.
The California Legislature honored her as “Woman of the Year” in 2005 for “breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business,” as the first Mexican American woman ever to be elected president of a winery. In 2009, Dalia brought her expertise to Ceja Vineyards as the Marketing Director, “a lot of minority wineries are developing their own style,” she says. “For us, it’s been about family and taking wine to a new level.” And for Dalia, being a Ceja means being part of that evolution, which includes promoting awareness of authentic Mexican cuisine and its subtle, complex flavors—the perfect companion for pairings that yield a new wine experience.
Prema Behan: Three Sticks Winery
Prema Behan is the co-founder and General Manager of Three Sticks Wines. She began working for Three Sticks Wines founder Bill Price III in 2000 in an administrative position at Texas Pacific Group (TPG). Soon Prema found herself working closely with Price, his family, and TPG’s Director of Operations.
Her work there doubled as business school: she witnessed TPG’s rapid growth and global expansion, as well as from her experience closely assisting Price in his pursuits. Behan became an essential part of Price’s team and began helping manage his winery operations. She has been involved in Three Sticks Wines from its founding and has built relationships with the winery’s allocation list as it grew from Price’s friends and family to include a growing number of Pinot-savvy consumers.
Katie Madigan: St. Francis Winery & Vineyards
Katie Madigan, the winemaker at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, has been crafting their popular Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays since 2011. She started at the winery while studying chemistry at U.C. Santa Barbara, helping out during harvest, and came back a full-time lab tech at St. Francis and began studying Enology & Viticulture at UC Davis. As a St. Francis Winemaker, Katie continues St. Francis’ long tradition of creating high-quality wines from Sonoma County grapes.
She oversees production of St. Francis Winery’s top-selling Zinfandels, Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays as well as many of our other popular white wines. In 2015, Katie was awarded “Best Woman Winemaker” by the International Women’s Wine Competition. She also won Zinfandel Producer of the Year in 2014 and 2015 at the California Zinfandel Championship.
Pull on your hiking boots, get out the trail maps, and pick out the perfect place for a beer. Afterall, our mantra is that the tastiest beer every is the one you quaff after a hike. And what better place to do so than in California’s gorgeous and historic Gold Country.
Known for its rolling hills dotted with forests and scenic vistas as well aits many artisan breweries, Placer County is an outdoor adventurer’s – and a beer lover’s – dream. With 30 miles of trails,
Then head to Moonraker Brewing for renowned lagers, IPAs, sours and hard seltzers. Also popular trail is the 4.5-mile Lake Clementine Trail, which passes under the highest bridge in California. Post hike, stop by Crooked Lane Brewing for their fruit infused beer such as their Fruited Sour with Raspberry, Tangerine, and Pineapple as well as Mandarin Pale Ale.
While you’re at the Auburn State Rec Area, take the easy Olmstead Loop Trail that parallels historic Highway 49 near the town of Cool on one side and the American River Canyon on the other. The trail passes through rolling oak woodlands and includes canyon descents, climbs and water crossings, with elevations ranging from 1,350’ to 1,500’.
Three minutes away, Cool Beerwerks offers cold beer in warm environs with occasional live music. The Monte Vista Trail, located in El Dorado Hills near Folsom Lake, is a scenic three-mile loop that boasts various views, including the South Fork of the American River as it curves toward Folsom Lake. You may see wildflowers, green meadows, and birds depending on the time of year. Off Salmon Falls Road, the trailhead also accesses the Brown’s Ravine trail and New York Creek for a longer hike. Either way, a cold beer awaits just seven minutes away at Mraz Brewery.
Finish your Gold Country Hike & Beer tour around Yosemite National Park. In the park, you can cap off a hike on virtually any trail with a cold one Mariposa’s own 1850 Restaurant and Brewery which has taps at The Mountain Room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Outside of the park, 1850’s tap house in downtown Mariposa is a great spot to grab a burger and brew after a day at the park or a hike at Stockton Creek Preserve, which is just a three-minute drive away. The Lewis Creek National Scenic Trail is a popular trailhead in the Oakhurst area and South Gate Brewing is a perfect place to grab a cold one after this four mile trek.
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 Coast. Sipping 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.
