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The Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts is a place I lived for four years, and going back is always a little like going home. While we live in the city, I long to live out in the country (preferably near a coast, ahem, Sonoma). Weekends away in the country are so incredibly rejuvenating, and on our 4th of July trip to the Berkshires, we spent some time in Southampton and Northampton, Massachusetts.

While on a wine trail event a couple of years ago, I tasted wine from Black Birch Vineyards, fell in love with the wine, and have been thinking about it ever since. Luckily we had plenty of time for a slow ride back from Lenox, and we found ourselves gazing out at the Pioneer Valley countryside with glasses of wine in hand, wanting to spend the day there.

Southampton, Mass

Black Birch Vineyards is a small winery and tasting room, surrounded by rolling green hills, vineyards, and horses. The countryside around the vineyard is jaw-dropping, and the wines at Black Birch are as well.

Southampton, Massachusetts

Before and after our wine tasting, we stretched our legs and soaked up the sun by wandering around the area.

Black Birch Vineyard

Black Birch Vineyard

Once we decided to go inside the tasting room, we went straight for wines by the glass, which we took outside and enjoyed on the Adirondack chairs and while checking out the vines. Sipping wine in Adirondack chairs is becoming quite the habit of ours.

Traminette

I came to Black Birch Vineyards for their Cabernet Franc; it’s a favorite grape of mine, and it grows well in places like Long Island and areas of Massachusetts. The Cab Franc at Black Birch has the perfect amount of peppery spice and earthy funk, dried leaves, and a hint of dark berries. It is a beautiful wine.

A new favorite we discovered was the Traminette, a grape that I don’t think I have had before. I am simply in love with this wine. It’s full of rich honey notes but also has nice orange and pineapple notes, the perfect amount of acidity, and a weight that makes you want to swish it around in your mouth. It’s a great summer wine because of the acidity, but the richness means it would lend itself to going well with fall dishes.

Black Birch Vineyard

Black Birch Vineyard

Our visit to Black Birch Vineyards was pure bliss and another reminder that Massachusetts can make great wine. If you’re in the Western part of the state, I definitely recommend a visit!

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Tags: Massachusetts, Massachusetts travel, Massachusetts wine, tasting room series, vineyards, wine, wine bars, wine tasting, winery

James Taylor at Tanglewood on the 4th of July has been one of my life list items for ages, and this year I finally got to experience it. It was well worth the wait.

We traveled out to Lenox, Massachusetts, the site of Tanglewood Music Center, to meet my sister and her husband for the concert. The weather was iffy; it rained on and off as we drove and was drizzly when we arrived at our hotel, the Knight’s Inn in Lenox. The Berkshires can be an expensive trip, so when I found rooms at great prices at the Knight’s Inn, I wasn’t expecting much. In reality, we were really pleasantly surprised. Our rooms were spotlessly clean, it was quiet, the staff was friendly, and the view was beautiful. It was also close to all of the major attractions of the area. I was glad we took a risk on the hotel and would totally stay there again.

The Berkshires

Going to Tanglewood is quite the experience in itself. We had lawn seats, which meant we could bring in a picnic to enjoy during the concert. There were some serious picnic setups that included white tablecloths, candles, all sorts of food and wine, and more. We had a nice spread of our own, including Champagne and wine, sandwiches, snacks, and candles. Doors open at 5, three hours before the concert, and the beautiful grounds, plus picnics, make those hours fly by.

Tanglewood

Chandon picnic

The views of surrounding mountains and Stockbridge Bowl are magnificent. We live in such a stunning state, with really unique features that vary from place to place. It felt amazing to be surrounded by so much green.

Stockbridge Bowl

The concert itself was amazing. James Taylor played for about three hours, and his set list included lots of favorites. He was, as I expected, funny and charming and adorable. If you are a fan, I recommend checking out the 4th of July Tanglewood show.

The day after the concert we made a couple of stops on our way out of the Berkshires. We visited a beautiful lake, then headed to two fancy, famous resorts, Cranwell and Blantyre.

Lenox, Massachusetts

We were hoping to have tea or something at Blantyre, but that sort of thing is reserved for guests. Maybe someday. . .

Blantyre

A visit to the Berkshires is just one option for a beautiful Massachusetts vacation. There is so much to see and do, and I would love to visit again soon for the arts, nature, and food that makes the area so special.

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Tags: Berkshires, James Taylor, Lenox, Massachusetts, Massachusetts travel, Travel, travel blog, Travel Tuesday

As we plan our Northern Sonoma travel for the summer, I have been working with Flipkey on finding the perfect house rental for our wine country getaway. I don’t want to rush these next few precious months because I adore summer, but I am excited to have something fun for toward the end of the season. I have enjoyed using the Flipkey site, and through my communications with Flipkey learned of their new virtual walking tour of Boston.

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The virtual tour is a fun way to plan your travel around Boston, allowing you to click on a variety of attractions to get more information as well as a street view. Places like the Boston Public Library, historic Warren Tavern, and Bunker Hill Monument are all included, making sure that tourists or residents hit as many of Boston’s hot spots as possible.

Other vacation destination tours will be rolled out soon, allowing travelers to experience a place before actually going there. As someone who loves to know what to expect, I could easily see myself utilizing these virtual tours as I plan a trip.

How do you do your travel planning? Do you do a ton of research and mapping things out, or do you wing it?

We like to do a little bit of both. Most of my research tends to be around food and wine. Smile

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Tags: Boston, Flipkey, Travel, travel blogger, Travel Tuesday, vacation

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