Culinary Travel and Wine Tourism Trending for 2023

Wine Tourism in the Heart of Sicily.

In a few (too short) weeks 2023 will be upon us which had me thinking about travel trends for the new year and especially what is predicted for culinary travel and wine tourism. These are have been trending in 2022 and predicted to continue in 2023. It just so happens to be my favorite experiences when I travel. While I am aware that not everyone who is a wine enthusiast is also a foodie, but honestly I seldom get requests for one experience without the other.

Opinions regarding what will be trending in 2023 differ somewhat from one publication to another, one trend that remains steady is that families want to spend time together, sharing authentic experiences. Family reunions and multi-generational trips are popular, and the reason for those a no-brainer. Same with wish-list or bucket-lists, depending on who you ask.

People are no longer postponing those dream destinations, and I have heard that all too familiar, “life is too short” quote many times in the past year. Travelers are ready to push beyond their comfort zones, want authentic, off the beaten path adventures, and have expressed interest in discovering new cultures and trying new experiences. Cookie cutter trips are out as people reevaluate what is important to them after the pandemic. Travelers don’t want to rush an experience; they want to savor and share it with loved ones. Those who enjoy traveling solo, expressed a desire to make new friends along the way.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I wondered how those who celebrate this holiday will spend it while traveling abroad. I do know that travelers love to learn about cultures through their food so “foodie” families who are traveling together, might just try a new experience this Thanksgiving.

As loved ones are increasingly seeking authentic experiences together, taking cooking classes, trying local fare and shopping in the local markets while away on their trip, have been a big part of their shared experiences. Not to mention comparing whose dish most closely resembles the ones they learned to cook while traveling! Food always has a way of bringing people together and the holidays are a perfect example of that.

Many friendships have started at the local “off the beaten path” restaurants or eateries, which has been my experience when traveling solo, and has become a way to connect with others all over the world. Conversations have started over an interesting dish or scrumptious dessert and the unique flavors that are distinct to the area they are visiting. Thanks to social media, we now share those images and experiences with friends and followers far and wide.

Countries are also often associated with particular foods. People will travel across the world to eat an authentic tagine in Morocco, or the best ramen in Japan and let’s not forget the best pizza or pasta in Italy! While the pristine beaches and ancient architecture steeped in some of the Mediterranean’s richest history, and their “dolce far niente” way of life is quite intoxicating, Italian food is without question one of the main attractions. Wait… no I meant to say the wine! Well, it is definitely a tie. Italy is famous for both!

As a firm believer in seeking out that off the beaten path adventure, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the Di Giovanna winery, nestled in the mountainside of Monte Genuardo, which is a protected nature reserve. Di Giovanna is one of the oldest wine growing families in Sicily. For my wine afficionados and clients, their viticulture tradition dates back 5 generations, between Contessa Entellina and Sambucca di Sicilia and they have won many awards!

Not only do they provide an incredible wine tasting experience, they collaborate with the Abbey Santa Maria Del Bosco, a magnificent ancient Sicilian Abbey, also situated in the Monte Genuardo nature reserve. Just imagine staying in a gorgeous yet “primitive” abbey, probably dating back to 1300 with all that history to discover! You can read more about the Abbey HERE and by the way, it is also a stunningly beautiful wedding destination venue! Just take a look at those pictures. One does not get much more unique than that!

Additionally, to add to the culinary experience, the winery offers a market tour and Di Giovanna wine lunch. This full-on Sicilian food experience includes a chef-led walking market tour with a local expert, to discover the unique and beautifully unpredictable outdoor food markets in the historic city center of Palermo. This is followed by a communal hands-on cooking class with lunch. Just imagine impressing your friends back home with your new-found Sicilian cooking skills!

The best times to visit this stunningly beautiful winery and stay a few nights in the abbey, is during Spring and Fall.  Being in the mountains, just 20 km from the Mediterranean coastline, the hillsides are covered in wildflowers and herbs in the Spring when visitors can enjoy the fresh ricotta. The fall is the grape and olive harvest season, with still plenty of sunshine and light. During this time visitors can enjoy cooler temperatures and a more laid-back experience as there are fewer tourists. The sea is usually warm for swimming until October. The island is also famous for its cathedrals, island beaches, and amazing architecture so there is no shortage of activities for you to participate in during your visit.

