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Wine Country Gift Ideas
Unique, thoughtful and fun!
With the holiday season in full swing, you may find yourself wondering what to give loved ones this year. As our gift to you, we have done all the research! From fabulous wine to exceptional gift baskets to learning the secrets of wine country cooking, we think you will love these suggestions.
Housed in the Italian style kitchen and dining rooms of Applewood Inn’s historic Belden House mansion, "La Buona Forchetta " cooking school is a great place to make new friends while sharing outstanding food and exceptional Sonoma County wines. Chef Gabrielle Dery is planning to kick off February with a class for lovers on February 4th. "Can food put you in the mood? - You bet!" Call 1-800-555-8509 or visit their website for details.
Gourmet Retreats at CasaLana is the perfect setting to combine a quick getaway with a fun and informative cooking class. Or choose an in-home cooking class for your loved ones and they will learn the tricks of the trade in the privacy of their own home. With a wide variety of options in classes it makes it easier to fit a class in the recipient’s schedule. Call 1-877-YOU-COOK or visit their website.
Temecula Wine Country
Located in southwestern Riverside County, Temecula is California's only prominent American Viticultural Area south of Los Angeles. Situated between 1,400 and 1,600 feet above sea level, Temecula Valley's 3,000 acres of vineyards provide ideal conditions for growing premium wine grapes. A dry, moderately warm daytime climate, evenings cooled by breezes from the Pacific Ocean 22 miles to the west, and well-drained decomposed granite soils combine to create wines with fresh, distinctive varietal flavors and superb structure. The remarkable success of these wines has resulted in numerous awards at domestic and international wine competitions and recognition for Temecula as a world-class wine growing region!
Award-winning wineries flourish in Temecula Valley, offering their delicious, locally made wines at affordable prices. In addition to producing excellent Chardonnay, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula wineries are known for Mediterranean varietals such as Viognier, Syrah and Pinot Gris. Temecula's fine, underrated wines taste especially good when sampled at the winery. The region's tasting rooms and gift shops are open to visitors year-round, and most wineries offer tours and, in some cases, special wine-and-food tastings. Wine lovers can also savor the local nectar at the area's many gourmet delis and upscale restaurants while enjoying panoramic vineyard views.
After a day of wine tasting, spend a relaxing night in one of Temecula's exceptional Bed and Breakfasts. Temecula's accommodations range from intimate inn rooms to luxury suites and cottages with wood burning fireplaces, wet bars, and spa tubs. Whatever your goal — privacy, family fun, or just plain relaxation — Temecula lodging will surpass your expectations.
Temecula has a long, rich history, and its Native American and small town past have left their mark. In historic Old Town, renowned for its shopping and antique browsing, you can still feel the presence of local legends such as Jedediah Smith and Kit Carson, among the historic figures that once graced Temecula.
Temecula's gentle hills and the striking, snow-capped mountains nearby provide a magnificent backdrop to Temecula's world-class wineries, making a trip to Temecula wine country as beautiful as it is tasty. Start planning your visit to our newest featured Wine Country region today at Temecula.WineCountry.com!
Wine Country Featured Destination
Louis M. Martini Winery—"An unparalleled knowledge in winemaking."
Wine tasting in the Valley during the fall and winter months is quite a treat, as the vineyards are brilliant hues of gold, orange and red. Located in the heart of Napa Valley in charming St. Helena is the tasting room of Louis M. Martini. As we walked into the foyer of the winery we were warmly greeted with a crisp glass of 2002 Folle Blanche. Louis Martini has grown Folle Blanche, traditionally known in France as the Cognac grape, at its Monte Rosso Vineyard in Sonoma Valley for the past 65 years. Prized by California brandy distillers since 1983, winemaker, Michael Martini decided to make it into table wine. A perfect match for seafood.