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.
More than just a pretty seaside town, though we’re not complaining about the miles of sandy beaches, sea coves and caves, high bluffs, and tidal pools stretching along the Pacific Ocean, Laguna Beach with its art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques, has long been a gathering place for artists of every kind.
The list is long starting with silent and silver screen stars—think Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, and Rock Hudson to now (Keanu Reeves sightings have been reported and Diane Keaton had a beachfront home here). Novelist John Steinbeck wrote “Tortilla Flats” when living in Laguna at 504 Park Avenue. Hobie Alter, considered the Henry Ford of the surfboard industry, learned the sport at his parents’ Laguna Beach summer home. If you’ve ever sailed aboard a Hobie Cat, thank Alter. He invented it.
This relaxing three-tiered resort features 22 rooms with small batch in-room amenities, sweeping views, and bespoke resort-style service, encouraging guests to relax in style.
“The story behind Auric Road is based upon the idea of alchemy and building gold from dust,” Makarechian said in an interview. The Auric Collection of petite hotels includes not only Hotel Joaquim—the name is in homage to the time when much of what is now Orange County was Rancho San Joaquim, a vast track of land granted by the Mexican government—but also Korakia Pensione in Palm Springs,Sonoma Coast Villa Resort & Spa in Bodega,Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana, and Rex Ranch in Amado. The latter is a small town in the Santa Cruz River Valley south of Tucson. Arizona.
Designed by Studio Robert McKinley, the inspiration for Hotel Joaquim derives from a multitude of styles and aesthetics–the French-speaking Caribbean Island of St. Barths, Southern California’s 1950s beach culture, the Mediterranean coast, and even a personal journey Makarechian made along the Camino de Santiago. Also known as St. James Way, it’s a series of interconnected routes dating back to Medieval times that winds through the mountains and valleys along the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. No matter what passage you follow, the ultimate goal is arriving in the UNESCO World Heritage City of Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish province of Galicia to enter the ornate 11th century Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the Plaza de Obradoiro. And yes, if anyone can make all this come together—Bette Davis, 1950s SoCal, St. Barths, etc., its Makarechian.
Treat yourself to Laguna Beach’s picturesque setting, where bright blue skies, warm sand and cool evenings mark autumn’s arrival. Relax by the sparkling blue pool where St. Barth’s and the French Riviera meet with custom daybeds and chaise lounges. Guests have access to a secluded beach paired with an all-access pass to the Adventure Outpost—home to city bicycles, bodyboards, Dafin fins, corn hole, football, spike ball, Frisbees, Kadima sets and more. Hotel Joaquin has everything from ocean and beach set ups to morning coffee service, to Mediterranean-inspired menus served al fresco at Saline overlooking Laguna’s stunning coastline.
Starting this Fall, stay at Hotel Joaquin for 2 nights from Sunday-Thursday and receive 15% off your room rate! Want to hang out at pool or beach a bit longer, stay 3 or more nights and receive 15% off your room rate plus a $100 credit to use at Saline Restaurant.
This limited time offer is valid for stays from October 1st – November 30th.*
*Certain blackout dates may apply. SALINE CREDIT only offered to guest staying 3 or more nights Sunday- Thursday, credit cannot be used for alcohol. Offer ends 11/30/22.
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 Oakand Twomey Cellarsin 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 atAlpha Omegain St. Helena andTolosain 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 Wineryin 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 Wines in 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 Vineyardsin 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 Winesin 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
There’s fool’s gold, gold dust and nuggets, and high wattage gold when fall amps up the colors in the aptly named Golden State come October and November. So forget leaf peeping along the Eastern Seaboard or in the Midwest and head along the California Gold Rush Trail in the state’s Gold Country. It’s an experience of small towns that boomed during the Gold Rush era when those hoping to strike it rich descended upon the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Stop at one of the Apple Hill Grower farms and pick your own pumpkins, sample mouth-watering baked goods and Sierra Foothill wines. Continuing south, colorful stands of dogwood trees complement the Giant Sequoias at Big Trees State Park.
