National Margarita Day – Ten Recipe Twists for Margaritas

National Margarita Day – Ten Recipe Twists for Margaritas

Whether it is Cinco de Mayo, National Margarita Day, National Tequila Day, National Cocktail Day, Your Birthday, or Someone else’s Birthday, just about any day is a good day for a Margarita. Here are a few Margarita Recipes to get your spirit moving!

History of the Margarita

Where did the Margarita originate? Over the years many have taken claim to the creation of the infamous tequila drink – “The Margarita.” The cocktail the “Daisy” was a similar drink made with brandy instead of Tequila. Though during prohibition people traveled over the border and picked up tequila which was substituted for the brandy. Daisy in Spanish is Margarita.

In 1937, there was a recipe for a “Picador” using the same mix of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail book. There are others that claim that Dallas socialite Margarita Sames created the drink for her guests at her Acapulco vacation home in 1948. The first known published recipe was in the December 1953 issue of Esquire. Though in 1945, the first importer of Jose Cuervo promoted the slogan – “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name.”

Nowadays, there are so many creators and mixologists of tequila drinks with different versions and flavors of the Margarita with so many variations of Margarita recipes. In essence, all of us who have concocted our own Margarita recipes can take our own five minutes of claim to fame too. Here are a few of some of my favorite twists on the colorful Margarita, some with my own input and diversions to the recipe. It’s your turn to take it and run with it!

It’s Margarita-Thirty!! Cheers and Happy Cinco Mayo!

The Traditional Margarita

The Traditional Margarita

Makes 2 Margaritas – increase ingredients as needed depending on the number of Margaritas you are preparing.

  • 4 OZ Blanco tequila
  • 2 OZ Cointreau or triple sec
  • 4 OZ fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Slices of lime or lime wedges

Fill a Cocktail shaker with ice along with the tequila, Cointreau, and fresh lime juice. Shake well, then strain into a chilled glass or serve on the rocks.

Another Spin on the Traditional Rita – The San Antonio Margarita

San Antonio Margarita

Recipe Inspired by well-known Texan Josie Davidson whose father received this recipe from Mario Cantu, owner of Mario’s, an old-line Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio. This famed Margarita recipe was passed on to the New York Times in 2015. It’s a five-star winner with 818 five star ratings!

  • 1 cup plus a splash of tequila
  • 1 cup plus a splash of orange liquor
  • 1 cup plus a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine all of the liquids in a pitcher with 6 ounces of water and stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Then serve over ice in glasses with salted rims. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

24 Karat Gold Margarita by Loews Miami Beach Hotel

24 Karat Margarita

It seems like ages ago, but just like yesterday that we traveled across the country to Loews Miami Beach Hotel. It was only a few months ago in February that we were invited to participate in the exquisite festivities held at the hotel for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in South Beach. During our visit, we had the distinct pleasure of joining Steve Turk – Food and Beverage Director for Loews, Linda Villafane – Director of Public Relations for Loews Miami Beach and Contributing Food Writer for Forbes in the hotel’s spectacular lounge, Bar Collins, for a pre-celebration toast. We were all dressed to the nines, looking like royalty for the evening’s formal festivities celebrating SOBEWFF. This set the perfect stage and the perfect opportunity to toast with the bar’s famous in-house Margarita, the “24 Karat Rita.”

These brilliantly decorated tumblers arrived at our table glowing of effervescent sparkles adorning the glass rims and the floating lime wheels. Almost to pretty to drink, but feeling decadent and adventurous, we all cheered and jumped right into these jeweled libations.

Their specific recipe remains a bit of a secret. We do know it includes a generous pour of Roca Patron Silver over crushed ice, with fresh lime juice, a bit of Cointreau, adorned with edible 24k gold leaf and lime zest! Bravo Bar Collins – you definitely knocked it out of the park!

Black Grape and Chili Margarita – Courtesy Food and Wine

Black Grape and Chili Margarita

Serves – 2

  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Ice
  • 4 oz Concord grape juice
  • 3 oz Reposado Tequila
  • 5 ox triple sec
  • Serrano chili pepper with seeds thinly sliced
  • Black Grapes for garnish

Mix the chili powder with the salt and sugar. Moisten the rim of the two glasses with a lime wedge and dip the glasses into the coast around the rim.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the grape juice, tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and 4 slices of serrano Chilies and then strain into the two glasses. Garnish with sliced serranos, lime wedges, and grapes to serve.

Blue Margarita

If you are dreaming of the Azur waters of Mexico or the Caribbean and can’t get there right now, this refreshing Blue Margarita will definitely take you there. Take a sip, close your eyes, and just imagine being there! I do it every time, and if it’s a little too chilly outside, I just turn on my favorite travel video of the beaches of Mexico and it takes me right back!

Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup of tequila, preferably Reposado
  • 1/3 cup of Curacao (Blue)
  • 1/3 Cup of Cointreau or Triple Sec (orange-flavored liquor)
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 8 limes)
  • Limes wedges for garnish

Combine the tequila, Curacao, triple sec, and lime juice in a large pitcher with crushed ice or you can pour it on the rocks into tumbler glasses or decorative glasses for a straight-up Margarita.

According to master mixologist Dale DeGroff, a drink called the Tequila Daisy was served at Tijuana’s Agua Caliente racetrack in the 1920s. It was made with lemon juice, tequila, and a sweet ingredient—the template for a Margarita.

The Jalapeno Basil Lime Frozen Margarita

This recipe is inspired by the recipe created by the Vancouver duo – The Food Gays. I just love the Jalapeno kick and the twist with the basil added.

  • ¼ cup basil
  • ½ cup jalapeno with seeds
  • 6 oz of barrel-aged tequila – or a good Reposado
  • 3 oz triple sec
  • Juice from 4 limes
  • 2 Tablespoons of honey or agave syrup
  • 2-3 cups ice
  • Salt for the rim
  • Lime wedges for the garnish

Muddle the basil and jalapeno together, then add the tequila. Let it infuse for 24 hours in the refrigerator. The next day strain and just keep the liquid, discard the basil, and jalapeno. In a blender add the tequila mix the triple sec, the lime juice, the honey, and ice, then blend until smooth. Pour into your salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with lime wedges.

Spicy Margarita Punch

Serves 10

Spicy Margarita Punch

It’s the combination of the cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, and mint that takes the flavors of this Margarita off the charts. This is a perfect libation to pre-make ahead of time for your Cinco de Mayo celebration.

  • 1 large or 2 medium cucumbers
  • 2 jalapenos thinly sliced – one for the mixture and one for the garnish
  • ¼ up of de-stemmed cilantro
  • ¼ cup of mint
  • One bottle of Silver Tequila – 750 mills
  • 2 cups fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup of agave nectar
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Ice, lime wedges, and salt for serving

In a large bowl or punch bowl if you intend to use one, muddle (mash) the cucumber with the jalapeno, cilantro, and mint. Add the tequila, lime juice, agave, orange juice and stir well. Refrigerate for at least an hour or you can keep if overnight if you are making it ahead of time.

Strain the liquids from the mixture and discard the solids. Keep it in the punch bowl or put the mixture into a large service pitcher along with some ice. Serve into salted rimmed glasses and garnish with thinly sliced cucumber, jalapeno slices, and limes wedges.

The Mayan Mule

The Mayan Mule Margarita

Well, what can I say about this one except you just have to try it!

Serving Size per glass 1

A South of the Border twist on the Moscow Mule

  • 5 ounces of aged gold tequila preferably a Reposado
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 3-4 ounces of ginger beer
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Sliced lime into a wheel to garnish
  • Mint sprig to garnish

Combine the tequila and lime juice in a tall glass.

Add Ice.

Add the ginger beer and Angostura bitters and stir.

Garnish with the lime wheel and sprig of mint.

The “DanaRita”


A recipe created and made for many years by my husband Dana which is a Margarita that has become legendary amongst our family and friends. It is one of the most requested and popular libations when we all congregate. “Dana, can you make me one of your DanaRitas?”

Dana’s Inspiration – Simplicity – Make people smile, feel smart and witty, and dance in public.

Key observations to making a really stellar margarita – A quality margarita is not green or slushy. Look for a golden color and pour over ice cubes.

Preferences – Salt on the rim (optional but traditional for sure); any size glass but tall one is preferable. And for the tequila – Reposado is preferred which is more flavorful and has that rich golden color from the toast of the barrel aging.

