Category Archives: Wine Festivals

Loire Valley Wine Tasting in Chicago at the W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive

French red wine from the Loire Valley region o...

Image via Wikipedia

What a great day for the Loire Valley French Wine Tasting on the 33rd floor of W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. It was definitely a Vino con Vista opportunity with plenty of French wine and wine-makers. The central part of the  Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes-sur-Loire in France was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List  in  2000.


The Loire is the longest river in France and it is characterized by elegant historic chateaux and 300 miles of distinctive terroir that supports numerous vineyards along the river banks. This region is the leading producer of white French wines. The region is cloaked  with lovely vineyards and microclimates that produce distinctive varietals and wine styles. It is one of the most diverse wine regions in France with 69 appelations that include red, white, elegant sparkling wines and refreshing rose wines. There are distinct climates and a variety of soil types that divide the Loire Valley into 5 distinct regions.

The first vines were probably planted during Roman occupation 2000 years ago. Afterwards, the Augustinian and Benedictine Brothers enhanced the wine-making practices in this region.

I tasted some interesting Rose wines and plenty of earthy 100% Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc is one of the world’s major red grape varieties and was introduced to the region in the 11th century. It  is frequently blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to produce a Bordeaux style wine. In the Loire region, it is  not blended with other grapes so it is lighter in color than Bordeaux blends. It is used in the development of Chinon and certain roses in the Touraine appelation.

Today I spoke to Philippe Porche, a charming wine-maker from the Saumur-Champigny region in Parnay located on the south bank of the Loire River decreed an AOC in 1957.  Cabernet Franc is the predominant grape in the area.  He and his viticulturist wife founded the estate in 2005 and produce some interesting Cabernet Franc wines. I favored the garnet-colored full-bodied and velvety  “Le Fou du Roi” that was aged in oak.  This lovely couple is looking for an importer @ Feel free to contact them if you are interested in importing  luscious wines from this region. Tell them that Vino con Vista sent you.

There is a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and Chicago’s Landmark high rises from the former “Pinnacle Room” of the hotel where I spent my Senior Prom.Chicago Illinois It’s always exciting to re-live your youth.

Chicago Architecture

Domaine de Roche Ville Winery

Lake Michigan

It was such a beautiful spring day that I decided to stroll down Ontario Street heading westbound after the wine-tasting. I longingly gazed at the wide array of restaurants on Ontario Street that I patronize. They run the gamut from divine to sublime. Here’s a sampling of my “Chicago Foodie Nation” favorites:

Les Nomades is an outstanding French Restaurant that offers a Prix Fixe menu of four courses for $115 in a swanky turn-of-the-century brownstones mansion on Ontario Street. It is the perfect place to enjoy French cuisine after a Loire Valley wine-tasting event at the W Hotel down the street.

Chicago Restaurants

Chicago French Restaurants

Another one of my favorites is the Capital Grille Steakhouse where I can’t stop eating the crunchy potato chips at the bar. I love the grilled salmon served over a bed of  veggies with a side of creamed spinach. They have an extensive wine list and have won numerous awards for their outstanding burgers!

Chicago RestaurantsOntario and St. Clair in Chicago

Capital Grille ChicagoChicago Restaurants


Italian Restaurants in Chicago

Chicago Italian Restaurants

Across the street from the Capital Grille, I enjoy dining on the outdoor patio of the Coco Pazzo Cafe when the weather is nice. They have an outstanding lunch menu and recently won an award from the Italian government for their “Authentic” Italian cuisine. Quartino was another “Authentic” Italian-award winning restaurant. I took cooking lessons with the chef and he taught me to add some water from the pasta to my sauce–what a novel idea!! The Red Head Piano Bar is another one of my favorites night spots. They have great wine-tasintg events.

Authentic Italian Restaurants in ChicagoRestaurants in Chicago

There are plenty of famous classic Chicago  “Steak-Houses” on Ontario. Lawry’s serves an incredible Prime Rib and I love the “Aged Filet Mignon” and mushrooms at David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel. The Chicago Chop House has a wide array of delicious “sizzlin steaks.”

You will never be hungry or thirsty on Ontairo Street in Chicago. This city is a haven for Foodies!

Chicago is a Haven for Foodies

Chicago Steak HouseDavid Burke's Primehouse

Stop in at the the Hard Rock Cafe if you’re up for some live music. There are also some landmark fast food joints on Ontario including “Rock and Roll” McDonalds with a Rock and Roll Museum filled with memorabilia that my guitar-playing son adores.

Portillo’s has a great Italian Beef sandwich and classic Chicago hot dog and the drive-thru is always packed. Make sure you try the decadent chocolate cake . Chicago DestinationsM Burger is another fast food option that people are raving about.

Chicago Hot Dogs and Beef Sandwiches

Burgers in Chicago

Plan a trip to the Loire Valley and explore some of the majestic castles with spectacular medieval architecture: Chambord, Cheverny, Villandry and Chenonceau.


1. Villandry was built by the same man that designed much of Chambord (François I Finance Minister Jean Le Breton). Villandry is actually most renowned for what is outside of the castle. However, while Chambord remains Le Breton’s main achievement in construction, it is Villandry where he used all of the Renaissance gardening tricks he had picked up while working as an ambassador in Italy. The castle remained in the Le Breton family until the early 20th century, when it was purchased by Joachim Carvallo, who spent a whole of time, money and devotion to rebuilding, expanding and repairing the beautiful gardens. Today the gardens at Villandry are considered one of the best examples of Renaissance style gardens in the world and boasts a water garden, flower gardens and vegetable gardens laid out in formal patterns created with low box hedges—making it a must-see on any castle tour of the Loire.

2. Chambord is one of France’s most recognizable castles known for its distinct French Renaissance architecture, which blends late French Gothic and newer Italian Renaissance motifs. Chambord is also the largest castle in the Loire. Chambord was first built by King Francois I as a hunting lodge (I know you picture a hunting lodge as being more of a log cabin than a magnificent model of French Renaissance architecture, but it was a KING’S hunting lodge, after all).  Chambord has 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces and 84 staircases. It is most known for its façade, which through more than 800 sculpted columns was designed to look like the skyline of Constantinople, with 11 kinds of different towers and different types of chimneys. Chambord also has a double-helix staircase that serves as the centerpiece to the castle and was rumored to have been designed (or inspired) by Leonardo da Vinci during his time at nearby Clos de Luce.

4. Chenonceau is one of my favorite castles in the Loire Valley. Chennonceau was built in 1513 by Catherine Briçonnet and later embellished by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici, the Chateau de Chenonceau contains exquisite interiors and has idyllic gardens that look over River Cher.

Originally a small castle along the banks of the River Cher, the castle got its current design in the 16th century when it was seized by the crown for unpaid debts. In 1547, King Henri II offered the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. and she had Chenonceau’s  arched bridge built. It spans the river. She is also responsible for the gorgeous flower and vegetable gardens set in buttressed stone terraces.

Upon King Henri II’s death in 1559, his clearly bitter widow and regent Catherine de Medici had Poitiers expelled from the castle and she moved into the scenic spot herself, adding even more extensive gardens. Since then the castle was privately owned for years and even used as a make-shift hospital for soldiers during WWII; its gallery bridge’s southern door provided access to the unoccupied Free Zone while the castle’s main entrance was in the Nazi occupied zone. Chenonceau today is one of the most visited and popular of the Loire castles and its Renaissance architecture and well-lit gallery and beautiful gardens.

5. Amboise is perched up on a strategic point along the Loire River and was originally built as a fort. In 1434, the castle was seized by King Charles VII after its owner (from which the castle got its name), Louis Amboise, was convicted and killed for supposedly plotting against the King. In the 15th century that the castle was lavishly rebuilt and added onto, starting with its late French Gothic architecture, until Italian builders were brought in and the castle’s style changed to Renaissance.While the castle became a favorite retreat for many French Kings (King François I was raised primarily at the castle), Amboise’s most famous guest was Leonardo da Vinci, who came to the castle in 1515 as a guest of the King and stayed in nearby Clos de Luce. What is most notable about Amboise, however, is known for its unique blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture and large formal garden.

6. Blois was always a favorite getaway town for French kings; the castle in this quaint little Loire town is best known as the birthplace of King Louis XII as well as the primary residence for Henri IV’s exiled wife Marie de Medici, and later for the Duke of Orléans (brother of Louis XIII and uncle of Louis XIV). However, the castle has a long and prominent history and its Renaissance architecture and picturesque spot along the banks of the Loire make it a definite worthwhile stop on your Loire castle tour. In fact, the castle was the main resort for the French court during the 16th century and was also the location for the famed States General meetings held by Henri III in 1576 and 1588, where several prominent nobles were sentenced to death. The castle also plays a role in the famous Three Musketeers series by Alexandre Dumas as an important retreat for some of France’s most famous and powerful kings.

7. Cheverny was also given to Diane de Poitiers by her lover, King Henri II. Chenonceau was her favorite and primary residence. Poitiers sold Château de Cheverny to the former owner’s son who had originally built the castle between 1624 and 1630. The castle passed between owners until 1914, when the owner made it the first castle to be opened to the public; the family still owns and operates the castle to this day. The castle is renowned for its beautiful interiors and collection of furniture, tapestries and rare objects d’art. There is also a pack of about 70 dogs that are kept on the grounds and taken out for hunts twice weekly.