Locals call Coulterville “the town that was too tough to die.” Once a major mining and supply town, Coulterville was named after George and Margaret Coulter who arrived in 1849 and began selling supplies after learning that miners had to travel some 30 hard miles to buy what they needed. Two years later gold was discovered. Boom is the operative word as to what happened next. The town prospered. For an interesting tidbit of local history, travel through the downtown off of Highway 49 and turn left on Kow Street to the intersection of Chinatown Main Street–yes, that’s really the name of the street. Located on the corner is what was the Sun Sun Wo Co. It’s an old adobe building, one of a handful left in California (for more, click here).
Built in 1851, it was first owned and operated by Mow Da Sun and his son, Sun Kow and run by Chinese until 1926. Said to have an opium den in the back, it was so successful as a general store that a second store ten miles away in Red Cloud. And if you’re wondering how the Chinese were treated, we can report that according to Sierra Nevada Tourism, a site developed in conjunction with National Geographic, the town’s hanging tree is where an outlaw named Leon Ruiz met his fate in 1856 after robbing and murdering two Chinese miners of $600 in gold, showing not only the money to be made in a Gold Rush town but also that the killing of Chinese did not go unpunished.
The intriguingly named Chinese Camp, once a busy mining camp with thousands of inhabitants, the town is now for all intents and purposes a ghost town. Tucked away in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, its buildings are a feature in movies and television shows about the Old West.
Travel on to Sonora, another Gold Rush town. Settled by miners from Sonora, Mexico in 1848, Sonora, known as the “Queen of the Southern Mines” offers a vast historical perspective with thriving businesses and a bustling downtown housed in historic buildings dating back to the mid-1800s. Check out such beauties as St. James Episcopal Church, built in 1860 and the oldest Episcopal church in the state.
On the menu at the venerable Ahwahnee Inn for more than a quarter of a century, their Boysenberry Pie is a must try dessert. Served in the Ahwahnee Dining Room, with its 34-foot-high beamed ceiling, floor-to-ceiling mullioned windows, granite columns, Gothic-style chandeliers, an dexposed stonework, is a resplendent place to enjoy such a treat. The dining room, designed by famed architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood in a mélange of Art Deco and Arts and Crafts architectural styles and flourishes of Native American and Middle Eastern elements to attract high-end visitors, opened in 1927. Located on the first floor of The Ahwahnee Hotel, in itself a masterpiece of an opulent and gracious past, in eastern Yosemite Valley, the entire building was made using 5,000 tons of stone, 1,000 tons of steel, and 30,000 feet of lumber.
The Ahwahnee Inn Boysenberry Pie
Makes: One 10” pie
1 ½ pounds fresh or frozen boysenberries
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ oz clear instant gelatin
Pinch of salt
In a saucepan on a low heat add frozen boysenberries and slowly cook for 5 minutes. In a bowl combine sugar, gelatin and salt and mix. Add sugar mixture to sauce pan. Cook for another 5 minutes. Stir often to avoid burning. Set aside and let cool.
9 ounces all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
4 ½ ounces soft butter
1 ½ ounces very cold water
In a food processor add flour, salt, sugar and softened butter. Turn on and mix ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Then add water all at once. Turn off food processor as soon as the dough binds and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Divide dough into halves and roll each into a ball. Refrigerate for one hour. Roll out on doughball into a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch pie pan. Preheat oven to 350’F and bake pie shell for 5 minutes.
Roll second dough ball into a large circle and cover with a towel. Place filling in shell and cover with remaining pie dough. Use an egg wash to seal the pie rim. Cut four slits in the top of the pie and brush remaining egg wash across the top.
Place in the 350° F and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 min. Let cool before serving.
The Ahwahnee Bar
1/2 shot tequila (we prefer Sauza Gold)
1/2 shot Creme de Cocoa Brown (we prefer DeKuyper)
2 tablespoons Firefall Hot Chocolate Mix, see recipe below
2 cups Nestle Hot Chocolate Powder
1 tablespoon pasilla chili powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pour tequila and Creme de Cocoa Brown into an Irish coffee mug.
Add the Firefall Hot Chocolate Mix. Add boiling water and stir well. Top with whipped crème. Sprinkle whipped cream with pasilla chili and cinnamon.
