In 2022 my travel adventures exploring destinations continued both virtually and in person. Although travel was primarily within California, I also traveled to Florida. Enjoy my travel 2022 year in review as I discovered many places in person and virtually more that I hope to visit soon.
Travel 2022 Year in Review – In-Person Travel
Traveling by car, I visited Concord, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Lompoc, Solvang, Los Olivos, and Buellton. I flew to Florida to visit the Anna Maria Islands and attend a conference in St. Petersburg. The sense of place is based on the wow moments at each location.
Driving to in-person wine tastings luncheons in Los Angeles took me to Sonoma, France, Italy, and Spain. At these events, I discovered the wines of Sannio in Campania, Planeta in Sicily, Beni di Batasiolo in Piedmont, Albert Bichot in Burgundy, Ventoux AOC in the Rhone Valley, La Rioja Alta in Rioja, Vega Sicilia in Spain, Yealands in New Zealand, PoderNuovo A Palazzone in Tuscany, Halleck in Sonoma, Ketcham Estate in Sonoma, Rowen in Sonoma, and Pyros in Argentina.
Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo
Family ties to the area took me to Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo. Revisiting and comparing a time 30 years ago with my father, I reconnected with many of those places. I found that every location I visited had some connection to my past. Also, I was trying to retell a time I spent with my father. Not all the connections dealt with my family. Some encounters came via my love of art and others through my writing. They say we live in a small world and what I experienced in both Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo proved that point. Read more in my article Finding Synchronicity in San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande.
Although I had been many times in the past, I discovered the charm of Arroyo Grande and the ever-present mascot, the roosters that congregate along the creek behind Branch St. The roosters venture beyond the creek and can wreak havoc on the town. Every town or city has something that defines them. Typically, it is murals. For Arroyo Grande, it is the roosters.
Located in the East Bay of Northern California, Concord is a city that takes its roots from the times of Rancheros. Its town Plaza Todos Santos is a carryover from Concord’s beginnings. For foodies, it is defined by the Concord Taco Trail. For the contemporary art lover, the city mural project. As a part of Contra Costa County, the wine lover will discover a lesser-known wine region with mostly boutique wineries.
If you have not experienced the Monarch Butterflies Migration to Pismo Beach, this event is a bucket list item that will dazzle you. The Monarch Butterflies swirl, flutter, and dance to the delight of our eyes. They are in all their glory at the Monarch Grove in Pismo Beach from October through February.
San Luis Obispo
When describing San Luis Obispo, I first think of wine, and there is the new SLO Coast AVA that encompasses several sub-AVAs.
In San Luis Obispo, I always enjoy walking or dining along the creek that runs through the center of town. Visiting San Luis Obispo Art Museum is like walking into an intimate gallery and is an important part of the cityscape. One must attend the Thursday Famers Market. It is an integral part of the city due to the area’s agrarian roots.
Enticing my husband to join me at dog shows is easy when I include a winery stop. In Santa Barbara this year, it was J. Wilkes Tasting Room. Located in the Funk Zone, the winery is part of the Urban Wine Trail.
Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang, Lompoc and Los Olivos
It is such an easy drive up to Santa Barbara Wine Country that I go often. Sometimes for a day trip and others for an overnight. The wine scene is the draw because I love to explore new wineries.
Like wine, the quality of restaurants and cuisine offered has increased, with many area chefs moving up to the area from Los Angeles. Combining both, you are beginning to see many wineries with onsite dining, which adds to the tasting experience through the pairing of food and wine.
The charm of Solvang and Los Olivos is contrasted by the western flair of Santa Ynez and the urban wine ghetto in Lompoc.
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Anna Maria Island, a barrier Island, exudes the laidback feel of island living with its white sandy beaches. One of the highlights of my visit was taking a boat trip to see the dolphins and Manatees in Tampa Bay. I was also impressed with the sustainability and regenerative agriculture around the island, especially the restaurants owned by Chiles Hospitality. I also saw Perma Culture in action at Chiles Hospitality’s Gamble Farms.
From Anna Maria Island, I attended a conference in St. Petersburg. Although I did not spend much time touring St. Petersburg, I did explore its dining scene and visited the Daly Museum, which is a must on any visit. I would like to return to see more of the art museums that are an integral part of the arts community St. Petersburg offers.
