Condé Nast Traveler today announced its 2021 Gold List. The annual list, curated by Traveler editors in New York and London, is the ultimate collection of our favorite hotels and cruise lines across the globe—those that exemplify the gold standard of service and hospitality, a designation that is even more meaningful after a year of interrupted travel.
For the first time in its history, this year’s Gold List went beyond places to stay, expanding to include a range of experiences—flights, restaurants, bars, and destinations—our editors consider truly exceptional. These are the places we daydreamed about in lockdown, and a few we were actually able to visit—all that sustained us in a year of curtailed travel.
“We wanted to take a more holistic and personal approach to what we define as Gold, just as we’re doing with travel across the board,” said Jesse Ashlock, U.S. Editor at Condé Nast Traveler. “These are the properties, destinations, and experiences we kept thinking about in a year when travel was so constrained. In some cases they represent the travel that was possible to us. We hope they inspire readers to plan their next adventures as the world opens up again.”
While the expected threshold of excellence continues with this year’s Gold List, the 2021 winners more broadly reflect how and why we travel. Highlights include grand dame hotels like the stately Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Hong Kong’s near-perfect Peninsula, but also the tiny five-room SingleThread in Sonoma, California, where a pilgrimage-worthy 11 course dinner is the real draw. We spotlight destinations that we can’t wait to revisit, bustling cities like Rome and restorative places like the Peruvian Andes. And we include the restaurants and bars that should be on every traveler’s map–legends like Keens Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan and under-the-radar standouts like South Africa’s Wolfgat. We rhapsodize about the lie-flat seats on Cathay Pacific and Delta’s always stellar customer service, and how we can’t stop thinking about the Thomas Keller-created menus on Seabourn and the excursion we took to a Sicilian winery while sailing with Oceania.
All winners of the 2021 Gold List are prominently featured on Condé Nast Traveler’s website and celebrated in the January/February issue on newsstands nationwide Dec. 22.
360 Magazine Culture Editor Tom Wilmer reports from the town of Calistoga in Napa Valley.
Mention Napa Valley and the first thing that comes to mind for many is wine, world-class wine. The Valley has been producing fine wines for more than a century, but it really wasn’t until a cadre of Napa wines kicked-ass at the now legendary Judgment of Paris in 1976 that things started to go viral.
A bind tasting—that the French just knew would reconfirm their illustrious worldwide status, was crushed when Napa Valley wines rocked their boat. Napa Valley winners included Stag’s Leap, Heitz Cellars, Clos du Val, Ridge Vineyards, Freemark Abby Winery and Mayacamas. Chateau Montelena’s legendary Chardonnay led to the cool film, Bottle Shock that humorously chronicles the classic event. And the French are still pissed.
Today, Napa is a viral destination for wine seekers from around the world. In some respects Napa Valley has become a victim of its own success. During the height of the summer travel season you’ll likely encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main artery, highway 29 wending through the Valley—and wine tasting fees sometimes exceed $80 per person—without a credit applied to a subsequent purchase.
So, the caveat is try and plan a trip during the off-season to avoid the lines and traffic. But there’s also a semi off the radar Napa, and that’s the town of Calistoga in the Valley’s northern reaches. Calistoga is home to the legendary Chateau Montelena Winery, and iconic health spas with historic thermal mud baths that date from the town’s post-Gold Rush roots as one of California’s oldest spa destinations.
A drive through downtown Calistoga along Lincoln Avenue is like taking a trip back in time. There’s a palpable Mayberry R.F.D., small-town feel that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Outstanding is the historic circa-1868 Napa Valley Railroad Depot (California’s second oldest train depot), and ample historic architecture throughout downtown–with many structures dating from the late 1800s. A palpable bonus is the locals’ welcoming, and truly friendly attitude toward visitors.
Anchoring the heart of Lincoln Avenue is the Mount View Hotel that has graced downtown Calistoga with its Art Deco motifs since 1919. Hotel owner Michael Woods is such a passionate community booster that he donates 50 percent of the hotel’s profits to local and regional nonprofit organizations.
Woods and his family have gone to great lengths to seek-out authentic Art-Deco furnishings and lighting to maintain and enhance the hotel’s vintage period-ambiance.
Derrick, General Manager at the Mount View shows off the Art Deco motifs at the hotel.
A bonus of a stay at the Mount View is the full-service spa—with a modern twist on the iconic mud bath. Out back there’s an inviting swimming pool (heated year-round) and detached, quaint cottages.
