FWT Magazine: food wine travel - Issue 9 Fall 2017

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Albania | Trina Canada | Ontario Yukon Caribbean | Curaรงao St. Lucia Portugal | Vila Nova de Gaia Spain | Andalucia Segovia Sweden | Stockholm USA | Arizona California Virginia Alaska

An official publication of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association

Issue 9 | FALL 2017

table of




6 | Spotlight Food

Dining at the Oldest Restaurant in Stockholm

7 | Spotlight Spirit

Karlo Estates: The World’s First Vegan Certified Winery

8 | Spotlight Destination

The Phoenix Hermosa Inn Redefining Rustic Luxury



9 | Claremont California: Fair Trade and Ecotourism at Work 12 | Michele Genest: The Culinary Wiz Putting the Yukon on the Map 19 | On the Tail of Flamenco in Andalucian Spain 23 | Bunkered Down in Albania


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46 46 | Cruising Alaska: Shore Excursions in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka 50 | Sanford Winery: The Role of Barrels in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Country


54 | Curaçao: Where the Water, Music and Liqueur Are All Blue

54 34 | Port Wine at Graham’s 1890 Lodge: A Premium Tipple


40 | Ecotourism in St. Lucia: Lassoing Lionfish

58 | The Surprising Wines of Virginia: Barboursville Vineyards


27 | Segovia’s Hidden History: A Complex Intersection of Christianity, Islam and Judaism 32 | 10 ‘Ah’-Inspiring Arizona Spa Treatments


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contributors Anita Breland | @AnitasFeast

Andrew Der | @AndrewTDer

Kimberly A. Edwards |

Beth Graham | @momuncorkedblog

Kurt Jacobson | @KurtTravels2

Lois Alter Mark | @loisaltermark

As a cultural traveler, Anita chases tasty plates and memorable experiences on a quest for the world’s good food.

Kimberly writes articles and essays on travel, culture, seniors, and writing and publishing trends.

Kurt is a freelance food and travel writer and semi-retired chef living in Baltimore.

Lori A. May | @loriamay

Andrew is a journalist who writes about nature and conservation tourism and the occasional offbeat experience.

Beth is a former PR professional turned freelance writer who writes about the things that feed her soul - food, wine, and travel.

Lois is an award-winning writer who writes for USA Today 10Best, AAA magazines and Huffington Post.

Lori is a food and travel writer for many publications and the author of six books.

Deirdre Michalski | @TastesAndTravel

Maurie O’Connor |

Christine Salins | @foodwinetravel_

Cori Solomon | @CoriSolomon

Mira Temkin | @miratemkin

Michelle Williams | @Fiery01Red

Lauren Yakiwchuk | @JustinLaurenXO

Maurie loves jazz, oysters, books, films and craft beer in no particular order and travels the world in search of new adventures..

Cori is a freelance writer/photographer in Los Angeles and can often be found traveling with her dogs in tow, covering pet-friendly destinations.

Michelle writes about wine, food, and travel and is one of the Top 100 Most Influential Wine Bloggers.

Deirdre is a travel and culinary writer who spent 30 years in hospitality marketing and now she writes about her culinary travels.

Christine is one of Australia’s most highly regarded food, wine and travel writers.

Mira has a passion for adventure and discovering new experiences from destinations to cruises to tours.

Lauren is a travel writer and photographer from Toronto, Canada. She loves urban and outdoor adventures, especially exploring nature.

Kaila Yu | @kailayu

Kaila is the writer and founder of KailaYu.com and NylonPink.tv. and has been featured in many high-profile magazines and news sites. Cover photo of Curaçao courtesy of the Curaçao Tourist Board


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from the editor


he editorial team at FWT Magazine thought our readers were due for a little time travel. We start with a visit to the medieval town of Segovia, Spain and then make our way over to Stockholm, to dine at the city’s oldest restaurant. We end our historic tour with a tasting of Portugal’s historic port wine. Next, we explore the emerging tourism of Albania and Alaska, and then move on to see the impact of modern influences on destinations. Notably, we visit the world’s first vegan winery and Claremont, CA, an entire town committed to fair trade. We’ll also take a quick dip down to the Caribbean to learn about ecotourism efforts in St. Lucia. And naturally, we’ll drink some wine, eat some amazing food and indulge in a little spa therapy along the way.







Irene S. Levine @irenelevine Diana Russler @allegria16

Christine Salins @ChristineSalins

Melanie Votaw @TripOutonTravel

Jan Smith @NvrEnoughTravel

Betsi Hill @betsihill

Francesca Mazurkiewicz @WorkMomTravels


Jacqui Gibson @Livininthestix


IFWTWA | admin@ifwtwa.org FWT MAGAZINE | editor@FWTMagazine.com ADVERTISING | ads@FWTMagazine.com

FWT Magazine: food wine travel is published by the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. Learn more at www. ifwtwa.org Our writers reside and travel all over the world and write in their native voice.

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Story by Deirdre Michalski

Dining at the

Oldest Restaurant in Stockholm


y husband and I have a hobby of researching “the oldest restaurant” around the globe, and Stockholm was our next spot to check off our wish list as we traversed the Baltic Sea.

Main Dining Room by Candle Light © Den Glydene Freden

Gamla Stan is the old town situated on an island along the Strömmen Bay. It is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe and Stockholm was founded here in 1252. Today, it is a pedestrian-friendly walking town with restaurants, cafés and boutiques along narrow winding cobblestone streets. Even now, cellar vaults and frescoes from the Middle Ages can be found behind old facades. And this is where we found Stockholm’s oldest restaurant.

are warmed by soft light through deep inset windowsills. The walls are a calm, almond tone with worn, wooden wainscoting and chairs of black leather and wood. By night, the flickering candles create a romantic ambiance. Just behind the hostess stand, I was surprised to sneak a peek down to the busy kitchen one story below. A narrow spiral staircase led us down two stories to the white-washed cellar dining room with arched ceilings. This is where we had the pleasure to dine. During a renovation in the 1920’s, the owner discovered a false wall right next to our table. When this was opened, a cavernous lower cellar vault was revealed. It was believed this might have been used to store wine, spirits and produce, while it now seats 36 guests for dinner.

Restaurant With A Storied Past

Dinner is served

During the mid-18th century, northern Europe was in a time of peace. It is believed the restaurant’s name Den Gyldene Freden, (translation: The Guilded Peace), stemmed from a peace treaty that was signed the same year of its opening in 1772. The owner, Petter Hellberg, built the restaurant out of stone with a manor house above. This historic property is thought to be one of the city’s oldest restaurants.

The cuisine is a refined, modern version of Swedish and Nordic classic dishes. Our three favorite dinner menu items included a salad with sliced ham served with tomatoes, artichokes and truffle mayonnaise, Zorn’s meatballs with a creamy potato puree, cream sauce, pickled cucumber and lingonberries, and a smoked sausage served with parsley creamed potatoes, mustard, horseradish, pickled beets and pickles. The dessert was variation of chocolate, a playful combination of hot chocolate, Bavaroise cream and white chocolate sorbet. As we meandered our way back to the downtown area, we marveled at the popularity of Freden and all the interesting people and wonderful meals that have passed through that kitchen over the past 245 years.

The Old Town

A dining legend continues today After researching so much about it, we were thrilled as we gingerly entered the dining room and returned later that evening for dinner with friends. We wanted to enjoy its two charming personalities, by daylight and the evenings’ candle light. The ground floor offers two dining rooms while a cozy bar flanks the left wall. During the day, the rooms


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If You Go

en Gyldene Freden D Österlånggatan 51, Stockholm, Sweden



Story by Lauren Yakiwchuk Photos by Sherry Karlo

Karlo Estates

The World’s First Vegan-Certified Winery


arlo Estates is one of nearly 40 wineries in Prince Edward County, Ontario. This region is Canada’s newest viticultural area and the most northern appellation in the province. Only officially identified in 2007 by the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), the Prince Edward County wine area is steadily growing in popularity. Even in this relatively small wine country, Karlo Estates has a unique claim to fame. It is the world’s first vegan-certified winery.

What Makes A Wine Vegan? Despite wine being made from grapes, animal proteins are commonly used in the clarification process of winemaking. To reduce bitterness or tannin, winemakers often use egg whites, casein from milk, isinglass from fish bladders or gelatin. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ll want to choose a wine that doesn’t contain these ingredients.

How Does Karlo Estates Clarify Their Wine? It’s more difficult to make a vegan wine because there is less room for fixing mistakes with animal proteins. One of the top winemakers in Canada, Derek Barnett uses his highlytrained palate to craft outstanding wines for Karlo Estates. Owner and vintner Sherry Karlo has creative and innovative winemaking methods. Barnett and Karlo overcome these challenges by being precise from the start. While the wine requires fewer protein additions overall, pumpkin or potato protein further reduce tannin and bitterness. For clarification, they use bentonite clay.

How Does A Winery Become Vegan-Certified? Karlo Estates is officially certified by VegeCert, meaning that every process and ingredient is free of animal products. The Kosher Council carries out VegeCert’s rigorous inspections. To become vegan-certified, companies must meet the organization’s high standards. Karlo Estates passed the tests in every facet of production and manufacturing, from the vineyard to the bottle.

If You Go Karlo Estates’ striking tasting rooms are inside a timber-frame barn dating back to 1805. The back patio tasting room offers a quiet and serene space to sip wine paired with tasty bites. The center barrel room allows guests to treat their palates while admiring Sherry Karlo’s artistic creations, original portrait oil paintings. The tranquility continues outdoors at tasting tables set beside a dreamy cobblestone bridge. Be sure to try their award-winning pinot noir, with captivating notes of sour red cherry, exotic spice, and cacao. Karlo Estates is open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.

Barnivore Guide If you’re interested to see if your favorite wine is vegan or vegetarian-friendly, the Barnivore guide is an excellent resource. Not every winemaker or brewer will seek the meticulous testing of becoming officially vegan-certified. Barnivore lists whether or not there are animal ingredients in the wine, beer, or liquor. If your wine or beer of choice isn’t on the site, you can ask the winemaker directly if they use animal proteins in their processing or filtration techniques.