  • 50/50 ratio of tequila to everything else
  • Everything Else – Orange flavor liquor (Cointreau, Grand Marnier or just fresh-squeezed oranges)
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime – Lots of it
  • Splash of Sparkling water to give it a little zest
  • Ice

Using an 8-ounce glass, salted rim or not, squeeze a whole lime into the glass, squeeze a half orange (about 2 oz juice)

Add 2 ounces tequila, then add about 1 ounce of sparkling water. Add ice then a splash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier on the top.

Mango Coconut Chili Margarita

Mango Coconut Chili Margarita

If you are lucky enough to be spending the Cinco de Mayo celebration someplace tropical you may want to make this spin on the traditional margarita. I am sure you will find plenty of fresh mangos and coconuts in abundance. Just the thought of it makes we want to beam up someplace tropical right now, sit under a palm tree listening to waves crashing, and the warm ocean breezes blowing across my body while relaxing to the soft sounds in the distance to a steel drum band. Can I go now, please?

Almost the next best thing to being in the tropics right now is indulging in this delightful tropical tequila libation.

2 -3 servings

  • 1 ripe mango (1 cup cubed or if you can’t find it fresh, a bag of frozen mango, or mango sorbet as a last resort)
  • 1 cup of Orange juice – fresh squeezed preferred
  • 1 cup of Fresh Coconut Water or Store-bought Coconut water
  • A few Chunks of Fresh Coconut or a small scoop coconut sorbet or coconut flavor rum – your preference
  • Several Medium-Sized Limes
  • 3 ounces of Silver Tequila or Reposado
  • 5 ounces of Cointreau or Triple Sec Orange Liqueur
  • A dash of hot sauce – your preference or not, some like it hot!
  • 1-3 Tablespoons of Agave Nectar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • ¼ Cup Lime Juice
  • Lime Wedges for Garnish
  • Chili Powder and Sea Salt mixed for rimming the glass. I also like to use Tajin Clasico con Limon

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and mix until creamy. Be sure to taste it so that you can adjust it whether you want to add more Tequila, Orange Liqueur or Agave Nectar. If you like the spice of it, add in a bit more chili powder or hot sauce.

The Brave Bull

The Brave Bull

After a long day of Cinco de Mayo festivities or any fiesta activities, it’s time to relax before siesta in the evening with a Brave Bull. It is sometimes referred to as a Mexican Black Russian. It is a cocktail that was introduced in a 1960’s action movie and it truly lives up to its name. This is a unique and quirky combination of Kahlua and Tequila Blanco, but you can use your tequila of preference. This is my husband’s go-to late-night libation and his preference on which tequila is to use one of his favorite Reposado tequilas we usually have on hand. Sometimes we add in a little milk or cream, somewhat like a White Russian or you could call it a Brave White Bull! Buenos Noches!

The recipe is easy – it is one part Kahlua and 2 parts tequila over ice. Though you can also do 50/50 on the mixture too!


Please post your comments and photos of your own versions of the famed Margarita!











Celebrate Valentine’s Day Until Spring – Romantic Northern California Getaways

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Until Spring – Romantic Northern California Getaways

Romantic Getaways in Northern California – Rush Creek Lodge Photo Credit – Kim Carroll

Romantic Getaways to Plan Now

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Until Spring at these Romantic Northern California Destinations

Northern California Romantic Getaway Packages – It’s time to get away for a mini-vacation in Northern California. After several months of shelter-in-place rules throughout California, these restrictions have recently been lifted. Now hotels, restaurants, and wineries are again welcoming guests. So many are anxious to start getting out exploring get-a-ways that are just a short drive away.

Though Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, these three unique properties have a created Valentine’s Day packages that you can take advantage of well into the Spring months ahead. Celebrating Valentine’s Day, no matter what the time of year, romance creates a perfect excuse to escape and enjoy a much needed romantic couples’ getaway. A private spa experience in Yosemite, couples mud baths in Calistoga, or a relaxing weekend in Napa, these three Valentine’s Day packages welcome you to celebrate love and reignite the spirit of romance in 2021!


Yosemite National Park – Photo Credit Kim Carroll

The beauty and grandeur of Yosemite National Park await with its snow-capped peaks, crystal waterfalls, and the serene pristine beauty of this stunning region that was limited to public visitation for so many months. Nestled in the heart of this Northern California amongst the majestic pines is a brand new lodge – The Rush Creek Lodge, where Rush Creek was in its heyday during California’s Gold Rush. In 1849, thousands of immigrants – known as the “49ers” flocked to the area in search of their fortunes.

Yosemite National Park – Photo Credit Kim Carroll

Rush Creek Lodge – Photo Credit Kim Carroll

Before Highway 120 was constructed in the 1960s, the main road into Yosemite National Park actually passed right through Rush Creek. In fact, it is the exact road near Villas 4-7 at Rush Creek Lodge. Dine, Explore, Stay, Play and Pamper yourself at this mountain oasis. A true hidden gem slightly off the beaten path, yet a stone’s throw away.

Private Yosemite Spa Getaway at Rush Creek Lodge (Groveland, CA) 

Rush Creek Spa – Photo Credit Kim Carroll

Escape to Yosemite for a romantic getaway at Rush Creek Spa. Just opened in November 2020, the Spa at Rush Creek Lodge is the first spa of its kind to open in the region and is inspired by the wonders of the world-renowned National Park with features such as the Warm Waterfall Coves, Cool Mist Showers, Aromatherapy Steam Room, Himalayan Salt Sauna, Granite Waterfall Hot Tub, and Sensory Room.

The Spa Exclusive Getaway Package, available Feb 5 through March 25, guests will have 1.5 hours of private use of the 5,000 square foot indoor/outdoor Spa and all the Spa amenities. The package includes:

  • 2 nights of lodging in a deluxe Lodge King Room (room upgrades available)
  • Two 50-minutes massages
  • 1.5 hours private use of Spa amenities.

Rush Creek Spa – Photo Credit Kim Carroll

The price ranges from $416 to $698 per night for two adults in a Lodge King Room, gratuity included plus tax, depending on dates of stay. These romance packages are offered through the end of March. Though if you miss this extended Valentine’s getaway offer, there will surely be other romantic offerings to experience year-round.

The Famous Hot Springs of Calistoga

Located in Northern Napa Valley, the town of Calistoga offers a natural phenomenon with its healing geothermal hot springs. More than 500 years ago, members of the Wappo Tribe discovered natural volcanic hot springs in a valley located near the base of Mount St. Helena. When the first American settlers came to the area in the 1840s, the news of the healing powers of these hot springs spread quickly.

Sam Brannan was lured to the area in 1859 with tales of the healing powers of these hot springs and decided to build a hot springs resort that would rival Saratoga Springs, New York creating Calistoga, Hot Springs of the West. Calistoga has become iconic for these infamous healing hot waters from the springs of the area. Visitors from all over the world, continue to arrive to experience all of what Calistoga now has to offer. Guests journey to the region to enjoy, relax in the hot springs and volcanic mud baths, fine dining, and wine tasting at local wineries. Hike Mount St. Helena, bicycle amongst the vineyards with a backdrop and pristine beauty of the Mayacamas Mountains.

Roman Spa Geothermal – Roman Hot Springs Photo Credit – Tyler Chartier

Couples Massages & Mud Baths at Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort (Calistoga, CA)

Located just 90 minutes from San Francisco, Roman Spa at Calistoga, best known for its signature mud baths and geothermal pools, has a Valentine’s Day package available for the entire month of February (Feb 1-28).

Roman Spa Couples Mud Bath – Photo Credit Tyler Chartier

Complete with mud bath treatments and massages for two, plus prosecco and artisanal chocolates, a romantic trip to Roman Spa is exactly what you need to relax and rejuvenate. The Month of Love package includes:

  • Overnight stay
  • Mud bath for 2
  • 2- 45 minute massages
  • 1 bottle Prosecco
  • 1- 4 piece box of Earth and Sky chocolates
  • 2- soft Chamois robes for use during your stay
  • Early check-in 11 am

Midweek: 1 night allowable with rates starting at $475 plus tax for a Classic King bedded unit.

Weekend: 2 night minimum with rates starting at $675 plus tax for a Classic King bedded unit.

All reservations based on 2 person occupancy.

Additional fees apply for added guests. Restrictions may apply, available for new reservations only. Not available for use with hotel bonds or other discount coupons. Reservations can be made by calling directly at 800-914-8957 or on the website through the end of February with other romantic packages offered throughout the year.