Flanking the hotel’s lobby on one side is a sports bar, and on the opposite flank, the Veraison restaurant specializing in locally sourced cuisine, and of course, an ample wine list of locally produced specialties, including a selection of wines produced by restaurant owner, Dan Kaiser’s parents.
What is the best red wine? It may come as one of the most challenging questions you ask yourself as you are standing in a shelf of wine choices. Take note that red wines come in various styles. It also came from different regions, and you must fully understand that history of red wine to get the right label you wanted to drink.
Red wine, in general, is a real superstar when it comes to formal party celebrations. Most wine lovers prefer red wine because it pairs well with pork, beef, and lamb. They also come in different intensity, which offers your palate with a wide array of flavors to taste.
In this article, we would like to give you the best red wine labels to find your sweetest spot when it comes to flavor and taste. These red wine labels will assure you a perfect balance and texture compared to other wine labels you find in the market.
Red Bordeaux Blend Wines
Bordeaux region is the world’s leading wine producers in history. They are the first region to nourish exclusive grape varietals. It is used to craft vintage red wines and other notable wine labels that made an impressive impact to each consumer.
Bordeaux regions have also produced some of the best red wine labels like Sokolin Red wine. Rest assured that you will never go wrong in choosing these types of red wines. The vibrant intensity of this wine accompanied by purest elements used will surely explode in your taste buds creating a great sense of flavor and satisfaction.
Pinot Noir Wines
Pinot Noir wines are another red wine labels you can choose. It is one of the best grape varietals that come with many usages. It is even used to craft Sparkling wines that made a historical impact to all wine lovers in the world.
These types of grape varietals are sensitive to the location’s climate and topography. Thus, it is found only in selected winery regions. Burgundy and California are the top two Pinot Noir wine-producing regions that make these elegant red wine labels.
Bordeaux regions possess another premier red wine blends by the name of Merlot wines. Take note that it is the only grape varietal that can compete well with Cabernet Sauvignon when it comes to taste. They are also called as the most versatile type of red wine since they can pair with various dishes in food pairing activities.
Cabernet Sauvignon comprises the largest area of vineyards in Bordeaux. Most of the red wine labels produced in this area use this kind of grape. Choosing a Cabernet Sauvignon red wine label can surely give you ultimate satisfaction when it comes to red wines. You can surely bring your wine tasting experience to a whole new level when you opt to drink this wine.
Suisun Valley greeted a group of out-of-town travel writers with a bounty of beauty, food and wine over the weekend.
They toured just about every winery, olive oil factory, candy-making company and barley brew-maker in the area.
This was the result of the Fairfield Conference & Visitors Bureau reaching out to Geiger & Associates, which has put together these travel tours for several communities including Lodi.
“This is the first time we have done something like this,” said Anand Patel, president/CEO of Visit Fairfield. “The goal was to get people thinking about Fairfield and Suisun Valley.”
He said he hoped that the travel writers would see the beauty of the valley and share that with their readers. The writers came from Portland, Oregon, Southern California, Northern California and even Quebec, Canada.
“We hope people read their articles and get interested in the valley,” he said.
The group of writers included Susan G. Hauser, Elyse Glickman, Vaughn Lowery, Wendy van Diver, Cortney Erndt, Carla Waldemar, Ruksana Hussain, Wendy Lemlin, Janet Boileau and Robin Raven.
The writers arrived Thursday and enjoyed an afternoon at Jelly Belly Candy Co., where they took the tour, sampled sweet treats and shopped.
“Every single stop we hope they learn something new,” Patel said.
Boileau, a writer and publisher for Taste and Travel International Magazine, which is a culinary publication with 20,000 subscribers across Canada, had no idea about Suisun Valley.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “But this is a very impressive part of the wine country.”
She was enjoying how relaxing the area was with some wine from Suisun Valley Wine Co-op along Pleasants Valley Road. The stop offered an opportunity for everyone to sample a variety of wines from the area in one place.
Lowery is the president of 360 Magazine, a lifestyle magazine that goes out to thousands of subscribers from Los Angeles to Japan.
“Anyone visiting here needs to stop at Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co.,” he said. “It was a sensory overload.”
They sampled a meal with each of the foods having been created using produce from the company’s garden.
“This is a great cross of Napa and Sonoma,” Lowery said. “It’s a place you can take time out and is very drivable.”
He said he was envisioning himself returning with a convertible, rolling the top down and just cruising through the back roads as a vacation.
“We tasted the grapes at Wooden Valley Winery. They were so sweet, I thought no way that was real,” he said.
“Fairfield is just a great town for a great road trip,” he said.