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The Hermosa Inn at night; © The Hermosa Inn

Story by Beth Graham

Redefining Rustic Luxury The Phoenix Hermosa Inn


ocated just outside of Phoenix in the quaint town of Paradise Valley, lies one of the top hotels in the Southwest. The AAA Four-Diamond Hermosa Inn is a 43-room luxury boutique property with Old Arizona ambience. Set against the backdrop of picturesque Camelback Mountain with unobstructed mountain views, the Inn’s hacienda-style accommodations are the perfect escape. The property was the original home and studio of Arizona’s famed cowboy artist, Lon “Alonzo” Megargee, in the early 1930’s. Several renovations later, the Inn still exudes its original rustic charm and today features one the country’s largest collections of Megargee’s work. Artists from around the world escape to the inn for retreat packages, artist-in-residence culinary events, and the resort’s popular mimosas and Monet art classes. The Inn recently completed a $5.5 million renovation including the addition of 10 spacious, 700-square-foot deluxe hideaway casitas, along with a renewal of the 12 historic rancho casitas. Accommodations range from 350 to 750 square feet


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and are a perfect mix of rustic Southwestern charm and modern amenities with fireplaces, secluded patios and vaulted ceilings. Guests appreciate the on-site restaurant Lon’s, where Executive Chef Jeremy Pacheco, a 9th generation Arizonian, redefines the farm-to-table concept. The restaurant’s wood fired meats range from Snake River wagyu strip to the Tristan lobster tail, sourced from the deep, cold waters of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, the most remote inhabited island in the world. In the heat of summer, guests can be found in the Inn’s subterranean wine cellar. There’s certainly no shortage of activities among the Inn’s six lush, desert acres. The Blue Door Spa, an authentic adobe casita, offers a number of treatments using native ingredients. Some of the state’s best hiking can be found on Camelback Mountain. Simply strolling the Inn’s grounds and admiring the artwork collection is an excellent way to pass the time.

If You Go The Hermosa Inn

Claremont, California Fair Trade and Ecotourism at Work Story by Kaila Yu

Buddhamouse statues and artifacts Š Claremont Tourism Business Improvement District 2015

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VomFass olive oils and vinegars © Claremont Tourism Business Improvement District 2015

Monarch butterflies feed at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Travel does not always begin with the booking of a plane ticket in advance of a trip to a far-fl ung location. It often starts when you open your mind to new possibilities, even in your own backyard. I was surprised to discover Claremont, California as an eco-friendly getaway destination. I thought I knew all there was to know about the city of trees and PhDs, as I grew up in Upland, California, the neighboring city. An idyllic place to live, Claremont was picked by Money Magazine as one of the top five cities to live in the country. Located 35 miles east of Hollywood, it’s home to the distinguished Claremont Colleges. The campuses and surrounding neighborhoods are shaded by towering forests of verdant elm trees. Built on the land of former lemon orchards, streets are lined with an eclectic mix of pre-World War I bungalows and Spanish or Mediterranean inspired homes.

THE RANCHO SANTA ANA BOTANICAL GARDEN One of the highlights of Claremont is the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden. Located in the heart of the city, it’s entirely dedicated to the preservation of the native plants of California. With 86 acres, more than 70,000 plants are housed lovingly inside. On a Thursday morning, the garden was mostly deserted save for a few couples holding hands and taking selfies in front of the stately, tree-like Saguaro cacti. Birds


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sang overhead, and squirrels gathered nuts and rattled dead leaves as they scurried busily out of my way. I was headed to the Butterfly Pavilion enclosure inside the garden, erected only in the spring and summer, which houses hundreds of native butterflies. Inside the enclosure, the butterflies floated lazily overhead and feasted en masse on dried oranges and persimmons. Sweet little orange and black fuzzy caterpillars munched on leaves. A butterfly expert accompanied us inside the enclosure to point out the monarchs’ brilliant, tiger-striped wings and the richly painted Sonoran Blues that flew about without even noticing that we had invaded their little home. The Butterfly Pavilion is only open between 10am-3pm from May 13-August 6. It tends to get packed later in the day, so make sure to get there early.

CLAREMONT’S FAIR TRADE MOVEMENT I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Claremont Village, the city’s slow-paced and European style downtown. While browsing the local shops, many independent and family-owned, I noticed that a number of shops featured a sticker indicating their proud support of Fair Trade.

© Kaila Yu

VomFass brandy selection © Claremont Tourism Business Improvement District 2015

In fact, I learned that Claremont became the 28th Fair Trade Town in the United States in 2012 and the first Southern California Fair Trade town. As such, local businesses, churches, schools and citizens unite and collaborate to champion the availability of Fair Trade products and educate the community about Fair Trade’s importance. Fair Trade Campaigns is the organization that issues badges and Fair Trade recognition for cities, churches and schools. Their mission is to grow a nation of advocates who are dedicated to creating opportunities for those suffering from global poverty. Fair Trade products are produced under safe working conditions in which workers are paid a fair wage and products are sold at an equitable price. Purchasers needn’t worry about the practice of slavery, trafficking or child labor during the production of these products. They’re produced with gender equality and environmentally safe practices in mind. The shops that stood out most to me were VomFass and the Buddhamouse Emporium. VomFass is located right next to Casa 425, Claremont’s sophisticated boutique hotel. Upon entering the store, you’ll be welcomed into a unique, guided shopping experience. The walls of the little shop are lined with dozens of glazed ceramic jugs filled with artisan olive oils, vinegars and wines. Explaining that VomFass means, “from the cask” in German, an attentive employee guided me through tastings of some of the most popular pairings such as

garlic-infused olive oil paired with red wine vinegar and grapefruit oil with Calamansi balsam. Each spoonful was distinct and packed with its own unique, infused flavor. All of their vinegars, oils and wines are Fair Trade products. The Buddhamouse Emporium is a meditation oasis that offers Fair Trade prayer flags, hanging bells and metal sculptures for sale. Upon entering the shop, I found the atmosphere to be instantly soothing with gentle chimes in the background. Owned by Charlotte Cousins, a certified meditation instructor, the store is filled with Buddhist trinkets from her travels in Nepal. Cousins is deeply knowledgeable about each and every item in her shop. Travel can begin where you least expect it. Claremont surprised me with its small town New England feel and modern ecotourism sensibilities. I love that I can support artisans, both local and from around the world, so close to home.

If You Go Discover Claremont Casa 425 Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden VomFass Buddhamouse Fair Trade Campaigns A special thanks to Discover Claremont and Casa 425 for hosting me on my visit.

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Michele Genest

The Culinary Wiz Putting the Yukon on the Map Story and Photos by Christine Salins

Moose and caribou on the table at Michele Genest’s house.

Michele Genest shopping at Fireweed market

Stallholder Richard Beaudoin’s face lights up when he sees cookbook author Michele Genest shopping at the Fireweed Market in Whitehorse, capital of Canada’s Yukon Territory. A blow-in from the eastern provinces who makes maple syrup products to sell at this vibrant little community market, Beaudoin leans across to tell Genest that he cooked her recipe for bison rib with maple syrup last winter. “It was awesome … it’s a nice challenge to cook with Yukon stuff,” he tells Genest, herself a blow-in from the east a few decades earlier. Since arriving in Whitehorse in 1994, Genest has contributed probably more than anyone to putting Yukon food on the map. The author of The Boreal Gourmet explains to Beaudoin that the bison rib with maple syrup recipe is based on a mole sauce. “I could sell the book on the strength of that recipe,” she says. Genest’s driving mission is to find new ways to cook with northern ingredients, drawing on her travels and


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her culinary knowledge to celebrate the Yukon bounty. The plants and animals that live and grow wild in the boreal forest, its lakes and rivers, the plants cultivated in Yukon farms and gardens – all are inspiration for her cooking and writing. What a joy for me – a fellow food writer whose world is, literally, poles apart – to spend an afternoon and evening in the company of this delightful, enthusiastic food writer and cook, shopping with her, watching her work in her home kitchen, toasting each other with shots of haskap berry liqueur, dining on moose and caribou at her table. Genest makes a rub for the meat from shaggy mane mushrooms found growing by the side of the road. “We pick them when they’re a little black and dry them in the dehydrator,” she says, pulverizing the dried fungi with a mortar and pestle before adding brown sugar and Vancouver Island smoked salt. She thinks the shaggy manes are superior to prized European truffles and there’s also a practical reason for their use. “You never know what part of the animal you’re going to get, so the rub really helps to tenderize it.”

Foraging in the Forest

It had been a dream of mine to visit the Yukon ever since I first heard about this woman who forages in the forest for mushrooms and berries, preserving food for the winter and making her own bread with wild yeast. Despite the obvious harsh climate, it all sounded wonderfully romantic, and indeed it also sounded that way to Genest when she arrived from Toronto. “I came in the spring, in April, and the whole world here was just opening up. It’s so beautiful. The air is like Champagne, the light is opening. It’s very magical. I was supposed to be here for four months to hang out with my sister.” She never looked back. “I just kept on getting opportunities I’d never had before.” Ten years ago, she married her husband Hector and cooking became a shared passion. “I was writing food columns in magazines and suddenly I had enough material to at least have the core of a book. I spent $20 at a writer’s festival to have a pitch read, and the publisher chose mine. It was one of those amazing moments in life.” The Boreal Gourmet: Adventures in Northern Cooking appeared in 2010 and has been an unqualified success, selling in Germany, Japan, France and across Canada. Michele Genest at work in her Whitehorse kitchen.

A bestseller in Sweden and the Yukon, people take it on camping trips so they can identify their finds. The Boreal Feast followed in 2014, the result of eight weeks spent travelling with Hector, “mostly in Sweden, less in Norway and not nearly enough in Finland”. “I was really interested in travelling to other northern countries because they have some stuff we do. I wanted to see what was the same and what was different. In Scandinavia there is even more interest in berry picking and getting out into the woods than there is here. Even people who live in cities are interested in going out and picking. “With the First Nations, it’s been very close to us, but in Scandinavia it never went away. That interest in foraging is deep and natural. Here, we’re living where First Nations people did for thousands of years but foraging is not ingrained in the population here. I imagined people would become more interested in foraging, and they have.”