8. Clos Lucé is not really a  “Château de la Loire”; it is a large mansion located just 500 meters from  the Château d’Amboise by way of an underground passageway and is notable mostly for its most famous resident, Leonardo da Vinci. In 1515, King François I invited the Italian painter and inventor to Amboise and offered him the manor to use as a home and studio. When Da Vinci arrived in 1516 he came with three paintings, including the famed Mona Lisa, and lived in the mansion for the last three years of his life. Visitors to Amboise should not hesitate to hop on over to Clos Lucé, where you can peruse a museum that includes forty models of various machines designed by Leonardo.

9. Langeais is a perfect example of Medieval French architecture. It is located near the Brittany frontier and had a significant role in the battle between the French and English. The structure dates back to the 10th century and was built on a cliff which offered a strategic location overlooking the Loire River. The castle was actually fortified and expanded under the rule of Richard I of England (when English kings ruled this region of France) until King Philippe II of France recaptured the castle in 1206. The castle was also where Anne of Brittany and King Charles VIII wed, thus uniting France and Brittany. Today, the dark and ominous looking castle is replete with a great collection of Medieval tapestries.

Château de Langeais



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My Glorious Vino Con Vista Weekend in San Diego

National Register of Historic Places listings ...

Image via Wikipedia

English: Imperial Beach, California The symbol...

English: Imperial Beach, California The symbol of this surfers’ community south of San Diego. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you follow my posts, you already know that I wax poetic about my on-going love affair with Italy. Basically every nook and cranny of the magnificent peninsula and surrounding islands take my breath away. But you probably didn’t know that my second love is San Diego. There are 33 beaches, and 70 miles of coastline stretching from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. There are about 267 glorious days of sunshine per year. No wonder San Diego is “America’s Finest City.”

English: San Diego's original Victorian-style ...

English: San Diego’s original Victorian-style railway depot, built in 1887 for the California Southern Railroad Company, is razed to make way for the opening of the new Santa Fe Depot in 1915. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: San Diego Cityscape looking down Harb...

English: San Diego Cityscape looking down Harbor Drive. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IMG_3330 I love the Santa Fe Depot train station with its glorious mosaic domes. There are plenty interesting places to visit on the way to Los Angeles.


In Little Italy, go to  Extraordinary Desserts for the most beautiful sweet treats you will ever witness.




The city has a vibrant Little Italy neighborhood with outstanding restaurants and bars and plenty of gelato and Italian delis. Filippi’s Pizza Grotto on India Street is a Little Italy institution.

Here’s a Video of Little Italy in San Diego California

Sometimes, when  I yearn to be sun-kissed by the hilly landscape of Tuscany or transported to the  glistening  azure sea that surrounds the majestic cliffs of the Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast; I just plan a trip to San Diego.

Amalfi coast Italy 1

Amalfi coast Italy 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amalfi Coast Italy 6

Amalfi Coast Italy 6 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cinque Terre in Italy

A Town in the Cinque Terre

If all I have is a long weekend, I escape to the of San Diego. Did I mention that the weather is always perfect in San Diego? As a college professor, I have the luxury of a Fall Break and believe me, I thank God each and every day for all my blessings.

Chef prepaing glazed shrimp in San Diego

Chef prepaing glazed shrimp in San Diego

I always celebrate Columbus Day in what I consider to be America’s Amalfi Coast. I prefer to stay at the Marriott in the Marina District for a number of reasons. I love sun-bathing at the luxurious pool while listening to the soothing sound of the magical fountains as I sip a refreshing Miami Vice from the Tiki Bar. The Marriott is within walking distance of many of my favorite San Diego attractions and it is close to the trolley.

The city is great for biking and the hotel has a bike rental service. I like the food and the view from Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant. The rooms have outstanding views and balconies. I enjoy watching the jet skiiers and boating enthusiasts. It’s fun to watch people flying their kites in the park. Gazing at the Coranado Bridge and the sailboats is basically one of life’s simple pleasures.San Diego California Marina District Sea Port Village’s 14 acre outdoor plaza has a beautiful 19th century carousel. Grab a coffee at the Upstart Crow Bookstore and Cofeehouse at 835-C W. Harbor Drive. If you go in the summer, get tickets for the San Diego Symphony Summer Pops concerts in the Embarcadero Marina Park South (behind the Conference Center). The tickets start at $20. For more informationn visit: I’m saw Michael Bolton and Burt Baccarack in the summer of 2013!

English: San Diego Symphony Summer Pops 2008 -...

English: San Diego Symphony Summer Pops 2008 – “Motown Magic with Mary Wilson” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sea Port Village in the Marina District in San Diego California

Rocks in Sea Port Village in San Diego

Sea Port Village in the Marina District in San Diego California

The Marina District of San Diego California

The tenth annual San Diego Wine Festival will be held in the park behind the Marriott Hotel  on November 20-24, 2013 at the Embarcadero Marina Park North. What a great “Vino con Vista” venue!! Some of the other festivals held in 2013 include: Taste of Gaslamp (June 8-9), Taste of Little Italy (June 19) Taste of Adams Avenue (June 30), Encinitas Wine Festival (June 1), the San Diego Spirits Festival (August 24-25) and the San Diego Festival of Beer (September 20), and Hillcrest City Fest on August 11th with 250 vendors. On June 15th there was a Carlsbad Beach Fest with water sport challenges. The Festival of Sail is when Tall Ships from around the world dock at downtown’s Embarcadero between August 30-September 2.

San Diego Wine Festival 2012

San Diego Wine Festival 2012

San Diego Restaurant Week Kick-Off Event Tasting Event

San Diego Restaurant Week Kick-Off Event Tasting Event

San Diego Wine Festival 2012 Chefs

San Diego Wine Festival 2012 Chefs

There are many other reasons why I like the Marina District. I like to watch the sea gulls strategically capture and devour left-overs from sleeping sun-bunnies. They really seem to love french fries.  I wonder if they have cholesterol issues? Sea Port Village in the Marina District in San Diego CaliforniaI adore watching the captivating sunsets from Seaport Village.

San Diego California Marina District

I can’t understand why San Diegans don’t celebrate the vistas with the same pomp and circumstance as the daily sunset festivals in Key West.

It’s an easy stroll over to the Port of San Diego. I like the USS Midway Museum with the longest-serving US Navy aircraft carrierod the 20th century. At the museum, you can “relive 50 years of world history by walking in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors” on Harbor Drive. There are 27 restored aircraft. For more information visit

Visit the “Greatest Generation Walk” that commemorates military heritage through art. My favorite WWII commemorative statue “is “Unconditional Surrender.”  This romantic 25 foot statue of a sailor kissing a nurse by J. Seward Johnson always makes my heart skip a beat.

Nurse and Sailor in San Diego California

Nurse and sailor in San Diego California

The  Marina District is also appealing because it is within walking distance to Horton Plaza, the Gaslamp District and Little Italy. These are some of my favorite San Diego destinations. Take some time to explore the bay on a Hornblower Cruise. I like the “Sights and Sips” Sunset Cruise. Pay for a reserved window seat when you purchase your ticket.

San Francisco 2012 616

My “Vino con Vista” San Diego adventure began in the Gaslamp District with a local wine event at the House of Blues.  Exhuberant dancers enjoyed the DJ’s classic Prince tunes. I was glad they were pouring Pinot Noir because I can be such a wine snob. We meandered over to the historic Grant Hotel at Broadway and 4th where a female San Diego attorney named Lynn Schenk broke the gender barrier at the Grant Grill restaurant in 1971. The sign at the entrance said “Men only until 3:00 pm.” The Hotel is celebrating their 100th anniversary. Long story short, the place was recently refurbished as an elegant Starwood Property and serves as a testiment to the Glory Days of San Diego. The live music was enchanting.


IMG_3446 IMG_3447

The Gaslamp District has 94 historic buildings that have been  lovingly restored. Businessman Alonzo Erastus Horton spent $264 for 800 acres in 1867. These 16 blocks eventually became the Gaslamp Quarter. You can schedule a two-hour walking tour of the Gaslamp at the Historical Foundation at 619-233-4692. There are over 200 restaurants, bars and night clubs with a vast array of Happy Hour options including: Altitude Sky Lounge, Chianti, Currant, House of Blues, Hard Rock Hotel and McCormick & Schmicks.

IMG_3442 IMG_3445

The next day, I had the good fortune of having lunch on the sun-drenched patio of the Hotel Del Coronado which is one of my favorite hotels in the world! I am also a big fan of Wentworth by the see near Portmouth New Hampshire.

View of Coronado and San Diego from the air.

View of Coronado and San Diego from the air. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I usually take the Coranado Ferry from the Broadway Pier behind the Convention Center when I want to visit Coranado. I put my bike on the ferry and ride down Orange Street to my final destination. I love the view of the skyline from the Coranado Ferry Landing.  Technically, the Silver Strand connects Coronado to the mainland so it really isn’t an island. It is technically an isthmus because it is attached to the mainland at the southern end of Silver Strand State Beach and is connected to Imperial Beach

English: The pier in Imperial Beach, Southern ...

English: The pier in Imperial Beach, Southern California. South of San Diego, very close to the Mexican border. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The beach at Coronado in front of the hotel is definitely the best beach in San Diego! Have brunch at the Hotel del Coronado’s Crown Room on Sunday at 1500 Orange Avenue. . You won’t be disappointed in this Victorian gem brimming with history.

Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego California

 I love the California Historic Landmark’s  photo montage of  the 1959 film “Some Like It Hot.”  The hotel was featured in the classic film with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. It reminds me of the pictures of “La Dolce Vita” that adorn the walls of the Hotel Majestic in Rome. I like all the cute retail-therapy shops on the lower level. One of the jewelry stores had an adorable ruby slipper necklace that I had to work really hard at resisting. I grabbed a business card just in case I changed my mind when I got home about the necklace. Although our plan involved feasting on one of the restaurant’s famous Ruben sandwiches, we realized that they had changed the menu. I ordered some delicious seared scallops instead. The breath-taking views of the beach, the Pacific Ocean and hilly peninsula of Point Loma reminded me of Mondello Sicily. If I win the lottery, I’m moving to Ocean Drive in Coronado or maybe I’ll move to La Jolla so I can be Mitt Romney’s neighbor.

