Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life is Better...

To many of us, autumn means hot cider, crisp apples and dusting off the pigskin for a father- son game of catch. Countless others will set off on their annual pilgrimage to witness the Northeast's dazzling Fall Foliage!

Generally this time of year, I would be dispensing advice on discovering New England's most intimate bed and breakfast... However, with the torrential rainfall from Hurricane Irene this past August, color predictions are down. Forecasters anticipate New England's Fall Foliage will not be as vibrant as usual... the damage unfortunately has been done.

To the chagrin of all the leaf-peepers, gazers, and admirers of fall colors at their peak... I am going to be a little unconventional in Vanek's Amazing Fall Getaway selection for this season... and suggest you head West! That's right--

To the Napa Valley...

In love with wine country this fall!

The Napa Valley is world-renowned, and considered by many as the heart of America's Wine Country.

Autumn announces the annual harvesting of grapes with several counties in California sponsoring wine festivals! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to find the larger award-winning estates coupled with smaller boutique wineries for a wine enthusiast's dream.

Go online, do some research, and who knows with any luck you may be able to stumble on a celebration commemorating the art of making a masterful wine!

Getting There from San Francisco

The Napa Valley is 'a stone's throw' from San Francisco, as well as a conveniently located ninety minute drive from either the Sacramento or Oakland International Airport.

On Highway 101, the San Francisco skyline will become hidden in your rearview mirror by the imposing Golden Gate Bridge... As you pass the Muir Woods exit, and cruise into the golden California countryside, you will soon realize that you are set for an amazing and one of a kind adventure!

Or Take the Wine Train

For a fun and romantic day trip from San Francisco... embark on a Bay cruise bound for Vallejo where an awaiting shuttle will deliver you directly to the Napa Valley Wine Train!

Children in tow? Then be sure to book your train's passage on one of the family nights. The kids will be entertained in a separate car, as you enjoy an evening of romance and fine dining!

Staying There

If you are naturally planning on spending a few days in Napa Valley, then I recommend waiting until all the weekend warriors have cleared out...

Friday and Saturdays are extremely congested... Being sandwiched in with the crowd on a winery tour does not necessarily coincide with the whole wine tasting experience. Not to mention, lodging rates and availability will drop considerably during the first part of the week!

To find a last minute hotel deal, consider picking up a coupon book in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf. On many of the street corners, you will find complimentary hotel coupon books offering generous walk- in rates equaling and often surpassing online discounts! When traveling, sometimes the most simple solutions can be the most effective!


Your accommodation may only be ten miles from the vineyards, but after several wine tastings and bouncing from one winery to the next... intoxication may get the better of you.

Take a bus tour, taxi, the wine train, or limousine! Secure transportation services to ensure that the ever-present California Highway Patrol does not spoil or ruin your Napa Valley experience.

Disneyland for Adults

You may want to consider leaving the children behind on this romantic getaway. After all, how many fragile gift shop items, and priceless bottles of wine do you really want the kids cavorting around? Remember the sad reality is... if they break it, you bought it!

Granted, some wineries dedicate small areas for the younger ones to play... However, you need to ask yourself how exciting can it be for them, as they 'impatiently' wait, while you discover the many nuances of tasting a superb wine?

Wine is like Art

Every wine maker has their own formula in crafting each style of wine they create...

No two batches of wine are ever the same! Wine characteristics can recall apples, apricots, bananas, berries and even asparagus! Aroma, balance, and body will all differ to some degree or another depending on any number of variables.

Remember, it's not enough just to make a bee-line to the tasting room, be certain to take a guided tour of the Winery!

For an awesome photographic opportunity, I highly recommend touring the impressive Robert Mondavi Winery. You will be ushered through underground caverns, come upon mighty wine presses and pass countless oak casks as you discover all that goes into creating a world class wine! The tour guides are knowledgeable, informative as well as insightful!

Keep in mind, the Napa Valley is over thirty five miles long and home to almost three hundred wineries, so don't get solely focused on only the largest estates. You can find that special 'off the beaten path' vineyard like the Cuvaison Winery which crafts an unbelievably fine Chardonnay. Their tasting bar is a pleasant respite and personal experience.

Life is Better...

After two glasses of wine they say life is seemingly always better... Tribulations turn to trivialities, worries gradually melt away, and the smile returns to your face...

According to several creditable publications, in moderation, a glass or two of red wine daily can also produce amazing health benefits. This being said, that is why I encourage you to live longer, and enjoy a better quality of life!

Take it upon yourself to visit the Napa Valley!

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