The USA’s Best Fall Wine Harvest Festivals

By Jeanette Zinno
September 12, 2019
Vineyard Grapes With Sun
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Fall marks harvest season in the wine industry, when vineyards across the US celebrate the year's harvest with festivals, tastings and events. Here are a few of our favorites.

Come September and October, vineyards begin to harvest the grapes that they’ve ever so carefully grown and cared for all season. Vineyards around the world celebrate their bounty with end-of-harvest festivities. Marking the occasion with music and dancing in the vines to food, grape stomping contests and plenty of vino.

Willamette Valley Vineyards – Turner, Oregon

Every year Willamette Valley Vineyards, celebrates the end of harvest with a Grape Stomp Championship and Harvest Celebration. So kick off your shoes and get ready to stomp! This year marks the 29th year, and it will take place on September 21st and 22nd in Oregon wine country. The winners of the competition receive an all-expense paid trip to the World Championship Grape Stomp in Santa Rosa. In addition to stomping, guests can enjoy Willamette Valley Vineyards’ latest wine releases (a tasting flight is included with the $15 admission). Guests are also welcome to try the custom harvest-inspired menu created by Winery Chef, DJ MacIntyre, along with live music and lawn games.

Calaveras Winegrape Alliance – Murphys, California

You’ll feel like you’re going back in time in Murphys, California, a historic Gold Country town nestled in the Sierra foothills. But don’t let that fool you; they sure know how to celebrate the end of harvest. Every first Saturday in October, the town of Murphys transforms into a frenzy of activity with two popular events. Organized by the Calaveras Wine Alliance, the Annual Calaveras Grape Stomp includes energetic stomp competitions every half hour. You can also look forward to live and silent auctions, a team costumes contest and wine tastings of course. Just half a block away, there’s something for everyone at the Annual Gold Rush Street Faire. Main Street fills with over 100 booths of local food, handmade jewelry, unique fashion, art and crafts and more.

Château Elan Winery & Resort – Braselton, Georgia

The good thing about this winery is that it has a resort just in case you taste too much delicious wine. Château Elan celebrates the end of harvest season with a massive Vineyard Fest on November 17th in the north Georgia foothills. With 1500 guests annually, the festival is sure to be even bigger this year after a $25 million renovation that will be unveiled. This year’s theme is “Flavors of the South” with a spotlight on the local restaurants. Guests can look forward to tasting over 100 beers and wines and a myriad of food stations with everything from pralines to fried green tomatoes. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of grape-stomping to burn off those calories.

Niagara Falls Wine Region – Niagara Falls, New York

This is a celebration to remember! More than 20 vineyards throughout Niagara Falls USA’s wine region come together for the annual Harvest Festival on September 21st and 22nd. As part of the festival, each vineyard pairs its wine with a harvest-themed appetizer, salad, soup, side dish or dessert. So come hungry! Tickets are $22 and include a tasting of three wines with a food sample at each participating winery. Some dishes to look out for include a lavender and sage ratatouille paired with Liten Buffel’s 2017 Perfetto Vineyard Pinot Noir. Or Long Cliff Winery & Vineyards savory pumpkin macaroni and cheese paired with their 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir.

The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey – Cañon City, Colorado

Head to The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey for a free harvest event in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. The Harvest Festival is an annual event where partygoers can indulge in local foods and enjoy blues and jazz bands. Want to make your own wine? Anyone attending ehe Harvest Festival is able to bring their own grapes to be added to that year’s unique “Canon Harvest” wine batch. This all goes down on September 28th and 29th, and the community batch will eventually be bottled and sold. Guests can also splurge on a special dining experience with the Winemakers Dinner Friday night for a cost of $125 per ticket. The chef will highlight Colorado produce, meats, fish, and cheeses in the creation of the menus. Think miso trout and brown butter sage gnocchi, all paired with divine wine.

Morgan Creek Vineyards – New Ulm, Minnesota

Thanks to its strong German heritage, New Ulm, Minnesota, does Oktoberfest like no other the first two weekends every October. Part of New Ulm’s Oktoberfest celebration, Morgan Creek Vineyards’ annual Grape Stomp kicks off the first Saturday in October. Visitors can enjoy German music and dance performances, food and wine pairings, tours and more. Now, back to the main event. October 5th is the grape stomp competition day, where teams of three to five stompers compete to produce the largest volume of juice stomped from fresh grapes. The prize: bragging rights and a free case of wine. A costume contest is also held in conjunction with the grape stomp. Good luck!