Wild Game on Local Menus

Soon after Genest produced The Boreal Gourmet, Beverley Gray produced The Boreal Herbal, further shining the spotlight on food foraging and igniting a consciousness that has encouraged a growing number of local restaurants and cafés to embrace the locavore concept. Upmarket restaurant, The Wheelhouse, features northern wild game alongside its steaks and ribs, while at Café Balzam on the outskirts of Whitehorse, chef Karina Lapointe is not only using Yukon game, she also picks ingredients from the woods. The Alpine Bakery buys local morelles and cranberries. As well as an abundance of game, the Yukon has a proliferation of market gardens. Even the main street of Whitehorse has planter boxes filled with herbs that people can help themselves to. The high cost of fresh food being trucked in over long distances has resulted in a higher proportion of backyard gardens in Whitehorse and Dawson City than in southern cities. Although the climate might seem harsh because of the short growing season, long summer days produce a surprisingly bountiful crop. At the Fireweed Market, named for the deep pinkpurple plant that grows prolifically on Yukon roadsides, Genest introduced me to people like Kate Mechan and Bart Bounds, of Elemental Farm, an organic farm on

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Fireweed Community Market, Whitehorse


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A combination of birch syrup and olive oil is used to dress the green salad.

the Takhini River Road producing 25 varieties of salad greens, carrots, turnips, beets, herbs, and greenhouse crops, as well as laying hens and farm broilers, turkeys and rabbits – all on under two acres! Held on the Whitehorse waterfront on Thursdays from May to September, the Fireweed market has a happy community feel, with live entertainment, llamas and a donkey to amuse the kids, and stalls selling local produce, baked goods, elk and beef burgers, plants, and Yukon arts and crafts. In between holding Kate and Bart’s baby and marvelling at their luscious-looking produce, Genest gathered up pea shoots, radishes, lovage, and garlic chives to take home for our feast. The lovage went into chilled potato and sorrel soup; the pea shoots, lovage and other greens into a salad dressed with pickled blackcurrants, birch syrup and olive oil. After pouring me a cocktail of Yukon Brewing gin, spruce tip syrup, and spruce tip bitters, she left me to snack on potted smoked salmon and homemade crackers (flavoured with anise and fennel according to a Swedish recipe in her second book) while she got on with the job of cooking the moose and caribou. Served with a red wine reduction, the steaks were beautifully tender with a subtle game flavour. Genest admits she didn’t have a lot of respect for hunters when she came to Whitehorse, but

that changed when she saw how they respect their game and use every part of the animal, sharing it with family and friends so there is no wastage. Our feast finished with a flourish as Genest put a selection of treats on the table and invited her guests to build their own dessert. Rose petal meringues, birch syrup shortbreads, chocolate mocha mousse made with locally roasted Martha Black Midnight Sun coffee, crème brulee made with rhubarb syrup, cranberries soaked in rum and birch syrup, and then some more. “Just one more liqueur!” she beckoned as I was about to leave. Genest’s own creation, the liqueur was made from brandy infused with mountain ash berries, a wondrous bright red fruit that is rich in vitamin C and provided protection against scurvy in times gone by. Thanks to her initiative, ingredients like these are once again making an appearance on Yukon tables. Genest is one of the guest chefs at the Yukon Culinary Festival, an event that is held annually in August to showcase local ingredients and indigenous culture.

IF YOU GO www.travelyukon.com www.yukonculinary.ca www.fireweedmarket.ca www.borealgourmet.com

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DISCOVER AUTHENTIC ARIZONA. Escape to the Hermosa Inn, a secluded Paradise Valley retreat with authentic Arizona character and personalized service. Discover AAA-Four Diamond luxury with enchanting new deluxe casitas and newly-renovated guest casitas featuring the finest amenities. The charm of this legendary boutique hideaway is enhanced by globally-inspired Arizona fare at LON’s and signature cocktails and casual dining in the newly expanded bar and patio at LON’s Last Drop. For more information on #UnmistakablyArizona getaways or meeting at The Hermosa Inn, call 602-955-8614 or visit hermosainn.com.


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On the Tail of Flamenco in Andalucian Spain Story and Photos by Kimberly A. Edwards


rriving in Seville from Barcelona by bullet train, I inhaled the scent of orange blossoms. My taxi squeezed down narrow cobblestone streets laid out in the days before cars existed. Church chimes lightened my path to a downtown park, where Flamenco students danced, their ruffled sleeves and shawls lifting like wings in a tepid breeze. Free, fleeting, lively, proud, spontaneous. Ah, charming Andalucía, the culture of Spain adorned with traces of ancient Moorish civilization. The story of Flamenco spirit can best be told through the women accompanying their husbandtraders to Seville livestock fairs in centuries past. Their lively calico robes, bearing the thumbprint of Gypsies (Romani people), caught the eye of upper echelon “ladies,” who by mid-20th century adopted the flair for themselves. With this rousing endorsement, Flamenco joined “mainstream” southern Spain identity. Through the ensuring decades, ornamentations such as flowers, combs, lace, stitching, jewels, belts and fans graced the female figure and tresses as hems grew shorter, sleeves longer, and then hems lengthened again.

Seville on a Whirl Flamenco’s evolution unspools like a dream at the Seville Flamenco Museum, a multi-media mix of rolling screen TVs, earphones, taped histories and artifacts from famous dancers. This gallery is one of Seville’s most popular attractions. Interactive exhibits explain the history through costumes, paintings and photography. Shelves of Flamenco realia including prints, magnets and bookmarks await in the gift shop. The museum also offers evening dance performances. Afternoon in Seville brings out the symbol of Southern Spain – the elegant Flamenco dancer.

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“Seville is home to the Guadalquivier River, one of the longest rivers in Spain.”


lamenco exhibitions are held at various locations throughout Seville. I attended one organized through my hotel. A trio of dancers, two women and a male, stamped and glided to the beat of hands, heels, guitar and a voice calling out in canto. The tempo of clapping buoying heels in motion was never so apparent as the showpiece of this alluring tradition.


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Seville is full of casual, outdoor dining under colorful umbrellas. Along the street, musicians entertained, sometimes singing or drawing laughs, such as the “headless” accordion player. Over three days, I studied the collection at the Museo Bella Artes, walked the gardens of the Alcazar, marveled at the World Heritage Cathedral, and climbed steep steps to the historic Maritime (naval) Museum Torre del Oro on the edge of the Guadalquivir River.

Mealtime in Seville is filled with entertainment along the street, – male, female, and headless.

The Alcazar is still used by the Spanish royal family as the official Seville residence.

Arcos de la Frontera: Medieval Times, Enduring Tradition Leaving Seville, I traveled south by public bus to Arcos de la Frontera, one of Spain’s “White Towns,” where morning glories, bougainvillea, begonias, petunias, marigolds and plumeria brightened my mood. My taxi ascended to the Hotel Parador on the edge of a cliff in the old city. The view below opened to an exquisite panorama of a fertile valley where cars resembled windup toys coursing a track as the land stretched into the setting sun. An adjacent church clanged on the hour. Steps away, a medieval labyrinth of stone paths undulated along structures with angled entryways, creating the feel of life in previous ages. Sporadic tapping echoed through twisting passageways. Could that be Flamenco coming from a wall overhead? I remembered reading that special nails in dancers’ heels enhance resonance, converting shoes into a percussive instrument. When I asked a young restaurant waiter about the reverberations, he was quick to reply, “They’re practicing.” It was as if “they” were most everybody in town and Flamenco a life guarantee. A 2013 New York Times article entitled, “Flamenco’s Foreign Saviors,” described an increase in “Flamenco tourism.” One expert noted that visitors’ romance with Flamenco schools has injected millions into the Spanish economy.

While I enjoyed walks to the new part of Arcos de la Frontera, my heart and appetite stayed corded to the old town, rich in churches and clerics past. My favorite restaurant, the Bar La Cárcel, served smoked salmon, lettuce hearts with mackerel, and pancakes/crepes with bacon spinach and ricotta cheese. The fact that locals frequented this eatery validated its authenticity.

Málaga: Vibrant Birthplace of Pablo Picasso Onward to Málaga, a two-pronged trip, first by bus to the nearby town of Jerez, where I transferred to train, seamlessly streaming east to the Costa del Sol. From the moment of arrival in this seaside birthplace of Pablo Picasso, I sensed a vibrant city. Birds chirped, churches chimed, the Mediterranean sparkled. High on a hill, La Alcazada Fortress and Gibralfaro Castle watched over the port like an older brother. There’s much to do in Málaga, from the museum of the same name, to the historic Ateranzas Market, to the waterfront populated by joggers, cyclists and power walkers. The outdoor Roman theatre was a sight to behold. Daily, I sauntered through the Paseo del Parque saturated with flowers and foliage on my way to downtown, where garlands of miniature holiday lights serve as a gateway to shops, almond carts, churches, and restaurants. I spent hours outside cafes where I leisurely

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A young boy in Málaga inspects a mural depicting the iconic Southern Spanish woman.

watched pedestrians pass arm-in-arm in flowered sweaters, vests, bows, flip flops or heels, canes, and fragrant body wash. It wasn’t unusual to see an impromptu Flamenco exhibition by young women stamping and swaying while they clapped and called out fiery phrases of inspiration as shoppers gathered. Their white sleeves fell over their hands like the spathe of calla lilies. I’d seen similar graceful sheaths, coverlets and flounces in magazine ads and on clothing racks back home in the U.S. Indeed, folded fabric is no stranger to Americans; we loved it down Prince’s chest, around David Bowie’s neck, and peeking out of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s cloak. Whether layered on sleeves, chests or hemlines, the look of gathered ruffles has reignited fashion runways worldwide. One afternoon, I approached the dancers to admire their blouses with the long wispy sleeves. They suggested I visit El Rocio, a shop just blocks away that catered to Flamenco wear. There, I bought a mint green blouse with dense rows of ruffles on flared sleeves and down the front. Seven pairs of Flamenco earrings begged to come with me also. Of all the souvenirs I brought back to the U.S., none are more cherished than my Andalucian earrings and ruffles.


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The Ateranzas Market, originally part of the old Málaga shipyard, now touts an open ceiling and a glass window at the end of more than 250 vendor stalls.

If You Go The Seville Flamenco Museum Restaurant Bar La Cárcel in Arcos de la Frontera The Store “El Rocio” in Malaga


herever you go in Europe these days, you encounter scores of tourists and often you pay through the nose for something that is just a bit ordinary. If you visit any of the main tourist attractions in Rome, for instance, you’ll be dodging selfie sticks or be pressured to buy one, along with all manner of cheap souvenirs. At any one time, at least half the world’s selfie sticks are for sale near the Spanish Steps. On a recent trip, we spent only a few hours in Rome before transferring onto a flight to Tirana, the capital of Albania, and entering another world. It’s little more than 20 years since Albania emerged from isolation and half a century of dictatorship and oppression. This is a country that is finding a new identity and one which, for many tourists, offers new and unique experiences at very reasonable prices, along with people who are friendly, generous and proud of the fact that you actually want to visit their country of barely three million people. Enver Hoxha came to power in Albania after World War 2 when his resistance organisation defeated not only the Nazi occupiers but other nationalist opposition. For a time, the country prospered, illiteracy was eliminated, industrial and agricultural production increased dramatically, and the country was continually in growth. Hoxha was nothing if not paranoid, though, and he gradually isolated the country from the Soviet bloc as well as eventually the


IN ALBANIA Story and Photos by Maurie O’Connor

Chinese Communists who for some time were his only ally and provided the country with an enormous amount of aid. Believing that invasion was imminent and that a nuclear attack was likely, Hoxha built thousands of bunkers all over the country – somewhere around 180,000, making sure that there was one for about every 11 Albanians. Some of the bunkers are disguised or hard to find, but many can still be seen as you travel around the country. Some have been made into museums and tourist attractions. Two of the biggest are in the capital, Tirana, and function as museums and art installations, known as Bunk’Art.