After lunch, we went to the Cabrillo National Monument on the southern tip of Point Loma and paid hommage to the Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo who landed here on September 28,1542 when he anchored his “San Salvador” ship. This is agreat place to watch the sunset! Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego CaliforniaI never knew about the sandstone cliffs that surround the tide pools and precious pre-historic fossils in Point Loma, but they definitely peaked my interest. Tide pools are generally found on rocky shores that are covered and uncovered daily by ocean tides. They are best viewed at low tide when you may see an array of sea like including sea stars and urchins.

Point Loma San Diego California

Point Loma San Diego California

As I gazed at the fourteen foot structure of Cabrillo, I was magically transported to the “Monument to the Discoveries” in Lisbon that honors the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator with Magellan, Vasco da Gama and other notable Portuguese explorers lining the concrete prow of a caravel. I heard the sweet serenade of Fado music and envisioned the Manueline Belem Tower that protects Lisbon’s harbor. I remembered that I was in San Diego when I saw the lighthouse, North Island, military ships and the skyline. Senior Cabrillo looks like he was kidnapped from the monument in Lisbon. In Point Loma have a burger at Slater’s 50/50 at 2750 Dewey Road. One of my favorite lunch is Point Loma Seafoods at 2805 Emerson Street.

Point Loma San Diego California

We drove past the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery that was named after a Union General in the American Civil War. The tombstones made me think about my travels to Normandy.

Point Loma San Diego California

Then I thought about how much I missed my Dad. I remembered that someone from the army called me the day before his funeral to tell me that they were sorry to hear that they had lost another one of their WWII brothers. They came to his funeral and presented me with a folded flag and gave him a proper 21 gun salute. It brought  tears to my eyes. Weeks after his funeral, I received a certificate from the White House. President Bush signed a document that stated The United States of America honored my father’s memory. It says: “This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”  I presume that the daughters of many beloved fathers buried at Rosecrans and other military cemeteries received the same document.

It was time for us to check out the newly-renovated Bali Hai Tiki Temple at 2230 Shelter Island Drive. Bali Hai was a famous show tune from Roger and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical “South Pacific.” Shelter Island in San Diego CaliforniaThe venue was lavishly adorned with maps and Polynesian artifacts. We sat at the bar for another incredible “Vino con Vista.” Instead of wine, I opted for a Polynesean cocktail that was so strong that  I had to dilute it with orange juice. I felt it was too early in the day to get hammered. I’m starting to sound like Ernest Hemmingway; most of his tales revolve around cocktail hour.

That evening, we went back to Banker’s Hill overlooking  Balboa Park  where the San Diego Zoo is located. We watched the 1937 film “Captains Courageous” based on a 1897 story by Rudyard Kipling. In the film, a young Spencer Tracy serves as a heroic role model for the arrogant son of a wealthy tycoon played by Freddie Bartholomew.  Rudyard Kipling‘s heart-warming tale is about vices and virtues. Spencer Tracy is a Portuguese fisherman who teaches the child about respect, valor and love. This tear-jerker is a must see for the over-indulged pre-teen in your family.

IMG_3361 IMG_3351

The weekend was  filled with festivals. We walked over to the Saturday morning Mercado in Little Italy. I love the fresh flowers, farm-fresh produce and wide array of merchandise offered at this weekly event. Smilin’ Jack was playing Italian songs on his accordion. When you go to Little Italy, make sure you try some of the Happy Hour Venues. I like the Glass Door Restaurant and Lounge for a Vino con Vista overlooking the Bay. San Diego’s vibrant dining scene has more than 7000 options. There are also plenty of food trucks including Mangia Mangia Mobile and Miho’s Gastrotruck. In Little Italy dine at Bencotto Italian Kitchen at 750 Fir Street or Prep Kitchen for Happy Hour.

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Little Italy in San Diego California

san diego california

We hopped on the Trolley in Little Italy that transported us to the Art Festival in Old Town where I found the perfect blush-colored  pearl bracelet to wear to my son’s spring wedding. Then for about  $20, we took a cab to Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla. I had to re-visit the historic  La Valencia Hotel and climb the stairs at George’s at the Cove for a panoramic shot of the Pacific Ocean. George’s Chef Trey Foshee serves contemporary California cuisine with breath-taking views. There’s even a rooftop terrace. Another interesting dining option in La Jolla is Nine-Ten at 910 Prospect Street inside the Grande Colonial Hotel. Chef Jason Knibb’s seasonal cuisine is served in an elegant dining room. I love the pink La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla on Prospect with the hand-painted murals

San Diego California

We walked over to the Art and Wine Festival on Girard St. The festival was a school fundraiser. Wineries from Temecula were pouring $3 tastings. I found it interesting that the public school on Girard Street was located at the intersection of the Maserati Dealership and the Ferrari Dealership. That spoke volumes about the demographics in La Jolla.

San Diego California

San Diego California

Plan to attend the La Jolla Music Society Summerfest between July 31 and August 23, 2013. La Jolla has an annual festival of the Arts between June 22-23. I wanted to attend the Gourmet Festival in Del Mar but we didn’t have enough time. If you have time, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla Village where Nancy Rubins’ large-scale, nautical inspired  artwork adorns the museum’s west side.

One of my favorite Fall Festivals is in Little Italy. I love this annual Columbus Day celebration called  “Festa” in Little Italy.

San Diego California

Live music permeates the neighborhood as the chalk artists work their magic on five- foot square sections of Date Street. Some of the chalk art is incredible!

Little Italy in San Diego California

Litte Italy reminds me of Cefalu Sicily with the historic tales of tuna fisherman, cute shops with imported Italian ceramics and charming outdoor Italian restaurants. I had some flavorful gnocchi from Buon Appetito’s food booth.

I made my mandatory trek to Fillippi’s for pine nut cookies. They offer the perfect blend  of almond paste and pine-nuts. I was too full to order a Caprese Sandwich at Mona Lisa, one of my favorite Italian stores on India. Have a perfect expresso at Caffe Italia at 1704 India Street. There’s a summer Film Festival in Amici Park Amphitheater on Saturday nights in the summer at West Date and State Streets.

Little Italy in San Diego California

In the evening, we went to Island Prime on Shelter Island and I ordered a yummy Ahi Tuna/crab meat appetizer that was drizzled with a balsamic infused apricot flavored glaze. It was just the right mate for my Cadillac Margarita with Gran Marnier. I savored the combinaton as I admired the billion-dollar views of downtown San Diego at night. The cruise ship was parked in the Port and the configuration of the ship’s red lights resembled the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Diego California

Then it was time for some  “Smooth Jazz” at Humphrey’s at 2241 Shelter Island Drive. .  I loved watching the people on the dance floor move to the rhythm of Marcus Anderson’s sexy saxophone. The passionate tatooed drummer was getting a cardiac workout.

Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay is a great venue for dinner and a show during the summer months.

No weekend in San Diego would be complete without visiting the Gaslamp Quarter. Go to Bice at 425 Island for an outstanding Happy Hour. Everyone loves Searsucker with Top Chef Brian Malarkey’s grand slam at 611 5th Avenue. I absolutely love the Grant Grill at 326 Broadway inside the elegant US Grant Hotel.

IMG_3422 IMG_3430 IMG_3432

If you have extra time, there’s plenty of biking, hiking and walking trails. Go to Balboa Park, Lake Miramar, or the Grasslands loop if  you want short and flat terrain. Balboa  Park is the site of the 1915 and 1935 international exposition.

 I think my next book will be “Vino Con Vista San Diego.” Fortunately, my research will involve many return trips to my favorite American city. How appropriate that the local flowers are “Birds of Paradise.” If you wand to browse an event calendar visit

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @


San Diego California

Mark your calendars for the San Diego Wine Festival in November. Here’s a YouTube Video overview that you might enjoy

English: The city flag of San Diego, CA. Flag ...

Image via Wikipedia

Buon Viaggio–


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Buon Natale and Christmas: Krampus and Other Holiday Events in Trentino-Alto Adige

Larix decidua forest, Dolomites, San Genesio A...
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This mountainous region of northeastern Italy is characterized by the unparalleled beauty of majestic mountains and lovely scenic lakes. It is divided by the Adige River.  Trentino is Italian-speaking and Alto-Adige, the German-speaking area is known as the South Tyrol. Alto-Adige was part of Austria until after World War I. Cortina is home to many fashion juggernauts including Bulgari, Gucci, Benneton and Geox. Trentino is the home of Cavit’s wine empire.

English: Maria Himmelfahrt, Bolzano. Deutsch: ...

English: Maria Himmelfahrt, Bolzano. Deutsch: Dom Maria Himmelfahrt, Bozen. Italiano: Duomo di Bolzano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 1960’s Provincial Road #14 was transformed into the Winestrasse (Wine Trail).  The South Tyrol Wine Road in Alto Adige runs along the right bank of the Adige River between Salorno and Bolzano. It is one of the most scenic roads in Italy. Pristine vineyards carpet lush Alpine valleys. Stop at the wineries for a “Vino con Vista.” This region produces grappa.


