California Travel

Lake County: Northern California’s Sweet Spot

Lake County: A Sweet Spot Getaway north of San Francisco, Olive Groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill,Olive Groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill, Kelseyville, CA, Lake CountyStory and Photos by Lee Daley     Drive a few hours north of downtown San Francisco and a different world awaits. On a recent weekend getaway, my city stress lessened and lessened, almost in layers, and finally just plain disappeared once my ramble north landed in the land of lakes, aptly named Lake County. With dormant winter chill now giving way to warmer, sunnier days, I found a haven of rolling hillsides and emerald green valleys nestled in the grandeur of mountainsides. Grape vines and trees are just starting to open their buds, lake fishing looks good and goats in the valleys are having their kids.

A mythological wine tasting with Georgós Nu Wines

Georgós Nu Wines, Greek red wine, organic, hand harvested, Georgós Nu Wines imports grapes from Greece where they are shipped to the US and blended, then bottled in Sonoma, CA. Some of the grapes are grown here in Santorini on ancient, old-growth vines. vinesStory and Photos by Lee Daley     “Come. Taste my wines and experience the glory of Greece.” So said Georgós Zanganas, company founder of Georgós Nu Wines. And so our small group of wine lovers gathered in San Francisco to listen to the myths and taste the wines made from grapes organically grown and fermented in Greece on family land. We dined on complimentary bites accompanied by tastings of his five premium varietals, each symbolically named for iconic Greek islands and gods. I was fascinated with the homage given to the gods of Georgós homeland as much as I savored the uniquely palatable tastings.

Palm Springs Indulges The Senses

Palm Springs, Heart sculptures at the Palm Springs Art Museum patioStory and Photos by Lee Daley     Approaching Palm Springs, that desert oasis nestled between two mountains–the Santa Rosa to the south and the San Jacinto to the west—I knew a treat was in store. The scent of sagebrush carried on the wings of clean desert air stimulated my senses. Feeling calm and rejuvenated, I soon realized this destination deserved many more returns. Whether in search of sybaritic spas, outdoor adventure, night life, art and culture, fine dining or a resort pool, Palm Springs seems to cover it all. After spending a day in the desert and another at the magnificent Palm Springs Art Museum, I explored the lively dining scene in town.

Road to Death Valley Meditation

Story and Photos by John Sundsmo.     Symbolic of new beginnings and new life, wild flowers are just beginning to be seen in the deserts of California. While experts don’t expect another super-bloom like 2016, the heavy winter rains will undoubtedly bring abundance of color late into April. No place is more emblematic of life resurrected than Death Valley where blooms are already showing in the southern regions of the national park. To dodge the wild flower traffic, my wife and I visited the park in December and collected some tips.

Death Valley Meditation

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, nature's palletteStory and Photos by Lee Daley     It’s early morning and I have spent the last 10 minutes admiring the light and shadows on a small brave bush somewhere alongside the road to Furnace Creek in Death Valley, a place my husband and I have come to de-stress and transition into the new year. This is a mystical place that has long inspired artists and awe. Driving through the valley’s lunar landscape, we find ourselves slowly banishing thoughts of schedules, appointments and deadlines. What seemed like an impending crisis back home now feels like a ridiculously insignificant issue in the grandness of this other-worldly moonscape. “Oh goody,” I say, as I send one more of these annoyances out into the universe.

Pacifica: The Beaches Are Only the Beginning

Pacfica,, CA, Rockaway Beach "Watchin' the tide roll in.", Sunset golden reflections on the waves, Taken about 5 p.m. as the sun was descending into the horizon.Story and Photos by Lee Daley     I’ve always known Pacifica’s coastline boasts just about the best and most diverse five-mile span of beaches in Northern California. I thought I knew it well. Until I extended my usual day-trip to two nights and three days in this quintessential surfer haven beach town, I had no idea how much I was missing. I soon discovered the beaches are only the beginning.

Downtown Napa: Sipping and Savoring

Angele Restaurant, rustic French fare in an old boathouseStory and Photos by Lee Daley    If you haven’t checked into Downtown Napa’s vibe for some time, you’re in for quite a treat.  The city is experiencing a thriving renaissance with an explosion of new restaurants, wine tasting rooms, nightlife and trendy shops. For good measure, add in the Napa River walk, outdoor sculptures, expanded walking and biking paths and you’re spoiled for choice.

Story by Lee Daley with Photos by John Sundsmo and Lee Daley.     Napa Valley’s Carneros AVA adds another winery to its map with the opening of Liana Estates. The winery fulfils a long cherished dream of its founders, Lisa and Ariana Peju of the Peju Province Winery family. Liana Estates is an experience-focused winery providing visitors with immersive experiences that embrace each of the five senses. The focus will be on offering an ever-changing selection of high-quality wines and bubbly while connecting visitors to the breathtaking scenery of Napa Valley and San Pablo Bay. This fall, several immersive experiences will include wellness activities like yoga, culinary classes and chef-centric vineyard dinners paired with wine selections. While these experiences are growing in popularity in Wine Country, Liana is eager to offer guests unique all-inclusive experiences that both stimulate and soothe the senses.