Susan J Montgomery

Susan J Montgomery
member for over 6 years

Member Since: Feb 2012

Susan Montgomery has been writing, editing and publishing throughout her career. Her topics include food, wine, travel, lifestyle, and the arts. She has published several books, including "What Really Matters Now," a photo gift book, which sold more than 30,000 copies worldwide and was produced with her photographer husband, Todd, and published by Peter Pauper Press, New York. She has also written two artists' biographies, published by the Museum of Wisconsin Art and the University of Wisconsin Press. Since moving from Wisconsin to Southern California more than five years ago, Susan has focused her writing on the food, wine and hospitality of California, and also on her travels around the country and the world. She writes for various publications and websites, including her own site, Life-Uncorked.com. She has developed an expertise in wine and culinary reviews. Her style is usually first person, friendly and inviting. She wants her readers to feel they are part of her wonderful experiences and to appreciate her sometimes perceptive, surprising, humorous, or inspiring insights. Her goal is to capture the heart and spirit of her experiences for her readers, while also providing new and interesting information. Susan has a Master's Degree in Journalism from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is on the Board of Directors of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association and, with her husband, Todd, is co-chair of the organization's 2016 Professional Development Conference to be held in the San Diego area in October. 

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Treasurer, Officer
susan@ifwtwa.org

suemont@aol.com

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Published Articles (200)

The Marine Room: Exquisite Dining as the Waves Crash


A radio interview with award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas of La’s Jolla’s elegant Marine Room.

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Celebration


What are you doing to celebrate Valentine’s Day — perhaps with your sweetheart or maybe with good friends? I have a sweet and savory idea for you. Rather than go […]

Holiday Sparkling Wines from the Wine Exchange


Sparkling wines are so perfect for festive holiday meals, but choosing sparklers that please everyone is a challenge. Let’s look at our Thanksgiving dinner planning as an example.
[Show All 200]

Klinker Brick: Six Generations of Nurturing Lodi Grapes


A highlight of the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California, was the Friday night excursions to wineries for tours, tastings and dinner. There were 18 buses full of eager “winophiles” who didn’t know where they were going until they…

Mount Palomar Winery: A Tradition of Innovation and Excellence


There are so many factors that go together to create an exceptional winery experience. While excellent wine may be paramount, superb food, a beautiful setting, and friendly service are also key. We found all this recently at Mount Palomar Winery.…

Savor the Many Tastes of Claremont


Claremont is the perfect two- to three-day getaway. Located less than two hours from San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles or Orange Counties and a short distance from the Ontario International Airport, this picturesque, tree-lined town is easily accessible and offers…

Talented Chef Andre Pinto Heads Pechanga’s Paisano’s Restaurant


We have always loved dining at Pechanga Resort & Casino’s wonderful Paisano’s Italian Restaurant. So we were excited to learn that a talented young chef has taken the helm.…

4th Street Market: Unique Cuisine in a Vibrant Setting


A hot new culinary trend in California (and all over the country for that matter) is food halls. These establishments typically include a variety of different food and drink vendors offering their products in one expansive location.…

An Enthralling Travel Book About Living Life to the Fullest


What is it like to completely break out of your daily routines and reach way beyond the life you seem destined to live? Cari Taylor-Carlson did just that and she tells her story with engaging honesty and humor.…

A Magical Night in the Marine Room


It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic seaside setting for dinner than what we experienced recently at The Marine Room in La Jolla, California. The sun was setting over the beach […]…

Doggies Dig Roadtrip to Solvang


As travel writers, we are continually taking our sweet doggies to stay with a friendly dog sitter while we travel, but it’s always hard to say good-bye, especially when they […]…

Carmel-by-the-Sea welcomes canine visitors


As travel writers, we frequently have to leave our two sweet cocker spaniels, Chester and Catie, behind. It’s always hard to say good-bye, especially when they look at us so forlornly. So when the Hofsas House in Carmel-by-the-Sea…

Solvang: first stop on our doggy roadtrip


As travel writers, we are continually taking our sweet doggies to stay with a friendly dog sitter while we travel, but it’s always hard to say good-bye, especially when they look at us so forlornly as we drive by.…

Fabulous Foodie Fest in Encinitas


Saturday’s Foodie Fest Encinitas was a great success, at least if my family’s reaction is any indication. Todd and I, along with our son who was visiting from Memphis, really […]…

Italian varietals thrive at Paso’s Pelletiere Winery


When we were invited to visit Pelletiere Estate Vineyard and Winery in Paso Robles and to stay at the winery’s Farmhouse, we were excited because we love Paso and this was a winery we had not experienced before.…

Fazeli Cellars Embraces Persian Heritage with Superb Wines


Fazeli Cellars opened last fall in one of Temecula Valley Wine Country’s newest wine tasting venues, located in a majestic Mediterranean-styled building on De Portola Wine Trail atop a hill with one of the most breath-taking views in the valley.…