Bressanone (Photo credit: davideoneclick)

In 2009, UNESCO added the snow-clad Dolomites on the east side of the Province to Italy’s World Heritage List. This area has frequent landslides, floods and avalanches and UNESCO hoped to secure more rigourous defense and preservation of this area. The Dolomites are Italy’s most distinctive mountains and were formed 200 million years ago from the Primeval ocean. Their majestic mineralized coral forms magical spires, pinnacles and rock walls. The mountains include 18 majestic peaks with interesting rock formations that are perfect for skiing. The “Cinque Torri” rock formations include five towers that soar to heights of 7,762 feet.


Comprensorios del Tirol del Sur (Italia).

Comprensorios del Tirol del Sur (Italia). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Holiday Events  with Germanic traditions and Italian flavors 

During the Christmas period the towns of Bolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Vipiteno, and Brunjco offer Holiday markets. The Christmas tree (Christbaum) and the Nativity scenes are common themes in this region. There are ancient nativity rituals in Bressanone and the Gries Abbey during Advent.

In Passo dell Stelvio, the first Saturday in December celebrates “Festa dei Klosen” dedicated to Santa Claus. Locals dressed in costumes wander the streets until the Church bells ring and everyone unites in prayer

In the historic center of Arco attend “Festa d’Immacolota” on December 7th for fireworks from the castle and a Christmas market with local delicacies like apple brule, cheeses and honey until December 23rd in the historic center of town.

In Bolzano attend “Christkindlmarkt” in Piazza Walter until December 23 with delicious Germanic sweets like “zelten,” a sweet from Bolzano, based on dried figs, almonds, and candied fruit. Local tradition  provides crowns made of fir branches interwoven with ribbons and four candles. In Bolzano, they light one candle each Sunday for the four weeks of Advent.

Vintage Christmas Krampus Postcard with St. Ni...

Vintage Christmas Krampus Postcard with St. Nicholas in window (Photo credit: riptheskull)

On December 5th Bolzano celebrates the arrival of Saint Nikolaus, protector of children. During this traditional celebration, Nikolaus  is accompanied by angels and he is bearing gifts for good children. The festivities juxtapose this symbol of Good  flanked by Evil, personified by “Krampus.”  Krampus is a two-horned furry demon.  In Brunico, 150 of these “Krampus” demons parade, armed with chains and whips.

In Bressanone visit the “Il Presepe” exhibit at the Episcopal Palace until January 6th and the “Weihnachtsmarkt” Alpine Christmas Market until January 8th at the Piazza Duomo. Vin brule is distributed after the concerts and mass at the cathedral.

The 18th Annual Merano Christmas Market where most of the historic center is transformed into an outdoor market until January 7th.

Tastes of Valsugana in Levico in Parco della Terme until January 6th with Hapsburg-style horse drawn carriage rides.

In Trento attend the Christmas Market until December 23 in Piazza Fiera

In Cavalese attend the “Trial of the Witches” the first week of January.

In Cortina d’Ampezzo on Christmas Eve there is a torchlight parade of skiiers. There will also be a “EuroChocolate Ski” Event in this upscale Dolomite ski resort between December 16th and 19th.

Order a book and Buon Natale basket for your favorite Italophiles at To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista Travel Guides.

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Buon Natale and Christmas: Feast of Saint Ambrose and Holiday Events in Milan Italy

Skull of Saint Ambrose, archbishop of Milan, i...
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Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C.  By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued. Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Gothic Duomo made of white marble with 135 spires

December 7th is the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose, the Patron Saint of Milan. He was born in 339 and consecrated as the Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374. He served as the Bishop until his death in 397. This eloquent bishop was instrumental in spreading

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Sain...

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Saints Gervase and Protase. Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan. (bodies aren’t totally sharp because they are behind a bad quality sheet glass) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christianity and you can visit his mortal remains in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio.

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He is also the Patron Saint of Bologna. St. Ambrose is one of my favorites because he is the Patron Saint of learning and students., The “Honey-Tongued Doctor” is portrayed with a beehive and bees in his iconography which symbolizes wisdom. He is also the patron saint of  candle-makers and bee keepers.

The “Fiera di Sant’Ambroglio” is the city’s antique fair and takes place in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio from December 7-22. This event coincides with “The Fiera degli Oh Bej-Oh Bej.”  This is a traditional annual outdoor street market held in Milan to honor Saint Ambrose from December 5th to the 8th. For 400 years it was held in front of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, built by Ambrose between 379-386 which is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

Benefattori dell'Ospedale: i Duchi della Milan...

Benefattori dell’Ospedale: i Duchi della Milano quattrocentesca (Francesco Sforza e Bianca Maria Visconti) nell’atto di donare al Papa (Pio II Piccolomini) il bozzetto dell’erigenda Ca’ Granda (Photo credit: renagrisa)

This year the Festival will be held in The Square in front of Castello Sforzesco on Via Dante. Francesco Sforza, husband of Bianca Maria Visconti, became lord of the city in 1450. He ruled from the imposing Castello Sforzesco fortress until 1535. Today, the castle serves as a museum. Francesco Sforza built the present castle where the Visconti castle originally stood. The palace contains several art museums. The Torre del Carmine serves to enclose the fortress of the Visconti family. Michelangelo’s famous “Rondanini Pieta” (1564) can be admired in the Castello Sforzesco.

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco (Photo credit: viiruone)

Mangia and have a “Vino con Vista” at the festival where you buy interesting gifts from over 400 stalls and can enjoy a porchetta sandwich, cioccolato con panna montala (hot chocolate) and some “Vino Brule” (mulled wine).

Here’s a recipe for Vino Brule

A bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

3 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 stick of cinnamon

1 lemon peel

Stir wine over medium heat. Add sugar to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Salute!!

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 7th is the official opening of the Opera Season in Milan at Teatro alla Scala which opened in 1778. Visit the Museo Teatrale that features vintage opera posters and a remarkable array of opera costumes. For tickets visit:

Attend the Epiphany Parade of the Three Kings from the Duomo to the Church of Sant’Eustorgio on January 6th.

Milano castello sforzesco natale

Milano castello sforzesco natale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Milan has an interesting wine bar called La Cantina di Manuela on via Cadore with outdoor tables for people-watching or a nightcap. Try a Rosso della Costa Collina del Milanese or Bianco dell Costa Collina dell Milanese with some Castel Magno cheese. The Lombardy region’s specialty wine is fizzy Franciacorta. Most of the wineries in Lombardy are outside the heavily industrialized city limits in towns located between the Alps and the Apennines including Bergamo, Sondrio, Brescia, Pavia and Mantua.

Milan Duomo

Image by underflowR via Flickr

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

Buon Natale and Happy Holidays from

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Buon Natale: A White Christmas in Valle d’Aosta

A view of Breuil-Cervinia slopes.
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Valle d”Aosta is located in an extremely mountainous area. It is the smallest Italian region and borders France to the west and Switzerland to the north. It is dominated by some of the highest majestic mountains in Europe called the “Four Queens of the Alps” including Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Cervino and Gran Paradiso.

Valle Geiranger

Valle Geiranger (Photo credit: lecu_lillas)

It’s the perfect place for a “White Christmas”; and nobody does it like Bing Crosby In Italian, listen to “Bianco Natale”

There are four languages spoken in this autonomous province: French, Italian, Valdotain and German. Many feudal castles were constructed in this area to serve military functions.

English: Gran Paradiso summit and Cresta Gasta...

English: Gran Paradiso summit and Cresta Gastaldi; Gran Paradiso massif; Graian Alps; Aosta Valley; Italy Italiano: La vetta del Gran Paradiso e a destra la Cresta Gastaldi; Massiccio del Gran Paradiso; Alpi Graie; Valle d’Aosta; Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tresenta summit, Gran Paradiso Massif...

English: Tresenta summit, Gran Paradiso Massif, Graian Alps, Aosta valley, Italy Italiano: Vetta della Tresenta, Massiccio del Gran Paradiso, Alpi Graie, Valle d’Aosta, Italia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This region of Italy is a haven for skiiers; with 23 ski resorts and 170 ski lifts. Mountain climbers, rock climbers, snowboarders and winter sports enthusiasts flock to this area. The region is famous for “Torchlight Processions” around New Years’ Eve. In this province, Christmas Markets are called “Marche Noel.”

Holiday Events and Torchlight Processions

“Noel au Bourg” at the Fortress of Bord until January 6th.

“Marche Vert Noel” in Piazza Severin Caveri in Aosta until January 6th.

The 2oth annual “Courmayer Noir in Festival” through December 13th.

A ski competition in Pila December 18th-20th.

“Fiera di Sant’Orso” in Aosta January 30-31 that originated in the year 1000.

Italiano: Plan Maison, Valle d'Aosta

Image via Wikipedia

There are many “Torchlight Ski Processions” on December 30th and 31st in this area. Some of the places to see these pocessions include in the towns of: Ayas-Antagnod, Breuil-Cervinia, Chamois, Champorcher, Courmayeur, Etroubles and Gressoney-Saint-Jean.

The Valle d’Aosta Alpine vineyards are Italy’s window to Switzerland.

There are many “Vino con Vista” opportunities on the  “Route des Vins.”  This is a regional circuit of wineries. The vineyards are generally terraced and follow the “adret” that are located on the southern, sunny side of the mountains. The highest vineyards in Europe are located in Morgex-LaSalle.  Stop in the village of Morgex and have a glass of the prestigious Blanc de Morgex. The village houses a chalet with a tasting room and a restaurant. There are 22 DOC wines in the “DOC Valle d’Aosta

The Aosta region of Italy

The Aosta region of Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orchards and vineyards line the valley. Fresian cows graze in the pastures. Fontina cheese is produced in this region. Regional specialties include beefsteak alla valostana that is breaded, fried, topped with fontina cheese and ham an reheated in the oven on a slice of polenta.  Order a cup of Valle d’Aosta coffee with a shot of grappa to accompany your yummy chocolate dessert or regional tegole and torcetti almond cookies.

