I welcomed November with open arms this year. While the summer months are usually my favorite time to frolic under the warm California sun, this year didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of lazy weekends on the beach, an extended trip to Montana, and weeks upon weeks of backyard kiddie pool bliss with The Tot… we moved. Yes, after six years of calling San Diego County home, we kissed spacious suburbia good-bye and headed to the big city two hours north.
I also have to mention our significant downsize. We went from living in a real house with a yard to calling a 900-something square foot apartment our home. We abstained from storage in favor of a simplified lifestyle. Less is best goes our new motto. The purging process took months due to busy schedules and lack of time (especially with The Tot in tow), but it was well worth the effort. In fact, I love the results so much, I can’t wait to do another round of purging.
When we were contemplating the move, we knew it would only work if our quality of life improved as a result. We spent hours talking about what we liked and didn’t like about suburbia and what we wanted city living to be. The results: we live in a walking friendly area, Ricardo takes the city bus to work nearly everyday, I enjoy daily walks to a nearby park and exploring neighborhoods with The Tot, our cars stay parked in their reserved spots somewhere in the building, and it’s only a 20 minute drive to LAX… a major international airport with flights to everywhere!
Ricardo loves his new job and I still enjoy the virtual workspace lifestyle.
Now that the exhausting downsize is over, the SD house is rented, and I’m finally back from zigzagging across the USA for a project… I can finally exhale and explore our new city. Hello November and hello Los Angeles!
If there are any Los Angeles locals out there, I’d love to hear about your favorite spots.
If you haven’t been to a wine tasting event, I highly recommend you find an event and check it out because it’s a great way to get the flavor of a region or country.
Just this week, our official TravelPlusWine delegation (yours truly & Ricardo) spent the afternoon in Los Angeles at the Austria Uncorked event at the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. Where else can we taste hundreds of Austrian wines and sample a variety of cheeses without leaving the country?
Although we attended the European Wine Bloggers Conference this past fall in Vienna, I felt I needed a chance to get to know Austrian wines other than Grüner Veltliner (I’m still a HUGE fan) in order to really understand the country’s wines. My mission at Austria Uncorked: reds, rosés, and bubbles.
While there are so many great wines and wineries to write about, here’s an overview of a few of our favorite finds:
The stand-out wine of the day, definitely deserving of more than a passing mention, is the 2008 Elfenhof Exclusiv Zweigelt. It tasted lush and much richer than many of the other Zweigelts we tasted. The wine is super smooth and bursting with cherry juice. As you sip, for a split second, you taste an intense sweetness which quickly dissipates into a dry, easy, even earthy sipping wine. I love it when wines play tricks in my mouth and surprise me with the finish. Well worth the $23 price tag and available from Schlossadler International Wines.
Another fun wine from Elfenhof, if you enjoy sweet wines on the tart side, is the their 2009 Roter Ausbruch (made from the Roesler grape). I personally prefer the dryer side of the fence when it comes to wine, so this Roter Ausbruch provides the tartness I enjoy when it comes to sweeter wines. Price unknown.
Speaking of yummy, tart, sweet wines…
Weinrieder has a 2008 Riesling Eiswein which manages to pack a ton of awesome peachy tartness into such a cute bottle. Price unknown, distributed by Blue Danube Wine Company.
The 2008 J. Heinrich terra o. Cuvée (Mittelburgenland DAC) is a surprising yet scrumptious blend of Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The flavors blend into a great steakhouse delight that I’d even enjoy without the food. While the wine is nice, $45 seems a bit exaggerated for this bottle (Blue Danube Wine Company).
If you want a Blaüfrankisch that supposedly ‘defines’ an Austrian Blaüfrankish, the 2009 Goldberg Blaufränkish (Burgenland), a signature wine from J. Heinrich, is what you’ll want to try. Well-established in the Austrian wine world for over 300 years, the Heinrich family planted the vines for these grapes more than 50 years ago in the best vineyard location in Deutschkreutz, the Goldberg. Licorice and lavender are present in this wine while dark cherries and an appealing minerality push through the lingering finish. More great winemaking for the $20-something price range (Blue Danube Wine Company).
Many of you know way too much about my passion and love of Rosé wines… and it’s important to mention Austria makes a wide variety of nice Rosés.
I tried what I’m pretty sure is my first Zweigelt rosé yesterday which was both fun and different. Stift Klosterneuburg’s Klostersekt Rosé is summer fruity, tart, and peppery with a lovely finish – almost like burnt caramel. I’d enjoy this wine as an appetizer, with light pasta dishes, salad, or simply sip alone. (Price unknown – Importer: Leopold Imports LLC)
Upcoming Tasting Event:
May 4: Austria Uncorked – NYC
Where and when is your next event? Leave a link with information in the comments below.