As for the wine, Sicily, in fact, is the largest winemaking region in all of Italy. In fact, larger than even Chianti powerhouse Tuscany, whose vineyard space amounts to more than the entire countries of Germany, New Zealand, or South Africa can boast. Yet sadly, Sicilian wine has not been as well- known in the US compared to other Italian regions which is such a shame! However, you can order the wine online and also contact Di Giovanna winery for more info. See their contact information below.

Di Giovanna wine is available in the USA, and Melissa Di Giovanna was kind enough to make suggestions for Thanksgiving wine pairings: For your traditional turkey dinner, try the Vurria Nerello Mascalese Rosso. For a game or lamb dinner, try Helios Nero d’Avola which is the family’s flagship wine. For salmon and vegetarian dishes, Melissa recommends Vurria Nerello Mascalese Rosato DOC Sicilia 2021. You can read more about their wines and their many awards HERE and information about their wine tours are HERE. If you are heading to Italy, be sure to add this experience to your itinerary!

Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving! Until next time.

Summer Romance Turn into Fall Proposals

Dream Destinations and Unforgettable Weddings

When the leaves change color and it starts to get chilly, those of us in the romance travel and wedding planning industry can almost feel the anticipation in the air! Approximately 40% of marriage proposals will happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, with the most popular days being Christmas Eve, New Years Eve and Valentine’s Day. December is particularly popular for those “surprise” engagement getaways that we are often asked to help plan during the winter holiday season, when family and friends gather for those special celebrations.

However, unless the couple has a favorite place they both love, choosing a wedding destination and venue can be a daunting task as there is so much to consider! How do you choose a venue if one loves the beach and the other is more of a city person? Same with choosing activities. What about the legalities of the country where you will get married or the vendors you would need? Do you buy your wedding attire where you are getting married, or take it with you? How many guests should you invite, and should you remain in the same area for the honeymoon! So many details to think about and that is what your travel advisor will help you with. Once you have decided on a venue, there are amazing professional planners on site who will give you great advise and support you throughout your event and stay. As far as destinations are concerned, these three popped up most often when I did research in my singles groups and FYI, these destinations are LGBTQ friendly.

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A Unique Bucket List Experience

Unique, extravagant, and epic destinations are in.  

While trending destinations seem to vary somewhat depending on the publication or who you talk to, one theme stays the same. Travelers are looking for that unique, bucket list, epic destination. “Exotic and unusual” destinations are requested, as well as those that “have it all,” meaning culture, history, fun, nightlife, culinary experience and romantic.

Luxe Accommodation in Morocco
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Friend and family reunion trips are increasingly popular and there is also an increase in milestone celebrations with extended family. Guests are booking longer trips than before COVID as well, making up for lost time when they were unable to travel. Many are still wary of destinations that are too crowded and want to book accommodations that give them space from other guests. Searches for “epic” destinations are trending, as travelers are ready to step out of their comfort zone and book those adventures they have been talking about for years.

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Summer Lovin… in Croatia and Beyond.

Summertime… the season of love.  

Summer is indeed in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. Whenever I look for summer entertainment inspiration for the holidays, I keep getting hits with suggestions for 10 or more best things to do this summer. The most popular items on all these lists are of course being on vacation, enjoying warm sunny days, huge bonfires on the beach watching those mesmerizing sunsets, outdoor movies, music festivals and frozen drinks by the pool. The lists go on and on but they left one very important activity out… summer romance!

Wedding Venue in Croatia

Summer lovin… July and the promise of endless possibilities.

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Don’t Miss the Beauty in Your Own Backyard!

California Dreaming.

Miles of stunning beaches uninterrupted by humans, waves crashing on rocks and into tidal pools filled with little critters, misty mountains and mesmerizing sunsets, saved my sanity during the lock down. California certainly has it’s share of stunningly beautiful destinations! Now that travel has resumed and summer is approaching, let me inspire you to book your vacation or adventure to one of these captivating small towns that move at a deliciously slow pace. Then sip and explore your way through the boutique wine region of San Luis Obispo Coast. Fun Fact… San Luis Obispo County is known as SLO County, suggesting that we should “SLO” down and enjoy the 80 plus miles of stunning beaches, beautiful hotels, delicious farm to table food, and world class wine! (Road trip anyone?) Summer is almost here and it is a beautiful time of year in SLO County. Think barn dance, outdoor movies, free concerts and beach bonfires during sunset. Contact me here to book your summer vacay before everywhere is booked up!

