I love being in the great outdoors, yet enjoy my creature comforts.
I love great food, but don’t really want to schlep all the makings and equipment through the wilderness.
I love fine wine, but the bottles are heavy and impractical for real adventure.
I love kayaking.
I love Beautiful British Columbia.
Whether you’re a family looking for togetherness, a couple who enjoys living it up in a romantic luxury lodge, or someone who enjoys simplistic tent camping on the beach… Blue Planet Kayaking Adventures has something for everyone. Plus, access to some mighty fine wine!
But seriously, I’d like to know which wine wouldn’t taste good after a hard day of paddling along the shores of Vancouver Island.
That’s another story for another day, I suppose.
My personal preference, if I had to choose just one of their Planet Blue Kayaking trips would be the Vargas Island Inn- Lodge Based Kayaking. But it would be a seriously tough call because they all look like fun!
Or so I’ve read. This company randomly caught my eye, although I can’t remember how or where.
Could there be a better summer escape than spending 3 nights pampered by my very own chef/guide while relaxing by the fireplace? Or, should I sip a glass of wine in the wood fired sauna on the beach?
Sign me up.
If you’re thinking about making a trip to French Polynesia, you’ll be rewarded with lots of island sunshine, crystal clear lagoons, and the laid-back atmosphere you’ll only find in the islands.
Located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, the island of Tahiti acts as an international welcome center, greeting visitors hopping off long-haul flights from all corners of the world.
However, when beauty is plentiful, yet time is limited, narrowing down your island destination(s) can be a tough call. Here are the TravelPlusWine top destinations in French Polynesia:
‘Heaven on earth’ seems to be a common description from returning Bora Bora vacationers! Luxury and relaxation go hand-in-hand as honeymooners enjoy champagne and fresh fruit from their over-the-water bungalows.
Tourism in Bora Bora is well-developed, offering tourists the opportunity to either join an organized group or do things on their own. Check out World War II relics, join a 4×4 tour, sail, dive, or enjoy a breakfast by canoe.
Often closely compared to Bora Bora from travelers who are lucky enough to experience both islands, Moorea is another top choice if you’re visiting French Polynesia. Authur Frommer once declared this island the most beautiful in the world.
In close proximity to Tahiti, there are several ferries running daily that link the two islands. This helps makes Moorea an easier and somewhat more affordable alternative to Bora Bora.
Visitors who want a break from the beach and feel like a nice challenge, enjoy hiking Mouaputa, a rugged mountain peak.
If you want to escape the hoards of tourists in Bora Bora or Moorea, Huahine could be a good option. Actually comprised of two islands connected by a bridge, you can easily explore both islands in a couple of days.
Like Bora Bora, both Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti are protected by a fringe coral reef, helping to make your lagoon swim a memorable one! Think of Huahine as yet another opportunity to unleash your inner beach bum in paradise.
We had the great opportunity to visit the Nelson wine region on a recent trip to New Zealand.
First of all, it is important to know there are 10 wine regions in New Zealand. Yes, there are wineries in almost all corners of the country!
The Nelson wine region is located on the north tip of the South Island and enjoys a very sunny, maritime climate.
It comes as no surprise that, due to great weather conditions combined with passionate winemaking, Nelson is producing highly distinctive, premium quality wines.
And I really love the fact that many winemakers are adventuresome enough to explore different grape varieties too, considering that Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Noir account for over 80% of the region’s grapes.
Here are the Top 4 wineries we enjoyed in Nelson:
Not only does Milcrest Estate produce superb wines, but they own a beautiful and luxurious B&B right in the middle of their vineyard!
This is by far the best spot to stay and set as your base when visiting the Nelson wine region.
The owner, Terry Milton, is very friendly and knowledgeable about the grape varieties, which wineries are worth a visit, as well as the region in general.
And this is also one of the reasons I recommend making Milcrest Estate your first stop; you’ll gain a lot of valuable information from Terry.
