I have been to many wineries around the world and I have to say that some of the most rewarding experiences happen when I come across wineries that are so incredibly unique.
I am talking about wineries that have absolutely no intention of copying anyone; wineries that do what they love and share their passion with the world.
Deer Park Winery, located in Escondido, California, offers precisely that.
And by the way, the word “Escondido” means hidden in Spanish, which is interesting because Deer Park Winery is a bit hidden in the north-eastern part of San Diego County.
The most fascinating thing about Deer Park Winery is that, besides their award-winning wines, they also house an auto museum with a huge collection of vintage convertible cars.
Some sites even claim it’s the largest collection of its kind in the world with about 120 cars. It truly is impressive!
The Vintage Car Collection
This auto museum has three different rooms that are impeccably cleaned and very well maintained.
Two of the most iconic and classic convertible cars you will find in the collection are a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air and a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado just like the one President Eisenhower rode during his Inauguration Day parade.
But they have quite a few exotic models.
One of the rarest cars in the collection is a 1928 Franklin Airman with a “Spirit of St. Louis” ornament.
Some other exotic models are a 1954 Kaiser Darrin, a tiny 1959 German Messerchmitt, a 1958 Ford Edsel, and a 1953 Nash Healey. And many more…
The museum’s admission fee is $8 but really worth the Americana experience. Besides the cars, they also have a collection of vintage house appliances.
Deer Park Winery is a small family owned and operated winery producing about 1,000 cases per year.
I will recommend their 1996 Zinfandel, which is well balanced, fruity on the nose and a bit oaky.
They also have a 1991 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, a unique dessert wine with hints of dry apricot. This wine pairs well with apple crumble and vanilla ice-cream.
Due to it’s uniqueness as a great travel spot offering great wine, Deer Park Winery is a TravelPlusWine must!
Two Buck Chuck, the wine formerly known as Charles Shaw, should seriously consider hiring these marketing wizards for their next (first?) commerical.
Funny as heck, this wine pretty much describes Two Buck Chuck in a nutshell… for college students across the country.
I’ve always wanted to call a wine da bomb and I finally found a legitimate excuse with a Boom Boom! Syrah from K Vintners in Washington State.
A few weeks back, we were chillaxing over a flight at one of our favorite wine haunts when their in-house wine guru pulled out this bad boy (er, girl?). By bad, I mean it caught my attention in a good way.
The wine is not-so-subtle yet completely subtle at the same time. How can that be? Let me explain because this smooth wine is actually very uncomplicated.
Expect subtle hits of blackberries with an (extremely ) not-so-subtle flinty and earthy finish.
The flintiness is what makes this wine da bomb for my palate.
Never before has a wine’s name seemed so fitting as it does with this Boom Boom! Syrah.
If you want a bottle that’s a break from your usual, yet fun… for $15 this wine won’t blast a hole in your wallet.
Unfortunately my memory went Boom Boom!, because I can’t, for the life of me, remember the vintage. Was it 2006 or 2007? Je ne sais pas. I just know it was dynamite, because I still remember the blast.
Many travelers refer to Prague as the Paris of Eastern Europe. But I say Prague is the Prague of Eastern Europe, a city whose beauty and charm are so unique there’s no need to make any comparisons.
If you have a few days to explore this fascinating city, here’s what you can do. And remember, the best way to see Prague is by walking so bring comfortable shoes!
Wenceslas Square – Start your trip at this historical center. Here you will see two very important monuments: the Statue of St. Wenceslas, who is the patron saint of the Czech Republic, and the National Museum (see photo).
The National Museum is one of the most visited places in the Czech Republic. It is a world-class natural history museum with impressive collections in areas such as paleontology, zoology, botany and anthropology.
Another area of the museum is archeology, where you can find artifacts with historical and artistic values such as weapons, jewelry, and Bohemian porcelain and glass. The numismatic collection offers a huge compilation of foreign coins and medals.
From this museum, walk down the boulevard and head towards Old Town Square. This is the true heart of Prague and has been the scene of many historical events since the 10th century.
The Old Town Square is surrounded by picturesque buildings of Romanesque or Gothic styles.
Some of the most dominant structures here are Kinsky Palace and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn (see photo).
At Old Town Square you can also find plenty of shops, cafés, restaurants, and a visitor’s center office.
The Orloj – Prague’s Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square attracts crowds that gather in front of the clock tower to see a unique mechanical show.
At the top of the hour you will not only hear the chimes but two upper windows will open as colorful figures of the Apostles appear for their hourly procession. In the middle and lower parts are the astronomical dial and the calendar dial surrounded by other symbolic figures.
While you’re still in Old Town Square, why not try a freshly made Trdelnik. A what?
I know, the name is quite something, but Trdelnik is a delicious Czech pastry you can find in many stands around Old Town (see photo).
From here, head to the most visited destination in all of Czech Republic: The Prague Castle, located on the other side of the Vltava River.
The Prague Castle – Not only is this colossal castle a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but according to the Guiness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world!
Some highlights at the caste complex include the Old Royal Palace, the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Basilica of St. George, watching the Changing of the Guard, and the beautiful Royal Gardens.
And speaking of gardens, Prague has plenty of beautiful parks and gardens.
These parks and gardens are great to relax or escape the crowds.
Some parks close to the historic center are the Franciscan Garden (with a small playground for children), Petřín Hill (check the tower observatory for great views of Prague), and Vrtba Gardens (adorned with beautiful Baroque statues).
Other museums to visit in Prague are the National Gallery, Museum Kampa, and the Museum of Communism. The first two are great alternatives for art lovers, and the Museum of Communism offers an interesting cultural and historical experience on the rise and fall of communism.
* Photos courtesy of Melanie Villarreal
A few years ago, I was in desperate need of a new suitcase after a small shopping trip in Boston.
So, I walked into the nearest luggage store and walked out with this beauty: a Burton Wheelie Flight Deck.
Little did I know, it would quickly become my favorite suitcase ever.
What do I love about this suitcase?
The Size: The suitcase is not too big and not too small, which keeps me in good packing shape (it’s battle of the bulge!) and makes it easy to maneuver (as British Comedian, Eddie Izzard would say) The company claims it’s a full size carry-on, however, speaking from experience… if you fill it up too much, it might not fit.
The Compartments: The main compartment of the suitcase is divided into two sections, upper & lower. The zippered mesh pocket keeps your stuff separated and organized. No more pulling everything out to get to the bottom! Plus, there’s a compartment you can access from the outside perfect for either shoes or a toiletry kit. Not to mention that outside padded pocket with your laptop’s name on it.
The Color: Black was last year’s pink and this year’s pink is fun design (er, something like that). My point is that there’s no mistaking my suitcase in the overhead bin or on the conveyor belt. Nobody is going walk off with my fun design by accident. Burton bags clearly stand out from the rest.
The Weight: With strict weight requirements in place throughout the industry, it’s important to have luggage that doesn’t weigh a lot before packing. The Burton Wheelie Flight Deck Luggage is light-weight with a minimal frame.
It holds everything I need for nearly every type of trip.
What more could a traveler ask for?