Georgós Greek Wine, an innovative wine company that uses the best of American techniques to handcraft small batch wine in Sonoma Valley from imported Greek fruit, is proud to announce a partnership with Robert Davi, the award-winning actor, screenwriter, director, producer and jazz vocalist.
Davi has appeared in more than 130 films including, THE GOONIES; JAMES BOND: LICENSE TO KILL; DIE HARD, the upcoming film REAGAN, as well as the groundbreaking TV series Paper Empire.
Currently touring in his show “Davi Sings Sinatra,” where he performs notable tunes from the legendary crooner, Davi has also just released the documentary, “DAVI’S WAY” that explores the challenges and thrills of singing Sinatra’s uniquely American masterpieces.
In addition to his ‘tough-guy’ roles, Davi is well known as a singer. He has performed at The Venetian, The Orleans and Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, headlined the Friars Club’s 90th Anniversary Tribute to Tony Bennett with Robert De Niro and Scarlett Johansson, and recently performed at the United Nations to celebrate its 70th Anniversary. Davi acted and performed in the Frank Sinatra 100th Birthday Special on PBS—most fitting since Sinatra’s work has been foundational in Davi’s own life and career.
Davi and Georgós Greek Wine formed a partnership after Davi purchased a bottle of wine at Whole Foods Market in San Francisco. The bottle happened to be Georgós’ “Santorini” wine. After Davi tasted the crisp white varietal, he fell in love instantly and called it, “one of the smoothest damn wines I’ve ever had.” He then dove into the reds and was inspired to connect with Georgós.
Robert Davi will work with the Georgós team as its brand ambassador to broaden its reach by spreading the wine’s unique story and to help create more great tasting wines. “In my family, wine was as necessary a drink as water. I helped my grandfather make his homemade wine at our family home on Long Island, and have been searching for an opportunity to once again become intimate with the process,” Davi said recently, “I’ve always been a lover of all things Greek – poetry, food, culture, and after tasting all the Georgós blends, it was ordained that I join with them! Robert Rex is a genius at blending wines—rather like a great composer creating a symphony, he blends the notes and tones in these wines creating an experience you will want to go back to time and again. These are truly ‘Greek wines redefined.’ The wines, sustainable and low in sulfites, are not only healthier but will most likely never give you a headache!”
The partnership between Davi and Georgós Greek Wine comes fresh off the heels of another collaboration between the winemaking team and personalities of note. Earlier this year, in partnership with ultra-marathon living legend and one of Time’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World,” Dean Karnazes, they createdMarathon Wine.
Georgós Greek Wine founder Georgos Zanganas is especially thrilled to work with Davi, as he sees it as a partnership between two parties who are constantly redefining. “One of my favorite movies of all time is JAMES BOND: LICENSE TO KILL. Robert played a tough guy, and established a great reputation in that archetype,” Zanganas says, “now he has the opportunity to show another side of his personality by singing Frank Sinatra classics at some of the greatest venues across the globe. We have taken the best of the American winemaking techniques and applied them to our imported Greek fruit to change traditional Greek Wine into a super-premium experience – like visiting the Greek Isles in a glass. This partnership will help us spread Georgós and #GREEKWINEREDEFINED to the world.”
Georgós was born after founder Georgos Zanganas moved to San Francisco to work as an engineer. Zanganas is very sensitive to sulfites in wine, and he struggled to find a wine that did not give him a headache or stop the red flush of his face. He even found it difficult to come by good quality Greek wine in the area. Surprising, as the US market was saturated with all things Greek – such as yogurt or olive oil – but curiously not wine. He decided to make a wine perfect for him: clean tasting with low sulfites and no additives. Zanganas discovered Deerfield Ranch Winery in Sonoma Valley (known for their “Clean Wine”), on a trip to Sonoma, where he met winemaker Robert Rex, who was recently named 2018 Winemaker of the year by the American Fine Wine Competition. Together they embarked to make a “clean wine” with imported Greek fruit. Zanganas and Rex spent one year, tasting over 400 samples until they found the perfect recipe to create Georgós Super-Premium Greek wine, which is fruit forward with soft tannins. The rest, as they say, is history.
Zanganas added on the company’s journey, “I never thought that I would be in the wine business, but I wanted everyone to be able to drink a great quality wine without experiencing a headache. I also found the opportunity to make Greek wine in the heart of the US winemaking region an irresistible challenge. It’s like importing and making California olive oil in Kalamata, Greece – to succeed you have to believe in it with passion.”
