Wine Travel Adventure

Bay Area & California travel blog

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Thomas Keller’s Yountville

            Thomas Keller did not grow up eating in restaurants like The French Laundry, his world-famous Michelin 3-star restaurant in Yountville. As a boy he ate Dinty Moore stew out of a can. “I’ve liked stew since I was a boy,” he confided, “even when it was Dinty Moore out of a can, which it often was in a household of five kids and a working mother.”

Goodies at the Bouchon Bakery, one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants in Yountville.

Born at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Keller is the son of a Marine Corps drill instructor. But his father abandoned the family when the children were very young, leaving Betty, his auburn-haired mother, to raise the boys on her own. She headed off to Florida to start their lives anew. There she found work as the manager of the Palm Beach Yacht Club, the starting point for her son’s glittering culinary career. This was where he entered the restaurant business, finding work as a pearl diver—old school lingo for a dishwasher—before gradually moving up to cook.

Thomas Keller.

“I wonder if I love the communal act of eating so much because throughout my childhood with four older brothers and a mom in the restaurant business, I spent a lot of time fending for myself, eating alone—and I recognized how eating together made all the difference,” he recalled. “The best meals are the ones you eat with the people you care about.” Continue reading

Message on a bottle: Mapping out your next wine country trip

Maps are a traveler’s best friend, whether they are on a smart phone , the old-fashioned paper kind or even the back label of a wine bottle. The tiny, thumbnail-size maps found on the back of some bottles will not take you very far, of course, but that’s not really the point, is it? The idea is to give people a sense of where the winery is located and perhaps even cause them to think, “Wouldn’t it be nice to go there!” Here are four maps, all found on the back label of their respective wines, that may stir thoughts of wanderlust:

 MacMurray Ranch

MacMurray Ranc

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On the trail of Mark Twain in the mountains of Switzerland

Mt Rigi Switzerland 1By Susan Hutchinson Arnett and Harley Arnett

Switzerland envelops you with her beauty. From the moment we crossed the border on the train from neighboring Austria, we knew we had entered a special place—lush, green pastures, gorgeous lakes and overwhelming, majestic mountains.

Checking into the Montana Hotel in Lucerne, we were instantly captivated by unmatched views of the expansive lake.Hotel Montana Switzerland

The town of Lucerne is stunning. Situated on Lake Lucerne, a historic wooden bridge and winding cobblestone streets invite you to linger and explore more of the town’s history. But our ultimate destination was to follow the path of Mark Twain, who traveled to the top of nearby Mt Rigi in the late 1800s. Known as the “Queen of the Mountains,” she rises majestically above Lake Lucerne to an impressive summit at Rigi Kulm. Continue reading