Historic Napa River

Napa River History Kayak Tour

The Napa River rises in Northwest Napa County just south of the summit of Mount St. Helena and it is approximately 55 miles long where the river mouth is in Vallejo, where the intertidal zone of fresh and salt waters flow into the Carquinez Strait and the San Pablo Bay. The Napa River, particularly around the town of Napa, provides many recreation opportunities such as kayaking, rafting, and canoeing. From downtown Napa to where the tributaries eventually open up to the bay, motor boating is also very popular. You may want to while you are there during your romantic getaway, plan to do the Napa River History Tour by kayak. It is truly a memorable experience, lush full of history, stunning sites, and abundant birdlife.

Riverfront Romance at River Terrace Inn (Napa, CA) 

River Terrace Inn – Balcony with River View – Photo Credit – Courtesy River Terrace Inn

Escape to Napa to this casually elegant riverfront retreat. The newly renovated guests’ rooms are exquisite, and many overlook the tranquil historic Napa River. It is so conveniently located you won’t even need a car as you can walk right out the door of the INN and a short walk away you will find yourself at the Oxbow Market, The Wine Train Depot, and Copia. Also, a short walk away is charming downtown Napa with its many shops, dining spots, art galleries, and more.

During your stay at the River Terrace Inn in Napa, you will surely want to partake in a dining experience at their onsite restaurant, ALBA which also offers an outdoor riverside terrace, full bar, and weekly live music.

Wine and Dine – Photo Courtesy of the River Terrace Inn

Love is in bloom in Napa Valley. Located in downtown Napa, celebrate coupledom at River Terrace Inn with a romantic riverfront experience for two. The Riverfront Romance includes:

  • Seasonal welcome amenity
  • $50 F&B credit
  • $50 in Oxbow Bucks to spend at local Oxbow Marketplace
  • Priority tasting reservations at a preferred Napa Valley winery

These wonderful romantic packages are ongoing through April.



The Algarve, Portugal – Luxury Hotels offering Michelin Star Restaurants

The Algarve, Portugal – Luxury Hotels offering Michelin Star Restaurants

Algarve Coastline

View of the Algarve Coastline from Vila Joya – Gale Beach

Luxurious Hotels in the Algarve offering Michelin Star Restaurants

“Fall Culinary Getaway in the Algarve”

Fall or any season really is a sensational time to travel to the southern coastal region of Portugal – The Algarve. It’s a particularly good time to go in search of their regional cuisine and dining at the lovely selection of Michelin Star restaurants along the coast of The Algarve. This past fall was my first time visiting this part of Portugal and I was thrilled to discover such a magnificent and pristine coastal destination. The busy summer crowds had since gone, the days remained warm in the coastal sunshine, and the evenings presented lovely cool sea breezes along with stunning sunsets. Absolute perfection in Portugal!

This southernmost seaside region of Portugal, The Algarve, has become one of the most appealing tourist destinations in Southern Europe particularly with central and northern Europeans. With such easy access from Portugal’s neighboring countries to the north, it is quite convenient and affordable to visit numerous times during the year. Visitors flock to the busy beaches in the warm busy summer months and then return again in the quieter winter season as a place to escape the colder climates of their own homeland.

Travelers from the United States are also finding this region very desirable as the ease to venture there has become increasingly more accessible. Many visitors from North America find the uncrowded picturesque coastal towns very attractive in the less populated seasons that the Algarve offers. The landscape and weather of this stunning Southern Portugal region are very similar to the Southern California coastal cities. In the Algarve, you will discover much less hustle, bustle and traffic congestion than you can experience in the popular California coastal destinations such as La Jolla, Laguna Beach, and San Diego. And more affordable as well! It has become a popular place for Americans to retire and US ex-pat community is growing.

Oasis Suite Vila Vita Parc

Oasis Suite Vila Vita Parc

The Southern Portuguese coast delivers a desirable year-round Mediterranean climate to travelers visiting the charming seaside villages along the shores of the Atlantic.  You will find 5-star resorts and small intimate inns, Michelin Star Restaurants and charming cafes scattered throughout the region and along the coast of these magical seashore towns.

The variety and abundance of fresh seafood that is seasonally available is unsurpassed. You will want to definitely check out one of the many fresh seafood markets while you are there and if you are staying at a place that has a kitchen, be sure to pick up a selection and create your own seafood sensation. Take a drive to visit the regional wineries or take a cruise by boat along the magnificent coastline of limestone caves and sea carved grottos and cliffs. There’s plenty to do or do nothing at all, sit back and relax and just take it all in. Create your own journey. You can be assured it will always be memorable. My memories of my recent visit are luring me back.

Many of the luxury seaside hotels and inns remain open throughout the year as the Algarve truly is a four-season destination. The beaches are still open in the spring and fall, and the many championship golf courses are open throughout the year. Though from late November to late February, a handful of the signature boutique hotels and restaurants close for their slower season.

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin – Vila Joya Restaurant

Planning a trip to the Algarve in early to mid-November or early to mid-March is perfect timing. There are many great deals offered on 5-Star hotels along the coast and reserving a table at one of the 8 Michelin Star restaurants in the Algarve is more approachable. I found it is such a relaxing and enjoyable time of year to spend in the Algarve. I can’t wait to go back.

Vila Vita Parc

Deluxe Ocean View Room – Vila Vita Parc

One of the most inspiring reasons to book a trip to the Algarve is to be sure to plan a visit just to pamper yourself. You can expect to indulge the lavish amenities of these extraordinary luxury hotels and please your palate at the sought-after Michelin star restaurants. Your stay at these luxury resorts will be unprecedented, adding a dining experience like nowhere else in the world. These award-winning chefs present works of flavor and art on your plate amidst the backdrop of the brilliance of the Algarve coast’s sparkling turquoise waters.

Booking travel to the Algarve was quite simple to arrange actually, particularly on TAP Air Portugal with their new non-stop routes into Lisbon.  In June of 2019, TAP Airlines launched their non-stop flights from San Francisco to Lisbon with five weekly flights departing SFO at 4:10 pm and arriving in Lisbon in just under 11 hours at 11:35 am. In addition to SFO, there is a selection of non-stop flights from other US cities right into Lisbon – New York, Boston, Chicago, and Miami.

As a plus, going business class with TAP’s lie-flat seats provided a lovely sleep after dining on their own consulting Michelin Star chef’s inspired cuisine. Upon arriving relatively rested at the Lisbon airport, I was off to an easy and quick change of airplanes for the short flight from Lisbon to Faro in the Algarve. It was a perfect time for arriving as it gave me a bit of time to relax at the hotel and then venture off to a marvelous dinner in the evening.

Traveling to the Algarve with a group of fellow foodies was a delight as we all loved sharing stories of our previous epicurean adventures to other delicious destinations around the world. And of course, we were all looking forward to staying and dining at 3 of the 4 Algarve Hotels which offer Michelin Star Restaurants. The Algarve region is significant on the international gastronomic map and is sought after by foodies from around the world.

VILA VITA Parc – Algarve

Ocean Restaurant Vila Vita Parc

Ocean Restaurant – 2 MICHELIN Stars

The first hotel on our itinerary took us to the sensational VILA VITA Parc Resort and Spa located in Porches, Algarve. This 5-Star luxury hotel situated along a majestic seaside cliff-top delivers breathtaking views from every viewpoint on Vila Vita Parc’s expansive exquisitely manicured grounds.

Vila Vita Parc

As an ongoing member of The Leading Hotels of the World, the resort presents to its guests a stunning selection of 170 rooms, suites, and villas along with their 2-Stared Michelin Award-Winning Restaurant, “Ocean.” They also offer a host of 11 restaurants, bars, a spa, a wine cellar, a private yacht, and a collection of diverse activities to entice you. Truly a destination fit for royalty. It’s no wonder that VILA VITA Parc is consistently recognized as a winner in many worldwide “Tourism Oscars” awards for their outstanding distinction as one of the most prestigious resorts in the world.

Vila Vita Parc Terrace Dining

The VILA VITA Parc’s enchanting rooms and suites offer unprecedented luxury, spaciously appointed with a flavor of contemporary yet traditional décor. Their accommodations offer seascape views of the beaches of Armacao de Pera, Pria Vila Vita, and Pria do Tremecos from your exclusive getaways’ private terrace. Getting to the beaches (Prias) is easy as there is a staircase, which is an easy walk down directly to the secluded pearl sand beaches along the brilliant aqua seas.