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Souvenirs for sale inside the walls of Berat Castle.


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Man herding sheep inside the walls of Berat Castle.

A BETTER SPY THAN GOOGLE The smallest, Bunk’Art2, near Skanderberg Square in downtown Tirana, served as a refuge for government officials working in the nearby Ministry of Internal Affairs. It may give you the creeps but it also gives you a wonderful glimpse of the modern history of Albania and a look at some of the really weird things about the Communist era. The surveillance equipment is fascinating, with Hoxha pioneering the art of the spy camera. He had half the country spying on the other half – neighbour spying on neighbour, family member on family member and secret police on everyone. One Albanian told us that Hoxha was so good at spying that he was better than Google. You’ll need a couple of hours to really explore this place. The main Bunk’Art complex, sometimes known as Bunk’Art 1, is about six kilometres from the city centre but easily accessed by a 20-minute bus ride from Sheshi Skënderbej near the Palace of Culture. Look for the bus with the Bunk’Art sign in the front window. It will cost 40 Lek (about 30 cents) and the driver and conductor will show you where to get off. The bunker was built under a military base and was intended to house the chief military staff as well as Hoxha and his ministers and government officials when the nuclear attack occurred. It was also a place where they came for secret meetings and military training.

At the time, its existence was unknown to the general population. It’s said that Hoxha got the idea from a bunker he visited in North Korea. The enormity of this place is striking, with five different levels, over 100 rooms and a gigantic auditorium. Much of it is a fascinating museum containing photographs and objects from Albania’s last hundred years. There is an extensive range of Communist era uniforms, weapons and paraphernalia, with many rooms preserved in their original state of communist austerity and run-down charm. This is also now a centre for concerts, contemporary art and exhibitions with a café as well. Some of the contemporary art installations are in the form of coloured lights which in this underground setting creates a fascinating visual puzzle. You’ll probably need half a day to experience Bunk’Art, but if you want to make it a whole day trip, it’s a short walk up the hill to the Dajti Express, a long cable car ride that takes you on a breathtaking journey up the mountain overlooking the city and the surrounding area – just make sure there’s no fog. RELIGIONS TOGETHER IN HARMONY You could say that Albanians today have come out of the bunker. There is no paranoia, plenty of optimism, and an acceptance and tolerance that was not evident in the dark years of the dictator. Albania has a surprising

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degree of religious tolerance with just over half the population Muslim, about a quarter mostly orthodox Christian and the rest a mixture of other religions or non-religious. There is a mix of ethnic and national backgrounds including Greek, Italian and Serbo-Croat, all living in relative harmony. This mixture is very evident in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Tirana, a city in harmony with the café culture of old. If you go for a coffee in Tirana, you go for a coffee, no standing up, no take away. One barista said to me, “this is not Italy, here you sit down for a coffee and talk with friends or read the paper and enjoy your coffee.” One of the quirkiest cafés we visited in Tirana was Komiteti at 2 Rruga Fatmir Haxhiu. Decorated with an amazing collection of Communist era objects and art, it has a warm and friendly atmosphere and a wonderful selection of eats and drinks. It’s a great place to discuss the existential nature of Jack London’s story To Build a Fire or just have a very good coffee for 130 Lek (about $US1). Tirana has a lot of good restaurants relying on excellent local fresh produce, most of which is organic, due mainly to the fact that during the Communist era they couldn’t get pesticides. One of the best is Mullixhiu – the Albanian word for ‘miller’, so named because they mill their own flour and make their own bread. This restaurant is part of the Slow Food movement and the head chef, Bledar Kola, started his career in London, worked at Noma in

Copenhagen and like many other Albanian chefs has returned to his country of origin to contribute to a vibrant and innovative food scene. In a comfortable and classy setting with a rustic theme, Mullixhiu serves Albanian-style food based on the principles of simplicity and freshness. We started with a spinach and apple salad and a deconstructed pumpkin pie, moving on to roast goat and duck, both beautifully cooked and paired with good Albanian wine. If you visit Tirana, this restaurant is a must – great food, in a great setting and very reasonably priced. UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCE We had a very different but very unique dining experience in Berat, one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Albania. This is a beautiful city of about 70,000 people on the River Osum, about two hours south of Tirana, overlooked by an ancient castle where people still live within the castle walls. Lili Restaurant, named after its owner Ilia Theodhori (Lili for short), is found along the winding narrow Rruga Llambi Goxhomani, in fact just wide enough for a donkey carrying a load.

Mullixhiu Restaurant, Tirana


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Lili’s restaurant has eight seats at rustic wooden tables in the back yard of their house and the cooking is done by his wife Mirela and their two daughters Patricia and Kristi. “This is the food we eat every day,” Lili says. A very filling and wholesome meal with tomatoes filled with rice and herbs, green salad with tomato, cucumber and olives, pork filled with cheese, lamb meatballs and a dish of ricotta, goats cheese, eggs, garlic, herbs, and tomato, all complemented with a local red wine, a blend of sheshizi (an indigenous Albanian grape) and merlot. If you visit Berat you just have to experience the hospitality of Lili and his family, and drink a parting toast with a complimentary Raki. Wherever you go in Albania, you can find good food and wine and most of all friendly people who don’t regard tourists as necessary inconveniences or pests. Don’t expect five-star luxury but do expect good accommodation at reasonable prices and a charm that has all but disappeared from most of Europe.


A Complex Intersection of Christianity, Islam and Judaism Story and Photos by Michelle Williams

Segovia Archway remains after gates used to isolate Jews in Ghetto were removed.

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egovia, Spain lies about 50 miles north of Madrid in the Castile and León region. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this medieval town of 55,000 residents boasts a Roman aqueduct, a castle, numerous churches, and a Gothic cathedral, with the Sierra de Guadarrama Mountains as its backdrop. Segovia was founded by the Celts but was captured and ruled by the Romans around 80 BC for 500 years. Spending a day in Segovia reveals its historical importance for the Romans and the Spanish Catholics; however, a deeper look illuminates a less obvious level of importance, one that illustrates the complex historical intersection of three religions in Spain.

ROMAN AQUEDUCT The Old Town of Segovia and its Roman aqueduct were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The aqueduct, known as “El Puente,” stands as one of the best preserved Roman aqueducts in the world. Visitors from around the world travel to Segovia to see this marvel in ancient Roman architecture. The 2,000-year old aqueduct is an imposing 100 feet high, spans 2,500 feet wide, and contains 118 arches. It is crafted of 20,000 granite blocks stacked on top of each other without the use Alcázar de Segovia


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of mortar. The aqueduct was built to transport water ten miles from the Frio River to Segovia and was used until 1950. According to UNESCO, the aqueduct “is the symbol of the city and can in no way be separated from Segovia as a whole.” It stands proudly at the entrance of the old town in Plaza del Azoguejo.

ALCÁZAR DE SEGOVIA At the opposite end of Segovia, through the maze of winding streets, numerous Romanesque churches, and architectural facades of times past, lies Alcázar de Segovia. Although it looks like a Disney-inspired castle, it is actually the opposite. It is believed Walt Disney modeled Sleeping Beauty’s castle after Segovia’s Alcázar. The name Alcázar means “fortress,” indicative of its Moorish roots. Built between the 7th and 9th centuries, the structure was originally a Moorish stronghold. In the late 11th century King Alfonso VI conquered and expelled the Muslims and took control of the Alcázar. The Muslim fortress was expanded and converted into a castle, becoming a favorite residence of Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II. Today this museum stands as an architectural reminder of the complex history of the Iberian Peninsula, with stunning views that cannot be missed.

Cathedral of Segovia

SAN MILLAN During the reign of Isabella and Ferdinand the Spanish Reconquista via the Spanish Inquisition reached its peak, and its home was Segovia. Subtle evidence of such still lingers, though it must be sought with a keen eye. San Millan, a Romanesque-style church, was constructed in the 12th century outside the old city in what was once the poor area of the Segovian Moors, where Mozarab artisans once worked. Although its floor plan is designed after the Cathedral of Jaca, it contains Islamic influences including Caliphate-style decorations and vaulted ceilings and includes a tower from a previous Mozárabe building. A look inside illustrates how the cultures intertwined over the centuries.

JEWISH QUARTERS/GHETTO During the Middle Ages leading up to Reconquista, Jews and Muslims lived in Aljama communities in Spain. These were self-governing quarters where they were free to live in a manner that supported their lifestyles but still required to pay taxes to the Iberian government. During this time Jews were not kept in mandatory isolation; rather, there is evidence of daily interactions with Christians, including gambling. In 1481, ten years before Isabella and Ferdinand issued the Edict of Expulsion ordering all Jews to convert

to Christianity or leave Spain, Jews were ordered into a Jewish “ghetto” within Segovia; look closely as remnants of the ghetto remain today. The Jews were forced to live inside the ghetto with its seven delineated iron gates. The gates have since been removed but their archways remain. As you stroll through this part of town, imagine these decorative archways housing iron gates used to enclose the Segovia Jewish community in isolation from the rest of the city. Further evidence of the Jewish Ghetto is seen by keeping an eye out for old Jewish Quarter street signs as well as Hebrew markings on the ground indicating the ghetto’s borders.

CORPUS CHRISTI Prior to the Edict of Expulsion, Segovia housed five synagogues. The Convent of Corpus Christi, in the former Jewish Quarter, was originally built as the principle synagogue. But in 1419, the Church confiscated it and appropriated it into a church in dedication of Corpus Christi. In 1421, it was used as a monastery and later became a convent, which is how it remains to this day. To further add to Segovia’s intertwining of the world’s three largest religions, some believe the principle synagogue was actually constructed on top of a mosque. A visit inside provides

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unique insight not typically seen. The original Jewish architectural style remains, as is evident with its décor of pineapples, scrolls and artwork, juxtaposed by the altarpiece which is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi. A short walk from Corpus Christi is the old Jewish cemetery. Unfortunately, the graves have been excavated in an attempt to seek information about the community. The cemetery also has been looted over the years, but spending a few minutes here is worth the time. Take a moment to view the different burial styles and notice the graves point east toward Jerusalem, with the heads oriented to the west.

