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.

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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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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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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The Cycles of Life

new yearWell it is finally 2020 and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. As for me, this past year was a very difficult one for my family and I, as my father passed away in September, the same month my mother passed, but several years ago. Two months after he passed away I had my birthday, then came Hanukkah, Christmas, my sister’s birthday and of course, now the New Year. All these “celebrations,” one after the other, were firsts without my father and extremely painful. Waking up in the morning and thinking about wishing him a happy new year and then the realization that I will never get to do that again. Suddenly I am an orphan and the month of September really sucks. When I talk to my sister we cannot talk about memories without breaking down and whereas before it was just mom we missed, now it is both of them and the “remember when” chats are doubly devastating and it has gotten worse during the Holidays.

My father had a long and really good life. My parents were happily married, had their own business and travelled extensively.  One of their favorite places was the Kruger National Park in South Africa and Chobe Sunsetneedless to say, memories of our family’s many vacations there came flooding back! The 2am wakeup calls to get to the gate of the Park early in time for breakfast and so that we can watch the sun rise in that most incredible of places. We visited the KNP so often that my dad became a honorary game ranger. I don’t know whether they still do that, but years ago it was a big deal. Mom’s ashes are sprinkled there and now dad’s will be too, and I know they are in their “happy place,” and at peace. While I have not been back there for many years, I kept looking at the posts and beautiful pictures in a Facebook group about the Kruger National Park, and remembered all the places they mention, almost as if it was yesterday. Each camp has a special memory… a boyfriend I met, the BBQ or party on my parent’s birthdays or anniversaries… and the peace that is indescribable.

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Summer Lovin…. Happened so fast!

It is not just the summer lovin that happened so fast… summer is almost over! Officially that is. Fortunately Los Angeles has its own summer months…In fact it’s most of the year! Lucky us!

These hot August nights in Los Angeles remind me of the ever popular Grease musical; especially the song Summer Lovin…   since summer is the most popular time for romantic events such as weddings and engagements, although those happen more towards the end of the year. Actually considering the variety of events we get booked for, it is probably the most popular time for any event! I don’t know about you but there is something really special about sitting outdoors with your favorite person(s), as the sun sets with a cool glass of wine (or whatever works for you) and relaxing especially after a long day at work.

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