COVID & The Lockdown.

When we went on lockdown in 2020, I could feel the beginnings of a panic attack start in my stomach and with every month that went by, it became more and more pronounced.

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Southern Africa – Safaris, Sun Soaked Beaches and Wine.

If an African Safari is not on your bucket list, it should be! Not only are there nine Countries in Africa that have amazing Safari adventures, but within those Countries there are several types of accommodations and adventures to choose from. Each one breathtaking and exciting in it’s own way.  Whether you want to participate in a lot of activities or spend your days relaxing on the deck of your lodge and watch the wildlife from your pool, (or both), there is something for everyone. There are lodges where kids of all ages are welcome, others don’t allow kids under 6yo. Some lodges are for adults only and those who specialize in romance travel.  

This post, as well as others that I have linked to below, will give you a general outline and information about the destination and what to expect. As you read the articles, consider your vision for the trip you are planning, your priorities, your travel companions and your travel dates and make notes. These will help you with the planning process. This particular article is about safaris in Southern Africa. If you are also considering East Africa, you can take a look at that post HERE and the post with a quick comparison of all areas, is located HERE.

Southern Africa, the southernmost region of the African continent, comprises of amongst others, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Each magnificent in its own right and quite different.


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East Africa or Southern, for Your First Safari Experience…

Deciding where you want to go first.

This post is about Safari Experiences in East Africa. Find info about Southern African Safaris, sun soaked beaches and Fine Wine Experiences HERE.

If you have not ever been on an African Safari, choosing an area or place to stay is not that easy. There are so many options, each more amazing than the last, which is why working with a safari specialist is very important in that process. East and Southern Africa have very different landscapes, some similar but also very different experiences to offer for the newbie and safari enthusiast, so I suggest making a list of your priorities. What is your goal, and what experiences do you want to have? Are you adventurous or do you want to disconnect, go for a few game drives, and lie by the pool? Do you want to have a luxe experience with brick-and-mortar lodges, swimming pools and hot tubs, or track animals on foot and sleep beneath the stars? Maybe both! Who you travel with, and the purpose of the trip is of course important, as is the size of the group

Some lodges can only accommodate a certain number of guests and some don’t accommodate kids under the age of 6. Your budget and how much time you have, will also be a factor. If you and your partner both love Africa and want to get married there, look for my post on weddings in Africa HERE. It will be a mind blowing experience, and an unforgettable way to start your life together. The bottom line is If you are going all the way to Africa, you should spend at least ten days to two weeks to get the full experience.

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Spotlight on African Safaris

A Life-Changing Experience!

African Safari Lodge

There are few experiences as exhilarating and life changing as going on safari to Africa. It is not just a vacation; it is a magical and unforgettable experience. You will take something with you when you leave, and some part of you will stay behind. While interest in Safaris are rapidly increasing in 2022, there is still some hesitancy about being safe “in the wild.” I can assure you, as someone who has spent countless years visiting various spots in Africa; if you follow the suggestions and instructions of a professional guide, you will be totally safe. With regard to COVID-19, each Country has different requirements and thorough planning is imperative, however the lodges are super strict about sanitizing and cleanliness.

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Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Travel for 2020.

JJ pic sizes 1st picture
Romantic Destination Wedding

I am just going to fall with the door in the house and tell you up front, that unless you are just booking a flight from one city to another in the US, please don’t book any real travel online. Don’t do it! I recently spoke to a few couples who made that mistake, which prompted me to write this blog. Yes, I know some of you have become online travel “experts” and can do it all by yourself, but believe me, if anything goes wrong, as it unfortunately often does, you have to figure out how to fix this it by yourself and often in a Country where you don’t speak the language. I was reading an article in Forbes in which the writer mentioned someone asking her to help with getting their money back from the agency the ticket was purchased through ONLINE, and of course there was no way for her to help. If the person had booked through her, she would have told her to get insurance. There are so many horror stories about travel plans that have gone wrong that I really don’t understand why people still do it to themselves. Not to mention that nowadays, travel is becoming complicated as security to almost all Countries have become really strict and rightly so!

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