Midwestern Gardens and Missouri Wine: Augusta, America’s First AVA

Many people, despite the fact that they are told to expect the unexpected, are still surprised to find that the first officially recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the United States was awarded to Augusta, MO. 35 miles from Saint Louis along the verdant bluffs of the Missouri River Valley, this growing region is home to approximately 15 wineries. The tone is peacefully Midwestern — cozy communities and farmland dressed in nature along ride-em-slowly roads.


Monterey Wines for Summertime

From the hotel and dinners in Carmel-by-the-Sea to Hahn Family Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands to Point Lobos to Monterey Bay Aquarium to Chef Duel at Folktale to whale watching on the Blue Grand Canyon the whole visit was stunning.

Eat and Drink like Hemingway in Spain’s Navarra Region

Navarra is located in Northern Spain, bordering Basque Country and Rioja. The region shares a 300-year historical history with France, stitched together by years of faithful Roman Catholic pilgrims as they journey the Camino de Santiago.

Eat and Drink Local in Sonoma: Ramini Mozzarella + Balletto Vineyards

The first thing one needs to know about eating and drinking local products in Sonoma is this: there is a cheese trail. Part of the California Cheese Trail, “it is a non-profit initiative, created and run by Vivien Straus. Fiscal sponsorship is provided by the Marin Economic Forum, where Straus has served as the Agricultural representative on…

In the Mood for Sonoma with #WinePW

Food, history, current events, and travel ideas reveal Sonoma and let readers know how they can help, simply by purchasing wine or visiting wine country.

#SonomaStrong Wine Pairing Weekend Event

Our posts will feature Sonoma wines, paired with some of our favorite dishes. We’ll uncover stories, history, current events, travel ideas, and opportunities to help reveal Sonoma and let readers know how they can help, simply by purchasing wine or visiting wine country. Reliable conduits for donations will also be shared, as many of our writers are part of the local community in Sonoma. 

Wine Wrapped Up: The L’Occasion Gift Guide

To give the gift of wine is to give a bit of life – a bit of someone’s life’s work too – for others to enjoy. To be toasted instantly or tucked away for later, the bottles hold promise because they are emblematic of sharing. Here are a few of the bottles that have brought me enjoyment, that have inspired and delighted me or taught me something new this year. Thank you for joining me on L’Occasion in 2017. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year. 

Merlot: The Busy One

On my kitchen counter, at that very moment, was the collection of Merlot that I planned to feature in this post – all of which hail from either Napa or Sonoma. And I was reminded that while everything is impermanent, wine included, that wine is the essence of moments – the structure of life and vibrancy and nature and work – packaged for us to evoke the actual elements of vitality from any given spot where wine grapes can be grown.

The Plurality of Portuguese Wine

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to write about The Douro Boys. This is a group of winemakers from five quintas (the Portuguese term for wine estate) that have put their energy together to make wine drinkers more aware of the variety of wine coming out of their UNESCO-recognized region. “Together, they’re putting the…

Rosé and Sea Salt

It has come up in conversation – many times – as one of our most extraordinary experiences in France. It is certainly hard to describe and after chatting about this place, I generally feel like I left out the real story. This is because Grussian, a commune in the southern French Aude department, is experiential….

Wine for a Summer Cookout

Many years ago I hosted a cookout party for family and friends to celebrate my sister’s achievement of earning her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education. I made, truly, the best pulled pork this side of the Mississippi and I thought to myself (as I often do): Rhône reds.  Turns out, I had a houseful…

Fresh American Wines for Brunch

When I was a young mom in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood (hands up if you are from Chicago) the place to be seen with your family was John’s Place for brunch on the weekends. It was a right of passage, you were now adult enough to be up before noon, but were young enough that…

15 Years, 5 Houses, 3 Kids and 1 Wine that’s seen it all…

My husband has a pair of jeans that he calls his painting jeans. He’s kept them around for painting projects, each one adding to the mess that makes them the perfect source of memories: here is the Ralph Lauren red from the upstairs hallway; here’s the Phillipsburg blue from the dining room; here’s the pink…

A Gigondas from the Cellar

During a visit to Gigondas last fall, I had lunch with Thierry Faravel, proprietor and winemaker at Domaine le Bouïssière. Thierry and his brother Gilles are second generation vignerons, tending vines planted by their father Antonin, who grew grapes for the co-op for 41 years (not uncommon in Southern France). The family vineyards are in Gigondas,…

Cooking at Home: Affordable Bordeaux & Homemade Pasta

“Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” ~Sophia Loren Something elemental happened in our kitchen recently. We began to make our pasta from scratch. For years I’d believed this was a practice we weren’t entitled to, not being Italian and having the oh-so-easy bounty of boxed (and even pre-made fresh) pasta available at our local…