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Well that was quite the year. . .

Personally and professionally, 2017 was a pretty good year for us, and we traveled quite a bit. I started blogging for Sonesta Hotels, which means I get to travel to many of their hotels to gather content and experience everything for myself.

More than ever, this year, I sought the beach and wide open spaces to get away a lot of the time. The political situation in the US made that true even last winter, when we went on many day trips to World’s End in Hingham and to Chatham on Cape Cod.

Aquinnah

Our first overnight trip of the year, however, was to Martha’s Vineyard in February, and if you love beach walks and coziness, I would recommend visiting in winter for a quiet getaway.

March brought the opportunity for my husband to go to an event in San Francisco, one that that fell a week before with an event I had for work there, so I went and explored San Francisco, including a whole day in Golden Gate Park,  before we headed to Mendocino and Sonoma for a blissful, warm, wine getaway.

Golden Gate Park

Heritage House Resort Little River California

The Mendocino Coast is pure magic.

A few weeks later, we experienced our beloved Luquillo, Puerto Rico again for a break from wintry weather

Great food and beach time was what it was all about. Puerto Rico is incredible, and I definitely consider Luquillo to be one of my favorite places in the world.

poke bowl

Luquillo Beach

We were heartbroken to see the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico and the the severely poor response to it from the US government; they desperately need help still, months later. We likely won’t get to Puerto Rico this year but have been sending aid from Boston with the help of local groups.

April brought us up to Camden, Maine for a weekend with friends at the beautiful, waterfront 16 Bay View. Camden is a beautiful town and one of my New England favorites. The hotel is outstanding, and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Drappier Champagne

In June I celebrated 8 years of blogging and boat season, two exciting things in the life of a seafaring travel blogger!

I also celebrated the launch of patio season and kicked off blogging at Royal Sonesta Boston’s ArtBar patio, a must-visit in Boston.

Boston skyline

Summer travel was incredibly busy, as we traveled to Ireland and then Italy for my sister-in-law’s wedding weekend.

Aer Lingus

villa in Italy

We spent a week in glorious sunshine at a villa in Umbria, swimming, eating, and wine tasting in nearby Tuscany.

I also visited Philadelphia to stay at Sonesta Philly and to discover the amazing food and art that Philadelphia has to offer. I will definitely be back!

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September brought me back to California for a friends trip to Sonoma County, only one of my favorite places in the world. The devastating wildfires happened shortly after our visit, and I still have so much to blog about to share my love for this part of the world with everyone.

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Immediately after coming back from Sonoma, I went to Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore, where I got to spend some time exploring Baltimore and enjoying this grand waterfront hotel.

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore A fall staycation to Sonesta ES Suites Andover allowed us to check out the extended stay side of Sonesta, and we loved it. We also loved dining in Andover, hiking its trails, and catching up with friends nearby.

In November I ate my way through Sonesta Gwinnett Place Atlanta and discovered the southern charm of downtown Duluth Georgia when I visited for the launch of Sonesta’s dual-brand hotel. . . you can now have two different hotel experiences under one roof!

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In November we also finally got to New Orleans where we stayed at the magnificent Royal Sonesta New Orleans and kicked off the holiday season with their Lighting of the Balconies.

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Royal Sonesta New Orleans is simply incredible, and the holiday spirit and decor made it even more magical.

The food at all of the hotel’s restaurants is also absolutely incredible. I have so many more blog posts to share!

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I got to take plenty of trips to New Jersey over the course of the year to see my family, as well as my annual visit to Cape Cod with friends and a trip into New York City for a work event. It was a full year of many JetBlue flights, and I am looking forward to more adventures in 2018!

Happy travels to all of you!

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Tags: Baltimore, California, Ireland, Italy, Martha's Vineyard, New England, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Travel, travel blog

For past Sonoma and Napa posts and a collection of other travel blog posts, visit my Travel page.

