Virtual lifestyle…food and wine…did I say wine?

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! This is our world today – a virtual reality. Zoom workouts,
Zoom book clubs, Zoom Master Classes; where you can learn anything from perfecting your poker game to learning how to take portraits like Annie Leibovitz, perfecting your cooking skills with Wolfgang Puck.

Zoom happy hours, Zoom meetings, Zoom bridal showers, and weddings!

It is a virtual lifestyle nowadays. But I must say sometimes it seems surreal, these “get-togethers” are a way for us to stay connected.

One of my favorite virtual get-togethers lately has been virtual wine tastings! Three just this week…from Portugal to South Africa and Italy.

I for one, am ready for a real-life wine experience, aren’t you? As we are beginning to hit the road, by car, van, or RV, here are some wineries in the US you may be interested in visiting. Beginning with of course Napa Valley, there may some areas that will surprise you. Salut!


Wine Tastings


Today wine is produced in all 50 US states with vines planted in more than 30 states. You may not have to go far from home to spend some quality time with your favorite beverage, wine country spans from coast to coast.

Napa Valley

More than 400 wineries reside in Napa Valley, one of the world’s premier wine regions, and famously recognized for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Because so many people flock to Napa Valley to indulge in their wines, the wineries have created tasting experiences that will cater to personality types – Professionals, Foodies, and even the Eco-Friendly.
Whether it is for a week or a day, wine tours and personalized wine tastings are a perfect way to experience Napa Valley and all that it has to offer.

Finger Lakes (NY)

Nature meets wine in the heart of New York’s scenic Finger Lakes wine country region. Finger Lakes comprise the largest wine-producing region and accounts for 85% of New York’s production.

The surrounding area has varying grape-growing conditions and is recognized as separate viticulture areas. Here, with a climate akin to Germany’s, Reisling and Cabernet Franc do well.

Most Finger Lakes wineries don’t require a tasting appointment. And for a nominal fee, you can taste an array of wines and purchase those that you like best to enjoy at home. After your wine tastings, not far from wine country is the Corning Museum of Glass, the world’s largest collection of glass art.

Texas Hill Country

Throughout the Texas Hill Country, there are over 50 independent local wineries. While in the same region, each winery has its own personality, terroir, and style of winemaking.

One thing about Texas that is for certain is their warm southern hospitality. Whichever winery you decide to visit, it is guaranteed you will be taken care of.

For example, Becker Vineyards welcomes its guests to explore its hand-crafted array of wines at private tasting rooms. For over 25 years of viticulture and winemaking, Becker Vineyards practices a hands-on people-centered philosophy so the focus will always be on you and the wine.

DIY Wine Tasting

Having a DIY wine tasting has honestly been one of the highlights over the past few months because it is just so much fun.

Either hosting one at home with your family or on Zoom with friends, DIY wine tastings are quite simple, and you don’t have to break the bank.

The key is in the variety of wines you chose. Depending on how big the wine tasting is going to be, you want to have a mix of wines that will contrast while complimenting each other.

Generally, tastings have two reds, two whites, and a fun varietal of sparkling or dessert wine. Total Wine or your local wine store is a great place to find what you are looking for. Or you may know that special sommelier who can offer their expertise.

Some tips on food pairing:

  • White wine with good acidity pairs well with salty flavors
  • Red wines pair best with bold-flavored meats
  • The wine should be more acidic than the food
  • Sugar with tannins is not a great combination
  • Bitter wines (e.g. red wines) are best balanced with fat
  • White, sparkling, and Rosé wines create contrasting pairings

Don’t forget to the four S’s to guarantee a successful wine tasting: See, Swirl, Sniff, and Sip.


Additional Options

Wine is now produced in nearly every state in America as well as in many parts of Canada. There are plenty of good wine regions in other less famous parts of the country.

Domaine Drouhin in the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the Breaux Vineyards in Northern Virginia are just two of the many independently owned vineyards scattered around the U.S.

Perfecting Your Charcuterie Board

Piled high with cured meats, cheeses, crackers, fruit, nuts, and more, charcuterie boards are essential to any wine tasting.

Make it for two or for ten, a charcuterie board can be any size and have anything you want.

Curate your board to your taste and to complement the wines. These guidelines may help.

1. The Board – No need to buy any special board, any flat surface will work. Fun options are a wooden cutting board, slate board, or serving tray.

2. The Substance – Dried fruits, fresh fruit, breads, cheeses, meats, and olives. The bread or cracker is just as important as the cheese and meats themselves. Never have anything be the same color, each element should stand out.

3. Fill Up Space – Making the board look full is the key, less is more. Maximize all visible space to make the board seem more decadent, you’re indulging, aren’t you?!

4. Smart Pairings – Have a variety of flavors: sweet, savory, crunchy, earthy, buttery. Fresh cheeses for white wine and aged cheeses for reds

Personal Favorite: bouchon de chèvre (aged goat cheese) and candied pecans



Need to Know

TSA Rule Changes

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to alter travel significantly at home and abroad, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been making changes to its security procedures. TSA has announced several changes to limit physical contact and maintain physical distancing guidelines.
As travelers go through the security checkpoints, they are required to wear facial protection and are encouraged to have electronic boarding passes to minimize contact. Travelers will now have to separate food into a separate bag, so it won’t trigger the alarm, and agents don’t have to search through it. Hand sanitizers and wipes are allowed in carry-on bags without size restrictions.
Travelers can now use a state driver’s license that expired after March 1, 2020, if they haven’t been able to renew it at their local license agency. For more information about TSA rule changes, visit their website for all the updates.
Latest facts on COVID-19:
I hope you enjoy our updates and welcome your thoughts. We are here for you and look forward to the time when we can discover again our wonderful world.

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Founder of Travel by Design

I am passionate about creating innovative custom travel planning worldwide. I put my first-hand experience and insider knowledge to work for you—for a travel escape that leaves your spine tingling and your heart full.​


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