Shafer Vineyards

I first visited Shafer Vineyards in 2002. Back then, I knew even less about wine than I do now. For one thing…

What I learned at wine school

I’ve covered the wine industry for more than a decade, but always from the business end. Facts, figures, and farming…

Second Cheapest Wine

College Humor has put together an amusing video about that restaurant list staple, the second cheapest wine. That’s when you…

Tea party trauma

Tea parties. Such, prim, proper affairs. Finger sandwiches, delicate cups of tea and wee little glasses of sherry if you’re…

TRAVEL

Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Winery

inglenook

The Inglenook winery is a triumphant tale of loss and restoration, directed by none other than Francis Ford Coppola. And it’s a fun place to visit when you’re looking to entertain and impress your in-laws. Coppola has moved most of his movie memorabilia over to his Sonoma County property, the Frances Ford Coppola winery. What…

My parallel life with Prince William and Kate

kate auckland

It looks like Prince William and Kate have been reading my blog for travel tips on their visit to New Zealand, and I couldn’t be happier. The couple sailed yachts around Auckland Harbor. I sailed a yacht around Auckland Harbor! Here’s Kate: Here’s me: It’s like we’re twins. And I don’t even need all those…

Euro Shop: How to get that tax rebate

suitcase

Let’s face it, as fabulous as sightseeing can be, there are times when you want to look at something a little more portable. Leaning Tower of Pisa, awesome example of Italian craftsmanship. Over-the-knee scrunchy Prada leather boots, ditto. I’m talking a serious Euroshopping spree here. Luckily for you not only are things like LV and…

Cracking the Wine Country dress code: Napa Chic

far-niente-parade-300x175

Social events in the Napa Valley are a blast whether you’re invited to a private tasting or big bash winery party. But deciding what to wear to said soiree can be a bit of a chore, especially when you get an invite with the ubiquitous yet impenetrable “Napa casual” or “Napa chic.” Basically, Napa Casual,…

Traveling with Global Entry TSA Precheck

US Passports

Even though I am British by birth, I am not found of queues, aka standing in line. So when I heard about Global Entry, the preclearance program that sends you to the front of the U.S. Customs line when you return from abroad, I signed up right away. And now that you can use your…

FOOD & DRINK

Robin Williams’ Napa Valley Estate for Sale

robin williams

  Great news for would-be Napa Valley property owners, comedian Robin Williams’ fabulous estate is back on the market. And it’s been marked down! From $35 mil to $29.9 mil, but hey, a discount’s a discount. Do rich people think like us, by the way? Are they all, “Twenty-nine-nine, OK, but 30 big ones, no…

What I learned at wine school

Northburn Station

I’ve covered the wine industry for more than a decade, but always from the business end. Facts, figures, and farming trends? Yes. Distinguish a Pinotage from a Pinot noir? Not so much. So I didn’t hesitate a few years back when I had the chance to take the weeklong course “Mastering Wine I” at the…

Second Cheapest Wine

College Humor has put together an amusing video about that restaurant list staple, the second cheapest wine.

That’s when you look at a long, confusing wine list, see the cheapest one and decide to order

Tea party trauma

tea

Tea parties. Such, prim, proper affairs. Finger sandwiches, delicate cups of tea and wee little glasses of sherry if you’re lucky. But sometimes, this festive little break between lunch and dinner can go terribly, terribly wrong. How wrong? Let me tell you. I don’t remember the year but I do remember being about four years old…

My love affair with cookbooks

cookbook

A lot of people look at cookbooks as mere manuals. But in truth they’re some of the best reading out there. Whether laced with personal anecdotes and tart asides _ my favorite _ or written as a straight how-to, a cookbook is part self-help volume, part escapist literature,  part historical document. There are cookbooks you…