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World's First Cheese Conveyor-Belt Restaurant Lands in London

Billed as the world’s first cheese conveyor-belt restaurant, Pick & Cheese comes courtesy of the Cheese Bar team and opens its doors on 7 September in Seven Dials Market, a new food hall in Covent Garden. “We’ve been looking for the perfect spot in the West End for a while now,” says founder Matthew Carver. “We think this style of cheese and wine bar will work so well here – it’s the perfect stop for a pre-theater snack or to refuel after a hard days’ shopping.” Dairy-lovers can belly up to the bar, where spots are first-come, first-served, and spend an hour choosing from cheddar, Stilton, Gouda, and more as they whizz around the 40-metre belt. (“Cheese should always be served at room temperature,” says Carver.) Plates are color-coded by price, so you barely have to think before you grab, say, a £2.95 Mayfield cheese from East Sussex’s Alsop & Walker or a £6.10 bresaola made in Tottenham. With more than 25 varieties sourced from all over the UK, you might be tempted to try one of each. Carver recommends the Kingham, a brand new cheese released this summer that’s served with walnut fudge for a classic salty-sweet combination; Londonshire, from Wildes Cheese just up the road in Tottenham, that’s being paired with honeyed garlic; and Beauvale, “a blue for people who ‘don’t like blue cheese,’” with house-made sticky pear jam. “Over the years, we’ve built up a repertoire of our favorites, and have been waiting for the perfect chance to put them on our menu,” Carver says. “We’ve tried to cater to the more well-known flavor profiles, as well as trying to push people out of their comfort zone to try something new.”As for the conveyor belt itself, it’s been a few years in the making, but it was always part of the plan. “In our Camden restaurant, our customers always want to pick different cheeses from our house list, and create their own bespoke cheeseboard,” Carver says. “We wanted to come up with a way to offer this, whilst showcasing the cheeses at their very best.”


​The Most Romantic Things to Do in Paris

It’s no secret why so many couples choose Paris as a destination for their honeymoon or anniversary trip. The French capital is overflowing with opportunities for lovebirds. Obviously, the Eiffel Tower is the place to go take in the city’s aesthetic beauty, but it’s not the only spot for romance. If you’re planning a trip to Paris with your loved one, make sure these activities are on your itinerary. Picnic in Parc des Buttes-Chaumont On a sunny day pick up a fresh baguette, assortment of cheeses, and a bottle of wine and head to Buttes-Chaumont Park for a picnic. This beautiful 61-acre park, in northeastern Paris, offers stunning views of the city. Perched at the top of an artificial lake, the park also boasts caves, waterfalls, and a suspended bridge. The land is sprinkled with exotic trees, such as Himalayan cedars and Siberian elms, and numerous birds like seagulls, moorhens, and mallard ducks. Stroll arm-in-arm along Canal Saint-Martin This lovely canal, which connects the waters of northeast Paris to the Seine via nine locks, is the perfect place for a stroll with your partner. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many quirky cafes that flank the canal’s water and iron footbridges. Then, make your way to the nearby Parc de la Villette, an urban park that houses museums, concert halls, live performance stages, and theaters. Sail down the Seine No trip to Paris is complete without a river cruise down the Seine, which cuts through the heart of the city. We recommend taking a sunset cruise so that you can see the city’s lights glittering on the water as you sail past landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and Pont Neuf. To up the romance, splurge for a lamp-lit dinner cruise. Catch a cabaret show at Moulin Rouge Moulin Rouge is one of the world’s most famous cabaret clubs. After walking under the red windmill that gives the venue its name, you’ll enter the iconic theater, which hosts an outstanding cabaret show that features a troupe of more than 80 dancers donning costumes of feathers, rhinestones and sequins that were handmade in some of the most famous Parisian workshops. Enjoy dinner for two at La Coupole This grand restaurant, which features stunning art deco décor, is the perfect spot for fine dining at a French brasserie. La Coupole’s 450-seat dining room is dotted with 33 majestic pillars. The menu’s lauded lamb curry is served from a rolling cart. An added bonus: the restaurant is located in the historic Montparnasse district, a hub for bohemian painters, sculptors, and other artists. Journey to the Temple of Love Temple de l’Amour, or the “Temple of Love,” is a white-marble dome set on an artificial island in the center of a lake in Versailles. This hidden beauty, commissioned by Queen Marie-Antoinette, is part of the meticulously manicured English Gardens. The temple boasts a sculpture of Cupid cutting his bow from the Club of Hercules. Indulge in decadent Parisian pastries Couples with a sweet tooth should carve out time to visit some of the city’s artisanal chocolate makers. If you’re looking for a rich culinary experience, take a 2.5-hour walking tour (via Viator) of the acclaimed chocolate shops in Saint-Germain where you can sample an array of French delicacies such as chocolate eclairs, truffles, and other delectable sweets. Get lost in the Tuileries Gardens This 55-acre public garden, nestled between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, is the grand dame of Parisian parks – and it’s the perfect place for a long afternoon stroll. Statues of Maillol stand among those of Rodin or Giacometti in this French formal garden, which was meticulously designed by Italian Renaissance architect Bernard de Carnesse in 1564. More than 14 million people visit the Tuileries Gardens every year. Sip your way through a tour of Paris wineries Escape the city and make your way to some of Paris’ finest wineries, where you can taste incredible vinos from locally made wineries. France’s famous champagne region is an easy day trip away from Paris. Make sure to stop at the cellars at G.H. Mumm, a renowned winemaking house that has been producing bubbly for nearly 200 years. Steal a kiss at the I Love You Wall in Montmartre This off-the-beaten-path art installation, found in the northern suburbs of Paris, features the words “I love you” in over 250 languages. It’s the love child of calligraphist Fédéric Baron and mural artist Claire Kito. Fun fact: the wall is constructed out of 612 individual tiles made from enameled lava.