Double Chocolate Bread Pudding from The Ahwahnee Dining Room
1 quart heavy whipping cream
2 pieces vanilla beans pod (split and scraped)
8 ounces granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 pieces egg yolk
2 pieces large croissants (baked and sliced crosswise)
2 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 ounces dark chocolate chips
.In a stainless mixing bowl, incorporate the egg yolk, ground cinnamon, sugar and a cup of heavy whipping cream.
Split and scrape the seed of the vanilla pods. Place pods and beans in a sauce pot and the remaining heavy whipping cream and bring to a boil. Pour the hot cream into the egg mixture and stir.
Arrange half of the croissant slices in a baking dish. Sprinkle half of the milk and dark chocolate chips over the croissants. Pour half of the hot custard mixture over the croissants to soak. Repeat the layers. Bake at 320° F degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.
Head to Sonoma this fall as leaves turn jewel colors and the vineyards abound with ripe fruit. Autumn isn’t just for serious leafers, it’s for foodies, outdoor enthusiasts and history lovers as well So grab your keys, turn on the GPS and head out into the glory colors of fall.
In the Sonoma Valley, Highway 12 is an incredible route for fall foliage, California-style. The road between the town of Sonoma and Kenwood winds through vineyards and picturesque hamlets. In fall, the rows of vineyards come alive in stunning shades of crimson, orange and gold.
Visitors can take in the scenery from the car before stopping at the area’s tasting rooms and restaurants such as Glen Ellen Star where the culinary team is led by Chef Ari Weiswasser and his wife Erinn Benziger-Weiswasser.
In Glen Ellen, Jack London State Historic Park offers 29 miles of backcountry trails that go through mixed forest, oak woodlands and grassy meadows. You’ll also pass the London’s charming cottage and burned-out castle ruins.
Nearby at Benzinger Winery, guests can enjoy a tasting outside among the oak trees and take the Biodynamic Tram Tour of the property to learn about their winemaking process. Tuscan-style Viansa Winery affords a stunning valley view that takes in the autumnal palette across the valley. Or at Kunde Family Winery, you – and your pup – can take in a vineyard hike pre or post tasting.
No matter what you choose, it’ll be a colorful confetti road trip.
Go beyond generic and experience the unique with stays at one or more of three distinctive Spire Hospitality properties: The Leta in Santa Barbara, CA, Topnotch Resort in Vermont and High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid New York.
If your idea of the ultimate Southern California retreat is longboards, poolside cocktails and coastal cuisine, we’ve got the place for you. The Leta is the kind of place with the ultimate Golden State of Mind/California Living attitude. So chill and enjoy the California groovy touches such as the surf-inspired décor, and eclectic accommodations, live music scene and VNYL record shop.
Ideally located, 158-room resort is prized for its cool, hip, carefree Californian personality along with it’s artful, quirky, unexpected, open and soulful chemistry. Local art, music, food and wine are at home here and the hotel boasts 6,000 square feet of meeting space welcoming locals and out of town guests alike for one-of-a-kind meetings and events.
Designed with an easygoing, California-cool aesthetic, The Leta’s artful guest rooms and suites channel the radiant spirit of SoCal featuring earthy, eccentric textures and fabrics with a nod to surf-culture nostalgia. This charming beach chic hotel in Goleta also welcomes pets.
High Peaks Resort
High Peaks Resort in the heart of Lake Placid is the perfect home base for exploring the Adirondacks. Guests can choose from three unique lodging experiences overlooking Mirror Lake and the Adirondack mountains: The Resort, a traditional hotel featuring 105 newly renovated guest rooms; the modern retro-vibe Lake House with 44 guest rooms; and the private and serene Waterfront Collection, featuring 28 guest rooms including 10 suites on the shores of Mirror Lake.
Amenities available to all guests include two indoor and two outdoor heated pools, an indoor Jacuzzi, an on-site fully equipped fitness center, the Spa & Salon at High Peaks Resort, and Dancing Bears Restaurant, consistently ranked one of the top restaurants in Lake Placid.