An aerial view of Segovia with Sierra de Guardarrama Mountains in the background


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CATHEDRAL OF SEGOVIA A visit to Segovia is not complete without taking in the Cathedral of Segovia. Located in the Plaza Mayor in the center of the Old Town, construction on the church began in 1525 and represents Spain’s last Gothic cathedral. This church is a testament to grandeur, with an exterior of flying buttresses and pinnacles, and an interior embellished with stained glass windows, historical art, sculptures, a beautifully crafted choir loft, Baroque organs and eighteen chapels housing numerous altars. The tower stands over 300 feet high and a climb to the top offers a bird’s eye view of this picturesque town.

Along with its medieval charm, Segovia offers modern artisanal shops, quaint cafes and popular restaurants serving the local favorite, suckling pig. Strolling through this picturesque town reveals a mosaic of architectural facades, providing evidence of times long past as well as societal hierarchies. There is much to see and enjoy on the surface, but take a step closer, look a bit deeper, and Segovia will unveil its role in the complex history of Spain.

If You Go Visit Segovia is a tourism site to help you plan your day in Segovia, including maps, guided tours, accommodations, and restaurants. UNESCO World Heritage Site provides insight to the criteria used to determine Segovia’s universal value. My day in Segovia was hosted by Ribera y Rueda DO at the invitation of Weber Shadwick on behalf of Snooth.

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10 Ah-Inspiring

Arizona Spa Treatments

Story by Lois Alter Mark

Don’t be surprised if license plates start touting Arizona as “The Spa State.” Arizona seems to have become the unofficial spa capital of the world. Whether you come for a day, a week or a month, their award-winning destination spas offer treatments to ease whatever’s ailing you – even if all you really need is a little pampering. Here are some of the best spa treatments in the state. Your muscles might start relaxing just reading about them.

Intuitive Massage at Life in Balance Spa at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, Tucson Inspired by Native American spirituality and Peruvian shamanic studies, this holistic approach to healing fuses bodywork with spiritual wisdom, sacred plants, artifacts and natural objects. Set an intention, then let the therapist work their magic on both the physical and emotional sources of your stress. Havasupai Falls Rejuvenation at Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Arizona Copper Peptide Facial at Hashani Spa at JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa Put your best face forward with this age-defying facial. A copper complex keeps skin firm and supple, improving skin tone, renewing tissue and smoothing and relaxing expression lines. Warning: you may cause new smile lines when you see the results in the mirror.

Havasupai Falls Rejuvenation at Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess This ultimate Southwestern experience starts with a sage-smudging ritual and ends, two hours later, with a soothing scalp massage. In between, you’ll be scrubbed, rubbed, bathed, oiled and wrapped to a state of pure bliss.

Bahn (Blue Coyote Wrap) at Aji at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, Chandler Performed in the only spa steam capsule in the state, this treatment covers your body in Aji’s proprietary bentonite clay and gives it time to get absorbed into your pores while you receive a soothing scalp massage. Once the clay is removed, you’ll be treated to a cedar and sage oil massage. You’ll be gifted with a copy of the “Bluebird and the Coyote” legend to relive your experience at home. Turquoise Blue Sage Body Ritual at Revive Spa at

— Don’t be surprised if license plates start touting Arizona as “The Spa State.” Turquoise Blue Sage Body Ritual at Revive Spa at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, Phoenix

Warm Spice Scrub and Massage at The Centre for Well-Being at the Phoenician, Scottsdale

Using the energies of the sacred turquoise gemstone, this Native American-inspired healing ritual creates a sense of deep relaxation. The body polish, mask and massage oil are infused with minerals, essential oils and the energy of the turquoise to strength and balance both the body and soul.

An aromatic blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and mandarin is transformed into a creamy exfoliating scrub, which is followed by a hydrating full-body massage and hot coconut oil foot therapy. It’s a delight for the senses.

Rain Dance at Mii amo at Enchantment Resort & Spa, Sedona Combining the sacred power of water with the indigenous healing benefits of blue corn and aloe, this new body treatment includes a nourishing exfoliation and Vichy shower cleanse. Your skin will welcome and absorb it like rain after a drought.

Arnica & Hot Towel Massage at Joya at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia Feel those tight muscles relax as they’re massaged with extracts of arnica, sage, lavender and spearmint. Steaming hot towels applied throughout the treatment promote the anti-inflammatory and healing properties of the essential oils. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

Camelback Signature Body Wrap at The Spa at JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa Give your skin a head-to-toe dose of vitamin c as your body is scrubbed and moisturized with luxurious oil, your hair and scalp are massaged with a citrus conditioner, your face is cleansed and drenched with antioxidants, and your lips are plumped with a firming serum. You’ll wish this vitamin c-filled treatment were a daily requirement.

Muscle Melt for Road Warriors at Canyon Ranch, Tucson Developed in Thailand to ease the aches and pains of battle-weary warriors, this treatment combines warm herbal pouches with traditional Thai massage. The result is a calm mind and body, ready to go out and conquer the world.

Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia

Port Wine at Graham’s 1890 Lodge A Premium Tipple Story by Anita Breland Photos by Tom Fakler

Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve, a barrel code that became a wine brand early in the twentieth century.


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raham’s 1890 Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia bestrides a ridge with a view over the Douro, northern Portugal’s “River of Gold.” Porto’s historic Ribeira district tips into view across the river. The Douro flows center stage, boats chugging upriver and down beneath the iconic Dom Luis I bridge. The 17th-century Monastery of Serra do Pilar watches over the port lodges of Gaia at the bridge’s southern end. Just below the lodge, the fields of a working farm stretch to a wooded hill, framing our view from the terrace bar. Seagulls swoop as a summer breeze riffles the grape vines overhead. My husband and I lift glasses of port wine in a toast to summer. We are enjoying Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve to the soft beat of Brazilian jazz. It’s a classy mix of urban and bucolic up here, with a little of the sea thrown in. Six Grapes and Graham’s vintage ports are sourced from the same Douro vineyards. The wine, officially a reserve ruby, featured on menus for the maiden voyages of the luxury passenger liners “Queen Mary” in 1936 and “Queen Mary II” in 2004. An all-rounder, this port wine evokes black fruit for both aroma and palate. Six Grapes is meant to be drunk young.

The Symingtons of Graham’s William and John Graham, Scottish “merchant princes” of Great Britain, founded W & J Graham’s in 1820. Through the 19th century, their port wines achieved recognition for consistent quality. Andrew Symington joined the firm in 1882, leaving a few years later to set up on his own as a port producer. In 1890, the Graham family purchased an estate in the heart of the Douro and built the company’s cellar in Gaia. Symington’s grandsons brought the family business full circle when they purchased W & J Graham’s in 1970. Today, five Symington cousins manage the vineyards and winemaking at Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warre’s, as well as Graham’s. They produce port in all premium categories.

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Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, a wine partnership that spans Portugal’s “River of Gold”.

Port Wine from Vineyard to Lodge The grapes that go into port wine are grown in the Douro Valley, the world’s oldest demarcated and regulated AOC wine region. The wine ages in the lodges of port shippers in Vila Nova de Gaia, just a mile from the confluence of the Douro and the Atlantic. The granite walls of the lodges combine with a maritime climate to ensure the constant, cool temperatures needed for the slow aging of port wine. At latest count, the Graham’s cellar held more than 2,000 casks plus vintage ports in bottles nearby. The lodge welcomes over 50,000 visitors each year. Private tours for up to 20 guests finish with a tasting to suit individual tastes and budgets. At €100, a private tour can be a splurge or great value, depending on the number in your party.

Port Wine Tastings in the Vintage Room When my husband and I were new to Porto and to port wine, we enjoyed a curated, premium tasting in the professional conditions of Graham’s Vintage Room. We found it to be excellent value, stepping our


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lodge experience up a notch from that of the main tasting room. The experience also enabled us to sample splendid wines across a range of styles and price points. Tasting menus in the Vintage Room range from a sampler of three port styles at €30 to the eight-glass Symington Tasting for €100. A staff member guides the tastings and shares the backstory of the wines. A limited food menu offers almonds, a simple cheese plate, or dark chocolate truffles. Although the top tipple at Graham’s 1890 Lodge will set you back hundreds of euros for a glass of the rarest vintages, the Vintage Room makes it possible to sample luxuriously without going to such extremes. The Symingtons reset the tasting menu each year, which gives us a reason to return!

Four Port Wine Menus Six Grapes is an easygoing collaborator in The Graham’s Tasting, a sampler that includes Graham’s 30-year-old Tawny and Graham’s Vintage 2000 Port. The tawny displays dried fruits on the nose, a mellow concentration on the palate, and a long finish. Wine Spectator named Vintage 2000 one of the “Top 100 Wines of the World.”

“We are…a mixture of Scottish rationality and hard work, English common sense and Portuguese flair, emotion and romanticism.” - Paul Symington

Graham’s Super Premium Tawny Tasting features oak-aged tawnies, such as Graham’s 30-year-old Tawny Port. Then, there is the powerfully fragrant Graham’s 40-year-old Tawny—golden amber, the rim tinged with pale green, and flavors of fruit, toffee, and chocolate. This year, the tasting also includes Graham’s 1982 Single Harvest Tawny Port. The single-harvest tawny, called a Colheita, is a limited edition produced to celebrate the birth of HRH Prince George of Cambridge. All three ports are great with dark chocolate or on their own. Intense and opulent, the vintage ports at Graham’s have concentrated fruit and floral aromas and flavors, as well as a strong backbone of tannins. This year’s Super Premium Vintage Port Tasting features 1983, an exceptional vintage, deeply hued and full-bodied. It also offers Graham’s 2000 Vintage Port and Graham’s 2007 Vintage Port. The award-winning 2007 vintage is lush, floral and aromatic with a bit of smoke and strong tannins. One critic called its lingering sweet finish a “peacock’s tail.” The Symington Tasting offers guests an opportunity to sample Graham’s full range of blended tawnies (10-, 20-, 30- and 40-Year Old). It also presents selected vintage ports. On the 2017 menu: Graham’s 2007, Quinta do Vesuvio 1995, Dow’s 1985 and Warre’s 1980.

house standard. Labeling indicates each bottle’s average age at the time of bottling: 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. Aged tawnies are “blends of blends,” while a Colheita, or single-harvest tawny, is a vintage tawny from a single outstanding year. Ruby Port is a blend of port wines from more than one year, aged for up to three years (more for a ruby reserve).