The Best Resorts on the Jersey Shore for a Fall Trip

The kids are back at school, family holidays have come and gone, but the northeast isn’t giving up its summer glory just yet. And with a handful of hip, new and lovingly renovated hotels gracing the New Jersey shoreline this year, it’s not hard to find a fall getaway that suits your mood. Though the lifeguards have abandoned their chairs, this stunning stretch of sand and surf remains a vibrant presence. The restaurants and bars are open for business and beaches and pools cater to locals, day trippers and tourists alike – allowing for discounted prices and easier booking at some of the region’s finest hotels and resorts. To be clear, this is not Snookie’s Jersey Shore. Wave Resort, Long Branch, NJ Just over 55 miles south of Manhattan sits Long Branch. Once a holiday haven for seven US presidents, this resort town recently underwent a seaside makeover with it’s gleaming new Pier Village retail center. To take it up a notch and allow folks to spend more than a day at the beach, the chic Wave Resort opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend 2019. The six-story, 67 room hotel offers luxe, minimalist décor as well as a pool with swim-up bar and firepits, and stunning 180-degree ocean views. There are seven different restaurants and bars on the property and a kid’s area for the little ones. A fitness center, spa and blowout bar round out the amenities, and beach cruisers are available for local sightseeing. Asbury Ocean Club and The Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, NJ Forget the Hamptons, Asbury Park is the new “It” destination for discerning beachcombers heading to NJ beaches. And though it may be best known as the springboard to Bruce Springsteen’s career, it is now home to two of the hippest joints lining the Atlantic Ocean. Both hotels are owned by full-service hospitality company Salt Hotels, yet they cater to uniquely different clientele. For those craving a little peace and quiet, The Ocean Club, perched on the fourth floor of this gleaming new 17-story high-rise, offers a cocooned retreat with a secluded pool deck and bar overlooking the ocean, lavish rooms and elevated service – including a shiny silver button which automatically refills your drinks while lounging. The rock n’ roll theme at The Asbury offers a more laid-back vibe, with a colorful, family friendly pool area, food truck and wine bar, and even a pool table and pinball machine in the lobby area. Rooms are more stripped down and comfortable, but include Quad and Octo rooms, with two and four bunk beds respectively – perfect for groups. Head to the rooftop lounge for craft cocktails and flawless sunsets. Hotel LBI, Long Beach Island, NJ Approximately midway between Philadelphia and New York City, this narrow barrier island has long been a favorite beach destination for locals in the know. Devoid of a boardwalk, LBI enjoys a marked lack of bar hoppers and party goers, making it a preferred destination for families – along with the 18 miles of relaxing, clean beaches and activities like mini golfing, surfing, parasailing and shopping. Newly opened this season is the expansive Hotel LBI, with 102 deluxe rooms, an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub with retractable roof, fitness room, salon and spa. Like most of LBI’s smaller hotels and motels, Hotel LBI is a few blocks from the beach itself, but