January 21, 2018

James Suckling | Roma to Sonoma

James Suckling believes millennials will change the way the world approaches wine, and he’s making the most of it.  The members of his small staff of innovators are all under 30, and he relies on them heavily to influence the look and feel of his brand.  These days, the James Suckling brand includes more than writing wine reviews, it includes producing wine-related documentaries, putting on international wine events, and collaborating with luxury designers to create new products for the wine industry.   James lives in Napa Valley, Hong Kong, and Tuscany.  He’s American, and Napa Valley is the premier wine scene in the US, so it makes sense that he has a…

October 31, 2017

You Say Rosato, I say Rosé | Roma to Sonoma

Technically, it’s the French who say Rosé; the rest of us have merely adopted their usage of the word. And it’s right that we use the French word because France is the indisputable king of Rosé wine. From Côtes du Rhône to Provence, Rosé has been a French favorite since long before the recent international boom in popularity. Scoffed at for decades in the U.S. due to its distant cousin, white Zinfandel, Rosé hasn’t gotten a lot of respect from the typical wine drinker since it went out of fashion in the 1990s. That’s why, when I lived in the Salento region of Puglia, Italy almost ten years ago, everyone was…

April 13, 2017

The Nerellos of Sicily | Roma to Sonoma

“Cabernet is to John Wayne as [Nerello Mascalese] is to Marcello Mastroianni.” Alberto Graci, Graci Winery, Passopisciaro, Sicily The beating of the windshield wipers fought to keep up with the pummeling rain, and I could hardly see through the glass as I slowly inched my rented car along the deserted road at dusk. I saw a small arrow-shaped sign on the right side of the road and came to a complete stop a foot in front of it, trying to read between wiper strokes. I was almost sure that it said “Firriato,” and so I followed the arrow’s direction and turned on a long narrow road, drove through an open…

October 19, 2016

Tormaresca | Roma to Sonoma

“The Tormaresca project began with the dream, now a reality, to discover and enhance the precious native varietals of Puglia, leading the wine renaissance of the region.”  Tormaresca Website We actually cheered when we finally saw a building in the distance.  We had been driving for hours across Italy from Rome and in the last half hour, we had seen very few signs and only one indicator of our goal: Tormaresca Winery, in the Castel del Monte DOC in the southeastern tip of Italy known as Puglia. The Tormaresca estate is almost as remote as Tasca D’Almerita’s Regaleali in central Sicily, which sees purposely hidden, and both are well worth the…

August 20, 2016

Healdsburg | Roma to Sonoma

Healdsburg, California Most famous for its authentic small-town charm, Healdsburg is a requisite stop as you wind your way through Sonoma wine country. “I grew up near here and I’ve watched Healdsburg go from just a tiny town to a top destination spot in Sonoma. It’s not as well-known as Napa, but that only makes it more special to me,” says Lila Brown, a concierge travel expert based in Healdsburg. Healdsburg Native Lila, a sommelier, returned to Healdsburg after stints in Italy, Greece, and Spain. We asked Lila if she could put together a casual Healdsburg day plan, and she graciously obliged us with an eight-step plan to a perfect…

August 18, 2016

Lambert Bridge Winery | Roma to Sonoma

  The Lambert Bridge The Lambert Bridge Cruising through the vineyards on narrow, curved roads, we come to a sudden stop in front of Lambert Bridge. It’s only wide enough for one lane so we have to wait for the car coming from the opposite direction to pass through.  Once over the Lambert Bridge straddling Dry Creek, we arrive at Lambert Bridge Winery.  The winery, named after the original owner, Jerry Lambert, is also a reference to the iconic bridge that marks its 100 year anniversary this year. Lambert Bridge – Bordeaux Varietals Established in 1975, Lambert Bridge is one of the oldest wineries in Dry Creek Valley.  The winemaker Jennifer…

August 18, 2016

JCB Tasting Salon and Atelier by JCB | Roma to Sonoma

JCB Tasting Salon and Atelier by JCB Jean-Charles Boisset is known as a winemaker with inimitable style, and he’s curated some of his favorite things and put them on offer at the JCB Tasting Salon and Atelier in Yountville, California. And the glamorous and decadent JCB tasting salon is not your average tasting room, either.  The room sparkles as brightly as the JCB bubbles, punctuated by a glorious chandelier over a gigantic extended table in the center of the room.  The myriad of gilded mirrors hung upside down on the ceiling set off the scene, including the Surrealist Boutique glimmering with fine luxury products such as JCB’s custom designed jewelry and…

August 9, 2016

The Baths of Bormio | Roma to Sonoma

  Bormio, just south of the Swiss border and smack in the middle of the Alps, is only a few hours from Milan. You won’t be the first to make the trek, however. The natural hot springs here, now a lovely resort called the Bagni di Bormio, (the Baths of Bormio), have been in continuous use for thousands of years. Pliny the Elder was already going on about their beneficial properties back in the first century A.D. And throughout the ages, Leonardo Da Vinci, European royalty and the like, regularly flocked here to “take the waters”. The Hotel Bagni Vecchi (Older Bath Hotel) is a smaller, cozier, and more traditional Valtellina…

August 9, 2016

Florence – Food & Wine Recommendations | Roma to Sonoma

these STOPS ARE LESSER-KNOWN-BY-TOURISTS AND GREAT options for your travels through Bella Firenze. Caffè Italiano Located right off Piazza della Signoria, it’s remarkable that this charming spot isn’t overwhelmed by tourists. A coffee and tea lover’s paradise, you can lounge for hours reading newspapers or books supplied by the owners or, better yet, play one of the board games available upstairs in the quasi-family room. Lunch menu changes daily, and the food (pasta, sandwiches, meats, etc.) is all honest family fare. But the real draw here is that it is a historic place to enjoy a coffee and a chat. Via Condotta, 56/r Tel. 055.289.020 www.osteriacaffeitaliano.com L’Enoteca Fuori Porta Located in…

July 29, 2016

Carmel-by-the-Sea | Roma to Sonoma

If you happen to see Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger behind a bar pouring his family’s almost 300-year-old label’s champagne, with a Black River Caviar bar on one side of him and a Hog Island Oyster bar on the other, either you are dreaming or you are at the first night Welcome Party of the GourmetFest Carmel 2016. The four day foodie extravaganza featuring an exclusive roster of Relais & Châteaux chefs and the world’s best wine estates took place Feb. 25-28, and we’re still in recovery mode from the decadent offerings. Each year, a world-renowned team of wine experts and Relais & Châteaux chefs descend on Carmel-by-the-Sea, transforming the sleepy hamlet into…