Port Wine: A Deliciously Confusing Category

Making Port Wine Memories

A classic vintage port is a fortified wine blend made from the best grapes of a single outstanding vintage. Producers declare them in limited quantities upon approval of the IVDP (Port and Douro Wine Institute). Single-Quinta Vintage Port (SQVP) can be bottled in good harvest years between declared vintage years. Vintage port ages for two years in vats and completes maturation in bottle. Tawny port is a blend of several vintages, aged in small casks. Controlled oxidation adds color and flavor, and each winemaker blends the producer’s tawnies to a

Pouring Graham’s 20-Year Port at Vinum

Porto is Europe’s top travel destination for 2017. A luxe port wine experience such as at Graham’s is part and parcel of the region’s reputation for great food and wine. Vinum Restaurant and Wine Bar features the market-fresh products of Northern Portugal and Atlantic waters and a stellar selection of wines and ports. The wine bar offers a variety of petiscos, as small portions are called in Portugal. Graham’s Lodge Shop sells wines produced by the various Symington brands, gift-packaged wines and wine accessories, estate-bottled olive oils and more.

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The Symington Tasting at Graham’s is an experience to share


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Vintage ports aging in the cellar at Graham’s 1980 Lodge.

It’s an uphill trek from the Douro’s riverboat landing in Vila Nova de Gaia to Graham’s 1890 Lodge. In fact, it’s a bit of a journey to Graham’s lodge from anywhere in town, but one well worth making. There are myriad ways and places to sample Porto’s eponymous wine in its ruby, tawny and vintage incarnations. To date, one of the most memorable we have experienced has been at Graham’s.

IF YOU GO Visit Graham’s website to book private tours, a table at Vinum or a premium tasting in the iconic Vintage Room. For The Love of Port (FTLOP) is the website of wine educator Roy Hersh, an American member of the Portuguese port wine Confraria, or brotherhood. It is a wealth of information about port!

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St.Lucia LASSOING LIONFISH Story and Photos by Andrew Der

Dive boats on Anse Chastanet beach


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Pitons from Jade Mountain restaurant


xchanging glances with glowing sea creature eyes at night distracted me from my rippling scuba tank air bubbles. Under the glow of a flashlight, I weightlessly observed the rare annual confetti clouds of spawning coral egg packets floating like upward falling snow just days after the first August full moon. Next time, I speared a lionfish and ate it. Have all the fun of a Caribbean nature vacation and none of the work. Ecotours have their place, but the last time I checked, rest and relaxation are supposed to be – well – restful and relaxing. So while some rare and amazing eco-experiences may occur in remote destinations, no need to rough it or travel far to check out the critter action below and above the water at St. Lucia’s Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts. Channel your inner marine biologist at the secluded, yet premium, environmentally sensitive Anse Chastanet, which is not only the home of their internationally acclaimed coral reef spawning, but other unique species behavior so vivid that Jacques Cousteau would be envious. Pronounced “ons shastanay”, this sustainable town-like resort community lets anyone easily find Nemo along with rare birds and sea turtles sprinkled with pampering, tree-top hotels, and locally sourced fine dining.


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St. Lucia – The Island St. “Looshia” is already a top Caribbean destination with an island mix of French, English, African and Creole history, but also adds an underappreciated educational and cultural experience. Both tropical seashores and rain forest preserves teem with rare fauna and flora. Part of a colonial tug-of-war between the British and French from a slavery-based boom in tropical produce trade, English predominates as the official language blended with Patois (“Patwah”), a local Creole dialect mix on numerous islands. Secondary to tourism, agriculture is now perfected into an ecofriendly sustainable industry of superior farm-to-table produce – and the islanders do appreciate visitors. Bypass the resorts of the touristy northern capital city of Castries for more of St. Lucia’s gems in the lesser traveled south. Anse Chastanet serenely hides near the second largest city of Soufrière (sulfur in French), named after the sulfur-laden odor and springs associated with the Caribbean’s only drive-through active volcanic area. Volcanoes are the basis of the island’s formation with breathtaking rain-forested mountains right up to rocky seashores. The two main remnant peaks, or Pitons, are a UNESCO World Heritage site visually predominating as popular post card images.

The Resorts A best-kept secret that is not so secret, is that Anse Chastanet’s 600-acre preserve also includes the premium internationally famous Jade Mountain Resort next door. Occasionally frequented by celebrities, Jade Mountain is on most prominent travel publication’s best-of lists (including Conde Nast) for premium couples getaways featuring in-room private pools and individual butler service. What may be less obvious is both resorts display exemplary environmental stewardship with ecologically sensitive and sustainable designs among resourcedense surroundings that preserve numerous natural habitats in one place. Most of their rooms are elevated on the hillside among cool breezes having open walls, positioned so as to not be viewable by others to maintain privacy. One room’s bath is even constructed around a tree to avoid cutting it down. This is all done without giving up amenities, as may occur with other nature-centric travel and includes its own premium menus of locally sourced “East Indian Saint Lucian Fusion” giving back to the local community. The freshest most exotic fruit and vegetables are served up by four premium restaurants and two bars (try the fresh banana daiquiri) with

menu variations reflecting what is most available. Wild Lesser Antilles Bullfinches will appreciate sharing your crumbs at the table. Don’t miss the resorts’ own organically grown chocolate prepared from harvested cocoa seed-to-table desert in an inhouse interactive laboratory.

Corals And Critters If wanting to learn to dive has been on your bucket list, this is the place to do it. Take a newbie resort course with a guide in just a few hours. Or do a full certification course up north and arrange to have your outdoor, underwater portion completed here by reciprocal agreement. Before you know it, you too can witness the massive coral reproduction and how it triggers brittle starfish spawning immediately afterward. So, what’s the big deal about coral spawning? Discovered in the 1980s at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, this annual mass reproduction phenomena overturned a long-held belief that most coral species reproduced by internal fertilization, growing by “branching out.” The external phase of reproduction is now known to be critical to the coral reef’s, and our own ecosystem’s, survival, as well as essential to our world-wide food chains.

Back of Jade Mountain

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Author with speared lionfish; © Charlotte Faulkner

Anse Chastanet is the only place that provides easy and sustainable access due to its progressive green architecture by minimizing impervious surfaces, keeping shorelines stable, and completely preventing runoff from entering the water. Scuba St. Lucia, the island’s five-star Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) operation, provides the only beach entry to this incredible experience. Don’t dive but still yearn for a National Geographic experience? Some of the best snorkeling in the Caribbean is right over the Anse Chastanet reef in front of the dive center. But wait, there’s more. Scuba St. Lucia now fuses marine conservation, sport fishing, and fine dining with a new innovative and unique lionfish removal program to fortify their aggressive conservation initiatives. Invasive – or non-naturally occurring – species from human activity are a chronic problem world-wide. This once-prized ornamental aquarium fish from the Pacific Ocean has found its way into the Caribbean, reproducing


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at an alarming rate due to few natural predators. Their numbers are severe enough to destructively displace indigenous species and reduce Atlantic biodiversity, adversely altering coral reef habitat. Lionfish do not belong in the Atlantic and Scuba St. Lucia counters this threat with a creative incentivized mass removal program to put things back in order. Visitors are now authorized by special permit to spearfish the invasive lionfish as part of a win-win sustainable tourism partnership. Scuba St. Lucia has also added a PADI “Invasive Lionfish Tracker Specialty Course” providing two dives to educate visitors about humanely controlling the invasive species. Take angling to the next level as a true hunt-to-table parallel to the premium farm-to-table menus. White, flaky, and firm with a flavor between grouper and mahi mahi, the resorts’ chefs will prepare this “conservation cuisine” to your liking, if large enough, and even serve it up with a specially catered beach gourmet dinner for two – pairing it with a wine of choice. Try it as sashimi, citrus ceviche, grilled or stewed. Don’t miss the ultimate annual St. Lucia Dive Fest when Anse Chastanet and Scuba St Lucia celebrate the underwater world from September 9 to 16 with a week of scheduled boat and shore dives, courses, photographic competitions – and a lionfish eradication day with a cooking demonstration and special dinner feast. Included is a sunset sailboat cruise with a close-up of the magnificent Pitons while sipping rum cocktails.

Above The Water If you’re needing a break from vegetating (is that possible?), Scuba St. Lucia’s sister operations of Kayak St. Lucia and Bike St. Lucia will also keep you busy on and above the water, including jungle forest bike riding in the Anse Mamin nature preserve next door. These ruins of an 18th-century colonial plantation are now a beachside forest natural area offering unlimited hiking and exotic plant and medicinal herb identification for the inner botanist. Sneak in some education with worldrenowned bird watching and history appreciation, alone or with a local guide. Landlubber naturalists need not despair as both resorts attract serious birders from all over the world. A lucky observer will see species found nowhere else

Anse Chastanet sunset

on earth. And from July through October, don’t miss sea turtle hatching season. Usually observed underwater, the female turtle will come ashore to leave egg nests along the beach that have even hatched right in front of the resort. A critically endangered animal, the Leatherback is a popular lumbering species weighing 2,000 pounds. No lights or flash cameras are allowed during the evening exodus so as not to confuse the newborns.

IF YOU GO Most domestic airlines serving the Caribbean have nonstop flights from major U. S. cities to Hewanorra International Airport (code UVF). All-inclusive island and resort information is available from: www.ansechastanet.com www.jademountain.com www.scubastlucia.com www.stlucia.org

Many thanks to Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain, and Scuba St. Lucia for hosting the author and providing an astounding experience.

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Cruising Alaska Shore Excursions in Juneau, Ketchikan And Sitka

Story by Lori A. May Photos by CT Shier

Poolside dining on Holland America’s Westerdam.


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f Alaska has been on your travel bucket list, but you’re not quite sure which area to explore as a first-timer, consider a cruise to visit multiple towns paired with a memorable onboard experience. In 2017, Holland America celebrates 70 years of cruising Alaska. The cruise line offers a variety of itineraries, so whether you’re seeking a succinct weeklong getaway or an expansive exploration, you’ll find the perfect match for your interests and budget with Holland America. During my seven-night cruise on Holland America’s Westerdam ship, ports of call included Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka, three of the most popular towns for cruise-goers to visit. As with many cruise experiences, guests will also have a few “at sea” days while the ship is en route to its next destination. For those sailing days, it’s important to select a cruise line and ship that offers dining and entertainment options that speak to your specific preferences, or one that presents a wide variety to please everyone in your travel party.