Ocean Restaurant Executive Chef Hans Neuner

Dining at their award-winning restaurant “Ocean”, created by Michelin Star Chef Hans Neuner, delivered an artistic presentation of delectable gastronomy. Ocean Restaurant premiered 12 years ago, under the direction of their Executive Chef, Austrian born Hans in 2007. He came to the resort with a vision to deliver unique, dramatically designed cuisine created with fruits of the sea and the freshest of regional produce. Guests experience harmonious, artistic delights in every course while overlooking the awe-inspiring Atlantic Ocean views.

Ocean Restaurant View of the Seaside

After being at the helm of Ocean for just two years, Hans Neuner was presented with their first Michelin Star for the restaurant in 2009. Two years later, in 2011, they were awarded a second star, which they have proudly maintained ever since. Indeed, a significant and notable accomplishment. Hans Neuner was awarded Portugal’s Chef of the Year in 2009 and 2012.

Ocean Restaurant Violet Shrimp

The seasonally created menu offers such creatively designed dishes with a selection of the offerings that we had the opportunity to experience – Sea Urchin with Carrot and Olive; Broad Beans with Chorizo and Squid; “Xerem” – Sea Snails and Coriander.

Ocean Dish Xerem – Sea Snail Coriander Rua Anneliese Pohl, Alporchinhos · 8400 450 Porches · Portugal  ·  +351 282 310 100

Vila Joya Home, Restaurant and Spa – 2 MICHELIN Stars

The Terrace at Vila Joya

Our next Algarve destination resort took us to the enchanting Vila Joya (“House of Joy”) at Gale Beach just west of Albufeira, inspired and named after its proprietress Joy Jung. She took over the sole operation and ownership from her father in 2013 after being at the helm as general manager for 9 years. It was Joy’s mission to continue with the legacy of her mother, Claudia Jung, who created the inspiration for this Algarve coastal paradise tucked away in secluded harmony. It is now renowned as one of the most beautiful privately-run boutique resorts in all of Europe.

Vila Joya Owner Joy Jung and Chef Dieter Koschina

The Entrance to Vila Joya

Vila Joya Resident Love Birds

From the moment you pass through the gates of Vila Joya, you experience an immediate sense of “Joy” and tranquility as you are welcomed into this private oasis at this peaceful paradise along the Atlantic. When you enter into Vila Joya, you are first greeted by their resident love birds who have been together forever (small African parrots). From that moment on, you begin to set your spirit free embarking on an experience uniquely like no other. Vila Joya has created an intoxicating environment for their guests, giving them “The sea, the gardens, the gem – welcome to Paradise.” The sea and the sounds of the waves are ever-present at Vila Joya.

Vila Joya

Each of the 22 rooms and suites offered at Vila Joya is uniquely adorned with impressive décor, and present guests unbridled luxurious comfort adorned with specially designed beds from Portugal accented with exquisite linens. All of the rooms deliver magnificent views from their charming terraces of the enticing azure waters and perfumed ocean air. Vila Joya’s intimate setting is divine as it lures you into its exotic magic while you escape from the hectic world behind you to this Shangri-La by the sea.

Vila Joya Accommodations

Vila Joya’s returning guests are devoted patrons who have been visiting the resort for years and years, and many enjoy lengthy extended stays. These dedicated patrons choose not to stray far from the property’s inviting surroundings during their stay as it is their pleasure to frequently experience the 2 Michelin star restaurant as Vila Joya’s diverse menu deliciously changes daily.

Vila Joya Poolside Restaurant – Vila Joya Sea

Guests also have the option to dine at their more casual restaurant at the lower part of the property on the way to the beach, The Vila Joya Sea. Their seaside outdoor restaurant prepares Japanese inspired cuisine, sushi, barbecue, fusion food, and creative cocktails in a relaxed beachside setting overlooking the brilliant coastline.

Chef Dieter Koschina

The coveted restaurant at Vila Joya celebrates 20 years and has continuously been awarded with two prestigious Michelin stars during that time. Under the helm of renowned Chef Dieter Koschina, was the first chef in Portugal to achieve the accolade of receiving 2 Michelin Stars.  He received his first two stars in 1999 and was the only chef awarded with two stars in Portugal until 2011. Chef Dieter arrived as Executive Chef at Villa Joya in 1991, after he impressed then proprietress Claudia Jung with his skills and creativity as a chef. He received his first Michelin star at Vila Joya in 1995. His reputation has earned him the status of being the most celebrated chef of Portugal.

Vila Joya Pina Colada

A few of the specialty dishes that Chef Dieter prepared for our delightful luncheon on the spectacular terrace of Vila Joya were: Carabineiro Jalapeno/Datterino – Jalapeno espuma (foam), datterino (a plum tomato from Spain) sauce, rice pops, datterino concasse, and cress. Rascasse Garlic/Spinach – garlic foam, spinach puree, black garlic tortellini, leek puree. Veal Filet – Leek/Celery – veal head, fried veal filet, celery ravioli, braised leek, chanterelles, leek puree. Banana Split – Chocolate Sauce and Mouse, banana espuma (foam), crumble, brownie, caramelized banana, and almonds. Quite honestly, one of my most memorable meals ever.


The Restaurant and Hotel are open from February 25th to November 16th. The Restaurant is open for Lunch and Dinner.   Vila Joya
Estrada da Galé 8200-416 Albufeira Algarve | Portugal
E: T: +351 289 591 795

Bela Vista Hotel & Spa

BELA VISTA Hotel & SPA – Relais & Châteaux VISTA Restaurante – 1 MICHELIN Star

Our third Algarve hotel visit took us to the elegant Relais & Chateaux BELA VISTA Hotel & Spa in Portimao along the Pria da Rocha. This distinguished hotel has been the recipient of many awards and accolades. These include – Best Luxury Boutique Hotel in 2014 by World Luxury Hotel Awards; “20 of Europe’s Most Beautiful Hotels” – Bela Vista was named the most beautiful Hotel in Portugal in 2016 and 2018 by CNN; Best Luxury Boutique Hotel by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards in 2016; and Chef Joao – GQ’s Men of Year in the Gourmet Category 2016.

Bela Vista Lobby

Bela Vista Hotel and VISTA Restaurante are perched just off the shores of Pria da Rocha in a historic early 20th-century mansion originally constructed in 1918. It has been recognized as one of the first hotels built in the Algarve region. Bela Vista, meaning beautiful views, offers just that with magnificent views of the adjacent sea from this historic landmark building in the Algarve. The hotel is a blend of early century décor flavored harmoniously with a contemporary infusion of the classic past and 21st century modern.

One of Many of the Exquisite Rooms at the Bela Vista Hotel & Spa

Bela Vista offers guests a memorable stay in one of their 38 rooms and suites uniquely and richly decorated with vibrant colors in a sensational contemporary landscape. The guest accommodations are spread out within the Bela Vista’s three buildings across their impressive property. The hotel also provides private access directly to the beach.

Chef João Oliveira
Photo by Paulo Barata 2016

Their Michelin Star restaurant, the VISTA, presents a unique experience to their dining guests, which distinctly appeals to the five senses. The restaurant’s concept is orchestrated under the helm of their award-winning chef Joao Oliveira. Joao is dedicated to utilizing fresh products from the sea of the Portuguese coast. They offer a diverse selection from their Sea and Sustainability Menu at the restaurant. Joao has orchestrated the cuisine at VISTA Restaurante since 2015, taking them to be awarded their first star in 2017. At 31 years old, Joao brings 14 years of culinary expertise to the table. His distinctive dishes are inspired from the North of Portugal and Mediterranean cuisine.

Joao Oliveira – Creative Dishes

A few of his signature dishes include Mediterranean Scarlet Shrimp with Oyster and Cucumber; Blue Lobster with Cauliflower, Caviar, and Champagne; and Wagu with Tomato, Aubergine, and Mediterranean Jus.