Travel 22 Year In Review – Winery and AVA Visits
Alma Rosa Winery harks back to the beginning of Sta. Rita Hills and Santa Barbara County Wine under the pioneering Richard Sanford. Their forte is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Today under different ownership, the legacy lives on.
Alma Sol in Thousand Oaks is a 45-minute drive making it an excellent wine adventure get-away for the day. Owners John and Lisa Shaw focus on Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.
Artisan Uprising is a project by two brothers, David and Billy Vondrasek. Creating wines utilizing Paso grapes in a manner suggesting old-world style and using a little hands-on approach. Their tasting room is located in Newport and reminds me of a speakeasy.
Deer Hill Vineyards in the Lamorinda AVA. Bill Scanlan is the face of this hidden gem of an AVA full of boutique wineries.
Gleason Family Wines consists of three wineries, Buttonwood, Roblar, and Refugio Ranch. Each has its own identity and expresses the terroir in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Piedra Creek in Edna Valley, where if you have never sampled the Lagrien grape, you must at this winery. Founder Romeo Zuech brought this variety to the United States, and his grandson has perfected it like no other.
Tercero is the brainchild of Larry Schaffer. He takes one on a journey through an eclectic variety of wines sharing his extensive knowledge in an affable way.
2022 Travel Year In Review – Virtual Travel
Joining in on Zoom webinars and wine tastings, I ventured to destinations worldwide. Wine webinars took me to Iris Vineyards in the Willamette Valley, Titus Vineyards in Napa Valley, Stars and Dust in Los Olivos, and Uruguay Wines. I also discovered the Lamorinda AVA in the East Bay, sampling the wines from Los Arabis Vineyards, Meadow View Winery, Raisin d’Êrte Vineyards, and Thal Vineyards.
As mentioned last year, I co-host Virtual webinars for IFWTWA. I discovered many places I might not have considered visiting through those webinars. So join me as I highlight what I found.
Returning virtually to Tualatin Valley in the northern section of the Willamette Valley and just southwest of Portland, I am reminded of the excellence of Oregon Pinot Noir, Saki One, the top producer of Saki in the United States, and the marvels of the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals.
Steeped in history, the town of Cognac is about the best-known Brandy that gives its name to the commune. Some of the most famous brandy houses reside in Cognac, including Hennessy, Martell, Otard, Camus, and Remy Martin.
Genuine Skagit Valley
Look to Washington’s Genuine Skagit Valley for its recognized bulb and cut flower industry. Every spring, the region welcomes visitors with acres of brightly colored florals and local festivals. This fertile valley is known for more than 90 commercial food crops, ranging from dairy to berries to heirloom grain. Learn about the people behind the scenes, the farmers and farmworkers, craft beverage makers, chefs, artisans, and innkeepers, whose stories create the enchantment in this area.
Little Rock, Arkansas
As the home of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, Little Rock is the biggest city in Arkansas, so you have to wonder why one is not big on Little Rock. History plays a vital role in Little Rock, especially the civil rights movement, when nine African American teenagers help pave the way to desegregation.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Have you ever wondered about your genealogy? Fort Wayne is home to the Genealogy Center at Allen County Library. Considered one of the most notable genealogy centers in the United States, people come away crying or elated at finding their ancestry.
Fort Wayne is also home to Vera Bradley, the luggage and handbag company known for its brightly colored patterns. The company helped revive downtown Fort Wayne by opening The Bradley, a boutique hotel.
Finding your way to the beach is Pensacola’s motto. With the beautiful white sand beaches and the Blue Angeles flying above the deliciously inviting aquamarine-colored waters of the Gulf Coast.
Lafayette is considered The Happiest City in America and the Heart of Cajun and Creole Country, where you must take in the Cajun cuisine and music. Taking a trip down the bayou is a must. Nearby you can visit the home of the Tobasco Museum.
I look forward to exciting new vistas as I begin my travel plans for 2023. If all goes as planned, my wine excursions will take me to North Carolina, New Brunswick, Canada, a return to Oregon, Washington’s Yakima Valley, and of course, the Central Coast. So far, my virtual transport will tour Greenville, South Carolina, Quebec, the wines of Virginia, and Louisiana Cajun Bayou.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year as we welcome 2023.