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Dining On-Board Holland America

I was impressed with Holland America’s range of dining options. An assortment of fine dining venues, such as Pinnacle Grill, offer menu selections for refined palates. Savor Pacific Northwest-inspired dishes such as king salmon or beef from Washington State’s Double R Ranch. Food enthusiasts will also want to explore taste sensations presented by Holland America’s Culinary Council of celebrity chefs. If you’re looking for a poolside snack, options include a burger bar, pizza stand, and the occasional special event. During my cruise, we celebrated our arrival in Alaska with local craft beers and Alaskan King Crab legs on the Lido Deck. Most of my meals took place on the Lido Deck at the all-day buffet, as the quality and selection were unbeatable. No matter how early or late the hour of my arrival, I enjoyed fresh, satisfying menu selections without waiting to be seated or served.

Holland America Experiences

Combine a strong onboard dining experience with endless options for entertainment, and you’ll soon see why Holland America has such a legendary reputation for cruising Alaska. Throughout the day and into the wee hours, Holland America offers movies, music and theater productions, yoga sessions, arts, and educational programs suitable for all ages. But, if you’re cruising to Alaska, you’ll also want to simply sit back and relax with your beverage of choice to take in the scenery and wildlife viewed from the comfort of the ship. While onboard, the crew will help point out marine wildlife and regional birds. From whales, seals, and dolphins to eagles, hawks, and cranes, you’ll be delighted with the abundant presence of wildlife as you cruise in style. Whether you select a balcony suite, as I did, or opt to view your surroundings from one of the many comfortable lounges, be sure to have your camera handy to capture these once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Holland America Shore Excursions

How you experience Alaska is entirely up to you. While many guests opt to explore each port-of-call on foot to independently take in local shops, dining, and entertainment, others prefer a guided experience with scheduled excursions. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a mix


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of both options. Holland America excursions offer inclusive pricing for immersive experiences led by local experts. While visiting Juneau, consider a foodie walking tour, traditional salmon bake, dog sledding, or a glacier helicopter tour. In Ketchikan, take a floatplane to see bears or explore Misty Fjords, or sign up for fishing, kayaking, or backcountry expeditions. In Sitka, go on a nature safari, or sign up for fishing, snorkeling, and wildlife excursions, or stretch your legs on a pedal and pub crawl through town. Excursions can be a good use of your time while in port if you have specific activities you want to experience. The following tips, though, offer a general idea of what to experience if you opt to explore port towns on foot.


One of Alaska’s oldest cities and the state capital, Juneau sits at the base of Mount Roberts and visitors will first notice the picturesque landscape. Downtown features a mixture of modern and early 19th-century architecture. Cruise ships dock at the busy waterfront where seaplanes, tour boats, and excursion buses greet visitors. If you opt to wander Juneau on foot, you’ll notice the bustling South Franklin Street is full of shops and restaurants to keep you full and entertained for hours. Attractions include historic sites and monuments, along with wetlands and wildlife sanctuaries. Visit local coffee roaster, Heritage Coffee, for a hot cup of coffee to warm your hands as you wander through the vibrant downtown. Dine at Tracy’s King Crab Shack for fabulous local seafood in a casual waterfront venue.


While Juneau is the capital, Ketchikan is known as Alaska’s “first city” for its southern location in the Inside Passage, making it the first city cruise passengers often visit. Ketchikan is a beautiful settlement where many homes and businesses are perched above the water on stilts. This is the case for historic Creek Street, a charming shopping and dining district situated on a boardwalk over Ketchikan Creek. The Waterfront Promenade is another must-visit neighborhood that you’ll notice immediately after disembarking from your cruise ship. Ketchikan is known for its salmon cannery and logging histories, and you’ll notice both of these

Alaska Fish House. Ketchikan, Alaska.

Tracy’s King Crab Shack. Juneau, Alaska

Old Harbor Books. Sitka, Alaska.

Heritage Coffee. Juneau, Alaska

influences as you sightsee the town. Enjoy a fresh local menu at Alaska Fish House, peruse market vendors for souvenirs, and dedicate time to visit Totem Heritage Center for an impressive glance at past and present carving traditions.


In this oceanfront town along Sitka Sound, Russian architecture is evident throughout the city, most notably at the centrally located Saint Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral. In addition to Russian heritage, Sitka visitors can explore the cultural history of Native Tlingit Indians, Sitka’s first inhabitants. During your walking tour of Sitka, explore 22 buildings listed on the

National Register of Historic Places. Sitka National Historical Park, known locally as Totem Heritage Park, is a must-visit venue for its Tlingit and Haida carvings. Wildlife lovers will want to pay a visit to Alaska Raptor Center, which rehabilitates injured birds, and the Fortress of the Bear, a habitat for orphaned brown bear cubs. While perusing town, visit Alaska Pure Sea Salt Co for local vibrant salts, and Old Harbor Books for a wide selection of regional titles and an up-close look at their antique letterpress.

IF YOU GO Travel Alaska Holland America

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Sanford Winery The Role of Barrels in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Country Story by Cori Solomon Photos by Ken Bornstein

Sanford Winery Rancho La Rinconada Truck © Cori Solomon


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isiting Sanford Winery is like a trip down memory lane because the founders of this winery pioneered the region, putting both Santa Barbara County and Sta. Rita Hills on the map as prominent wine producing areas for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Meeting the current owner, John Terlato, and Winemaker Steve Fennell, one realizes they respect the winery’s legacy as they move forward to its future. Most interesting was listening to John speak about the barrels and how the various types of barrels affect his wines.

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Sanford Winery Barrel Room; © Ken Bornstein

SANFORD WINERY HISTORY Before discussing barrels, one must understand the history of Sanford, the vineyards and who started it all. It began with Michael Benedict and Richard Sanford, who were determined to find a cool climate region to grow grapes. I was fortunate to meet Michael on my visit to the Sanford Winery. Michael has a background in biology and taught at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He researched and toured the central coast to find his ideal region for growing grapes. His quest ended when he discovered the terroir now known as the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard. In 1971, the first Pinot Noir vines were planted. This vineyard became the foundation of what is now the Sta. Rita Hills. In fact, this vineyard supplied the cuttings for many other vineyards in the area. In 1980, Michael and Richard parted ways, but Sanford Winery continued. By 1997, La Rinconada Vineyard was planted and also became the site of the winery and tasting room. Several years later, the Terlato family became partners in the winery, and in 2011, the two vineyards, La Rinconada and Sanford and Benedict, reunited under the auspices of Sanford Winery.


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THE TERLATO FAMILY, SANFORD WINERY AND PINOT NOIR The Terlato Family’s philosophy is “to be involved with quality vineyards because we are the stewards to the vineyards. Most vineyards tell the tale of the family and the vineyard.” In this case, the family is responsible for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. For John Terlato, this meant traveling to Burgundy to learn how the French tell the vineyard’s story. One thing John discovered through his journeys – one must put trust in the expression of the place. This trust gives way to an authentic expression of the varietal. To achieve their goals, the Terlato Family is always expanding their knowledge and experimenting. With Steve Fennell at the helm, this occurs via sustainable practices along with both scientific skills and creativity, thereby Steve and the Terlatos become the interpreters of the vineyard. Another outcome of the Terlatos’ goals is they are passionately committed to creating great wines from vineyards they own. Ultimately, the winemaker and vintner must align, deciding the winery’s direction and how they expect to achieve their objective of

creating delicious, seamlessly integrated wine. Through experimentation, they advance this vision.

SANFORD WINERY BARREL PROGRAM The barrels are one of the main focuses of experimentation. A barrel has the single greatest impact on wine beside farming the vineyards. In choosing a barrel, there are many important factors that must be reviewed, especially removing the resin and sap from the barrel. Often when the barrels are toasted, the heat from the fire penetrates the staves, causing the sap to liquefy and bubbles to emerge. If residue sap seeps into the wine, it can negatively affect the wine.

medium grain, semi-tight grain, tight grain, and very tight grain. In the case of Sanford, for example, let us take one row of Pinot Noir from the La Rinconada Vineyard. If you were to place the wine in barrels from different Coopers, you would have different results. Another scenario: taking this same row of Pinot Noir, utilizing the same cooperage but the barrels come from different groves or contain a variety of grain cuts, the results would also vary. For this reason, Sanford places great importance on testing the barrels for a period, making sure these barrels meet the vision and expectations that Sanford has in mind for their wines.

SANFORD WINERY TERROIR THE COOPER Although I was not permitted to disclose one of the newer French Coopers used by Sanford, this company takes some extra precautions to prevent this leakage including toasting the barrels over a low fire for a longer period, and toasting by visual observation rather than a set formula. In addition, the Cooper limits the number of barrels produced. The Cooper watches each barrel because every one is different. Inspection is done on every stave as it is being cut to ensure there are no cracks that could cause an imperfection in the wine. The staves are milled until each is crack-free or without imperfections. Often, varying the widths of the staves and milling can resolve the imperfections.

BARREL TYPE The type of barrel can articulate the style of wine and/or the vineyard. A winemaker must determine what he or she is trying to accomplish with the wine. For John and Steve, it is the soil versus the barrel. Perhaps it is like a puzzle – determining which type of barrel and how many will be ideal to perfect the wine they are seeking to produce. This includes the particular forest where the wood for the barrel originates and the grain of the wood for each barrel. You can have the same type of oak, but due to a tree’s location in the forest or the location of the forest itself, it can have a different effect on the wine. This is also true with the kind of grain. Grain represents the average size or width between the annual growth rings of the tree. Barrels typically consist of

While the barrels play a significant role in the winemaking process, the terroir emphasizes a more important part in Sanford’s statement about the expressions coming from their vineyards. Capturing the essence of the land on which the vineyards reside is key. It is also why the Sanford winery portfolio consists mainly of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Sanford legacy lies in this land and its diversity within the various blocks and rows. To emphasize the history of this property, Sanford produces an old vine Chardonnay called Founders’ Vines Chardonnay. This single vineyard wine represents the Chardonnay planted 45 years ago. In addition, Sanford also produces a Founders’ Vines Pinot Noir celebrating the founding of the Sanford and Benedict Vineyard in 1971. These two wines, more than any other wines in the portfolio, pay tribute to Sanford’s legacy. Summing up the goals of Sanford winery and the vision of John Terlato, you might say they strive to learn something, and through this knowledge, there comes the flexibility to adapt and try new things. This ultimately makes a wine about which one says, “Oh my God, that’s delicious.”

IF YOU GO Sanford Winery The writer would like to thank Sanford Winery for hosting her visit.