Bela Vista Restaurant

The restaurant is only open for dinner.  Hotel Bela Vista Av. Tomas Cabreira, Pria Da Rocha, Portimao, Algarve 8500-802 Portugal +351 282 460 280

The Algarve – What a divinely delicious experience! Can’t wait to go back for more luxury on a plate…

Map of the Algarve Regions In Southern Portugal

Map of The Algarve Region in Southern Portugal

Photo Credits: Vila Vita Parc, Vila Joya, Bela Vista Hotel and Dynie Sanderson















Napa Valley Spa Resorts and Wellness Retreats

Napa Valley Spa Resorts and Wellness Retreats

The Best Places to Relax, Chill and Pamper Yourself in the Napa Valley

Napa Valley Spa Resorts and Wellness Retreats

Visiting Napa Valley for the Spa and Wellness Retreats is one of the major draws to visiting this wine country region. The Napa Valley truly sets itself apart from other premier travel destinations around the planet, with so much to offer. Travelers venture to this world-class wine country mecca to experience all of the flavors, sights, sounds, and sensations. Guests to our valley seek to taste selections of some the highest rated wines from around the globe, dine at the finest restaurants featuring Michelin Star Chefs and rising celebrity chefs, be entertained at the best shows and venues from BottleRock to the Napa Valley Film Festival, play championship golf courses, and of course, relax and luxuriate at exclusive premier 5-star spas and wellness centers.

After a day of wine tastings or before your evening dining out, let your journey take you on the pursuit of luxurious excellence and pamper yourself with the ultimate spa experiences. Whether your mission to rejuvenate and revitalize with a holistic treatment or practice yoga amongst the vineyards, you will find a vast variety of locally inspired treatments. Each spa and wellness center will offer you a unique sanctuary that will restore, renew, and revitalize the mind, body, and spirit.

Calistoga Ranch

These Napa Valley destination spa retreats offer the opportunity to escape, pamper, and indulge in an intimate environment of tranquility and Zen. You can get-a-way from your hectic day-to-day and retreat amongst the vines to nurture and rejuvenate your body. Your perfect personalized treatment will take you to nirvana. In addition, many of the spa resorts offer spa-inspired cuisine with healthy culinary menus while constantly committing to creating the perfect guest

The Spa Terra at The Meritage Resort – Napa

Spa Terra is recognized as one of California’s premier spas offering locally-inspired treatments in the sanctuary of their inviting underground estate cave. Their vast menu of services and luxurious amenities are there for your sheer enjoyment, also offering a relaxation lounge, Jacuzzi, and steam room. They offer skincare treatments for both men and women, packages such as the couples escape and Spa Terra Journey, and a wonderful selection of massages and body treatments.

Carneros Resort and Spa – Napa

The Spa at Carneros Resort

The resort and spa are located on 28 acres in the Carneros region of Napa surrounded by rolling hills and scenic vineyards. Their spa provides tranquility and nature to mend the body mind and spirit. They offer an inviting selection of treatments incorporating detoxifying “from the land” culinary ingredients, they also offer healing treatments that aim to cater to every guests’ personal needs. The spa director’s favorite pick from the menu is the “Tranquility Pro Sleep Massage” which is a unique treatment that acts on three different sensory pathways to achieve a peaceful mind and body state for profound relaxation. Fitness center and classes are also offered. For a complete list of their services go to

The Spa at Silverado Resort – Napa

Girls Afternoon at Silverado Spa

Their 16,000 square-foot spa facility has 16 indoor and 3 outdoor treatment rooms in the Meyer Lemon Garden. They also feature the Boost Café offering delicious spa cuisine, a Relaxation Pool, and Spa Boutique. In addition to their vast selection of spa packages, massages, body treatments, they also offer a full-service nail and hair salon, wellness coaches, and skincare. The state of the art fitness center with more than 30 fitness classes weekly, also provides assisted weight machines, outdoor running, and stretching areas as well as strength training and cardio equipment with private TV’s and headsets. The Spa at Silverado’s signature treatment is the “Lomi Lomi Massage” – a rhythmic full-body massage technique where the therapist works gently yet deeply into the muscles with continuous flowing strokes enabling the recipient to relax and feel their Aloha.

The Spa at the Estate – Yountville

The Spa at the Estate In Yountville

Wellness at the heart of Yountville where soothing fountains, cascading waterfalls, and serene reflecting pools envelop their guests in an atmosphere of quietude and creature comforts. They offer seven treatment rooms and five private spa suites appointed with relaxation lounges with indoor and outdoor fireplaces, Swiss experience showers, steam showers, saunas, and outdoor hydrotherapy soaking baths. They offer Holistic Body Therapies, blending ancient traditions, and cutting-edge technology where their therapies are designed to soothe sore muscles from 50 minutes to 110 minutes. They also offer a selection of massage therapies and facial therapies. For those on the go, they offer a tasting menu of 25-minute treatments or combine them to have a multi-treatment experience. Gentlemen you weren’t left out, there are special treatments for you too!

The Spa at Bardessono – Yountville

Bardessono Spa Yountville

They are nestled amid the picturesque Napa Valley hills in the heart of the hamlet of Yountville where nature guides the nourishment of the body and spirit. You will come away relaxed from head to toe with their luxury spa packages. Combining the best of the East and the West their spa massage treatments promote health and wellness and are customized to fit their guests’ unique needs and personal preferences. You choose your desired style and pressure for relief from stress, for relaxation, or for aching muscles. It also includes your choice of a special seasonal blend of essential oils or unscented organic oil. Non-guests can also take advantage of Bardessono’s spa services with Day Guest options. Weekly yoga is complimentary for guests and also available for non-guests with drop-in and weekly pass options.

Meadowood Spa Resort – St. Helena

Meadowood Spa Treehouse Retreat Room

The new Meadowood Spa offers a unique all-suite concept, creating an elevated spa experience and giving guests a true sense of retreat and privacy. These intimate private treatment suites include a private bathroom, steam shower, and built-in seating area in from of tranquil views through open sliding windows to nature beyond. They offer facials, scrubs, wraps, massage, treatments designed for men, in guest room services, and a spa boutique. Meadowood Chef Victoria Acosta has designed a culinary seasonal menu, offering delicious and healthy options for guests to enjoy in their spa suites or in the relaxation gardens.

Auberge du Soleil Spa – Rutherford

The Spa at Auberge du Soleil

The spa at Auberge is based on the design of a Zen master, creating a physical and emotional barrier from the outside world, which allows guests to focus inward while taking in the beauty of nature. Their new seasonal treatment, “Winter Harmony Retreat” will treat you with an array of luxurious services to nourish, refresh and replenish your skin. In addition to a warm aromatic sesame oil massage, you also choose one or more treatments of Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub, Winter Forest Clay Wrap, Pink Himalayan Salt Bath, Balancing Energy work, Hand & Foot, Reflexology, Hair and Scalp Renewal. 30, 90, or 120 minutes. In addition to their inviting variety of spa treatments, they also offer the highest in quality fitness classes and private instruction.

Solage Resort and Spa – Calistoga

Solage Couples Treatments

The spa facility is artfully designed and ecologically conscious creating the ultimate retreat to experience relaxing and invigorating services including new twists on the renowned “Calistoga Mud” and mineral water therapies. The Bathhouse as Spa Solage offers the ultimate wellness experience, featuring healing geo-thermal pools and mineral-rich mud therapy in a restful, restorative setting. Their spa menu offers a vast selection of services – massage, body renewal, body scrubs, enhancements, signature facials, advanced skincare, facial enhancements, waxing, couples connecting, and just for him. In addition, there are mid-week wellness packages, fitness programs, and specialty wellness sessions. Try the “Chai Spice Body Renewal” – body brushing, a warming vanilla coconut oil massage, and finished with a nurturing wrap and foot treatment. They also serve deliciously inspired spa cuisine at the Solbar outdoor patio.

The Spa at Calistoga Ranch – Calistoga

Yoga at Calistoga Ranch

The experience is one of the most unique spa experiences nestled away in a wooden canyon. It provides an oasis where you will find soothing soaking pools overlooking a creek and moss-laden oaks. They offer restorative organic spa treatments in restful private rooms where you will enter upon a journey to pure relaxation. In addition to their signature treatments, they also offer complimentary classes in their state of the art fitness facility or out amongst nature. Classes range from Yoga to Qigong to Pilates and Circuit Training. One of their newest seasonal treatments is “Toastie Toes and Fell Good Fingers” where you will receive a revitalizing hand and foot treatment, exfoliates, hydrates and nourishes with warm towel wraps and relaxing reflexology.

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Spa Getaways in the Napa Valley, The Best Places to Relax in Wine Country - NapaFoodGalTravels

Visit Willamette Valley – The Majestic Oregon Wine Trail

Visit Willamette Valley – The Majestic Oregon Wine Trail

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

Planning a Visit to Willamette Valley Wine Region

Sip, Explore and Stay In Oregon Wine Country

Visit Willamette Valley – If you are planning to visit the Oregon Wine Country, the Willamette Valley Wine Region is one to surely put on your list. The Willamette Valley has over two-thirds of Oregon’s Vineyards and is now home to over 700 wineries and vineyards. Oregon Wines have made a significant mark in the wine industry and as a popular travel wine destination.  The Oregon Pinot Noirs are awarding-winning wines and their winemakers produce some of the best in the world.

