United States

The Grand Canyon Winery: Travel Far. Drink Local.

On our recent trip to the Grand Canyon, we made a stop in Williams, Arizona. Not only because it was on Historic Route 66, but it’s also my husband’s last name! What a cute, funky town that takes you back to what Route 66 must have been like. It reminded me of Radiator Springs from the Cars movie.

The few blocks of this historic route pack in gift shops, restaurants and we stumbled upon The Grand Canyon Winery Tasting Room.

This antique feel bar and tasting room offers wine and beer tastings, wines by the glass and bottle, and beers. The Grand Canyon Winery is a local Arizona winery owned and operated by the Kennelly family of Northern Arizona. The tasking room offers their line up of wines and other wines from Arizona.

I had a great tasting of whites and reds…Grand Canyon Winery’s Rambler White, Traveler White, Traveler Red and Voyager, as well as other wineries Sand Reckoner 2 and Stronghold Mangus. It was cool to see what these grape varieties that are doing in Arizona, from Zinfandel to Sangiovese to Chenin Blanc.

As a Rosé fan, one of the wines on the shelf that caught my eye was the Sand Reckoner 2012 Rosé. I bought a bottle to take to our Grand Canyon visit. And it turned out to be my favorite.

2012 Sand Reckoner Rosé

Region: Cochise County, Arizona
Variety: 73% Nebbiolo, 23% Sangiovese, 4% Zinfandel
Aroma: Raspberries and lime
Taste: Ripe strawberries and raspberries
Price: $22
My thoughts: First time I’ve had Italian grape varieties grown in Arizona! Enjoyed their Sand Reckoner 2 I tasted in the Tasting Room as well.

And love the tasting glasses I bought there too. Perfect sipping size.

Should you find yourself in Williams, Arizona, and if you’re going to the Grand Canyon you definitely should, stop by the Grand Canyon Winery Tasting Room for a tasting and pick up some bottles to go. It’s a great opportunity to drink local!



Find Your Perfect Beach

It’s that time of year…planning summer vacation! For most people, it includes a trip to the beach. Not sure which to chose or want to try something new, check out Dr. Beach. Every year he releases the Top 10 Beaches in America List…and I spent this weekend at #6 on the 2011 list, St. George Island, Florida.

St. George Island is a 28-mile long and 2-mile wide barrier island in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We flew into Tallahassee for the 90-minute drive south to Eastpoint, Florida then took the four-mile bridge across the Apalachicola Bay to St. George Island where you’re greeted by the pretty lighthouse. The island is a gorgeous, quaint, quiet beach community with not much going on which was perfect for our girls’ weekend.

We stayed in my girlfriend’s aunt’s beach house in The Plantation, a lovely gated community with lots of rentals. We spent most of our time on the beach…wide white soft sandy beaches…relaxing in the sun, happy hour on the beach, cooking dinners in. On the calm water days, you could see through the blue waters to the bottom and enjoy lots of dolphin watching. They even put on a show for us one evening during cocktails…incredible!

We brought most of what we needed for groceries, etc… from the main land. While there are a few small stores, the options are limited. We dined out one night at Blue Parrot on the beach on local seafood then moseyed over to Harry A’s for live music. Had a great time on the local scene.

St. George Island State Park is the actual beach that was #6 on the list but our stretch was beautiful and I’d recommend it. If you like beach fishing, there’s lots of that going on. And you can rent lots of kayaks, etc.. for water sporting.

In addition to the Top 10 List, there’s a Beachfinder tool to help you find your perfect spot. Because as Dr. Beach says, “the right beach is just what the doctor ordered.” I agree.

Cheers to summer beach time and finding YOUR perfect spot!

URBAN Enoteca, The Next Generation Wine Bar

Check out my article in Palate Press on this next generation wine bar in Seattle, Washington.

Palate Press is a modern electronic wine magazine, providing the most exciting and interesting wine content available today. Visit their site, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and download their free iPad app for their magazine.


Spa’ing for Forty Years

Lots of 40th birthdays this year including my favorite chain day spa located in Seattle…Gene Juarez. Opened in 1971 in downtown Seattle, their second location was the original Nordstrom Salon in 1974. Today ten locations strong.

My first Gene visit was ten years ago and after my lovely massage Saturday, I can say not much has changed, which is a good thing! Having visited many of the ‘chain day spas’ in U.S. and Europe, Gene Juarez remains the top on my list.

What makes them the best?

  • Friendly and talented staff.
  • Once you enter the ‘spa area’ the chaos of the rest of the salon is gone.
  • Nice relaxing waiting area where you chill in your robe and get your pre-treatment foot bath.
  • Awesome pillow top massage beds with fluffy soft duvets and heating pads.
  • Spa shower… stone room with rainfall shower head, side jets on 4 sides AND it’s a steam room.

Now they offer Spa Parties. What a great idea! They’ll custom make a spa gathering just for you…whether a Bridal Shower, Team Building or just Moms’ Day out.  You can book regular services or mini services for the group, and for bigger parties they add spa gifts, refreshments and hors d’oeuvres.

Gene Juarez…forty and fabulous!

Fall into the Ritz Spa…

with a little pumpkin and a big ahhhhh! That sums up my latest spa visit at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia.

It’s been a while since I’ve spent time in a Ritz-Carlton but was quickly reminded of the excellent service and high-end charm when I walked in a few weeks ago for a spa day of treatments and relaxing lunch.  As their motto says, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,’ which exemplifies the anticipatory service provided by all staff members.”

Their Fall into Fall with Two Seasonal Treatments for $99 caught my eye when my girlfriend said let’s go to the Ritz for a spa day. My hours of bliss included:

  • Pumpkin Peel Facial: Perfect for fall, this was a 20-minute gentle but effective pumpkin enzyme peel with light massage and mask. Did you know Pumpkin is great for the skin as its rich in beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and natural enzymes? And Sophie is a great esthetician I need to go back to see!
  • Express Pedicure: 30 minute foot treatment with soak, trim, buff and polish by Fariba.
  • Therapeutic Massage: 50 heavenly minutes with Brian, an awesome masseuse. My girlfriend also loves Jimmy.

They have a full menu of Spa Journeys, massages, wraps, facials, hair, makeup, nails and also a range of organic treatments. And before the hours of relaxation, I worked out in their newly renovated fitness center but didn’t get time for the relaxation pool (full of natural salts instead of chemicals).

We ended our spa day with a light lunch at Entyse, their wine bar and lounge. It was the perfect fall into Autumn! 🙂