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Where the Water, Music and Liqueur Are All Blue

Story by Mira Temkin Photos courtesy of the Curaçao Tourist Board

Swim, snorkel or walk along one of Curaçao’s 35 beautiful beaches.


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ay down in the Southern Caribbean lie three magnificent islands named the A-B-C’s – Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. These three beautiful Dutch islands share a colonial history, gorgeous beaches and perfect weather outside the hurricane path. The largest of the three islands is Curaçao, internationally-recognized for its enclaves of private beaches and peaceful inlets with a relaxing, laid-back vibe. Sparkling blue waters, blues music and traditional blue Curaçao liqueur were all awaiting our discovery. Independent from the Netherlands since 2010, the Dutch influence is still prevalent in the historic Old Town’s colorful waterfront buildings. The capital city of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features facades of pink, blue, yellow and gold (which indicate a government building or monument).

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Queen Emma Swing Bridge in historic downtown Willemstad.

Historic Downtown The Dutch Influence Remains

We stopped for a moment at the iconic floating Queen Emma Bridge that swings open to let the boats through. Then, we proceeded along the waterfront to the colorful and lively floating market, where fishing vessels make the 35-mile sail from Venezuela to sell their fish, fruits and vegetables. I tried the papaya, which was sweet and delicious. There’s also yucca, passion fruit, plantains and key limes to tempt your palate. I was curious about the 400-year old Mikve Israel Synagogue, the oldest active synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Yes, that’s actual sand on the floor to remind the Jewish people of wandering in the desert. We had also heard about the Chobolobo Factory, a 19th-century historic mansion and discovered how the famous Blue Curaçao liquor was made. You can taste the blue waters in every sip. Fortunately, a few bottles of the island’s most famous drink made their way home.

Enjoy the Luxury and Attention to Detail Located within easy walking distance of downtown is the Avila Beach Hotel, the longest operating hotel on the island, serving guests for more than six decades. With two private beaches and infinity pool, the hotel creates an ambiance of understated elegance and refined moments. At night, we dined in the Avila


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Interior of 400-year-old Mikve Israel Synagogue with sand on the floor.

Blues Bar & Restaurant and enjoyed their delicious grilled specialties and fresh fish while listening to live jazz. Their signature Blue Margarita, made with (you guessed it) famous Blue Curaçao, is as beautiful to your gaze as to your palate. The best part is that the blues play into the wee hours. The Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino in downtown features a sprawling complex on a beautiful private beach, moments away from Christoffel National Park, the Sea Aquarium and the Curaçao Museum. Dine in one of the five on-site restaurants, swim in the infinity pool or run on their on-site jogging trail. At night, try your luck in the casino. Papagayo Beach Resort is an exclusive resort on Jan Thiel Bay with striking white-washed buildings set against the deep blue waters. There was so much to do at this hip, trendy beach club that I didn’t want to leave. The resort features a contemporary spa, state-of-

Colorful buildings in the Pietermaai neighborhood.

the-art fitness center, bustling casino and various shops. Start your day with their sumptuous buffet and relax from 5:00-6:00 p.m. with Happy Hour Wine.

A Culinary Feast Traditional Caribbean cooking is enhanced with fresh fruits and vegetables brought in from Venezuela every day, allowing chefs to create dishes that showcase many culinary influences. Curaçao is emerging as an ultra-hip foodie town as chefs experiment with new fusion ideas. A new farm-to-table café has even made its debut. Here are a few places to consider: 27 Bar and Restaurant is a cool place to hang out and the island’s first rock ‘n roll bar overlooking the water. Live music, great food and a guaranteed good time keep a stream of people pouring out into the streets. Be sure to try a traditional Batido at food trucks everywhere. It’s made of ice, milk and real fruit – the perfect refreshing drink on a hot day. My favorite was pineapple, with coffee-flavored coming in a close second. Enjoy a taste of fabulous Mediterranean cuisine at the Zest Mediterranean restaurant, just steps away from Papagayo with fresh fish and chef-inspired cuisine. And for something completely different and delicious, try a goat burger and sweet potato fries at Williwood.

Enjoy a great start to the day at Beyglz (sounds like bagels), one of Curaçao’s newest eateries with lots of tasty, healthy selections. Dining at Mosa is like having dinner at your family’s house. It’s warm, inviting and fabulous. This shared dining experience features excellent cuisine and wine in the heart of Curaçao’s up-and-coming neighborhood, Pietermaai, which is now home to trendy bars, restaurants and colorful street murals. Also check out Hofi Cas Cora, a new farm-to-table concept where you watch the staff pick the fresh vegetables out of the garden and serve them to you for brunch/lunch.

IF YOU GO Jet Blue offers non-stop service from New York City to Curaçao. Make plans to visit now and see why the Curaçao “blues” are destined to become your favorite island escape! avilabeachhotel.com renaissancecuraçao.com papagayo.com JetBlue.com www.curaçao.com The author would like to thank The Curacao Tourist Board and Diamond PR for hosting this trip.

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Barboursville ruins


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Barboursville Vineyards The Surprising Wines of Virginia

Story and Photos by Kurt Jacobson

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Barboursville sunrise on the vines

hen I first visited Barboursville Vineyards, I had no idea their wines could be so good. I also didn’t know their restaurant Palladio was said to be “One of the finest and most authentic Italian restaurants in the United States.” according to John Mariani, the esteemed food critic. By the time I left Barboursville there was no doubt in my mind I had just experienced one of the most allencompassing quality wine delights of my life! Barboursville is the former hometown of James Barbour, governor of Virginia, friend of Thomas Jefferson. In fact, the magnificent home of James Barbour was designed by Thomas Jefferson. Fire destroyed the mansion on Christmas day of 1884, but the striking ruins stand vigil as a reminder of this 18th governor of Virginia. The setting is reminiscent of a small Italian or French village with a vineyard, ruins, and cottages dotting the landscape.

A Long Family History Modern day visitors are wowed by the wine, food, and westward views of the hazy Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. To sip a glass of wine on the tasting room’s patio looking out on these blue mountains is truly heaven on earth. It’s no accident that Barboursville Vineyards is so successful. Owned by Gianni Zonin whose family has a long history of Italian winemaking, success was inevitable. In 1990, Zonin asked Luca Paschina to come to Virginia and


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interview for the job of winemaker and manager. After stints in Napa and New York’s Finger Lakes region, Luca was ready to take the reins of a new and bold winemaking endeavor. Not that winemaking was unknown in Virginia thanks to the third president of the United States – Thomas Jefferson was convinced someday Virginia would take its spot on the world stage of wine. Many brave pioneers of winemaking gave it a try over the two centuries after Thomas Jefferson had experimented in grape growing and wine production in the early 1800s. The wait was worth it, for Barboursville and others are making their dedication and quality wines known to the world. There was much work to be done when Luca took the reins of the vineyard. Most vines were ripped out, and Nebbiolo and Muscat grapes were planted. By 1997 the first batch of world-class wines was making its way into the tasting room and customers’ homes. The Octagon series was gaining recognition as one of the best red wine blends in Virginia. Commanding prices of upwards to $280+ per bottle this is a special occasion wine for most customers. It’s not unusual to see Octagon competing with Napa, Sonoma, and European wines on the lists of many Washington DC restaurants. For Barboursville wines to be this respected indicates a trip to the winery is a must for wine lovers visiting the region.

Octagon red wine blend; © photo courtesy of Jon Golden

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A Generous Sampling After my first visit, I knew I had to return and try more of their wines, food, and hospitality. A tasting fee of $7 for a Tuscan Room sampling is reasonable considering I was able to taste twenty wines. I worked my way through the whites, rosé, and reds before ending up at the dessert wines. My head was spinning from trying to reason how these wines could be so good. The Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc is from New Zealand vines and delivers a crisp, fragrant wine without seeming to dump a whole pineapple, kiwi, and passion fruit punch that some of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs can have. The initial trip was my first time sampling Vermentino, a delicious white wine well known in Italy. Fermented in stainless steel for seven to eight months, Vermentino is a perfect wine to pair with seafood. It can stand up to blackened redfish or enhance a grilled Alaskan salmon fillet. With a dry and luscious minerality, Vermentino would also pair well with Manchego cheese or Petit Basque. Though not usually a fan of dessert wines, Barbourville’s Paxxito (Malvaxia) is impressive. With more gold medal awards than this column has room to mention, I highly recommend sampling and buying this sweet winner. On the weekends visitors can relax in Library 1821 where highly praised wines from the past are made available. Paired with culinary offerings and starting at $25 guests are sheltered from the occasional exuberance of the Tuscan Room. A special outdoor area allows guests to gaze at the Blue Ridge Mountains of Shenandoah and succumb to the spell of great wine and views. On a recent visit, a flight of Octagon wines from 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013 vintages wowed me. Each weekend brings out new offerings and will tempt you to take a few of these gems home. If you are lucky enough to get lunch or dinner reservations and


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can partake of the wine pairing, this combo is hard to beat anywhere in the US. To take full advantage of the wine pairing lunch or dinner, it’s best to stay onsite at the 1804 Inn and Cottages. The inn, a classic Georgian villa, predates the mansion by a generation. Staying at the inn or cottages allows guests to take their time and enjoy the grounds thoroughly.

No Room at the Inn However, on busy weekends the inn and cottages can be fully booked as we found out on a recent trip. Don’t worry, for the Uphill House Bed and Breakfast can fill the void and is only two miles away. Since you won’t want to drive to Palladio’s wine paired lunch or dinner from the Uphill House B&B, Central Virginia Wine Tours can provide transportation if needed. Not everyone can take the time to visit Barboursville Vineyards. They are two hours by car from Washington DC or 75 minutes from Richmond. Barboursville Vineyards has an online wine shop for customers to order from their nineteen types of wine. The winery only ships to seventeen states, lucky for me that Maryland is one of them. If your state is not on the list Barboursville ships to, you might have to ask your local restaurant or wine shop to stock their wines.

Barboursville Vineyards Octagon wine flight

Entrance to Palladio

Barboursville wines that have scored into the 90 point range by Robert Parker are no fluke. Food and Wine Magazine named Palladio among America’s best vineyard restaurants. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Central Virginia’s wine region as one of the top ten in the world! The secret is out. Now is the time to start planning your trip to this corner of Central Virginia’s exciting wine region.


If You Go Barboursville Vineyards Central Virginia Wine Tours Uphill House Bed and Breakfast

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Photo by Tom Fakler

Gelato being served up by Anna of Gelataria Portuense in Porto, Portugal.