Author: Jill Weinlein

Five Elegant Chardonnay Wines from Santa Barbara

“Chardonnay wine is the superstar in Santa Barbara, one of the most diverse regions to produce some of the best grapes in the world,” said moderator Elaine C. Brown at the Santa Barbara Vintners Road Trip Chardonnay seminar. “The wine region is located along the coastal range of North and South America. The transverse mountain range turns fully from a north-south orientation to an east-west angle. It’s the only wine region bordering the Pacific Ocean on two sides. Clouds roll over the top of the mountains with an ocean influence.” It’s this nook with a turn in the continent that makes all the elements to grow grapes for wine. The Pacific Ocean has a unique effect on the vines offering intense salinity in the air. It’s the only place where grapes grow that offers an open mouth from the valley to the ocean. The fog seeps in at night and blankets the vines with an interesting diffusion of light. By lunchtime, the bright sun bathes the grapes with warmth, before the late afternoon wind pulls the hot air away from the Valley region.  This ripening window with fog, sun and wind creates an acidity different from other wine growing areas in California. The vines thrive in these conditions with bud breaks in February and ripened for harvest by September. SOIL VARIATIONS What makes these grapes excellent for growing and producing fruit...

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Luxury Boutique V Palm Springs Resort

No one would every guess that the new luxury boutique V Palm Springs resort was once a budget Travelodge. A couple of Los Angeles celebrity criminal attorneys purchased the property and gave it a $15 million dollar makeover. What used to be a parking lot, is now the 1960s style mid-century lobby with an iconic butterfly roof. Cruiser bikes with baskets await guests next to a large glass front door to hop on and explore downtown Palm Springs along designated bike paths. Inside the lobby, staff members are eager to please guests at this brand new property because competition is fierce right now in Palm Springs, with an eclectic array of small boutique hotels along Palm Canyon Drive. What makes this one stand out from others is the sparkling pool with enormous golden swans luring guests to put on their bathing suits and float with their toes touching the water. There are plenty of  lounge chairs strategically placed on the pool deck for sun and a variety of umbrellas for those seeking shade and a nap.  On one side of the pool, guests look up to exquisite views of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains. Staff member Brenda led me past the pool area with cabanas that cost upwards of $1,000 a day (includes champagne, fresh fruit and water) to my room number 117. She told me there is a small...

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Mario Batali Prepares an Elegant State Dinner

Recently Mario Batali cooked the final state dinner for President Barak Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy, and his wife, Agnese Landini. Michelle Obama is a huge fan of the celebrity chef who cooks within an Italian tradition and then makes it his own. She requested that Mario  prepare a special meal to wrap up the Obama era at the White House. At a Pasadena book signing of his new book Mario Batali: BIG American Cookbook, the chef shared his recent White House experience with Food Editor and Columnist Russ Parsons. While sitting in the...

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Hamanasi is Belize’s Luxury Eco-Friendly Resort

Charles Darwin described Belize in his 1842 book,  Coral Reefs of the World, as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies.” Belize borders Guatemala, Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. When two American divers and nature enthusiasts traveled to Belize in 2000, they fell in love with the beauty of the beach town, Hopkins. They enjoyed meeting the people in this English-speaking nation. Belize is a melting pot of Creoles, Mayas, Mestizos, East Indians, Chinese, Mennonites, North Americans, Europeans and Central Americans. With over 1,000 different live species, there are 500 types of fish and 100 different varieties of coral....

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The 68th Emmys Award Cocktails

During the 68th Emmy Award Governor’s Ball, the dashing Charles Joly, award-winning bartender of World Class Spirits made two craft cocktails for the special celebratory party. The nominees and winners first sipped a Ketel One Moonlighter and The Emmys Old Fashioned. The Television Academy presented me with recipe cards to make both drinks at home. Here are the ingredients to make your own award winning cocktail to sip in front of the television, while watching the Emmys Award show. The Ketel One Moonlighter created by Mixologist Charles Joly is a simple, yet elegant cocktail, ideal for a toast to a special...

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