The Buon Ricordo destination in Valle D’Aosta is Hotel Ristorante Casale in Saint Christophe on Fraz Condemine The signature dish is Scaloppa alla Valdostana cooked with prosciutto and fontina cheese. The collector plate shows three Fresian cows grazing in the sunny pasture.

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Tree

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The Naperville Wine Festival 2014

From the Esterlina Tasting Room in Mendocino C...

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Plan to attend the Naperville Wine Festival 2014. Wine festivals offer outstanding and affordable Vino con Vista opportunities. Wine connoisseurs can discover new wines, attend wine seminars and meet wine-makers in an outdoor festival setting.

Here’s a short video with some of my favorite Vino con Vista Buddies that I met at the Naperville Wine Festival in 2011:

For the full schedule visit:

The Naperville Wine Festival will return for the 12th Consecutive Year August 22-23, 2014.

The Event will take Place at CityGate Centre, The Home of Calamos Investments, and will Showcase More than 300 Wines From Around The World.

 A Portion of the Proceeds From The Event will Help Support the Naperville Area Humane Society.


Naperville Wine Festival hours are Friday from 4 to 10PM and Saturday from 2 to 8PM Friday Night Ticket Sales End at 8:30 p.m. and Alcohol Sampling and Sales End at 9:30 p.m. Saturday Ticket Sales End at 6:30PM and Alcohol Sampling and Sales End at 7:30PM

  • Adult Wine Tasting Tickets are $28 in Advance and $35 at the Door. This Ticket Price Includes a Souvenir Wine Glass, Ten Tastings, a Festival Program, Access to Food and Wine Demonstrations and Musical Entertainment. Additional Tasting Coupons May be Purchased at the Festival. Designated Driver Tickets are $10 in Advance or at the Door. Tickets can be Purchased Online at or by phone at 877-772-5425 as well as at all Peterson Wine Cellars locations.
  • CityGate Centre is a True mixed-use development that encompasses 31 acres in the quickly growing East-West Corridor submarket of Chicago. In addition to Calamos Investments and Continental Audi of Naperville, the Naperville Wine Festival is sponsored by: Wells Fargo Advisors; Whole Foods; Petersons Wine & Spirits; BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois; Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe; Hotel Arista; Pepsi and Aquafina.

    Naperville Wine Festival Map

    Naperville Wine Festival Map

    Naperville Wine Festival Map


Location: Calamos Investments, Naperville, IL 60563
Start Date/Time: August 23, 2013 – 4 pm
End Date/Time: August 24, 2013 – 11 pm

A celebration of wine, food, music and friends with a wide array of wines to choose from and food from some of Naperville’s most popular restaurants.  Friday 4 pm – 10 pm, and Saturday 3 pm  – 9 pm.



Hess Winery

Hook and Ladder Winery

From author: "From left to right: Iron Ho...

From author: “From left to right: Iron Horse 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Testarossa 2006 Garys’ Vineyard Syrah Calera 2006 Ryan Pinot Noir Chateau Montelena 2007 Chardonnay Ridge 2007 Zinfandel” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tickets: Adult Wine Tasting Ticket – One day admission
$28 in advance or $35 at the door.
Admission ticket good for either day. This ticket includes a souvenir wine glass, ten tastings, Festival Program, Food & Wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, musical entertainment, and the opportunity to purchase wine at a discount.Designated Driver Ticket – One day admission
$10 in advance or at the door.
Admission ticket good for either day. This ticket includes two non-alcoholic drinks, Festival Program, Food & Wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, musical entertainment, souvenir wine glass upon departure. Under 21 admitted free when accompanied by paid adult.

Assortment of wine from Domaine Chandon in Yar...

Assortment of wine from Domaine Chandon in Yarra Australia showing their sparkling Chardonnay and Pinot noir wine as well as a still pinot noir. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Local chefs will offer foodies an opportunity to taste some of their cuisine. Here’s a list of the restaurants that will be serving food at the 2012 event:

Caoba Mexican Grill and Bar 1619 N. Damen Avenue Chicago, IL 60647 773-342-2622 www.caobachicago.comCityGate Grille 2020 Calamos Court Naperville, IL 60563 630-718-1010
Heaven on Seven 224 S. Main Street Naperville, IL 60540 630-717-0777 Chocolat Bouchard 129 S. Washington   Street Naperville, IL 60540 630-355-5720
SugarToad Restaurant2139 Citygate Lane Naperville, IL 60563630-778-8623 www.sugartoad.comSullivan’s Steakhouse 244 S. Main Street Naperville, IL 60540 630-305-0230

The outdoor festival will feature more than 200 wines from around the country and the world with wine seminars and cooking demonstrations. For a nominal charge you can sample pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots and chardonnay wine from various regions.

Here’s a complete list of the wineries and distributors that will be attending the 2012 event:

Peterson    Spirits and Fine Wines
Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc
Lake Sonoma Chardonnay
Kenwood Table Red
Peterson Zero Manipulation
Peterson Dry Creek Zinfandel
Cantina Aurora Dolce Stilnovo

Peterson    Spirits and Fine Wines
Villa Puccini Pinot Grigio
Villa Puccini Tuscan Red
Entwine Pinot Grigio
Entwine Chardonnay
Entwine Merlot
Entwine Cabernet Sauvingon
Haus    Wines
Schug Sauvignon Blanc
Cline Albarino
Cline Field Blend
Scott Harvey Red Label Barbera
Scott Harvey Red Label Zinfandel
Schug Pinot Noir

Coloma Chardonnay
Lady Slipper Pinot Noir
Nomad Red Blend
Tomei Barbera
Jarvis Tomei Syrah
Lonati Moscato d’Asti
Essential    Wines
Arabella Chenin Blanc
Enon Chardonnay
Arabella Viognier
Arabella Merlot
Arabella Cabernet Sauvignon
Grinder Pinotage

Laird    and Company
Moletto Prosecco
Stival Pinot Grigio
Lunae Vermentino
La Pisara Primativo
Pietrafitta Chianti
Moletto Refosco

Wine    Cru
Secret Coast Sauvignon Blanc
Bennett Lane Maximus White
Prezzolini Chianti
Zolo Malbec
Zolo Cabernet Sauvignon
Bennett Lane Maximus Red
Eola    Hills
Eola Hills Pinot Gris
Eola Hills Chardonnay
Eola Hills “La Ceole” Reserve    Chardonnay
Eola Hills Pinot Noir
Eola Hills “La Creole” Reserve Pinot Noir
Eola Hills Vin d’Or LH Sauvignon Blanc
Martin    Ray Winery
Angeline Sauvignon Blanc
Martin Ray Chardonnay
Angeline California Pinot Noir
Martin Ray Pinot Noir
Angeline Cabernet Sauvignon
Martin Ray Merlot

Cabernet    Corp
La Playa Sauvignon Blanc
Don Rodolfo Torrentes
La Playa Cabernet Rose
La Playa Cabernet Sauvignon
La Playa Block Selection Carmenere
Don Rodolfo Malbec
Ventana    Winery
Ventana Riesling
Ventana Sauvignon Blanc
Ventana Gewurztraminer
Ventana Pinot Noir
Ventana Rubystone Syrah/Grenache
Ventana Syrah

Broadbent    Selections
Broadbent Vino Verde
Broadbent Gruner Veltliner
Dr. Hermann H Riesling
Chateau Musar Rouge
Quintas do Crasto Flor
Warwick Three Cape Ladies
Small    Vineyards
Trevisiol Extra Dry Prosecco
Tre Donne La Perlina Moscato d’Asti
Giocato Pinot Grigio
Perazzeta Sangiovese
Palama Negroamaro
Antonio Sanguineti Nessun Dorma Red

Fess    Parker Family of Wines
Fess Parker SBC Riesling
Fess Parker SBC Chardonnay
Parker Station Pinot Noir
Fess Parker SBC Pinot Noir
Hodge du Podge Red
Big Easy Syrah
Good Pinot Grigio
Belpoggio Verdicchio DOC
Nicolis Valpolicella Classico
Poggio Amorelli Chianti Classico
Villa Donna Moscato d’Asti
Scagliola Petali Di Rose Brachetto
Hahn/Other    Guys
Huntington Sauvignon Blanc
Cycles Gladiator Pinot Grigio
White Knight Viognier
Cycles Gladiator Syrah
Leese Fitch Pinot Noir
Plungerhead Lodi Zinfandel
Duck Pond Winery
Duck Pond Pinot Gris
Duck Pond White Blend
Duck Pond Pinot Noir
Duck Pond Red Blend
Desert Wind Ruah
Desert Wind Barbera
Hook and    Ladder Winery
Hook and Ladder Chardonnay
Hook and Ladder Pinot Noir
Station Ten Zinfandel Blend
Hook and Ladder Zinfandel
The Tillerman Cab Blend
Hook and Ladder Cabernet Sauvignon

E&J    Gallo
La Marca Prosecco
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc
Martin Codax Albarino
Las Rocas Garnacha
Bridlewood Cabernet Sauvignon
Louis Martini  Cabernet Sauvignon
E&J    Gallo
Laguna Chardonnay
William Hill Chardonnay
Bridlewood Blend 175
MacMurray Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
William Hill Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
Gascon Reserve Malbec