you’ll be able to take in sweeping views of the ocean and the bay from its rooftop deck and bar. Want to take a closer look at what the island has to offer? Complimentary cruisers are available to pedal around at your leisure. Ocean Casino, Atlantic City, NJ No, it’s not Vegas, but Atlantic City exudes its own glittering swagger, luring a discerning collection of beachgoers to this shining city of Monopoly-name proportions. A certain president with a head for marketing no longer touts a hotel on the boardwalk, but the recently renovated Ocean Resort and Casino makes the case for celebrity sightings. The massive tower holds nearly 1400 guest rooms, many with views of the ocean or the bay, and relaxing is made simple at one of three pools, a full-service spa and a bathhouse. Yes, there is the requisite casino with loyalty program and Ocean Rewards Club, for those who want to try their luck, but it’s the amenities that take this hotel above and beyond. Restaurants range from fine dining to quick casual, including eateries from Iron Chef Jose Garces and Marc Forgione, and a burger joint from Mark Wahlberg. There are also a handful or bars and lounges, including the Frose Daiquiri Lounge for frozen libations. A Topgolf swing suite provides entertainment of a different kind with a virtual golf course as well as an indoor gaming suite with baseball, dodgeball, hockey, football and carnival games—open to kids as well as adults. Finally, check the calendar for events at the cutting-edge Ovation Hall, which has hosted the likes of Beyonce and Barry Manilow. The Boarding House, Cape May, NJ One of the oldest seaside resort towns in the country, Cape May is closer to Philadelphia than New York City, and is known for its stately Victorian mansions and cultural events, like its namesake Jazz Festival and the New Jersey Film Festival. But with the newly renovated Boarding House comes a little retro surf chic – giving a hip kick to this seemingly proper locale. The hotel offers 11 unique rooms – each with a surfboard rack, original paintings and photography from local artists, a custom coffee blend from Cape May Roasters and handmade soaps by the village’s very own Shore Soaps. The beach is about 12 blocks away, but your stay includes free access to the hotel’s sister Montreal Beach Club, which includes two loungers and one umbrella per room. A basket of local breakfast goodies can be delivered to your room for $25 if you want to sleep in and yoga mats are just a phone call away. And did we mention it’s pet friendly? Seaview, A Dolce Hotel, Galloway, NJ After an $18 million upgrade and full renovation, the historic Seaview Hotel is ready for its close-up. Though technically on the Jersey Shore, teetering on the bay, the Seaview is best known for it’s nearly 700 acres of woods and 36 holes on two sprawling golf courses, one designed by famed designer Donald Ross. Stay in one of the nearly 300 art deco rooms and grab a cocktail in the iconic Lobby Bar and Lounge – all of which kept the architectural integrity of the 105-year-old resort. The indoor and outdoor pool are family-friendly, and if golf isn’t your thing, you can head to the tennis courts, hike the surrounding walking trails or make an appointment at the luxurious Elizabeth Arden Day Spa. Grab a meal at the Main Dining Room or the Coastal Grill, and look out for the Seasonal Seafood Buffet every Thursday night at 5pm.


