Tagged wineries

Top Tips for Summer Switzerland Vacation Trips from an Insider: Nature, Wine and Chocolate Galore!

By Andrea Verdin
Photos courtesy Switzerland Tourism

Even though we are in the middle of our summer vacation season, the Wander team cannot stop planning ahead and daydreaming about what next adventure is down the pipeline. Coming back from the Mexican Riviera, I’ve got my mind on the next big excursion, and Switzerland seems ideal for a luxurious getaway.

People around the world have been heading to the Alps for thousands of years for jaw-dropping views and amazing experiences that cannot be had elsewhere. However, there’s so much to experience, it’s nearly impossible to figure out what to do while in Switzerland.

I asked Switzerland expert Greg Witt from Alpenwild about some of the tops tours, attractions and special events that guests should make sure to include in their tours, and here’s just a glimpse of what Witt suggested. We reached out to Witt and Alpenwild because of the knowledge regarding the Alps he could provide.

“Alpenwild is the leading operator doing hiking and walking tours in the Alps. Our most popular trip is the Haute Route, a legendary trek through the highest peaks in the Alps linking Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn,” said Witt. “It’s the most scenic trek in Europe. It connects the historic mountain resorts of Chamonix France and Zermatt Switzerland. Along the way we traverse ancient trade routes, pass immense glaciers, skirt scenic alpine lakes, and come within view of the 14 highest peaks in the Alps.”

With no further ado, here’s what Witt recommends for those traveling to Switzerland this summer.

The majestic Matterhorn
  • Book a view from the Swiss mountaintops
    If you’re looking to get 360° views and the fresh mountain air, Witt recommends the Stanserhorn Cabrio, the world’s first double-decker cable car with an open air upper deck. Another option is a new mountain attraction in Engelberg called the Rotair, the world’s first revolving gondola.

    “So like the Cabrio you get 360° views, but with the Rotair, the gondola car does the rotating as you ascend to the summit of Mt Titlis,” said Witt. “Once at the summit of Mt Titlis you can get your palms sweating by crossing Europe’s highest suspension bridge—the newly-completed Cliff Walk. On the tamer side, don’t miss the new Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Located at the home of International Olympic Committee, the newly-reopened museum explores the events, athletes, and history of the Olympic movement. It’s the most interactive, engaging, and entertaining museum I’ve ever visited—guaranteed fun for all.”

  • Eat the cheese and chocolate; sample the wine.
    If you’re planning a summer Switzerland vacation, it’s essential to eat as much Swiss chocolate as possible.

    “For chocolate lovers, Lindt will be opening a much-anticipated chocolate attraction in Zurich in 2016,” said Witt. “But for those who want to satisfy those cravings this very minute, go to Maison Cailler, Nestlé’s premier chocolate factory, for a tour followed by unlimited tastings.”

    For those more interested in food and wine, Alpenwild offers a tour called Cheese, Chocolate, and the Scenic Alps.

    “We link Alpine meadows, farms, dairies, and vineyards with some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps,” explained Witt. “Switzerland is really emerging as a gastronomic powerhouse in Europe, and it’s becoming recognized as one of the great culinary regions in Europe. The cheese, wine, and chocolate are superb. The word is getting out—you can have a great food and wine experience in the Alps.”

  • Find a travel agency that will cater to your specific wants.
    If you want a trip that focuses solely on hiking, then you need to find a company that primarily offers hiking trips. If you’re looking for a haute trip that has individualized experiences catered to small groups, don’t expect every company to provide what you want. However, Alpenwild offers a wide array of what Wanderers might be looking for.

    Dividing the cheese ceremony in the Justis valley, Bernese Oberland. Each cattle owner fetches his animals in autumn and collects his share of the cheese produced.

    “We specialize in the Alps—it’s really all we do,” explained Witt. “It’s our passion and expertise and we’ve been at it for three decades. We know the trails and towns inside out. We know the hoteliers and their rooms, the restauranteurs and their menus. Our guides are on the trails every day throughout the summer which gives us a level of expertise that other operators can’t match. And our guests get a richer, more enjoyable experience.”

    Guests who choose a summer Switzerland vacation with Alpenwild will stay in carefully chosen inns, small hotels, and classic berghotels. They are typically independently-owned inns that offer a superbly satisfying mix of a welcoming atmosphere, traditional cuisine, and authentic charm.

    “We pride ourselves in offering exclusive experiences and unique itineraries that would never be possible on other tours or traveling alone. We make cheese over an open fire with an alpine farmer, we learn the art of making chocolate truffles with a master chocolatier, and we’re hosted for winery tours and tastings by the region’s top vintners.”