Domaine Carneros Sparkling Brut
Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc
Benziger Sangicamo Chardonnay
Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir
Benziger Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon
Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinnacle    Fine Wines
Long Boat Sauvignon Blanc
La Crema Monterey Chardonnay
Gaga Rose
Gaga Rouge
Calina Carmenere
Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon
Bronco    Wine
Silver Ridge Sauvingon Blanc
Silver Ridge Chardonnay
Silver Ridge Pinot Noir
Hacienda Riesling
Hacienda Merlot
Hacienda Cabernet Sauvignon

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling
Jules Taylor Sauvignon Blanc
Skyleaf Riesling
Graham Beck Game Res. Chenin Blanc
Jules Taylor Pinot Noir
Graham Beck Game Res. Cabernet

Hayes Chardonnay
Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay
2009 Tamas Double Decker Red
Wente Reliz Creek Pinot Noir
Spur Meritage
Wente Charles Wetmore Cabernet
Quintesential    Wines
New Age Rose
New AgeWhite
Elsa Bianchi Torrentes
Simonsig Chenin Blanc
Grand Rojo Garnacha
Morse Code Shiraz

Prestige    Wine Group
Starling Castle Riesling
Michel Picard Vouvray
Michel Picard Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Broke Ass Red
Le Grand Noir GSM
Luccio Moscato d’Asti
Jomad    Imports
San Hubberto Torrentes
San Hubberto Reserve Chardonnay
San Huberto Bonarda
San Huberto Malbec
San Huberto Reserve Syrah
San Huberto Cabernet Sauvignon

Cartlidge    and Browne Winery
Cartlidge and Browne Sauvignon Blanc
Cartlidge and Browne Chardonnay
Cartlidge and Browne Pinot Noir
Cartlidge and Browne Zinfandel
Cartlidge and Browne Cabernet
C&B Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Vibrant    Rioja
Cortijo White
Cortijo Rose
Ramon Bilboa
Ramon Bilboa Limited Edition
Gloriso Reserva
Campo Viejo Gran Reserva

Vina Arnaiz Roble Tinto
Salneval Albarino
Antano Virura
Conde de Valdemar Reserve
Opera Prima Moscato
Don Simon Sangria
V2 Wine    Group
Toad Hollow Risque Sparkling
Dry Creek Chenin Blanc
Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc
Steel Head Chardonnay
Steel Head Pinot Noir
Dry Creek Meritage

Indigo    Wine Group
Bon Cap The Ruins Organic Sparkling
Bon Cap The Ruins Organic Sauvignon Blanc
Bon Cap The Ruins Organic Syrah/Cab
Robertson Shiraz/Mouvedre/Viognier
Casa de Campo Moscato
Robertson Sweet Red
Classical Wines
Mont Marcal Cava Rosada Brut
Legado del Conde Morgadio Albarino
Bodegas Garci Grande Verdejo
Guelbenzu Red
Lorinon Crianza
Carchelo “C”

Lagnaippe    Beverage
Boomtown Pinot Gris
Schild Estate Chardonnay
Schild Estate GMS
Dexter Lake Red
Boomtown Syrah
Revah Pomegranite
Alias Chardonnay
Cannonball Chardonnay
Alias Merlot
Cannonball Merlot
Alias Cabernet Sauvignon
Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon

Cape    Classics
Buitenverwachting Beyond Sauv Blanc
Indaba Chardonnay
Mulderbosch Rose
Buitenverwachting Beyond Cabernet
Mulderbosch Faithful Hound Red
Jam Jar Shiraz
Robert    Kacher/Winebow
Tariquet Classique
Tariquet Rose de Pressee
Clean Slate Riesling
Gournier Grenache Noir
Cazes le Canon du Marechal Rouge
Root 1 Carmenere

Kris Pinot Grigio
Argiolas Costamolino
Catena Chardonnay
Valle Reale Vigne Nuove    Montepulciano
Allegrini Palacco Della Torre
Catena Malbec
Palm Bay
Twin Vines Vinho Verde
Arrogant Frog White
Arrogant Frog Pinot Noir
Arrogant Frog Lily Pad Red
Periquita Duoro Red
Santa Rita Reserve Malbec

Peter Lehmen Layers White
Glen Carlou Chardonnay
Peter Lehmen Layers Red
Sequana “Sarmento” Pinot Noir
Artezin Zinfandel
Amalaya Malbec Blend

Sequana Pinot Noir

Sequana Pinot Noir

L. Buillot Rose
DeLoach Heritage Chardonnay
Lyeth ‘Fleur de Lyeth’ Red Blend
Raymond ‘R’ Merlot
Raymond ‘R’ Field Blend
Batoisiolo Moscato d’Asti

Francois Lurton Blanco
Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir
Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet
Tortoise Creek Zinfandel
Araucano Carmenere
Familia Zuccardi  Q Malbec
Hirschbach & Sohne Liebfraumilch
Lucky Star Pinot Noir
Milbrandt Traditions Merlot
Oxford Landing GSM
Oxford Landing Shiraz
Bricco Riella Moscato d’Asti

Diamond    Imports
Domaine Sigalas Athiri/Assyrtiko Blend
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko
Domaine Skouras White
Domaine Skouras Moscofilero
Domaine Skouras St. George
Alpha Estate Xinomavro Hedgehog Vnyd
Sidewood Sauvignon Blanc
Deviation Road Chardonnay
The Garden Path Shiraz/Cab
Smidge Houdini Shiraz/Zin
Deaf Galah Red
Alliance Shiraz

Opolo    Winery
Opolo Chardonnay
Opolo Viognier
Opolo Sangiovese
Opolo Maestro
Opolo Summit Creek Zinfandel
Opolo Serenade Cab/Malbec
Underdog    Wine Merchants
A Mano Pinot Grigio
Concannon Conservancy Chardonnay
Concannon Conservancy Crimson &    Clover
Cupcake Red Velvet
Flip Flop Moscato
Helfrich Gewurztraminer

Barefoot    Wine and Bubbly
Barefoot Pinot Grigio
Barefoot Bubbly Brut
Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato
Barefoot Bubbly Moscato Spumante
Barefoot Moscato
Barefoot Sweet Red
Easley    Winery
Reggae White
Reggae Rose
Reggae Red

Evaton, Inc
Anakena Sauvignon Blanc
Gazela Vino Verde
Gazela Rose
Finca Flichman Cabernet Sauvignon
Finca Flichman Reserve Malbec
Finca Flichman Tupungato
Lynfred    Winery
Vin de City White
Vin de City Red
Illinois Seyval Blanc
Oktoberfest Wine
Plum Wine

St.    James Winery
Velvet White
Velvet Red
Cooper’s Hawk    Restaurant & Winery
Almond Sparkling
Semi-Dry Riesling
Cooper’s Hawk White
Rhubarb Fruit Wine
Cass Winery

Cass Winery

Cass Winery

2010 Oasis Rose
2010 Roussanne
2009 Grenache
2009 Mourvedre
2008 Syrah
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
2008 Cass Reserve

Constellation Wines
Blufield Riesling
Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc
Estancia Pinot Grigio
Toasted Head Untamed White
Diseno Malbec
Primal Roots Red Blend

Wine Festival

The ticket includes a souvenir wine glass, ten tastings, Festival Program, Food & Wine seminars, cooking demonstrations, musical entertainment and the opportunity to purchase wine at a discount.

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides and Apps @ and attend many food and wine events.

Last year, I fell in love with Cass Winery’s Reserve and had a case shipped to my home from the winery. Try the Cooper’s Hawk Barbera; it’s from a local winery near Naperville.

Naperville Wine Festival

Naperville Wine Festival

For more information visit

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Vino con Vista Pisa: A UNESCO Site in Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the most fam...
Image via Wikipedia

Pisa was a former Roman naval base and commercial port. Trade with Muslim Spain, North Africa and Lebanon generated tremendous wealth for this maritime power from the 11th to 13th centuries  Arabic numerals were introduced to Europe through Pisa.  By 1406, the city was conquered by Florence.

The iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, and its spiral staircase of 294 steps is one of the most famous Italian monuments in the world. The Piazza dei Miracoli or Piazza of Miracles, hosts four gleaming Medieval masterpieces: the Leaning Tower is also the Bell Tower, the Camposanto (the graveyard), the Baptristy and the Cathedral. The Baptistry and Cathedral ; Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta are Pisan Romanesque.” It was constructed with the intention of preserving “holy land” from Palestine.

The UNESCO  World Heritage site stands in a large green expanse, known as the “Field of Miracles” and was inscribed in 1987. The Piazza del Duomo houses a group of splendid monuments known throughout the world.

English: Interior view of the duomo of Pisa

English: Interior view of the duomo of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Leaning Tower of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are some UNESCO photos of Pisa, Italy: del Duomo, Pisa &siteid=49


Pulpit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These four masterpieces of medieval architecture were influenced by Islamic architecture.  They include:  the Cathedral (1064), the Baptistry (1154), the Campanile (1173) which is the famous gravity defying “Leaning Tower of Pisa” and the cemetery (1277).  The unstable subsoil caused the Tower to tilt and sudside.  The cemetery houses Roman sarcophagi and frescoes damaged by WWII bombs that have beeen restored.

The Duomo of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, ...

The Duomo of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, showing the Baptistry. The Leaning Tower cannot be seen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pisa’s Duomo is considered the finest Pisan-Romaneque building in Tuscany with its tiered façade, colonnades, arcades and beautiful bronze doors. Giovani Pisano’s magnificent carved pulpit represents the life of Christ (1301-11).  The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains casts of the fountain stones of each of the buildings beginning in 1064.

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pi...