Milcrest Estate’s new Chardonnay is phenomenal, flowery on the nose, with hints of vanilla and oak. But their fine aromatic Pinot Gris is a true masterpiece.
Milcrest Estate website: www.milcrestestate.co.nz
Golden Hills Estates
On our visit to Golden Hills Estates we got a chance to meet the owner, Jeff Marr, who told us about his wines and beautiful property on the Waimea Plains.
Marr’s passion in wine making is very obvious and his vast knowledge on the terroir of Nelson has allowed him to be somewhat adventuresome in trying different grape varieties to make wine.
Not only does Golden Hills Estates produce great Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris, but two wonderful wines we got to try as well were the 2008 Merlot and the 2009 Dolcetto.
Golden Hills Estates website: www.goldenhillsestates.co.nz
Started over 30 years ago, Neudorf is one of the oldest vineyards in Nelson.
It is also, perhaps, the most internationally known Nelson winery. Their wines have earned not only Neudorf, but the entire Nelson region, worldwide recognition.
Today, Neudorf exports their wines to 16 different countries and many grace the menus at some of the finest restaurants around the world.
If you visit Neudorf, I would strongly suggest you try their Moutere collection. Their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are top-de-tops.
Neudorf Vineyards website: www.neudorf.co.nz
What I loved about this unique award-winning winery, besides their great wines, is their emphasis on utilizing sustainable methods in winemaking.
In fact, their multi-level winery (built on a hillside) is gravity-fed, which allows the wine to evolve from grape to bottle in a process driven by gravity.
The owners of Woollaston Estates also share their passion and love of art. There is a modern sculpture with a shape of an “X” at the front of the winery (I guess “X” marks the spot), and there is also a modern art gallery right next to the Cellar Door.
My favorite here is their 2006 Pinot Noir.
Woollaston Estates website: www.woollaston.co.nz
Other Activities in Nelson
Nelson has many art galleries including the works of traditional and contemporary Maori craftspeople, as well as other international artists.
If you have time, visit Höglund Art Glass, a very colorful and elegant hand blown art glass gallery.
If you love hiking or sea-kayaking on clear ocean waters, you should visit Abel Tasman National Park.
And last but not least, prepare for the Rugby World Cup in 2011 because Nelson is one of the host cities! And if this doesn’t sound exciting enough, you should know that countries like USA, Russia, and Italy will be playing in Nelson.
It’s not just about drinking wine, but about experiencing wine using all of your senses.
In this video, Dorian at Briar Rose Winery in Temecula, California explains how to taste wine:
Nestled in a small wine region in Southern California, Temecula winery Briar Rose Winery is a hidden gem among the few dozen valley vineyards.
Quaint and story book- like, when you visit Briar Rose Winery, you’ll want to allow enough time to really taste and enjoy the wine.
The tasting room is located in Snow White’s cottage. Seriously!
The previous owner worked for Walt Disney and built an exact replica of the cottage for his wife, a huge Snow White fan.
Current owners, Dorian and Les, bought the property and decided to open a winery. They keep the Disney tradition alive through the décor, music, and overall experience.
Enjoy your wine in the tasting room, the back patio, or under a shady tree right out front. Thankfully, the wine tasting room offers a welcome reprieve from the steadily increasing Temecula summer temperatures.
Upon entering, you’ll feel like you’re on a classic movie set in Disneyland.
Briar Rose Winery offers a tasting experience unlike any other winery in Temecula, or anywhere for that matter.
Inside, friends and couples sip wine at intimate bistro tables while the gracious hostess (and owner) Dorian gives wine tasting lessons to even the most seasoned wine enthusiasts.
Unlike other wineries, there’s no standing at crowded counters because here, at Briar Rose Winery, the wine is brought to you!
In order to offer you an intimate experience, Briar Rose is a reservations- only winery. All it takes is a quick call ahead (or email) to verify large crowds won’t put a damper on your visit.
Briar Rose makes a very unique beverage called Talking Frog, a wine lager. Think of it as a cross between a sparkling wine, cider, and wheat beer. You’ll just have to try it for yourself!