Up until 1979, which is not so long ago, the Willamette Valley Wineries and the presence of vineyards and winemaking in Oregon were somewhat of a fledgling undertaking. The tides turned shortly after Oregon vintner David Lett returned from a blind tasting in France where he was invited to submit a red wine to go up against the haughty, aristocratic French, German and Italian vintages, including the illustrious French Burgundies and similar European varietals.

Willamette Valley History

David Lett

Willamette Valley History. This came only three short years after the California wine industry put their name on the map at a similar competition in France creating the “French Paradox” with an award-winning Chardonnay. Lett stunned the judges in the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades in 1979 finishing among the top 10 out of over 330 entrants. It was a mere year later that renowned French Burgundian winemaker, Robert Drouhin, stepped up and instigated a re-match. To even greater acclaim, Lett’s Pinot finished second to Drouhin’s Chambolle-Mussigny, by only two-tenths. Not a surprise that Drouhin, then himself crossed the pond to the open his Oregon Domaine Drouhin in the stunning town of Dayton in the Willamette Valley.

Thus the “Oregon Story” was created which put an impressive stake on the map for the Oregon-made French-Style Pinot Noirs. Lett had left the Napa Valley only 10 years prior, shortly after studying at UC Davis. Despite the advice against it from his viticulture colleagues, Lett left his native California to put his own stake in the terroirs of the Pacific Northwest. His hunches proved him right.

The Oregon Story – David Lett

Lett’s success from the competition fueled his notoriety stemming from the accolades he gained as a result of the infamous competition with his Eyrie Vineyards South Block Pinot Noir. A short 15 years down the road from the renowned competition in France; Oregon exploded on the wine scene bringing some of his doubtful colleagues from the UC Davis and other eager winemaking pioneers, many from the Napa Valley, to jump on the bandwagon to lay their roots in the rich Oregon soils.

Domaine Drouhin

The richness of the valley’s soils can be attributed to the Missoula Floods from the Glacial Lake Missoula which impacted the region more than 40 times at the end of the ice age over 13,000 years ago. Floodwaters swept into the region bringing rich volcanic and glacier soil. You will find that a good majority of the wineries in the area are perched on knolls or hillside vineyards where the most optimum soils for grape growing are found.

Soter Vineyards

The Willamette Valley has over two-thirds of Oregon’s Vineyards and is now home to over 700 wineries and vineyards, with many vintners who found their way there from the Napa Valley. The region known initially for their outstanding Pinot Noir production has brought in many notable varietals to great success, such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc and in addition, further expanding is the burgeoning sparkling wine production with the méthode champenoise. Some of the lesser produced varietals in the region are Syrah, Cabernet, and Merlot. There are 6 sub-appellations in the Willamette Valley – Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, and Yamhill-Carlton.

Where to Sip:

Soter Vineyards

Well-known Napa Valley Vintner creator of Etude Wines, Tony Soter, who was a 30 plus year veteran in winemaking in the Napa Valley, left the Valley in 2007. Much to the surprise of his colleagues, he took off for Oregon to go full time at the winery he owned since the mid-1990s with his wife Michelle, Soter Vineyards. He was an applauded consulting winemaker for Napa Valley well-known wineries, such as Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Shafer, Sequoia Grove, Viader, Robert Pepi, Etude, Chappellet, Spottswoode, Dalle Valle, Spring Mountain, Niebaum Coppola, and Stonegate.

Tony Soter

Michelle and Tony working together formed a dynamic team to follow in their own philosophy to consistently produce the highest caliber of wines that treads softly on the earth utilizing his over 4-decades of expertise and dedication to allow the character of the land to resonate in wines.

Soter Vineyards

Their stunning winery is in an architecturally re-crafted 1943 barn where open spaces abound, and views of the surrounding hills resonate with every turn. They also have a state-of-the-art kitchen for wine events on the property. They are located in the Yamhill-Carton AVA on a 240-acre bio-dynamic farm planted to 32 acres of vines including 30 acres of Pinot and 2 acres of Chardonnay which they use for their award-winning Brut Rose. In addition to their Mineral Springs location, they also have a second property that showcases their North Valley Vineyards Label and their Planet Oregon wines where $1 from the proceeds of every bottle sold is donated to the Oregon Environmental Council.

: Tastings by Reservation: Mineral Springs Ranch 10880 NE Mineral Springs Road, Carlton 97111 www.sotervineyards.com503-662-5600

Monks Gate

Monks Gate

The Moore family originally from the Napa Valley also migrated to the Yamhill Carlton AVA several decades ago. Ronald Moore was a cargo pilot and his wife, Linda was a software consultant. They were in search of a retirement venture with the mission of getting back to the land. The Willamette Valley drew them in with Its rolling hills and cool climates and the region’s notoriety for growing outstanding Pinots. Their 50-acre family farm is adjacent to the land owned by Trappist Abbey who helped the Moores clear their land for planting in 2000. The creation for the winery name was inspired by the actual gate entering to the Trappist Abbey estate, which was actually built to allow the monks to access the land over the years. Today sits a statue near the gateway of Saint Francis of Assisi commemorating their frequent passages across the lands.

Monks Gate

The vineyard is dry-farmed and also sustainably farmed to ensure that it will be environmentally and economically viable for generations to come. It is a two-generation operation, as their daughter Rebecca Moore also transplanted to the family compound from the Bay area and is the overall hands-on chief for every aspect for the winery from driving the tractor to pouring in the tasting room. Of the 50 acres, twenty are planted to Pinot Noir and Riesling.

: Carlton: Tastings by appointment: Open Thursday to Monday 12-5: www.monksgate.com503-852-6521

Alexana Winery

Dr. Madaiah Revana who is the proprietor of Napa Valley’s Revana Family Vineyards in Saint Helena had a love of the great wines of Burgundy and in 2005 began a search for the ideal location for his winery in Oregon. In addition to seeking out the perfect parcel of land for his winery and vineyards, he was also in search for a premier winemaker of Burgundian-style wines in the Willamette Valley. His quest led him to Lynn Penner-Ash, who had transplanted years before to this Pinot Noir abundant region from the Napa Valley.

Dr. Revana

Both Lynn and Dr. Revana were of the same philosophy with a commitment to producing world-class wines. Lynn’s vivid descriptions of the soils, the micro-climates, and elevations that would create the ultimate growing environment, presented them with a specific focus. They came upon the perfect location in the Dundee Hills, which offered 80-acres of which coincidentally sixteen acres had already been meticulously planted to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and the next year the launched Alexana Winery with their first estate 2006 vintages of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Today in addition to their stunning Pinot Noir Collection, they also offer Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, a Bordeaux Blend, and a Rhone Blend. Keep an eye out for the touring helicopters which frequently bring in guests for a wine tasting experience at Alexana.

: Newberg: Reservations Preferred and a must for parties of 6 or more: www.alexanawinery.com503-537-3100

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

After getting her kick-start in the wine business at Domaine Chandon and Stags Leap in Napa, Lynn Penner-Ash decided to leave for Oregon in 1988 to work at Rex Hill Winery as one of Oregon’s first female winemakers. Thirty years later as a renowned veteran winemaker, she and her husband Ron Penner-Ash celebrate the success of their mutually collaborated Penner-Ash brand which they founded in 1998.

Lynn and Ron Penner-Ash

In 2005, they designed and built their sustainable, gravity-flow estate winery in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, though their portfolio of wines also includes varietals from 7 major AVA’s of the Willamette Valley. Their winery, tasting room, and perfectly landscaped grounds offer majestic 360-degree views from their hillside perch overlooking the stunning vineyards of surrounding Newberg area.

In addition to their award-winning Pinot Noirs, they also produce Viognier, Roseo, Riesling, and Syrah.

: Newberg: Open 7 Days 11am to 5pm: Reservations Preferred and a must for parties of 6 or more: www.pennerash.com503-554-5545

Gran Moraine

Gran Moraine

Eugenia Keegan, Estate Manager and Winemaker at Gran Moraine, part of the Jackson Family Wines, continued her wine career in the eighties in Napa Valley after working in Burgundy for several years honing her skills in Burgundian style wines. Upon arriving back in Napa, she took on the post as Bouchaine’s business manager at their Carneros location during their start-up days, and then later being promoted to President and CEO. In the late 90’s she moved over to Vine Cliff Winery in Oakville as president. In 2003, she took the plunge and moved on to the Henry Wine Group in Oregon until 2009. Prior to taking over at Gran Moraine in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, Eugenia managed her own wine brand on two different continents, Keegan Cellars in Russian River and Roussillon, France.