Guests also enjoy private access to Mirror Lake with complimentary use of kayaks, paddle boats and stand-up paddleboards, special activities such as yoga at the waterfront and birds of prey demonstrations, an outdoor barbecue, a fire pit (with complimentary s’mores), lawn games, sweeping views of the Adirondack mountains and close proximity to the region’s top attractions and activities such as the Lake Placid Olympic Sites, Whiteface Mountain,The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, High Falls Gorge, Ausable Chasm, and numerous hiking trails, kayaking, boating and more in the Adirondack Park.
High Peaks Resort is also within walking distance to shopping, dining and entertainment in downtown Lake Placid. Dogs are welcome, with special canine-friendly treats and amenities.
Guests enjoy Vermont fresh farm-to-table dining at The Roost, the Topnotch Tennis Academy (ranked one of the top 10 tennis resorts in the country offering more than 30 programs for all ages and levels of play on six seasons outdoor and four indoor hard courts), the 35,000 square foot award-winning Topnotch Spa, three indoor and outdoor heated pools, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, the Equestrian Center at Topnotch (offering English and Western trail rides, private and group horseback riding, carriage rides and sleigh rides), Mountain Ops Outdoor Gear (an on-property outfitter which can arrange and outfit for any activity year-round, including mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and fishing in the summer), outdoor fire pits with s’mores kits, shuffleboard and other games, specialty cocktails, access to the Stowe Recreation Path and more.
Dog friendly, Topnotch provides Fido with the finer things a canine deserves such as dog beds, CBD treats and special canine-friendly turndown service and spa treatments. Just a short drive from Topnotch, Stowe Village is worth the trip. Peruse the many locally owned shops (a personal favorite is Laughing Moon Chocolates) and art galleries, check out the locally sourced offerings at village restaurants, admire the 18th and 19th century architecture, explore the outdoors in a variety of ways such hot air balloon rides and kayaking, and take in a show at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.
About Spire Hospitality
Spire Hospitality, led by CEO Chris Russell, is a third-party operator of 7,033 room keys and over 350,000 square feet of meeting space across 20 states. The Spire portfolio, with a focus on large, full-service hotels, includes unique independent properties and premier branded assets across Hilton Hotels & Resorts (HLT), Marriott International (MAR) and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), including 29 hotels and resorts. Spire Hospitality offers expertise in all facets of hospitality management and is committed to preserving, protecting and enhancing the value of hotel real estate. www.spirehotels.com.
Historic Property Offers “Whale of a Sale” Special for Little River Whale Festival.
Is there a better way to watch the 20,000 gray whales that migrate from Mexico to Alaska along the California coast every March than from the cozy confines of Mendocino’s picturesque Little River Inn (www.LittleRiverInn.com). The Mendocino Coast offer magnificent views of the coves where mama whales harbor with their new calves, and spotting these mighty cetaceans are often spotted right offshore at this time of year.
During the Little River Whale Festival, Little River Inn will be offering its LITTLE RIVER INN WHALE OF A SALE lodging special. Guests who book a two-night stay during these dates will receive a third night free. LITTLE RIVER INN WHALE OF A SALE is offered March 11 – 13, 2022 on all room types, based upon availability. To book online, use the code WHALE22 to get the Whale of a Sale rate.
BLOODY MARY COMPETITION
In conjunction with the Little River Whale Festival, on Sunday, March 13 from 12 PM to 2:30 PM in the Abalone Room at Little River Inn, anyone can be a judge at the BLOODY MARY COMPETITION. Both local amateur mixologists and professional bartenders compete to claim the prize of Best Bloody Mary. Tickets for 5-6 Bloody Mary tastes are $75 pre-sale or $80 day of the event (if available – only 120 tickets are being sold). The ticket includes a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. ID REQUIRED AND PROOF OF VACCINATION REQUIRED.
The event benefits Mendocino Area Parks Association (MAPA). Tickets are available at www.MendoParks.org.
Entertainment and Events
The 15th Annual LITTLE RIVER WHALE FESTIVAL takes place from Friday, March 11 to Sunday, March 13 and offers a host of events, including a number of family-friendly activities. Below are two of the events and experiences inn guests and locals can partake of throughout the weekend:
John Reischman and The Jaybirds Concert: Friday, March 11, 8 PM (doors open at 7:30 PM), Abalone Room, Little River Inn, 7901 N Highway One. The Jaybirds put their own particular stamp on bluegrass, old time and acoustic roots music, with a satisfying blend of traditional and modern styles. Only 50 tickets available.Tickets are $40 in advance at www.MendoParks.org.