Currently, Georgós has seven, small batch super-premium Greek wines to market, available direct from the winery online, at Whole Foods in Northern California, and at fine restaurants and hotels in San Francisco and Los Angeles:
•Santorini, “Sophia’s Smile”: a 2017 Assyrtiko similar to a dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. •Mykonos, “Wine of Hercules”: a 2013 vintage Agiorgitiko in the Pinot Noir style. •Corfu, “Siren’s Lure”: a 2015 Bordeaux style red blend. •Ios, “Aphrodite’s Kiss”: a 2017 Dry Rosé of Agiorgitiko grapes. •Ithaka, “Penelope’s Spell”: a 2015 blend of premium Greek Cabernet Sauvignon. •Marathon, “Athena’s Vineyard”: a 2017 Assyrtiko blend similar to a dry Sauvignon Blanc. •Marathon, “Nike’s Vineyard”: a 2017 Rosé with the structure of a Pinot Noir. Georgós Greek Super-Premium Wines are the direct result of a team pursuing excellence in flavor and the highest degrees of quality possible. They look forward to creating future partnerships and bringing their delicious and healthy wines to enthusiastic devotees across the country.
Tom and Sally Jordan pioneered producing Bordeaux-style California Cabernet Sauvignon in Alexander Valley back in the early 1970s. Join Tom and Sally’s son, John Jordan and Chef Knoll for a visit at the winery.
It’s been over a month now since devastating wildfires erupted in Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties and burned over 200,000 acres. That’s over 313 square miles, or nearly the size of San Diego, worth of charred and destroyed land.
The toll on the wine industry was, and still is huge. 23 properties in the 4 counties reported major fire damage. The full extent of the damage to the vineyards will not be apparent until next year at bud break when vineyard owners will be able to count dead and damaged vines. All of the wineries suffered, even if they were not directly in the path of the fire, due to power outages, road blocks, personnel being evacuated, etc. But, the wineries and vineyards will recover.
However, the devastation to the people and communities will take far more time and care. 42 people are dead. Over 8,000 structures ( including people’s homes) are destroyed. Over 100,000 people have been displaced. For most of those who lost their home, they had very little warning and had to leave everything behind. Their entire lives went up in flames. I’ve heard stories and seen pictures from friends of mine about how little time there was to evacuate. One picture stands out in my mind of ash falling around their car and flames on the horizon as they desperately loaded their young children and dogs into their cars to race away to safety. This friend was fortunate enough that their home survived. Many, many others were not as lucky.
There are ways you can help. There are a plethora of good relief funds and donation sites out there. A quick internet search will yield many results. A meta-site I found is http://www.northbayfiredonations.com which has a huge listing of links to other relief funds and donation sites. Here’s a gofundme page. Here’s a link to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate donation page. Please take the time and see if there’s anything you can do to help.
On Wednesday, August 9th at 6pm, Napa Valley’s Honig Vineyard and Winery will be gathering restaurants, vintners, athletes, officials and celebrities to raise money for Type 1 diabetes. This event is just one stop on an epic 70 day ride (10-week adventure) for Team Bike Beyond as they pedal their way from New York City to San Francisco to raise awareness for the non-profit diabetes organization called Beyond Type 1. Every penny raised at this extraordinary event is donated to research for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
Earlier that afternoon, before the event kicks off, the Napa Valley Sheriffs Department will meet the 20 riders on the Napa Country Line to escort them into the Napa Valley celebrating their achievements.
Some of the sponsors include Darioush Winery, Chuck Wagner from Caymus Vineyards, Nadalie USA Cooperage, St Helena Hospital, The Rudd Foundation, Trinchero Family Estates, The Winebow Group, Breakthru Beverages, Empire Merchants, Jelly Belly Company, American Ag Credit, Normacorc and others. 13 local restaurants will be hosting food stations: Brasswood Napa Valley, Brix Restaurant and Gardens, Harvest Table by Charlie Palmer, The Cliff Family’s Bruschetteria, Crisp Kitchen and Juice, Elaine Bell Catering, Kara’s Cupcakes, Heritage Eats, Model Bakery, Mustards Grill, Oakville Grocery,Prabh Indian Kitchen and Salute Sante. Wine will be provided by Honig Vineyard and Winery, Beran, C. Beck Winery, Dutch Henry, Jordan Estate, Luna Vineyards, St. Supery Estate, Schramsberg, Vineyard 29, Volker Eisle Family Estates, with cocktails from Charbay Distillery and beer from Mad Fritz .
Music for the event will be provided by Groovetronix Productions and equipment and design is provided by Bright Party Rentals.
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