English: Cathedral of Pisa (Duomo di Pisa), Pisa, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrea del Sarto’s “St Agnes and Lamb”; Tino da Camaino’s “tomb of Emperor Henry VII, as well as Cimabue’s 1302 mosaic “Christ in Majesty” are housed in the Duomo.  In the Duomo Museum, Giovanni’s “Madonna and the Crucifix” was carved in ivory in 1299; the natural shape of the tusk contributes to her stance.





The Baptistry of the Cathedral of Pisa.

The Baptistry of the Cathedral of Pisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The white marble Romanesque Baptistry was designed by Diotisalvi in 1152 and completed in 14th century. It was structurally renovated between 1990 and 1999. It contains a beautiful pulpit by Nicola Pisano and a central font by Guido Bigarelli of Como. The cylindrical structure has amazing acoustics.  The roof of the Baptistry is double-domed..

Pisan artists had a great influence on monumental art in Italy from the 11th to the 14th century, which is reflected in the work of Bonanno and Giovanni Pisano. The National Museum of St. Matthew on the banks of the Arno River, has a wonderful collection of Tuscan painting and sculptures including: Francesco Traini’s “Scenes from the Life of St. Domenic”, Fra Angelo’s “Christ” and Donatello’s bust of San Rossore.

There are many Events in Pisa:

Attend the annual  “Unica Terra di Vino” in December.This wine Festival will be held at the Stazione Leopolda and features 60 producers from the Pisa Province.

The International Pisa Marathon is on December 19th and starts at the Piazza dei Miracoli.

Corso Italia and Borgo Stretto are draped with holiday lights. There are Holiday Markets on Via Paparelli, under the Logge di Bianchi and at Largo Ciro Menotti.

Attend the Pisa Gospel Festival in December.

Christmas concerts are held in many churches: the Church of San Nicola on December 5ht, Santo Stefano on December 10th and the church of San Francesco on December 19th featuring the music of Bach and Vivaldi.

Opera Primaziale will perform on December 18th in the Cathedral of Pisa in Piazza dei Miracoli.

The Church of San Martino will host a presepi exhibit until January 9th.

On December 29th attend the Volterra Mercato & Gusto.

Attend the annual Cigoli Artistic Nativity Scene and Market of Solidarity at the Santuario Maria Madre dei Bambini in Cigoli Miniato. This is one of the largest nativity scenes in Tuscany.

English: Leaning Tower - Pisa.

English: Leaning Tower – Pisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many “Vino con Vista” opportunities at the cafes near the Leaning Tower.  In Marina di Pisa, have some lunch and a glass of Bianco Pisano at Miracles Café on Via P. Agostino da Montrefeltro on the seafront terrace.  Visit the Castellina Maritima Winery on Via Bagnoli (  Order a Foresta on Via Litoraneaz for a great view.

There is a newly renovated Bagni Di Pisa Natural Spa Resort (  It was the former summer resort of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.  For a real treat, stay at the Relais dell’Orologio on Via della Faggiol (

There are two Buon Ricordo restaurants to in Pisa:

Ristorante Enoteca Dante e Ivana in Tirrenia @ Viale Tirreno.  Enjoy the “Tomato Soup with Tyrrhenian batarga” to get the charming collector plate.  It works well with a glass of Bianco Pisano di San Torpe. The seaside veranda is a lovely place to dine and enjoy the view.

Ristorante-Enoteca Del Duca inVolterra @ Via di Castello, 2.  The signature dish is “Ribollita with wood pigeon and volterra truffles.” This soup should be accompanied by a glass of red wine.  The restaurant is located in the prestigious Palazzo Inghirami.

Happy Holidays from Vino con Vista

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @

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Juliet’s Balcony makes Verona Italy the Vino con Vista City of Love

Juliet's purported balcony, in Verona. Beneath...

Image via Wikipedia


Giulietta (Photo credit: Luciana.Luciana)

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper...

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper for Toy Theatre; Romeo and Juliet (background and surroundings removed) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quotation from Romeo and Juliet and a Portrait...

Quotation from Romeo and Juliet and a Portrait of Shakespeare on the right-side Pillar of Gates of Verona, next to the entrance to the Museo Maffeiano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: verona arena italy 2009

English: verona arena italy 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown depic...

An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper for Toy Theatre; Romeo and Juliet (background and surroundings removed) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verona (Photo credit: IK’s World Trip)

If you have seen the movie “Letters to Juliet” with Vanessa Redgrave and Amanda Seyfried you are familiar with the story of Juliet’s balcony and the Club di Giulietta. The letters that are addressed to Juliet are read and answered by local volunteers.

Vanessa Redgraves’s long lost love Lorenzo in the movie  is actually her husband in real life.

English actress Vanessa Redgrave at the press ...

English actress Vanessa Redgrave at the press conference for the film Coriolanus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mass-produced colour photolithography on paper...

Julia/Giulietta, Zweitguss 1974 nach dem Origi...

Julia/Giulietta, Zweitguss 1974 nach dem Original des Künstlers Nereo Costantini in Verona, ein Geschenk der Partnerstadt Verona (oder der Sparkasse Verona) an München (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The movie was filmed in Juliet’s hometown of Verona. Did you know that you could go to Verona and leave a message under her balcony at the 14th century palace? Look at all the documents under the picture in the post. Her secretaries will respond to your request offering advice about your Romeo. You don’t actually have to go to Verona to leave a letter, you can email the letter seeking romantic advice to her secretaries. The volunteers at the Juliet Club (Club di Giulietta) will answer your letter. On  Valentine’s Day you may win a prize. Every Valentine’s Day a prize is awarded for the most beautiful letter. The prize includes a weekend trip to Verona. Juliet’s Club is financed by the city of Verona and was the subject of a book by Lise and Ceil Friedman.

The Capulet’s House (Casa di Giulietta) has a balcony, a courtyard and a bronze statue of Juliet. For good luck, stroke Juliet’s breast on the bronze statue. If you write your name and your loved-ones name on the wall, it is believed that your love will be everlasting.

The historic city of Verona has pastel candy-colored buildings. It was founded in the first century B.C. and is located at the foot of the Monte Lessini on the river. Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an outstanding example of a military stronghold. Verona is the second most important art center in the Venato region outside of Venice.

Verona has developed progressively and uninterruptedly for over 2000 years. The top row of the Roman Amphitheatre offers a panoramic view over the town and on a clear day the Alps are visible.  The amphitheatre continues to serve as an opera house. Verona’s arena serves as a venue for an annual Shakespeare Festival. It was completed in 30 AD.

The Giardino Guisti is one of Italy’s most famous gardens and offers a beautiful view from the “monster balcony.”  Verona flourished under the 124 year reign of the Scaliger family in the 13th and 14th centuries and as part of the Republic of Venice from the 15th to 18th centuries. Several seminal stages of European history have been preserved in this magical city. Tour the museums to view masterpieces from the medieval and Renaissance periods.

When you go to Verona to send your letter to Juliet, have a seat at a café in the Piazza dei Signore and order a Rosso Veronese, Soave or Valpolicello Classico as you gaze at the imposing statue of Dante. Think about Shakespeare embellishing Romeo and Juliet’s love story in this romantic “City of Love”. Sign up for cooking lessons at Villa Giona, associated with the Allegrini Winery, to seal the deal with Miss or Mr. McDreamy!

Dine at Osteria Sottoriva on Via Sattoriva and try some asparagus lasagna. Arche and Il Desco offer outstanding regional cuisine. There are two Buon Ricordo restaurant options near Verona: ( 1)  Gardesana in Torri del Benacoke on the eastern Riviera of Lake Garda is located at Piazza Calderini, 20 ( Order the whitefish filet in sweet and sour sauce and gaze at the glistening lake from the terrace and (2)  Ristorante 12 Apostoli on Vicolo Corticella S. Marco, 3 ( offers a delightful duck breast in Amarone wine. This restaurant has a 250 year history.

Verona has a long and strong history of wine production with high quality and high productivity.  On the Veronese Riviera, Lake Garda is synonymous with the Bardolino red wine zone and winery tours can be arranged at the Enoteca del Bardolino and at the Wine Museum of the Zeni estate. The Valpolicella appellation was declared 2009’s winemaking region of the year by Wine Enthusiast. Amarone and Recioto wines were upgraded to DOCG status. Amarone is my favorite Italian red wine. It is made from the partially dried grapes including: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara.

Amarone from Verona

Amarone from Verona

Deutsch: Zwei Flaschen Amarone della Valpolice...

Deutsch: Zwei Flaschen Amarone della Valpolicella Italiano: Due bottiglie di Amarone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In April of each year, Verona hosts “Vinitaly.” It is the country’s largest wine exhibition where you can taste thousands of wines from around the world.   Here are some red wines you want to try in Verona:  Amarone della Valpolicella,  Bardolino Superiore, Cabernet Franc e Sauvignon, Chiaretto del Garda, Valpolicella and Raboso del Piave. To learn more about Italy read Vino con Vista Travel Guides

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

and iBookstore

If you are planning a trip to Vinitaly or Verona, consider these hotels:

Byblos Art Hotel Amista (15th century villa) Hotel Gabbia Doro (in town) Due Torri Hotel Baglioni (14th century building) Lake Garda, stay at the Grand Hotel A Villa Feltrinelli
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Forza Azzurri: Vino con Vista Turin and Italian Unification

English: Map of unification of Italy, 1815-70

English: Map of unification of Italy, 1815-70 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coat of Arms of the Dukes of Savoy after Emman...

Coat of Arms of the Dukes of Savoy after Emmanuel Philibert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palazzo Madama a Torino File:Brogi, Giacomo (1...