We continued into the festive tasting room and met Mike Blasquez, Wine Educator and Sommelier, who graciously walked us through the rich history of three generations of Martini Winemakers, while we tasted a plethora of beautiful wines. Perhaps one of the most well-known Cabernet Sauvignons produced in California comes from the Monte Rosso Vineyard. Purchased in 1938, this vineyard has a unique combination of soils, microclimate, elevation and exposure. Try the vertical tasting of the Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon – rich, complex and delicious, you won’t be disappointed! Next, taste and compare their Cabs from different appellations in Sonoma County, Napa Valley and Alexander Valley – known as their Family Legacy Tasting. One of the tasting room's many attentions to details is the inclusion of an educational "place mat" full of information to enhance your tasting experience -- a flavor profile, food pairing and the grape variety. Have we mentioned they also produce fantastic Italian wines such as Barbera and Sangiovese – to name just a couple? Again, the staff at Louis Martini did not miss a beat, as the flight was poured in traditional Italian wine glasses. Fun!
Louis Martini’s dedication to producing fine wines is obvious, but what was really impressive are the strong family values and traditions instilled in the legacy of the Martini Family. Mike told us the story about the Los Ninos Block, a four-acre collection of 65 year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines on the Monto Rosso vineyard – the oldest of the Cabs on the ranch. In 1979, the Martini family started creating Cabernet from these vines especially for the children born in the vintage year, the wine to be consumed at their 21st birthday. These children of the Martini family – which, by the way, includes the employees’ children – design the label for each series.
From the delicious wines, to the time spent with the knowledgeable, friendly staff we truly enjoyed Louis M. Martini. On a sunny day, enjoy your favorite picnic in their charming garden patio. Open 11 am to 5 pm daily – located at 254 South St. Helena Highway, St. Helena. Visit their website or call 1-800-321-WINE for more information.
Wine Country Recipe
Winning recipes from our readers!
Over the past two months the WineCountry.com staff has received a number of spectacular Wine Country inspired recipes submitted by our readers! Being in the holiday spirit, we have decided to feature two recipes as winners of our WineCountry.com Recipe Contest! Each recipe has a suggested wine pairing. Both recipes are enticing, easy to prepare, and perfect for upcoming holiday parties!
Stuffed Baby Bellas
Clean and stem mushrooms. Shell and clean crab. Chop three of the mushroom stems. Over medium heat in skillet add olive oil, rosemary, onion, chopped mushroom stems and lemon pepper. Sauté for about 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle in bread crumbs for the last 2-3 minutes and mix. Let this mixture cool completely.
Mix Crab and Parmesean cheese together. Stir in cooled bread crumb mixture. Stuff the Baby Bellas heapingly! Put in an ungreased baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Serve & Enjoy!
Suggested Wine Pairing: EOS
Estate Winery Chardonnay
Pork Tenderloin in Cranberry-Zin Reduction
In a large sauté pan, brown at high heat 3/4" thick sliced tenderloin. Add cranberries, zin, sugar (stir in 1st tsp ) and tarragon and let cranberries and pork cook together at low heat for about 20 minutes until cranberries are slightly firm. Salt and pepper to taste.
Separate pork from cranberry / zin mixture and reduce mixture, adding more sugar if necessary.
Place mixture is separate bowl. Clean pan.
Slice onions to 1/2 inch thickness and caramelize onions in the pan using high heat and a high heat oil (such as canola).
On small plates place three arugula leaves at 120 degree angles to one another, a sliced, carmel colored onion on top of that, a pork tenderloin, and a drizzle of the cranberry-zin mixture. Serve & Enjoy!
Suggested Wine Pairing: Martin Family Vineyards Crazy Horse Zinfandel
Congratulations to our winners, and special thanks to all of our readers who submitted such tasty recipes!
Happy Holidays and bon appétit from all of us at WineCountry.com!
Wine Country Featured Events
Things to Do in the Wine Country:
November 8 - January 24—
Learning About Wines at
Relax and let your worries melt away... Journey by rail while you tease your palate with a delicious and decadent five-course gourmet dinner… Sample world class wines… Learn the secrets of Wine Country chefs …
You could win the Wine Country Gourmet Getaway for Two, including a five-course gourmet dinner on the famous and historic Napa Valley Wine Train, vineyard and winery tour tickets from Robert Mondavi Winery, as well as tickets for a gourmet cooking demonstration at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone!.
***No purchase necessary. Must be at least 21 years old to enter. Only one entry per person permitted. Winner will be selected February 7, 2003 by random drawing. Winner will be notified by email. Employees of FreeRun Technologies are ineligible. Void where prohibited by law.
Visit the Napa Valley Wine Train at: www.winetrain.com
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