Scouting locations


I have a friend in New York who works as a location scout for film and television. I’ve learned a thing or two from her as I scout retreat locations for my business….what to look for…legal considerations…who to talk to…how to invest in the right elements….

We spent most of May in the Napa Valley checking out wineries, boutique hotels, entertainment venues and restaurants for my wine connoisseurs retreat.  I’m designing a number of different retreats with different themes. It’s all-consuming, but enlightening and a lot of fun.

I revisited the pristine winery,  Chateau Montelena, whose name you may recognize from the film, “Bottle Shock.”  It was mad famous for winning the white wine selection of the historic, “Judgment of Paris” wine competition back in the 70’s…and if you’ve not seen that film,  I highly recommend it.

Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay was in competition with nine other wines from France and California under blind tasting, and it was judged the best wine in the competition, putting California on the map as a world renowned wine Mecca.

We did a tasting and added some bottles to our collection.  We spent the entire day there, in fact, trying to figure out how I could integrate it into my retreat agenda. 

We also went to Castillo di Amarosa in Calistoga. I became familiar with this particular winery and its interesting history when an old friend produced a documentary about it, which was broadcast in San Francisco when we lived there.

We had visited a number of times in the past. The last time, our elder daughter accompanied us, and I thought of her when we were there. It has been fun to watch Dario Satui develop his enterprise into a real kingdom, and his wine is exquisite. So is his amazing restaurant, which we also visited.

John was definitely a force to be reckoned with.  (Actually, he was a real sweetheart, and was very helpful to me on this business/pleasure trip.)

The grounds at Beringer were beautiful, and John picked up some of their private reserve cab for our own collection.

We tasted flights of sparkling wine at Tattinger’s. The chateau at Domaine Carneros is considered one of the most beautiful wineries in North America. Designed after the Chateau de la Marquetterie in Epernay, France, a property of Domaine Carneros principal founder, Champagne Taittinger, the Domaine Carneros Chateau is a landmark of the region. The views are stunning.

So I managed to accomplish a lot. Hopefully, I’ll make it back there in August to solidify some deals and to formulate more details.

I’m doing a lot in the Willamette Valley as well…another locale for wine retreats. I’m also working on art retreats. This is blissful work, really.

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