It’s time for Passports with Purpose 2012, the annual travel blogger fundraiser for charity. This year, I’m giving away a half-day tour of Woodlinville wineries from EverGreen Escapes.

Frequent readers of this blog know that visiting wineries is one of my favorite Value Luxury activities. The types of wine that a region serves give insight into the topography and geology of an area, in a more enticing way than than lecture. Plus on site visits allow you to pick up a few bottles […]


Free desktop wallpaper for September 2012: A birds-eye view of Napa Valley from a hot air balloon.
September 2012 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper: Napa Hot Air Balloon Rides

This is the August 2012 offering for our desktop calendar series – always free and available for iPad and iPhone too! Get your August 2012 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! This photo of the Napa Valley was taken from 2,000 feet, during an early morning hot air balloon ride.  September is the start of harvest season in California wine country […]

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All about my upcoming Hilton HHonors Foodie trip to Napa Valley – and how you can win one too.
Vineyards in Napa Valley

This post continues my ongoing coverage of wine country travel. This weekend, I’m heading to Napa Valley. It will be the second time that I’ve gone this year, and the third time that I’ve visited since I moved out to the West Coast in 2010. To me, wine country getaways, both down in California and closer […]


A stop at the 5th Street Public Market, a restaurant and shopping complex in Eugene, Oregon that’s now home to the city’s first boutique hotel.
Eugene Oregon

This post continues my ongoing coverage of wine country travel. Once known primarily as a hippie haven, Eugene, Ore. is quickly becoming a city where clean living, along with local food and drink, flourish. After a night spent in Dundee, in the Willamette Valley, we meandered south toward this town, which is the home of the […]


Grape Expectations: Oregon Wine Country

by Chris on April 26, 2012

Touring Oregon wine country: The hillsides of the Willamette Valley that are home to the some of the country’s best pinot noir.
oregon wine country

This post continues my ongoing coverage of wine country travel. In the 18 months that I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon has emerged as one of my favorite states. It’s not just the food trucks of Portland, or the brewpub culture, or the beauty of the Columbia Gorge. It just seems that every time […]


Wine Country travel: Checking out the art in Napa Valley, in preparation for the Arts in April program.
Hess Collection, Napa Valley

This post continues my ongoing coverage of wine country travel. I’ve written about Napa in the past, but while I’ve enjoyed visiting  the area’s wineries, spas and luxury bed and breakfasts, I never experienced the incredible art collections that you can find in the valley until this year. This month, the Napa Valley Arts in […]


California Dreaming: Carmel by the Sea

by Chris on February 6, 2012

My California Dreaming series opens with a visit to Carmel by the Sea in Monterey County.
California Dreaming

“California Dreaming/On such a winter’s day.” One of the best things about moving to the West Coast has been my newfound proximity to California. At the Los Angeles Travel Show a few weeks ago, I learned that California is the number one state that American leisure travelers want to visit. It seems to be for […]


Napa Valley Weekend: JoLe, Calistoga

by Chris on June 15, 2011

Tasting menu at JoLe in Calistoga, run by chefs Matt and Sonjia Spector (formerly of Matyson in Philadelphia).
JoLe Calistoga

Where: JoLe: Farm to Table, Calistoga in Napa Valley Why we went: Napa Valley may be Michelin-star central, but JoLe caught our eye because its chef owners – Matt and Sonjia Spector – ran the insanely popular Matyson Restaurant back in Philadelphia. Since the husband-wife team moved to Calistoga, they’ve racked up accolades in their new […]


An in-town tasting room or visit to a vineyard – which is the better way to experience a wine tasting in Napa Valley? We explore both.
Wine tasting, Napa Valley

Used to be, visiting wineries in Napa Valley required some planning. You’d scout out the wineries you wanted to visit, made appointments when possible, and then made sure that someone in your group stayed sober enough to drive you between the different vineyards. So I was surprised (and yet intrigued) when I saw all the […]


Napa Valley Weekend: Yountville

by Chris on June 6, 2011

The kickoff to our romantic Napa Valley weekend: a night in Yountville, the town that Thomas Keller built.
Napa Valley Weekend

If you’re the type of couple that lives for great food and wine – and has the means to spend serious cash on it –  I’m not sure there’s anything more romantically decadent than a Napa Valley weekend. At least that’s how I felt on our May trip to California wine country. In 48 hours, […]