Palazzo Madama a Torino File:Brogi, Giacomo (1822-1881) – Torino – Palazzo Madama (1865s).jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meeting with Victor Emmanuel in Teano

Meeting with Victor Emmanuel in Teano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy

Palazzo Madama, Torino, Italy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia
Image via Wikipedia

Italian Unification was the political and social movement know as il Risorgimento (the Resurgence). The movement attempted to unite Italy under one flag. Italy was officially united into a nation state on March 17th, 1861. On this day, Vittorio Emanuele II, the King of Piedmont-Sardinia proclaimed the birth of a new Italian Kingdom in Turin.

This day has been declared a national holiday and many of Italy’s museums and monuments will be free. In Rome, there will be fireworks and concerts. Milan is celebrating with a free concert and Palermo will have a parade at Villa Trabia.

Turin is the largest city in the region of Piedmont and it was historically under Austro-Hungarian domination. Piedmont is located between the Alps and the Po Valley with soaring peaks and charming vined-cloaked hilly landscapes. It is the home of Italian auto maker FIAT

Turin was Italy‘s first capital. Her piazzas, palaces and churches are brimming with the remnants of the powerful House of Savoy. The amazing residences of the Royal House of Savoy are UNESCO World Heritage sites. They were inscribed in 1997 and include the Palazzo Reale, the Royal Armory, the Library and Stables.

When Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, moved his capital to Turin in 1562 he began a series of buiding projects. These projects were continued by his successors to demonstrate the power of the ruling house. The Savoy complex of buildings radiates from the Royal Palace in Turin to many country residences and hunting lodges in the surrounding countryside.

“These architectural masterpieces represent a comprehensive overview of European monumental architecture in the 17th and 18th centuries. These structures embody distinctive grandiose style and grace; depicting the prevailing doctrine of absolute monarchs.” UNESCO

In 2011, Turin celebrated 150 years of unification with special events in many regional cultural venues. Turin has more than 40 museums including the National Museum of the Risorgimento, the Egyptian Museum and the Automobile Museum.

Prior to March 17, 1861, Italy was divided into small city-states ruled by other countries like Spain and Austria. In 1861, Italy won her independence following the Risorgimento aided by Garibaldi’s military prowess. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed and Torino became the capital of the new kingdom.

Italian sports teams wear Azzurro Blue (azure), the official color of the House of Savoy.  At national sporting events,  the Italians chant “Forza Azzurri” which means “Go Blue.”  Here’s the soccer team in their Azzurro uniforms “Italia Championi del Mondo”

Visit the Pinocoteca dell’Accademia Albertina with eight rooms of fine arts and the Galleria Sabauda for Renaissance art. Bellini, Fra Angelico and Fra Filippo Lippi masterpieces are housed in these galleries.

The original Holy Shroud (Sacra Sindone) of Turin is kept in Turin’s Duomo in a silver casket inside a marble coffer. The replica is available for viewing. Carbon testing in the late 1980’s indicated that the shroud dates back to the 12th century; this invalidates the original theory of the shroud.

Facts about the Province of Turin:

The life of “Vittorio Emanuele II: The Gentleman King” will be highlighted with documents, pictures and artifacts in three locations in the province of Turin. Castle Racconigi, the location of his wedding to Archduchess Maria Adelaide of Hapsburg-Lorraine, will display the legend of  “children and families.” In the Gallery of the Shroud of Turin in Palazzo Reale, battle highlights of the Risorgimento will be exhibited.

Turin was the Hollywood of Italy. The “Zombies, Vampires, Mummies and Ghosts” visit the Museo Nazionale del Cinema on Via Montebello.

Get tickets for the  Turin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Holiday Events in Turin:

1. Mercatino di Natale on Via Roma in Turin

2. Presepi da Gustare on December 11th in Comune di Venaus

3. Mercatino di Fine Anno in Centro Storico of Oulx on December 30th

4. Mercatini di Natale in Comune di Sestrieve on December 18 and 19

5. Fiera Regionale del Bovino da Carne in Carmagnola December 10-12

6. Cioccolatorrino in Bardonecchi at Piazza delle Stretta on January 4th

7.  Il Bosco Incantato on Vie del Borgovecchio December 27th thru January 6th

Additional holiday events in Piedmont:

In Alagna, admire the Ice Nativity Scene on Christmas Eve

The Bonfire Celebration in Roatto on Christmas Eve

The torchlight re-enactment of Christmas Eve in Schierano

The “Living Nativity Scene” in Cessole and Maranzana on Christmas Eve

The cafes in Piazza San Carlo present perfect “Vino con Vista” opportunities. Sip wine and enjoy tasty agnolotti (ravioli) and tajarin all’uovo pasta. Your Moscato d’Asti will be served under a fabulous Murano glass chandelier.

King Vittorio Emanuele II would have probably preferred a glass of Barolo wine produced from Nebbiolo grapes to celebrate the unification of Italy. Try a glass of Barbaresco with some agnolotti filled with ricotta or stewed meat and garnished with white truffles. Another regional specialty is Oca alla Piedmontese.

In Piedmont, Barolo the “King of Wines”, Barbara and Barbaresco come from the vineyards of Langhe close to Liguria. This area is one of the most prestigious red wine producers in Italy.  More interesting red wines from Piedmont include Premetta, Torette, Pinot Noir and Petit Rouge. Brachetto d’Acqui, sweet Moscato d’Asti and sparkling Spumante are also produced here. The Provencia di Asti is located in the Piedmont region.

My absolute favorite everyday Italian wine is Barbera. It is produced in the town of Alba, which is also famous for white truffles. Barbera d’Alba is fruity and lighter than Barolo. Dolcetto d’Alba is also quite appealing. Most Italian wine lovers prefer the region’s prestigious Barolo.

The Buon Ricordo options in the Piedmont Region include:

1. Ristorante Torino in Alessandria at Via A. Vochieri 108 ( The signature dish is an extraordinary Rabbit with Peppers.

2. Ristorante La Contea in Neive at Piazza Cocito, 8 ( offers a Piedmonte calf-tail braised in Barbaresco  with a charming collector plate showing a cow’s tail wrapped around a glass of red wine. The restaurant is located in the center of town in the picturesque village of Langhe.

To learn more about Italy read www.vino-con-vista.comTravel Guides and

Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites

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Mount Vernon Spring Wine Festival 2014 in Virginia

Mount Vernon, located near Alexandria, Virgini...

Mount Vernon, located near Alexandria, Virginia, was the plantation home of the first President of the United States, George Washington. The mansion is built of wood in neoclassical Georgian architectural style, and the estate is located on the banks of the Potomac River. Mount Vernon was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is owned and maintained in trust by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aquatint by Francis Jukes (1745-1812) of Mount...

Aquatint by Francis Jukes (1745-1812) of Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make plans to attend the Mount Vernon Spring Wine Festival.

WHEN: May 17-19, 2014

Mount Vernon’s Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour celebrates the history of wine in Virginia with candlelit tours of the Mansion, including the rarely-open basement where Washington stored his wine, and live jazz on the east lawn overlooking the scenic Potomac River.

Guests can sample wines from 16 Virginia wineries, learn about the successes and failures of our Founding Father’s wine endeavors, and meet “George and Martha Washington” on the Mansion’s piazza.

Concessions by the Mount Vernon Inn are available for purchase. Outside food and beverage are not allowed.

Advance ticket purchase is recommended for this popular event. Tickets are $38 per person, fruit and cheese boxes are $26 each, and VIP tables (for up to 12 people) are $1,000.

NEW – Wine Festival Express: Round trip transportation from the King Street Metro Station is available for Friday, May 17. Shuttle tickets are $30 per person and do not include event admission. Shuttles depart Alexandria at 5:30 p.m. sharp and return from Mount Vernon at 9:15 p.m.

Friday & Saturday, May 17 & 18 – General Admission is SOLD OUT.
VIP Tables are still available for Friday, May 17.
General Admission and VIP Tables are available for Sunday, May 19.

Click here to purchase tickets, fruit and cheese boxes, and VIP Tables. 

Participating Wineries & Vineyards

  • Barboursville Vineyards
  • Cedar Creek Winery
  • DelFosse Vineyard & Winery
  • Early Mountain Vineyards
  • Fabbioli Cellars
  • Fincastle Vineyard & Winery
  • Fox Meadow Winery
  • Gray Ghost Vineyards
  • Horton Vineyards
  • Jefferson Vineyards
  • Old House Vineyards
  • Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery
  • Sunset Hills Vineyard
  • Veramar Vineyards
  • Veritas Vineyard
  • Winery at Bull Run

WHEN: MAY 20, 2012

Tickets are still available for Sunday, May 20! Click here to purchase tickets for the Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour.

Mount Vernon plantation, near Alexandria, Virginia

Mount Vernon plantation, near Alexandria, Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mount Vernon’s Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour celebrates the history of wine in Virginia.

Mount Vernon, is a Georgian structure that is located near Alexandria Virginia. It was George Washington’s plantation home and is a National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neoclassical structure is located on the banks of the Potomac River.

At the Spring Wine Festival, there will be candlelit tours of the mansion with live jazz on the east lawn overlooking the Potomac. Visit the wine cellar and learn about George Washinton’s passion for wine.

US Postage stamp: Mt. Vernon, 1956 issue, 1-1/...

US Postage stamp: Mt. Vernon, 1956 issue, 1-1/2c, carmine-brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


View of the Potomac from Mount Vernon

View of the Potomac from Mount Vernon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Photograph of Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Vi...

Photograph of Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia. George Washington’s Home. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Map of Virginia highlighting Fairfax County

Map of Virginia highlighting Fairfax County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @

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Filed under Mount Vernon Spring Wine Festival 2012 in Virginia, Mount Vernon Spring Wine Festival 2014 in Virginia, Wine Festivals