February food tour being offered

We're going back to California. Want to come along?
Posted on Dec. 2, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Marshall V. King

Dining A La King

It didn’t take long to decide to go back to California.

Last February, 33 of us went to Sonoma and Napa counties of the Golden State to get away from winter, enjoy some great food and explore wine country.

It was fabulous. So we’re doing it again, but just a bit differently.

From Feb. 6-10, the Dining A La King tour will head to the Central Coast of California for a few days with winemakers and those who grow and make food in the area.

Sonoma and Napa are well-known for their wines. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties also produce wines, but in addition are productive agriculture regions and are closer to the Pacific Coast. There are also a number of breweries in that area.

I put the trip together with Jay Fields of Indiana Wholesale Wine & Liquor Co. and Menno Travel.

Why go back to California?

There’s a lot more to explore and at least for one more year, the timing works well. So we have a tour with spots for 30 people to go and have a great time together.

“It’s the most beautiful scenery in all of California,” said Fields, who toured the area earlier this year. “The food is fantastic. It’s a really, really laid-back atmosphere. And it’s going to be 70 degrees in February.”

Here’s the itinerary:

Ÿ Thursday, Feb. 6: Fly from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Los Angeles and board a bus for the drive up Highway 1 to Santa Barbara. For several hours, we’ll ride along the coast before arriving at the city where we’ll spend two nights at the Fess Parker Hotel. That evening we’ll have a chance to walk to breweries, pubs or restaurants in the city.

Ÿ Friday, Feb. 7: We’ll start the day by going to Solvang, a Danish town with plenty of bakeries and European flavor. After that, we’ll go to Bridlewood Estates Winery, which produces wines in a gorgeous setting. We’ll have lunch there and later go to Beckmen Vineyards, also in Santa Ynez, which produces biodynamic wines.

Ÿ Saturday, Feb. 8: We’ll head to San Luis Obispo, a college town along the coast. We’ll stay two nights at the Embassy Suites and again have a chance to walk to restaurants, urban wineries and farmers markets from our spot in the city. We’ll have lunch at Laetitia Vineyards, which specializes in sparkling wines, and also visit Edna Valley Vineyards, which was the first fine wine producer in the region, according to Fields who is making the arrangements with the wineries.

Ÿ Sunday, Feb. 9: We’ll likely visit another winery and go to Morro Bay, a gorgeous town and beach along the coast before a final evening in San Luis Obispo.

Ÿ Monday, Feb. 10: We’ll return to Los Angeles by bus to fly back to Chicago. The tour officially ends this day, but if people want to extend their time in Los Angeles, they can do so at booking.

I’m looking forward to exploring a region that produces some great fruits and vegetables. I’m looking forward to seeing the sunshine in February. You’re invited to come along.

The costs for the trip are:

Single occupancy: $2,495 per person including airfare, $2,195 without airfare.

Double occupancy: $1,995 per person including airfare, $1,595 without airfare.

Included in that price ground transportation in California, hotels and their associated fees, the wine tastings and lunches at the wineries and the peace of mind that comes when you have three hosts worrying about the details so that you enjoy your time. Along with myself, Fields and my wife, Bethany, will work to make sure the trip goes smoothly.

If you’re interested in going on the trip, you can call Ronda Morris at Menno Travel, 574-534-1521, to talk through the details. A $500 deposit per person secures your spot with final payment due by Jan. 10. Menno Travel does add 3 percent to the cost if you want to pay by credit card rather than check.

Last year’s trip was fabulous. We listened to some feedback from those who went and put together a trip in which we have access to more from our hotels. And I think this year’s trip will be amazing too.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.

Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at 574-296-5805, mking@etruth.com, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.


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