The Best Things to Do in Texas Hill Country

From city streets to rolling countryside, the Texas Hill Country is a geographical juxtaposition. The vast scenery ranging from hills to rivers to protected areas and long-standing sites is full of wonder, to boot. Spanning across Central Texas and correlating parts of San Antonio and Austin with small town communities, this region within the Lone Star State is not only a mix of topography but also of activity. Get exploring with these ideas for what to do in Texas Hill Country. Find German Roots Sections of Texas Hill Country have a strong German heritage, with settlers emigrating to Texas in the 19th century. The resulting German towns with names such as Boerne and Walburg preserve this heritage. In Fredericksburg, the Pioneer Museum tells of day-to-day living through dated buildings such as Sunday houses built for farmers and ranchers to stay in town on weekends while Vereins Kirche Museum in the Marktplatz replicates the city’s first public building. Named for Prince Carl Solms-Braunfels, New Braunfels’ backstory is told in part through contemporary murals telling about everything from Prince Carl Solms-Braunfels, whom the city is named for, to one depicting other important figures along the exterior of Krause’s Biergarten & Café, a revitalized German institution dating back to the 1930s. Ties to Our Nation’s History Two noteworthy figures are from Texas Hill Country – and their legacy still stands there today. In Fredericksburg, the National Museum of the Pacific War is linked to Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who spent his boyhood years in Fredericksburg. Later on in life, he would command the U.S. military in the Pacific during World War II. The three-museum complex presents an extensive chronology on this battlefront through exhibit galleries with photographs, artifacts and media installations. Highlights include a gallery to Nimitz that was a hotel run by his grandfather, a Memorial Courtyard honoring all those who’ve served in the Pacific Theater and a Plaza of Presidents, acknowledging 10 commanders in chief who fought in the war. One of them was LBJ, a fellow Texan. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City and the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site in Stonewall, encompasses the life of our 36th president. Then, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos focuses on how his formative years shaped his leadership in the Oval Office. Take in flowers During their blooming season, Texas’ wildflowers add bursts of color along roads and road stops in Texas Hill Country. Wildseed Farms has been growing these flowers and selling their seeds for over three decades, partially at their over 200-acre farm headquarters in Fredericksburg. With flowers in bloom from March through October, visitors can admire bluebonnets, red corn poppies, Black-eyed Susans and other types within both their trial and display gardens; venture along half mile walking trails, a seasonal butterfly garden and a seating area. Part of the University of Texas at Austin, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focuses on the conservation of native plants by cultivating them within their gardens and arboretum. Get an earful of music Perk up and get your feet ready for some moving along to the sound of live music at venues across Texas Hill Country. In San Marcos, Cheatham Street Warehouse is a honkytonk institution that’s credited with presenting George Strait and Stevie Ray Vaughn in their earlier days. Within Gruene, a historic district of New Braunfels, Gruene Hall dates back to 1878 and continues to present weekly performances from Americana to rock-a-billy; acts at Texas’ oldest operating dance hall have included Strait, ZZ Top and Willie Nelson. T he Luckenbach Dance Hall near Fredericksburg has its fair share of headliners – not only Nelson but also Waylon Jennings – while the 11th Street Cowboy Bar in Bandera is hopping country music. Sip along Some Wineries Texas is the fifth-largest wine producing state, having and more than 50 wineries and vineyards are located in Texas Hill Country. Fredericksburg has an Urban Wineries Trail mapping out close to a dozen tasting rooms in town; stop into Becker Vineyards’ Main Street location to try their Cabernet Franc Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, and other new or limited releases. In New Braunfels, Dry Comal Creek Vineyards and Winery is on a sprawling property with Texas-made labels such as their White Black Spanish, which blends Symphony grapes with the winery’s estate Black Spanish varietal. Waterside Fun Texas heat can get brutal but Texas Hill County has natural-forming rivers and man-made attractions for cooling off. Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort in New Braunfels has four areas compassing a mix of water rides. The Dragon’s Revenge is an uphill water coaster while Master Blaster kicks off its journey from atop a six-story tower. Wimberley’s Blue Hole Regional Park is known for its bluish swimming hole originating from an underground river; there’s is a seasonal reservation system where bookings for swimming are required. Elsewhere in New Braunfels, you can go tubing along the city’s connecting Cormal and Guadalupe rivers by renting a ring from companies locally referred to outfitters. In San Marcos, the spring-fed San Marcos River starts at Spring Lake, where glass-bottom boat tours are available at the Meadows Center. In Rio Vista Park, the San Marcos Lions Club offers tube rental during the summer. Getting Physical Outdoors Stretch your legs a bit by exploring Texas Hill Country on foot within various parks. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Fredericksburg is just as captivating as its name due to a massive pink granite dome that’s the park’s centerpiece. This nature site also has about 11 miles of hiking trails and rock climbing ops. Colorado Bend State Park in Bend is noted for its cascading Gorman Falls, which can be reached via a 2.6-mile roundtrip hike. At Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City, its six-mile Wolf Mountain Trail provides a hiking challenge that rewards with mountain views and a stop at a water pool while its Juniper Ridge Trail can put advanced mountain bike riders to the test.