Los Angeles, California - The city of Champagne wishes, caviar dreams, and home to some of the rich and famous.
Luckily, not everything has to cost a pretty penny.
If you’re on a travel budget, here are a few activities you can enjoy when you’re in Los Angeles without breaking the bank:
1. Hollywood Walk of Fame
If you’ve never visited Los Angeles, this is a must-visit-to-check-off-the-list type of tourist trap that can actually be a lot of fun, especially if you love people-watching.
It’s free to walk along the vibrant Hollywood Boulevard, search for your favorite movie star, and watch the out-of-work actors strut their stuff in full costume as they try to make a few bucks from pictures with tourists.
Although the boulevard stretches over a mile, most people center around the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where you can find the “Forecourt of the Stars”, featuring footprints, hand prints, and signatures of many Hollywood stars.
2. Getty Center
While the LACMA and Norton Simon Museums house amazing collections, nobody can beat the view at the Getty Center. Simply pay $15 for parking (or wait until 5pm and it’s FREE!) and take the tram to the museum at the top of the hill. Admission is free.
Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the Central Garden, South Pavilion Terrace, or Museum Courtyard.
3. Malibu Family Wines
Located in glamorous Malibu, just a few short minutes north along the coast, is a winery with spectacular views and premium wines.
Visit the tasting room (call for seasonal hours) and check out the 1,000 acre property where over 100 movies and commercials have been filmed.
4. Santa Monica Pier
A pier with a carnival-like atmosphere, this is where it’s all happening: local families out for a day of fun, tourists experiencing coastal California for the first time, and the occasional celebrity sighting.
Unless you want to pay a few bucks for a ride or games, it’s free to enjoy the gorgeous ocean views and gentle breeze.
5. Griffith Observatory
If you want an awesome view of Los Angeles without the parking fees associated with the Getty Center, this observatory in Griffith Park is 100% free.
Visit for nice daytime views or find out when their telescope is operating for spectacular views of the night sky.
Wear good walking shoes if you want to take advantage of the miles of park trails.
Reader Question: Do you have a favorite hangout in Los Angeles? Leave a comment.
Last weekend we went to the 2010 Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show!
Every year, this event draws crowds of people looking for the best travel deals, new vacation opportunities, experiencing different cultures, and new wine destinations. In short, these people just want to have fun and travel!
Check out Part 1 of the LA Times Travel & Adventure Show below. We found a few places you won’t want to miss!
From the beauty of Mexico to a warm welcome in Japan, and from exotic Africa to experiencing the rich American lands, this video will give you an idea of what goes on at the LA Times Travel Show.
Travel booth highlights:
Visit Mexico – Because its beauty is endless. Expect great tropical beaches, fascinating archeological sites and a wealth of rich culture.
Visit Costa Rica – For its natural wonders, rain forest, volcanoes… a true eco-travel experience.
Scuba Schools of America – Learn scuba diving from the pros, and then join them on their domestic and international scuba diving tour expeditions.
Rankin Ranch – Enjoy the peace and real Western-style hospitality in a great ranch vacation that offers all types of outdoor activities for the whole family.
Visit Japan – Where traditions and modernity meet with spectacular results, Japan promises a vacation you will never forget.
Kansas – Discover a relaxing place with rich wildlife and award winning wines. You’ll have such a great time here that, on your return, the phrase “you’re not in Kansas anymore” will no longer be funny.
China – You can find great deals like this one if you plan your trip to China soon.
And there’s plenty more… so check back soon because TravelPlusWine has informative interviews on excellent deals to South Africa. Remember the World Cup 2010 is coming this summer and South Africa also has great wine!
Greenblatt’s in Hollywood, California is a Jewish deli combined with an extensive wine shop.
With seemingly endless wine choices and an extensive deli and dinner menu, it’s no wonder we keep going back. Open until 2am, it’s the perfect place for a midnight treat, even on holidays. If you get lucky, you might even spot a celebrity or two. We have!
Unless you have a particular wine in mind, we recommend taking a look at their food menu before committing to a wine. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to eat, ask your waiter what wine he/she recommends.
Whether you drink your wine by the glass or choose the whole bottle ($6 corkage fee), Greenblatt’s staff seems to be very helpful in the wine department. Thanks to their expertise, we’ve never had a wine we didn’t thoroughly enjoy.
Greenblatt’s is also a great place to order a picnic lunch or dinner to-go. Just don’t forget the bottle of wine!