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My September getaway to Sonoma County feels like it was a million years ago. With all of the other travel I have been doing, I’ve been away just about every two weeks, and in between life and the flu have gotten in the way. I am finally sitting down to share a whirlwind recap of the wineries we visited on this trip. We missed a few favorites but discovered some great new-to-me spots, and with another Sonoma visit on the horizon for May, I am in a good place for planning. We also got to eat at some favorite Sonoma County restaurants while having to save others for the next trip. The one lesson we have learned over many trips to wine country is to not cram everything in. It’s easy to want to eat and taste and see everything, but it’s a lot more enjoyable if you pace yourself.

Sonoma County Sunset

This time around I was visiting Sonoma County with a group of friends, and we had a house in Santa Rosa as our home base. On our first night, we enjoyed a picnic spread, live music, beautiful wine, and an epic sunset at Paradise Ridge Winery.

Paradise Ridge Winery

It is hard to believe, but just weeks later, this very special place burned down during the wildfires that swept through the area. Paradise Ridge plans to rebuild, and I know that their many friends and fans will be there at the door when it reopens for business.

Paradise Ridge Winery

We tried to have a few wine tasting appointments on the calendar and to build the days around that. The constants throughout were blue skies and perfect sunshine. On my first full day, we kicked off our wine adventures at the gorgeous Iron Horse Vineyards, where the views are as stunning as the bubbles in your glass.

iron horse sonoma county

The outdoor tasting room at Iron Horse is as perfect as it gets, rustic, open air (but with heaters!) and complete access to the intense beauty that surrounds it. All of the sparkling wines we tasted were insanely good, but a few bottles of the Russian Cuvee made it into the shipment back to Boston for me!

Iron Horse Vineyards

Our next stop, Red Car Winery, was another I had visited before, and a favorite producer of Pinot Noir and their large format rosé of Pinot Noir. A living-room-like setting is a comfy spot for tasting year round, and our club membership means that we will definitely be back on our May visit.

red car wine

Lunchtime and grumbling stomachs brought us to The Barlow for food (more on that in a future post) and more wine, naturally. 

The Barlow

Wind Gap Wines makes some of my all time favorite wines, so it was again a must-visit on this trip. Their Chenin Blanc and Trousseau Gris are always my top choices, and the sun streaming in the open windows of the tasting room plus the dog there on my last visit make it one of my favorite places to while away an afternoon on vacation.

Wind Gap Wine

We ended that day with an incredible dinner at Bird & the Bottle, which I highly recommend.

Our Friday in Sonoma County was dedicated to Healdsburg, which we traveled to in an Uber and spent the day walking and eating and drinking around. We had lunch at Bravas Tapas and a special tasting at another favorite, Cartograph Wines,

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This is definitely a must-visit tasting room in Healdsburg, especially for Pinot Noir lovers and anyone who likes genuinely awesome people. Everyone there is just the best.

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And as it often happens, good people who know good wine, make recommendations on where to go next. Since we didn’t have any set plans, we took the recommendation to walk to Breathless Wines, and we were so glad we did.

This sparkling winery owned by three sisters has a beautiful outdoor garden space to taste their yummy wines.

Breathless WinesHealdsburg wine tasting

They’ve done a really great job with both the indoor and outdoor spaces, and their sparkling rosé was perfect for a hot September day. Their Moscato was the real surprise of the day. We all expected sweet, which we don’t love, but instead got beautiful, complex flavors of herbs and spices and baked apples.

Breathless Wine

Another recommendation we received from Cartograph was DaVero Farms and Winery, a short Uber drive outside of the downtown area of Healdsburg, and so worth the trip.

Davero Wine

Talk about a special place. . . DaVero is a nature-lover’s dream, with gorgeous plants and flowers, views, and piglets!

DaVero makes wines with Mediterranean varietals that thrive in the climate they grow them in. You’ll see Barbera and Sangiovese on their wine tasting list, and they offer an interesting, delicious departure from many of the other wines you’ll be tasting in the area. Be sure to build in some time to walk around to see the property! 

Davero WinerySonoma

On our final day in Sonoma County, as we made our way back to San Francisco, we squeezed in a few more wine stops.

