Entries in ‘Wine Country’ Journal

Eco-Friendly Hotels that Make Travelers Happy

Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM | 0 Comments

Even though Earth Day reminds us to think about our environmental footprint each April, some hotels make an earth friendly commitment year round. Here are a sampling of eco-friendly hotels worthy of a shout out. One of my favorite hotels — Boone Tavern, made it on Booking.com’s eco-friendly hotel list.

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Historic and eco-friendly Boone Tavern, Berea Kentucky

Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky is proof that history can meet modern times. Built in 1909, this beauty that’s also a Historic Hotel of America, is part of Berea College and a showcase for its culinary and hotel management programs. The hotel and tavern’s renovations include: energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, energy star lighting, solar tubes and skylights, heat recovery coils, and low VOC paints and adhesives. Guest rooms and common areas feature handcrafted furniture that represent Kentucky’s craft heritage, as well as, Berea’s fame as the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Boone Tavern rooms feature hand-crafted furniture

Along with the environmentally friendly building that earned Boone Tavern its LEED Gold Certification, Boone Tavern’s restaurant is another reason to visit. The restaurant’s traditional American cuisine features locally grown ingredients. Signature dishes like “Chicken Flakes in a Bird’s Nest” and “Spoonbread” are the don’t miss, although I can vouch that anything on the menu is splendid. Still, the spoonbread is what you will talk about years later.

ecofriendly Bardessono-Courtyard

The eco-friendly Bardessono courtyard has a stunning view

If you go, take time to browse in Boone Tavern’s gift shop and the other shops that line Berea’s streets. There’s a reason why this is the folk art capital. The hotel’s shop includes items made by the college’s students. Hand-woven items and hand-crafted furniture are part of the bounty.

One of Nancy’s favorites also made it on the eco-friendly hotel list. Bardessono Hotel and Spa in Yountville, California is a perfect pairing for a trip to Napa Valley and wine tasting. As Nancy discovered during her stay at Bardessono, one of three LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the United States, “it is easy to be green while looking stunningly chic.”

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point where almost every room has a stunning view

Cavallo Point in Sausalito is another California hotel with LEED Certification. The reuse of historic materials and landscaping with native plants are just part of Cavallo Point’s dedication to achieving the Green Seal Environment Standard for U.S. Lodging Properties. The hotel’s energy-efficient appliances that automatically switch to sleep mode when not in use and the programmable thermostats and motion sensors that reduce heating and cooling costs are some reasons why Cavallo Point is an eco-friendly hotel. The property doesn’t use Styrofoam containers and it recycles plastic. Refillable soap dispensers and cloth napkins are other environmentally friendly practices within the hotel.

At Cavallo Point, going green comes with a view. Most of the resort’s guest rooms have views of San Francisco, the bay or the Golden Gate Bridge.

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids--a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

City Flats Hotel, Grand Rapids–a resuse of a landmark jewelry building

Michigan is another state with two eco-friendly hotels that deserve applause. City Flats Hotel in Holland was the first hotel in the Midwest to achieve LEED Gold status. Step inside for proof that eco-friendly, luxury and creativity go hand in hand. Each of the hotel guest rooms has its own unique flair. Each hotel room’s green decor includes: cork flooring installed with low-VOC adhesives, naturally hypoallergenic bamboo linens, curtains lined with a black-out fabric to reduce energy needed to heat and cool room, light fixtures with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, and countertops made from Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified recycled glass and concrete. Also, hotel furnishings are locally made.

The CityFlats Hotel in Grand Rapids is another Michigan hotel with LEED Gold Certification. Its eco-friendly combo includes the unique features of the City Flats Hotel in Holland and is an example of turning a city landmark into a new use. The building was once Fox Jewelers.

Along with booking at any of the hotel’s websites, check out Booking.com.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein of Midwest Travel Writers Association.  All photos except Bardessono courtesy of Booking.com. Bardessono photo by Nancy D. Brown.

Flavor Napa Valley: Celebrating California Food and Wine

Wednesday November 27, 2013 at 6:06 AM | 2 Comments

chefs, Appellation Trail, Flavor Napa Valley

The Appellation Trail underway at the CIA Greystone, Flavor Napa Valley 2013

Wondering what wine to serve at your holiday dinner? Looking to travel to Napa Valley wine country in the off season or perhaps you simply enjoy fun food and wine events? I recommend the California wine country event Flavor! Napa Valley.

The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone is the belle of the ball at this multi-day event, as proceeds from Flavor! Napa Valley support programs and scholarships at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, California.

Flavor Napa Valley

Currently in its third year, this November food and wine event is a favorite for locals, as well as wine connoisseurs from across the country.

“A signature event in Napa Valley was long overdue,” said CIA graduate and Bottega Chef and Owner Michael Chiarello.

Chef Bill Heubel

Chef Bill Heubel at Flavor Napa Valley

November in wine country

With the grape harvest over and the crowds dissipated, November is an ideal time to travel to the Napa Valley before the Thanksgiving holiday. From wine lovers bootcamp to cooking demonstrations, The Appellation Trail: Tasting Napa Valley, interactive lunches and Dinner with Napa Valley winemakers, there is an event for everyone.

I attended The Appellation Trail Friday evening at the CIA at Greystone and Saturday night Dinner with Napa Valley Winemakers. Both venues offered excellent opportunities to taste a wide array of wines, many new to me, as well as old favorites.

At the Dinner with Napa Valley Winemakers, the evening began with a wine reception at Meritage Resort and Spa, followed by a dinner with twenty five Napa Valley winemakers.

I had the pleasure of being seated with Dario De Conti, owner and winemaker of Ca’ Momi Napa Valley and his wife and business partner Valentina Guolo-Migotto. It was at The Appellation Trail event that I discovered their bignes from Ca’ Momi Enoteca and learned of their Italian restaurant inside Napa’s Oxbow Public Market.

