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Wine Wanderlust Guide: June 2018

Plan your travels with wine in mind: This month, dive into California's wine offerings in Napa Valley, Alexander Valley or San Luis Obispo, or celebrate rebirth after the 2017 wildfires with a unique dinner. Plus, Wally's brings choice wines to Hawaii, and the Finger Lakes Wine Festival is coming
The Ojai Valley Inn's dinner will showcase the bounty of morels that are flourishing after the wine-country wildfires.
Photo by: Courtesy of Ojai Valley Inn
The Ojai Valley Inn's dinner will showcase the bounty of morels that are flourishing after the wine-country wildfires.


Want to explore wine around the world? Wine Spectator's monthly guide opens the door, with insider tips, upcoming events and seasonal packages, and once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences.


Travel Intel

What’s the big news in the world of wine, travel and food? Check our Travel Intel section to stay in the know.

Wally’s Brings Wine Suites to Maui

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Maui
Wally’s Wine & Spirits president Christian Navarro has selected the "Elite" wines at the Four Seasons Resort Maui.

At Wailea Beach in Hawaii, the Four Seasons Resort Maui has partnered with Wally’s Wine & Spirits co-owner Christian Navarro to bring new wine offerings to the island in a program that has been two years in the making.

Guests staying in one of the resort’s three Elite Suites—which offer ocean views, round-trip airport access, a private in-suite dinner, massages and breakfasts—now have access to an in-room wine cellar with eight red and eight white wine selections. Navarro himself has curated the list, which features bubblies such as Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne 2006 and Billecart-Salmon Champagne Les Clos Saint-Hilaire 1999, and heavy-hitting reds such as Pétrus 2012 and Harlan Estate Red Blend 1994.

The 18 on-premise sommeliers are available to open a bottle at any time, although guests have free access to the wines on their own. Wine glassware producer Riedel is participating in the offerings, providing a “glassology” class at which guests can compare how wine tastes in varying glasses. A pairing dinner is also available, built around guests’ wine preferences, and custom wine events around the world can also be arranged from the hotel. The wine-focused Elite Suite comes with all the bells and whistles starting at $14,000 per night for a two bedroom, which accommodates up to six adults, or four adults and five children. Check out the Elite Suites.


Journeys in Wine and Food

Ready for the next adventure? Look for these wine travel experiences this June.

California: Napa Valley

Sterling Vineyards
Located near Calistoga, Sterling Vineyard’s South View Terrace offers prime views of Napa Valley.

More to sip After the success of its 2017 debut, the Napa Valley RoséFest returns to Sterling Vineyards on Saturday, June 9. This year’s event has increased the number of participating Napa Valley wineries to more than 30. Guests will have a chance to try highlights like Etude Grace Benoist Ranch Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 and Provenance Calistoga Malbec Rosé 2017 alongside a selection of small plates from local restaurants. VIP tickets are sold out, but rosé lovers can still purchase general admission tickets for $65 per person for tastings and food pairings at the venue’s hilltop winery, along with a complimentary Riedel wine glass. For $15 more, a premium ticket also offers a $10 food truck voucher and entry to an additional tasting tent.

Pink for a cause Continuing the rosy theme, all proceeds from the event will go to the Susan G. Komen foundation to benefit breast cancer education, research and funding. Get tickets.

Southern California

Illume by Paul Ferrante at Ojai Valley Inn
The Moral Morels dinner at the Ojai Valley Inn will donate all ticket proceeds to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

From the ashes In the aftermath of the 2017 California wildfires, vintners in Ojai Valley have discovered a surprising aspect in the abundant regrowth: morel mushrooms have exploded in the area, a phenomenon that scientists have noted after previous wildfires in the western United States, without being able to fully explain why. To celebrate, the Ojai Valley Inn is pairing up with seven nearby winemakers to create a June 14 dinner featuring the mushrooms. Executive chef Truman Jones and sommelier Melissa Lamb will prepare a seven-course meal with creative bites like an amuse-bouche of melon, hazelnuts and morels, paired with Lieu Dit Chenin Blanc Santa Ynez Valley 2016, and a black bass with a ragout of morels, fava beans and ham paired with Relic Kashaya Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2014. The dessert, from pastry chef Joel Gonzalez, goes all out: imagine a “Morel Chocolate Cremeux with Cocoa Nib Soil, Morel Micro Sponge, Black Walnut Brittle, Truffle Gelato.”

Supporting the wilderness' bravest Tickets are $125 and all proceeds will benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which provides financial support to firefighters' families in the event of injury or death and works to improve safety for the forces who battle blazes in wilderness areas around the country. Contact food and beverage coordinator Stephanie James at sjames@ojaivalleyinn.com to reserve.

California: San Luis Obispo

Courtesy of SLO Wine Country
Winemakers share the latest vintages with guests at the 2017 Barrels in the Plaza event at the Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo.

Slow down for wine country In the San Luis Obispo region, the 28th annual “Roll Out the Barrels” weekend (June 21-23) is a laid-back exploration of this coastal mountain region. It starts Thursday with the downtown Barrels in the Plaza event ($60), as more than 50 wineries and local chefs offer tastes to the tune of live music from a guitar and violin duo. New this year is a wine barrel–making demonstration from cooper Tonnellerie Ô and a comparative tasting that shows how different levels of toasting in the barrels influence the wines that are aged in them.

On the road Over the remaining two days, the events move out into the vineyards with a “Passport to SLO Wine Country” covering visits to four wineries per day, with the option to enjoy barrel samples of the new vintage, tastings of mixed flights, winery tours, snacks, live music and more offbeat experiences, such as photo ops with rescued wolves. A two-day passport is $75; a Saturday-only option is $50; the full three-day package is $130. All three days welcome designated drivers for $20 to $30 each. Check out the event.

California: Sonoma County

Intimate country retreat The Experience Alexander Valley event takes place June 23-34, showing off one of the quiet and bucolic corners of northeastern Sonoma County. For $200 a person, each guest can choose up to four different wine-centric experiences, each limited to 24 guests, from dozens of events hosted by 20 different wineries and vineyards. The experiences are organized into three main themes: culinary, active or educational. Under the culinary category, there are food and wine pairings, classes on making sausage, pizza or ravioli, and an ice cream contest where teams compete to create the best flavor using only local ingredients—including wine. Active options include hikes, mountain bike rides or yoga among the vines … even a BBQ and cornhole tournament, with a magnum from White Oak winery as the prize. Educational offerings include blending workshops, barrel making demonstration and vertical tastings. Browse the experiences.

New York

Courtesy of Finger Lakes Wine Festival
Guests take a leisurely moment to enjoy the wines at the 2017 Finger Lakes Wine Festival.

I love New York The state's viticultural progress will be on full display at the 22nd annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival, July 13-15. Guests can sample wines from more than 60 New York wineries while enjoying music, dance and culinary demonstrations and exploring the work of local artisans and food vendors, from homemade ice cream to barbecue sauce. In addition to the walk-around event, there are five free wine seminars that discuss the Finger Lakes' dry rosés, Chardonnays, new approaches to hybrid grapes, dry reds and sweet wines. Four additional-purchase wine seminars, from $20 to $30 per person, cover the region's Rieslings, sparkling wines and 90-point or higher-scoring wines, along with the science of food and wine.

Safety in mind Nearby hotels and camping accommodations (that includes an upgrade “glamping” option) are offered for those who don’t want to stray far from the action. Bring along your own designated driver for $25.

Early bird benefit Discounted advance tickets are still being offered for the festival beginning at $45 per person for a one-day pass; prices will go up after June 11. Get tickets.

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