In downtown Sonoma, Roche Family Winery was a destination for us, as one of our party shares a last name with the owners. Another sunshine-drenched outdoor space, this time great for people watching just outside of Sonoma Plaza, and a big, buttery Chardonnay (I like them!) gave us the perfect sendoff out of town and on our way to beautiful and bubbly all-time favorite, Gloria Ferrer, which I blogged about here.

Roche Winery Sonoma

Gloria Ferrer is a tradition for us and a must-visit at least once on every trip to Sonoma County.

Holding on to the very last seconds in beautiful wine country before we headed back to the crowded and much chillier city, we made our last stop to wander around Cornerstone Sonoma, where a cold glass of Meadowcraft Wines Sauvignon Blanc accompanied me on my walk around the gardens.

Meadowcroft WineCornerstone Sonoma

Ahhh. . . some of the best life memories come from travel to Northern California, and as much as we want to see the whole world, we keep coming back to Sonoma County for more.

Stay tuned for a final food recap and some photos of the gorgeous house we rented!

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Tags: California, Sonoma, Sonoma County, Travel, wine, wine tasting, wine travel

Yesterday marked eight years of blogging in this little space, which has been a vehicle for meeting some of the best people I know. Blogging has opened up travel opportunities for me, and the networking and contact-building I have done through blogging also helped me to create my Social Media/PR/Marketing business, which has been my full time gig for two years this week!

One of the most fun parts of blogging is looking back on life in blog posts. Here are eight of my favorite life moments, in no particular order, to celebrate eight years. Thank you for reading!

Learning to bake with whole grains at King Arthur Flour

This group getaway was so much fun! We stayed in a country bed and breakfast with the whole house to ourselves, and had our own baking class at King Arthur. It was definitely a bonding experience where I made some life-long friends.

King Arthur Flour

 

Winter on Martha’s Vineyard – A true getaway at Nobnocket Boutique Inn

The winter of 2017 included some heartbreakingly stressful moments for America, and when we needed to get away from it all before we lost our minds, Martha’s Vineyard was the perfect choice. Nobnocket was cozy and luxurious and steps from Vineyard Haven’s cute little downtown. I can’t wait to go back.

 

Nobnocket Boutique Inn

 

Safari Serengeti

Our two week safari in Tanzania was a trip of a lifetime, and I would do it over and over again if I could. Africa works its way into your heart and just stays there forever.

giraffe in the Serengeti 

 

This incredible Labor Day weekend in Sonoma County

Over the last eight years we have visited Sonoma and Napa many times. (Read all the posts on my travel blog post page!). This trip stands out because of the gorgeous little cottage we rented near Healdsburg, the glorious summer heat, canoeing on the Russian River, and the fact that I didn’t work for four whole days!

Russian River Valley sunset

 

Wine tasting in Italy

While visiting family in Marche, we had a private wine tasting at Castello di Semivicoli, which was one of the best afternoons ever.

Masciarelli wine tasting 

 

Getting to go to Sonoma County for work

When I left my full time, in-house job, it was to work on an account in Sonoma County, and I got to experience some pretty spectacular tastings and events.

 

wine tasting

MacMurray Estate Vineyards

 

Spending the perfect summer day on the North Fork of Long Island

My North Fork memories are bittersweet, as the wonderful PR person, Florence, who introduced me to the region and brought me there on Cross Sound Ferry last June, passed away unexpectedly a few months later. Still, I remember this day as summer perfection, from shucking oysters, to wine on the bluff at Kontokosta, to lots of laughs in the van along the way.

lavender fields in Long Island

 

Every trip to Ireland

I tend to go on and on about Ireland, and I can’t help it. It’s definitely one of my most favorite places (along with Sonoma and coastal New England and Puerto Rico), and I feel incredibly blessed every time I get to visit.

Errisbeg

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Tags: blog, blogging, Boston, California, food blog, food blogging, Ireland, Martha's Vineyard, Sonoma, travel blog, travel blogging, wine, wine blogging

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