    Wine tasting in the wine cellar of Gerard Raymond at Saillon, Canton Valais.

    Summer is prime time in the Alps and you’ll find a full array of hiking, walking, culinary, and sightseeing tours at www.alpenwild.com. Additionally, Alpenwild offers an intriguing variety of specialty and custom tours throughout the year—photo tours, cheesemaking, literary tripsplein aire paintinghistory toursChristmas market tours, and trips for cross-country skiers and snowshoeing.

For more information, or to book a summer Switzerland vacation, check out the Alpenwild website.

Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival Highlights the best of rosés in Broomfield, CO June 11

by Andrea Verdin

Summer is coming. That means barbecues, beach bonfires, and camping with friends. That means camping and roasting corn on the cob over an open fire, and yummy, chilled wine to enjoy as you lounge by the pool during the day.

To honor the tradition of drinking delicious chilled wine, Wine Country Network, Inc., publisher of Wine Country International® Magazine and producer of the Denver International Wine Festival, has announced the first-ever Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival.

The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival will be held on Thursday, June 11, 2015 at the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield, Colorado.

Far from being a small company with limited food and wine expertise, the Wine Country Network, Inc. publishes Wine Country International®Magazine, hosts a radio show at www.twcradio.com, and throughout the year organizes several professional beverage competitions, as well as the Denver International Wine Festival and the Pairsine Chefs Food and Beverage Pairing Competitions.

With all of these credentials, Wine Country International® Magazine’s Co-Founder and Editor, Christopher J. Davies is able to explain why rosés are fit to be featured at their own festival.

“Rosés are typically seen as a summer wine because they are lighter,” explained Davies. “They have a great pair-ability, and this festival was timely. We find that some restaurants keep rosés on their wine lists year-round because they are gaining popularity.”

Far from being a diluted red, rosés are produced from the same grapes as more full-bodied reds, but the juice is only allowed to ferment with the grape skins for a few days, giving rosés their delicate pink color, explained Davies. Winemakers from all over are coming so that you can sample their wares, and you can determine what type of rosé strikes your fancy.

In recent years, rosé wine consumption in the U.S. is growing by double digits. More and more producers are releasing their versions of incredibly food-friendly rosés. The Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival offers wine enthusiasts the chance to sample over sixty new releases right before the summer Rosé drinking season.

Chef Hosea Rosenberg

To add to the experience at the Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival, Davies said that wandering French Jazz musicians will perform, and wonderful food will be available from local restaurants, including Blackbelly, The Oceanaire Seafood Room and Big Mac and Little Lu’s. This is a perfect way to learn how to pair your new favorite pink drink with food from Top Chef Season 5 Winner Hosea Rosenberg of Blackbelly Market and Restaurant, Madeleine de Jean (a/k/a Madame Champagne) and Barrie Lynn, The Cheese Impresario.

In addition to the food and drink, the  Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival will be holding a special silent auction containing large-format bottles of Rosé and wine-related items. 100% of all proceeds will benefit There With Care, which provides a wide range of thoughtful and fundamental services to children and families during the critical phase of a medical crisis.

The 2015 venue is the luxurious Omni Interlocken Resort, which will offer a limited number of rooms at a special festival rate of $119/night. Call 303-438-6600 for reservations. Tickets for the Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Festival are now on sale. For more information, visit www.DrinkPinkVino.Com. For further information, visit www.winecountrynetwork.com or call 303-664-5700.

Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert at Westfield UTC highlights amazing meals, wine and music

by Andrea Verdin

Going to the mall isn’t just for kids anymore, especially if you live in Southern California. Westfield Malls have done a great job of making sure that each shopper not only finds ideal items to buy, but also can have a full day of leisure and luxury while shopping. A great example of this was the Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert, which happened on May 2 at La Jolla’s Westfield UTC.

The third annual Uncorked Wine Walk & Concert didn’t just feature award-winning Temecula Valley wineries — it helped guest pair them with some of the best Westfield UTC’s gourmet dining options. This year, participating wineries include award-winning Falkner WineryDanza Del Sol WineryCallaway Winery, Maurice Car’rie Winery, Robert Renzoni Vineyards and Lorimar Winery and unlimited bites will be crafted by PIRCH, Seasons 52, Eureka Discover American Craft and Tender Greens. Palm Plaza live music complemented the outdoor event. Ticket sale proceeds benefited non-profits Temecula Valley Winegrower’s Association and Bright Pink.

Guests were able to jam out to great music, snack on amazing food, and buy a few items as they meandered through the mall. After a great afternoon, my Mister and I decided to swing by Seasons 52 for more of their food; we weren’t satisfied with mere samples!