Whale Watch Walk: Saturday, March 12, 11 AM – 1 PM. A two-hour guided walk (barring heavy rain) searching for pelagic cormorants, seaside daisies and of course, whales! Binoculars available. Dogs allowed on leash. Free and open to the public.
Further information and details regarding the LITTLE RIVER WHALE FESTIVAL can be found by visiting www.MendoParks.org.
About Little River Inn
Little River Inn is a family-owned and operated boutique resort on the Mendocino coast of California with a chef-driven restaurant, nine-hole Audubon-certified golf course, professional tennis courts and day spa. Ideal for the entire family (and pet-friendly as well), the Inn has 65 guest rooms ranging from the economical to the luxurious. Several private meeting and special event spaces with stunning ocean and garden views make the Inn an excellent venue for small- to medium-sized weddings and corporate retreats.
The restaurant, helmed by CIA-trained Executive Chef Marc Dym, is a destination unto itself and the delicious, often hearty California coastal cuisine has a following so dedicated that it is not uncommon for guests to fly in by private plane for Sunday Brunch. Ole’s Whale Watch Bar is a classic local hangout where guests gather for drinks and a casual bite. Little River Inn has a beautiful, nine-hole golf course that plays like 18 and is appropriate for many skill levels. The Inn also has a Day Spa with three treatment rooms and offers in-room services. Overseen by fifth-generation Innkeeper Cally Dym, Little River Inn was proud to celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2019.
Little River Inn is located two miles south of Mendocino overlooking the Pacific Ocean, at 7901 N. Highway One, Little River, CA 95456. For reservations and additional information, call 707-937-5942 or visit www.littleriverinn.com.
Busy lives and hectic work schedules can take their toll on both the mind and the body, which is why it’s essential you try to take a break to recharge your batteries as you welcome the New Year. One way of energizing your body and calming your mind is to take a trip focused on self-care and general wellness.
With lower-than-average health care costs, an incredible park system, good infrastructure, and a seemingly endless stream of things to do, Minneapolis is a great place to live as well as visit.
Being exposed to high levels of traffic daily can lead to chronic stress. However, this isn’t something you’ll experience in Knoxville, Tennessee, one of the world’s least congested cities. Far less traffic ensures a quicker journey to the country’s most visited national park, just 34 miles away.
The Smoky Mountains spans over 500,000 acres and has 850 miles of trails, including the world-renowned Appalachian Trail.
Besides less congestion, other benefits of moving to Knoxville include lower housing costs. Searching for rental apartments in Knoxville is made easier by visiting sites like Apartment Guide. You can set your price range and other parameters to ensure you only search for properties within your budget and meet other requirements such as a number of bedrooms, pet friendliness, and other amenities.
San Marcos in San Diego, California, is a fantastic place to recharge and rejuvenate with its tranquil streets, peace, quiet, proximity to the breach, open spaces, and nature. It’s also home to one of the best spas in the world.
The Golden Door features multiple facilities including, a 2,000-square-foot equipment gym, two swimming pools, and a water therapy pool for guests to work out or relax. Discovery Lake, another place of interest, allows visitors to immerse themselves in large tracts of wilderness and connect with nature. Anyone deciding to relocate to the city can enjoy a lower cost of living and a lower crime rate than average.
West of Los Angeles, California, and known for its celebrity homes and beaches, Malibu also boasts an exclusive and sought-after seven-day wellness retreat, The Ranch.
Limited to just 19 guests, visitors immerse themselves in a self-care experience that includes weight loss, fitness programs while also enjoying local plant-based meals.
Eight hours of daily activity include afternoon naps, massages, and an organic vegan diet. Living in a sparsely populated city has many benefits, such as incredible landscapes, top attractions, and a low crime rate. As expected, living costs in the city are considerably higher than the average.
A Necessary Reset
Whether it’s a relaxing massage, a 45-minute workout, or an awe-inspiring visit to a national park or an organic vegan diet, sometimes a change and a reset are not only needed; they’re often necessary.