Eugenia Keegan

Gran Moraine, founded in 2014, is located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA on 220 acres planted to the classic Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on the hillsides behind the winery. Teaming up with Shane Moore – Winemaker and Ken Kupperman – Vineyard Director, they have certainly created the trifecta for success at Gran Moraine. She is indeed a grand dame of Pinot Noir the Willamette Valley and continues to be committed to sustainable practices and creating elegance and finesse in a glass.

: Yamhill: Open Daily: 11am to 5pm: www.granmoraine.com855-831-6631

Archery Summit

Archery Summit

Gary and Nancy Andrus founders of Napa Valley’s Pine Ridge Winery expanded their wine world and opened Archery Summit in 1993. Now owned by the Crimson Wine Group, Archery Summit now lays claim to an expanding vineyard portfolio which includes 6 vineyards across 120 estate acres in Dayton in the Dundee Hills. They are known for producing some of the most luxurious New World Pinot Noirs.

They celebrate over two decades of crafting their estate-grown pinots and have just introduced their newest estate vineyard, Archer’s Edge. Winemaker, Ian Burch, has worked harvests across Sonoma County, Barossa Valley, New Zealand, and South Africa before settling in the Willamette Valley in 2008. Many of their Pinots have received outstanding marks from both Wine Spectator and Robert Parker.

: Dayton: Open Daily except Holidays: 10am to 4pm: Please call Tasting Room for Appointments or Availability: 503-714-2030:

Domaine Drouhin

Domaine Drouhin

A visit to Domaine Drouhin is also a must to put on your list when visiting the Willamette Valley as its roots take you back to wine country in Burgundy where it all started 130 years ago when Maison Joseph Drouhin introduced their outstanding Pinot Noirs to the world. Run now by fourth-generation Drouhin’s at the helm, Veronique Boss-Drouhin, and Philippe Drouhin. Domaine Drouhin Oregon was built in 1988 for $10,000,000 in the Dundee Hills by then patriarch Robert Drouhin.

Domaine Drouhin

Their Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays continue the family legacy and tradition of fine winemaking in France and now in Oregon with finesse and elegance. As the saying goes, “French Soul, Oregon Soil.”

: Dayton: Open Daily 11am to 4pm: For larger groups, please call Tasting Room for Appointments and Tours: 503-864-2700

(Please note that when visiting many of the Wineries in Willamette Valley, picnicking and outside food may not be permitted)

Where to Stay

The Allison Inn and Spa

Allison Inn and Spa

Celebrating their 10thAnniversary, The Allison Inn and Spa offers guests a casually elegant and luxurious experience in the heart of the Willamette Valley. No attention to detail has been overlooked at this stunning spa resort hosting 77 luxury guest rooms and 8 suites all with gas fireplaces, a terrace or balcony, and spa-like bathrooms with outstanding views of the luscious landscape of the surrounding rolling hills and vineyards. No other place in the Willamette Valley offers this kind of unique guest experience. Whether you are taking off right from the property on a helicopter tour, a luxury private car, a hot air balloon, or even by horseback, the Allison can personalize your visit and choose from more than 200 area wineries. They will also prepare a customized picnic basket to take along with you.

Allison Inn and Spa

Upon your return from tasting some of the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in the world, take time to chill a little in their award-winning spa offering an extensive spa menu utilizing the energies, and ecological elements stemmed from the fertile soils of the Willamette Valley.

Dining at the Jory Restaurant at the Allison provides yet another memorable sensory experience. This one is offering a journey that accentuates the native flavors of the region sourcing seasonal and farm to table products in every dish specially prepared to create your culinary memory of the Willamette Valley.

Brunch on the deck at The Allison Inn and Spa

: 2525 Allison Lane, Newberg, OR: 877-294-2525

Black Walnut Inn and Vineyards

Black Walnut Inn

If it is a luxury bed and breakfast you are in search of, then look no further than the exquisite Black Walnut Inn and Vineyards in the Dundee Hills. This majestic Inn is nestled on a knoll surrounded by rolling vineyards on their 42 acres. Each of the nine guest rooms all with private baths are uniquely adorned with their individual designer décor, many with balconies or private patios. These inviting rooms offer guests a relaxing retreat where you will enjoy spectacular evening sunsets and vistas on your patio with an afternoon glass of wine from their expansive wine cellar along with a Charcuterie and Cheeseboard.

Black Walnut Inn

You can expect your stay to be absolutely memorable as this dynamic property sets the stage for the perfect romantic getaway. Before rushing out to a full day of visiting the region’s wineries, you will indulge in Black Walnuts Inn’s signature breakfast where each dish is made to order with the freshest of local ingredients. What a perfect way to start your perfect day! Owners Rick and Erika Miller are hands-on hosts who look after your every need.

Guest Suite at the Black Walnut Inn

: 9600 NE Worden Hill Road, Dundee, OR:  503-538-8663










Your Hearts Desire | Romantic Getaways Napa Valley

Your Hearts Desire | Romantic Getaways Napa Valley

Romance is in the Air Year ‘Round in the Napa Valley!

Valentines Day in Napa Valley is celebrated year around. Traditionally February is known as the month for romance with couples eager to celebrate their love and affections at an intimate romantic inn or hotel nestled in the backdrop of rolling vineyards and settling into chilly evenings by the fireside. No better romantic setting to celebrate love than the picturesque Napa Valley.

In Napa Valley, your romantic mini-vacation to the wine county is waiting for you every month and every day of the year. If February has passed you by, not to fret, you haven’t missed out on creating your own special weekend or weekday escape for cherishing your love.  Why not celebrate with your Valentine in May or September?

Napa Couples Getaway

Farm Restaurant at Carneros Resort & Spa

Most hotels and inns offer special “Love Packages” during Valentines, though they tend to be a bit pricier than other times of the year or difficult to book due to limited availability. You will find that romance getaway packages are offered all year around here in the Napa Valley with a variety of romantic options to choose from or even customize your own.

Love is always in the air in wine country and each season presents its own unique portrait for your perfect romantic rendezvous with your special someone.  You may want to:

  • Come in early spring when the new budding vines are blanketing the valley and its time for a rejuvenating spa day.
  • Seek out the sun in the summertime when it is warmer to mix in some outdoor activities like golf, cycling, hiking or hot-air ballooning.
  • Head to the Napa Valley in the Fall for the perfume of crush during harvest and the brilliantly changing colors of the vineyards.
  • Get festive with the lighting of the Christmas Trees and Holiday Parades.
  • You may just keep coming back because you have a passion for the amazing cuisine offered in the Napa Valley, which is deliciously hard to resist.

These spectacular romantic resorts and inns offer a variety of dine/stay/spa packages, however, they are all very unique in their own way, with diverse amenities, design, decor, and location. Whatever your personals tastes, lovers are presented with a variety of romantic get-a-way options from small intimate inns to mega-luxurious resorts, all in an intoxicating setting. Dip in the pool, shower under the stars, bathe in the full moon, whatever your hearts desire, it’s all waiting for you. One thing’s for sure, pampering is always on the menu.

Whatever your passion, your ultimate date night or lovers retreat, Napa Valley welcomes you with a big heart!

Auberge du Soleil

Auberge Bar Terrace

“The Inn of the Sun” one of Napa Valley’s most iconic luxury properties is nestled on a hillside perch in Rutherford painted with breathtaking panoramic views of rolling vineyards. Dining at Auberge du Soleil’s Michelin Star Restaurant is a must experience to indulge in the signature cuisine along with the beauty of the valley views offered from their decks.

Auberge du Soleil is a long-standing member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux, the international association of outstanding boutique properties known for their excellence in hospitality and culinary arts.  This Adults-Only resort is the only Forbes Five-Star Rated hotel in Napa Valley.  Auberge’s guest accommodations offer 5 amazing room variations from king view rooms to private maisons. Romantic packages are always available and in addition, they also offer spa packages at their award-winning spa. There are seasonal culinary, wine and music events. Auberge maintains a commitment to sustainable practices and native landscapes.