If you have a chance to visit Westfield UTC, I strongly recommend you check out one of these great restaurants during your purchasing.

For information about Westfield UTC, check out their website.

Calistoga’s Brannan Cottage Inn offers great Valentine’s Day package

Adorable and romantic. What else could you want from a luxury inn?

Written by Nadia Ibanez, photos courtesy of Brannan Cottage Inn

Valentine’s Day. Boutique hotels. Craft brews. Locally-sourced gourmet goodies. Spa treatments. These are a few of my favorite things. My prayers have been answered because Calistoga’s gorgeous and recently renovated Brannan Cottage Inn is offering a month-long Valentine’s Day package to incorporate all of the aforementioned luxuries. Whether you’re visiting Napa with your lover or just looking for a unique way to spend V Day weekend, check out what this awesome package is offering.

Inside one of the rooms at Brannan Cottage Inn.

Brannan Cottage Inn is Napa Valley’s newest, small luxury inn that creates a romantic environment with its historical background, luxury Frette linens, Victorian design, lush gardenscapes and so much more. Rent a bike from the concierge, take advantage of the complimentary use of the Calistoga shuttle, or stay in and enjoy the fireplace and espresso machine in your Deluxe King Room.

Available February 1-26, the “Olive My Valentine” package includes:

  • Luxury accommodations for two
  • Welcome amenity from Calistoga Olive Oil Company
  • Side-by-side mud or mineral treatments with your hunny at Baths at Roman Spa
  • Complimentary beer tastings at The Calistoga Inn, Restaurant & Brewery with the purchase of dinner for two
  • Late check-out

The package starts at only $225 and requires a two-night minimum if you’re staying Valentine’s Day weekend.

Count me in. For reservations and more information, visit http://bit.ly/OLIVE_Pkgs. 

Crush Temecula gathers 30+ local wineries and restaurants for one night

Just a few of the wines poured during the VIP reception before Crush Temecula.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

Wiens’ Amour De L’Orange was definitely a favorite from the evening

The Temecula Valley can be a bit intimidating – I’m not going to lie. Because there are so many wineries and tasting rooms, it’s hard for a novice like me to know exactly which winery to visit or which varietal to try next. While I’ve been honing in on tasting notes and understanding the different types of grapes out in the Valley, I had the chance to attend Crush in Temecula Valley, a wine and culinary showcase, produced by the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

Starting our night out right with a huge cheese board at Wiens

On a hot summer night, Wiens Family Cellars opened up their winery to invite residents and visitors to samples wines from over 30 local wineries and bites from over a dozen local restaurants, making it the only event of its kind. Over 100 wines were being poured throughout the evening and it was the perfect way to taste a bit from all of the wineries I’ve been meaning to try out, without ever having to drive through the Valley.

Check out our photos from the evening.

Temecula Catering served up Smoked Salmon Mousse in a tiny Squid Ink Cornet topped with cucumber relish and caviar. The dessert cornet was an Apricot Eggnog Cone and was equally tasty.

Temecula Catering plating up their Smoked Salmon Mousse and Squid Ink Cornets

One of my favorite bites of the night came from Baily’s, located in Old Town Temecula. I’m a sucker for anything on pretzel bread and the veal, pork and short rib sloppy joe concoction was delicious.

LOVED Baily’s Open Faced Sloppy Joe

La Bella Vita offered a whole smorgasbord of tastes at Crush, including Smoked Salmon Crostinis, Parmesan Meatballs and our fave, Mac and Cheese Balls with a Smoked Gouda Sauce.

La Bella Vita’s Smoked Salmon Crostini

The Vineyard Rose Restaurant at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa offered a delicious Tuscan Braised Chicken Osso Buco with an Herbed Polenta Cake. It was so good that I’ll definitely be visiting again soon for a full-sized portion.

Vineyard Rose’s Chicken Osso Buco

When we weren’t sipping on wines or eating, we made several stops to Nice Ice Baby’s ice cream and sorbet stand. These geniuses have managed to perfectly fuse alcohol into sorbets and ice creams that taste like cocktails and wines. The Strawberry Pink Champagne Sorbet was a hit, along with the Amarena Cherry Zinfandel Sorbet. We couldn’t take a photo of the sorbets before devouring them so hopefully the menu will entice you enough to check them out.

Just some of the flavors offered from Nice Ice Baby

September is also California Wine Month and the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association has been promoting SIP. Ticket holders can choose from four of the 30+ wineries and stop by for a full tasting for only $40. When you take into consideration that some tastings go for $20 each on the weekends, this is a deal you don’t want to pass. The month isn’t over so click here for more information.

Thank you Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. Until we meet again!