Ca'Momi Reserve Pinot Noir

Ca’Momi Reserve Pinot Noir

As I mentioned, both events offer consumers an opportunity to taste the food and wine and interact one-on-one with the Napa Valley chefs and winemakers. Our table hosts introduced me to several Ca’Momi wines, including the 2011 Pinot Noir Reserve from Carneros (my Thanksgiving dinner wine) and the luscious 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

Bing also introduced their new Food & Drink app for Windows, designed for use in the kitchen. The app offers access to recipes from top chefs to food bloggers and a wine encyclopedia with information on over 1.5 million bottles of wine.

Insider Tip

Whether you plan to attend one event or multiple food and wine events, I recommend you bring a designated drive or stay overnight at a Napa Valley hotel.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @FlavorNapa on Twitter.

If You Go:

Flavor! Napa Valley

I was a guest of Flavor Napa Valley and Bing. All photos courtesy of food and wine writer Nancy D. Brown.

Related Post:

Things to See and Do in Napa, California


Botetourt County: History, Nature, Wine Tasting in Virginia

Friday November 15, 2013 at 6:06 AM | 15 Comments

rocking chairs at Ikenberry Orchards store

Step back in time at Ikenberry Orchards store in Botetourt County, Virginia

Are you visiting Botetourt County for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in “The Tot.”

When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is Roaring Run, but I also take them to Historic Fincastle – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Appalachian Trail.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend The Blue Ridge Parkway for kissing with a view.

The best place to walk the dog is Greenfield Park.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Roaring Run Day Use Area. I recently had a hip replacement and was worried about the level of fitness needed for this hike. It was an easy, glorious 3/4 mile hike along Roaring Run Creek.



Fall in Botetourt County, Virginia

Apples, pumpkins and wine grapes are plentiful in the fall in Virginia’s Botetourt County.

Food in Botetourt County:

If you are looking for typical Botetourt cuisine, I recommend Town Center Tap House or Three Li’l Pigs- both in Daleville, or Maw & Paw’s in Eagle Rock, Virginia.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Land of A Thousand Hills coffee shop (1 of 3 open nationwide) – great house blends or local Mill Mountain Coffee – great scones. Both places are located in Daleville, Virginia.

Looking for cheap food in Botetourt County? Try North Star Restaurant in Buchanan, Virginia or The Greenwood Restaurant in Troutville.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Pomegranate Restaurant in Troutville, Virginia.


tractor, Fincastle Vineyard

Go wine tasting at Fincastle Vineyard & Winery in Virginia

Outdoors in Botetourt County

Seeing a lot of Botetourt County? Botetourt is best known for great hiking trails and convenient river access. Don’t forget Ikenberry Orchard’s, a 5th generation, family run store. My visit was timed in the fall, so local produce featured dozens of types of apples and plenty of pumpkins.

When you come to Botetourt County, get your picture taken at Kelly’s Real Deals on Route 11 or Troutville Town Park by the Old Red Caboose.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Tinker Mountain.

The Upper James River Water Trail offers great views and is the best place to watch the seasons change or experience Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s also fun to watch fireworks from the Buchanan Carnival on and around July 4th.

In this part of Virginia, outdoor enthusiasts will want to hike Tinker Cliffs or Appalachian Trail, bike Patterson Creek or Bike 76, horseback ride at Apple Orchard Falls and walk Troutville Town Park or Cherry Blossom Trail.

Roaring Run Falls, Botetourt County, Virginia

Roaring Run Falls in Botetourt County, Virginia

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the Roaring Run Creek or Cherry Blossom Trail at Greenfield.

If you are a museum lover, Botetourt County’s best museum is Botetourt County Historical Museum in Fincastle, Virginia.

What about night life in Botetourt County? Go dancing at Pomegranate or Daleville Town Center (Spring-Fall) for live music.

The Fincastle Herald & The Botetourt View will keep you posted on what’s happening in and around Botetourt County in Virginia.

You can tell a lot about Botetourt County from visiting artist studios or Buchanan and attending Open Studios – Botetourt or Friday Night Drive-In event.

In the spring you should attend Buchanan’s Civil War History Weekend (held the last weekend in April.)

In the summer you should attend The Buchanan Carnival (around July 4th) and float on The Upper James River Water Trail.

In the fall, go wine tasting on the Wine Trail through Botetourt County, Virginia. Blue Ridge Vineyards is one of the state’s first vineyards, while Virginia Mountain Vineyards is surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. Then end your day at Fincastle Vineyards & Winery, another small producer featuring Bordeaux blends.

historic iron furnace, Virginia

Visit the historic iron furnace at Roaring Run in the Jefferson National Forest

Historic Botetourt County

Did you know that Botetourt County once stretched all the way to the Mississippi River and that Fincastle Historic District was named to the National Register of Historic Places and The Virginia Landmarks Register in 1969? Plan a visit to Historic Fincastle in the Fall and run in the Bank of Fincastle 5K/10K or plan to attend Open Studios-Botetourt, a free, self-guided tour to artist’s homes around the county.

Come to Botetourt County for The Historic Fincastle Home Tour and Candlelight Christmas Home Tour in Buchanan in December.

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Gene’s Old & New Antiques & other antiquaries in Botetourt County.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that just outside of Botetourt County, you can visit three of the largest single track trail systems east of the Mississippi – Carvins Cove, Mill Mountain & Explore Park in Virginia.

Have you traveled to Virginia’s Blue Ridge? What are your favorite things to do in Virginia? For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer @NancyDBrown on Twitter and @Botetourt.

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. For additional information on Botetourt County, Virginia, visit http://www.visitbotetourt.com