180 Rutherford Hill Road, Saint Helena



During the month of February, Bardessono offers romantics the opportunity to rediscover the pleasure of giving and receiving with their “Crush on You” package. You will indulge in an hour-long massage topped off with bubbles in a champagne bath. After unparalleled pampering, pop open a Sommelier selected wine with a decadent dessert, prepared by Bardessono’s Michelin Pastry Chef Mindy relaxing in your stunning guest room. What a more perfect way to start off your weekend of romance. This luxurious eco-friendly “Deep Green” Inn in the heart of Yountville in the midst of its own vineyard offers privacy and graciousness. The 62 guestrooms serve as a personal sanctuary also offering in-room spa treatments.

For the truly romantic get-a-way any time of year, Bardessono has created a unique selection of Romance Packages that will create memories to last forever. For adventurous couples, take in the best views Napa Valley has to offer aloft your majestic balloon ride and breakfast for two.

Shop, dine, and wine taste – all within walking distance in this charming eco- friendly inn nestled in the hamlet of Yountville.

6526 Yountville Street, Yountville

Calistoga Ranch

Calistoga Ranch

Nestled in a hidden canyon on 157 acres of lush foliage, ancient oaks, and majestic hills are the eco-luxury resort of Calistoga Ranch. Their freestanding wood cedar shingled luxury lodges are perfect for those desirous of dreaming in unspoiled nature. This 50-room luxury retreat in the hills of Napa Valley captures the rich culture of food, wine, and nature. Calistoga Ranch is part of the Auberge Resorts Collection and true to Auberge tradition; the Ranch offers culinary experiences inspired by culture. With their “Rekindle the Romance” package you will indulge in two memorable nights in a one-bedroom lodge, two intimate 60-minute in-lodge spa treatments, daily breakfast and a romantic candlelight dinner for two. There are also acres of scenic hiking trails and an on-site vineyard with a private wine label. You will also find sustainable practices throughout the resort.

580 Lommel Road, Calistoga

Carneros Resort and Spa

Carneros Resort Cottage

Carneros Resort and Spa is a luxury romantic escape nestled in the Carneros vineyards on 28 lush acres. The resort offers 86 cottages, 10 suites, and private homes in this country setting. These charming cottages offer many wonderful amenities such as fireplaces, indoor-outdoor showers, private hot tubs, and landscaped garden patios. This wine country retreat also presents FARM, their signature restaurant with elegant wine country dining. Spend a day relaxing at the Spa at Carneros with treatments to mend the mind and spirit.

Sample Love is in the Air Package – Contact Resort for the latest packages!

  • One night stay in the cottage accommodation of your choice
  • Complimentary breakfast in bed
  • Welcome bottle of sparkling wine
  • $100 Spa Credit towards a couple’s massage

Carneros Resort Outdoor Shower

Carneros Resort has recently premiered their specialty-dining event at Farm Restaurant, the Carneros Supper Club. Guests will join in at a welcome reception on the hilltop patio along with Sparkling wine and a raw bar of fresh from the sea tastes. Chef Aaron Meneghelli will partner with local winemakers and breweries in the region to create an evening of indulgent family style dining in an intimately elegant setting.

4048 Sonoma Hwy. Napa

Harvest Inn by Charlie Palmer

You can celebrate romance in the wine country in one of Harvest Inn’s intimate and luxurious guests rooms where you will experience an unforgettable vacation of the heart in beautiful St. Helena. Sip a glass of Napa Valley sparking on your picturesque terrace overlooking the lush grounds. Indulge in a couples massage with a sensual blend of botanical essences that will surely rejuvenate the mind, body, and spirit. Dine at Charlie Palmer’s wine country kitchen, the Harvest Table highlighting dishes created from a delicious array of locally sourced ingredients and the best of Napa Valley.

1 Main Street, Saint Helena

Las Alcobas

A new Luxury Collection Hotel in the Napa Valley located next to world famous Beringer Vineyards and Estate.  The Hotel offers spacious accommodations with ultra-chic décor. In addition to the 68 guest rooms overlooking vineyards and or the winery, Las Alcobas offers a state of the art 3500sf spa, The Atrio, and wellness center, onsite restaurant and event barn. It is the perfect setting for couples seeking a romantic escape. Chef Chris Cosentino’s signature restaurant, the Acacia House, offers the perfect setting for romance. They will even prepare a gourmet lunch basket for your picnic in the vineyards. The resort’s vineyard view pool and cabanas and adjacent Grandview Bar have a tranquil vineyard setting.

1915 Main Street, Saint Helena

Meritage Resort and Spa

When planning your romantic get-a-way to Napa, why not change it up a bit. In addition to your romantic escape, where you will stay two nights in one their Premier Tuscan inspired luxury hotel rooms with a unique private balcony overlooking the pool, Estate Cave, and vineyards why not join in on one of their Master Winemaker Dinners. These exquisite dinners in the Estate Cave offer dinner guests and guests of the resort and unforgettable evening of food and wine. Each dinner begins with a reception featuring wine and appetizers overlooking the estate vineyards then follows a multi-course dinner with featured wines from the guest winemaker. Each event is a little different, and all will delight in this remarkable dining experience. Topping the off the evening with a splash, is the “wow factor” dessert, an unforgettable interactive presentation. The 2017 Masters Winemaker Dinner Series lineup includes Napa Valley’s Top Wineries and Cult Favorites!

875 Bordeaux Way, Napa

Milliken Creek Inn and Spa

Milliken Creek Inn

This charming inn on 3 secluded acres just off of Silverado Trail in Napa is rich in history and dates back to the mid-1850s when it served as a stagecoach stop for tired travelers during the Gold Rush in California. Now part of the prestigious Fours Sisters Inns luxury collection, Milliken Creek presents an intimate hideaway along the banks of the Napa Valley River. After spending a quiet, romantic evening by the fire in one of their 12-luxury spa guest rooms with plush king beds, you will wake up to delicious made-to-order breakfast brought to your room to enjoy in your room on, on your patio or deck or anywhere you would like on the beautiful grounds of this charming inn. You won’t want to miss enjoying a body treatment at their boutique spa on the property with a couples massage. Or indulge in the ultimately delicious pamper with the “wrap yourself in chocolate decadence” – a tasty treatment designed to detoxify the body and leave your skin kissably soft, after being wrapped in a cocoon of chocolate and mud and chocolate massage oil treatment. Oh so decadent!

Milliken Creek

1815 Silverado Trail, Napa

Silverado Resort and Spa

Silverado Resort

For the perfect hole in one, Silverado Resort is a golfers paradise with two 18-hole Championship Courses, a variety of fine dining options and a state of the art spa facility. For the “Golf Lover” this is the place to T-off to for an active romantic get-a-way of Dining, Spa Treatments, and Golf. The “Couples Escape” package offers a round of golf per night stay, 1 spa treatment per night stay and $50 food credit at any of the resorts food venues. Silverado is also located close to many renowned wineries to visit during your active stay in Napa, so you won’t have to miss out tasting some of your favorite vintages.

1600 Atlas Peak Road, Napa



An Auberge Resort Collection Property located in Calistoga just off the Silverado Trail offers modern thoroughly appointed accommodations which all come with two complimentary cruiser bikes to explore. The Solage award-winning spa and mineral pool has been artfully designed and is ecologically conscious giving you the ultimate of a spa-get-away sprinkled with romance. Their distinguished renowned restaurant, the Solbar, offers an intimate dining experience and delivers new twists on California soul food recipes. They offer romantic retreats to active get-a-ways that will immerse you and your love and enhance your Napa Valley experience. Check out their Sugar and Spice package for a sultry two-night escape, which includes a massage and an intimacy kit. Along with that, you will partake in the Sol Spa’s most intimate treatment, the Couples Mudslide where you will paint your partner with mineral-enriched mud, then soak side-by-side in healing geothermal mineral waters.

Solage Dining

755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga

Westin Verasa Napa

This exquisite hotel is perfectly located along the Napa River within walking distance of Oxbow, the Culinary Institute and historic eclectic downtown Napa. The Westin Verasa is part of the SPG group of hotels where not only will you make brownie points with the love of your life you will also build points towards future stays.

After a long day of wine tasting around the valley, the courtyard pool by the river presents the perfect place to chill with a refreshing beverage.

For the ultimate romantic evening, dining in the intimate Michelin Star restaurant, La Toque, named one of the “Best Restaurants In America” by Wine Spectator, is a glorious treat. Acclaimed Chef Ken Frank has created a menu of contemporary French-style cuisine with a cutting edge. An absolute must when in Napa Valley!

1314 McKinstry Street, Napa