Fazeli Cellars Embraces Persian Heritage with Superb Wines


Fazeli Cellars opened last fall in one of Temecula Valley Wine Country’s newest wine tasting venues, located in a majestic Mediterranean-styled building on De Portola Wine Trail atop a hill with one of the most breath-taking views in the valley.…

Robert Renzoni Winery Reflects Family’s Deep Italian Roots


Sitting majestically atop a hill on the De Portola Wine Trail in Temecula Valley’s Wine Country is Robert Renzoni Winery, situated in a charming Tuscan-styled villa that offers guests some of the most exquisite wines in the valley.…

SOCO Uncorked: Stylish and scrumptious


Imagine a perfect California evening in lush surroundings with gentle breezes. Imagine sipping some of the most superb wines from all over the world. Imagine delectable culinary delights from innovative gourmet restaurants.…

Exploring Santa Barbara Car Free


We boarded Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner business class car in Oceanside, California, and sat back with our traveling companions to relax and enjoy the ride. Our destination was the glorious seaside paradise of Santa Barbara, sometimes called the “American Riviera.”…

Eating and Drinking Your Way Through Yuma


Yuma, Arizona, located in the southwest corner of the state, has so much to offer travelers as a tourist destination and it’s an easily accessible getaway from many major southwestern […]…

The Wine Artist features Spain


It’s always a wonderful day when we visit The Wine Artist, a unique, boutique winery and event venue in Irvine, California, owned by talented MJ Hong, who is a charming host and chef, as well as being a savvy business…

Fazeli Cellars Opens in the Wine Country


Fazeli Cellars recently opened a new wine tasting venue in the Temecula Valley Wine Country—a majestic Mediterranean-styled structure on De Portola Wine Trail atop a hill with some of the […]…

Chateau at Lake La Quinta Offers Exquisite Wine Dinner


Imagine sitting on a lovely patio overlooking a beautiful lake with a melodious fountain—all in the middle of a southern California desert as the sun is setting over the majestic […]…

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Where to stay, drink and eat


Carmel-by-the-Sea is an enchanting, walkable village idyllically situated right on the Pacific Ocean. You can park your car and spend many pleasant hours meandering around, peeking into alluring boutiques, art galleries, cafes and wine tasting rooms.…

A Glorious Day Visiting Hahn Family Wines


It was an idyllic fall day, when we traveled with a group of wine writers to the gorgeous Santa Lucia Highlands, located near picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea, in Monterey County, on the […]…

Old Quebec City: Experience the old and the new


As we cruised into Quebec City on the Maasdam via a Holland America Cruise, we were immediately enthralled. Quebec City is a picturesque city on two levels, one along the banks of the St. Lawrence River and one on the…

Making Memories with Chef Eric Klein


When I sailed last fall on a Holland America cruise aboard the Maasdam from Boston to Montreal, I knew it would be a special culinary experience because I was traveling […]…

The Chateau at Lake La Quinta: Enjoy the Magic


Imagine sitting on a lovely patio overlooking a beautiful lake with a melodious fountain—all in the middle of a southern California desert as the sun is setting over the majestic San Jacinto Mountains.…

Step Back in Time at Hotel Temecula


Visitors can now relive early Temecula at the newly opened Hotel Temecula, located in Old Town on Old Main Street. The hotel was purchased last year by Richard and Michael Beck through a family trust.…

A Taste of Formaglini Vineyards


It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic day in Southern California than one we spent recently in the backyard of a premier winegrower. With fellow writers from the International Food Wine and Travel Writer Association, we tasted elegant wines…

Lodi: A Destination for Wine and Much More


Why did Wine Enthusiast recently name Lodi the Best Wine Region of the Year? There are so many reasons. We were not surprised because last fall, right before this announcement […]…

Behind the San Diego Food Scene


Do you ever think about the long road the products you eat have traveled before you buy them in grocery stores or savor them in your favorite restaurant meals?…

One Great Day in Birmingham


Birmingham, Alabama, is a city of many contrasts, which make it a fascinating destination for visitors. It is certainly a place rich in historical and cultural significance, but it also has a developing culinary scene…

A marvelous day in Lodi


Why did the Wine Enthusiast recently name Lodi the Best Wine Region of the Year? There are so many reasons. We were not surprised because last fall, right before this announcement was made, we visited Lodi for the first time…

It’s Frank’s World at Colony Palms Hotel and Purple Palm Restaurant


What does the famous desert destination of Palm Springs, situated in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, evoke for you? Luxuriant golf courses, stylish shopping, upscale resorts, and elegant restaurants?…

Kelsey’s at Pechanga: an upscale American pub


Last weekend, with our adult children in town for Thanksgiving, the boys in our family wanted to go to a sports bar where they could see multiple games at once while drinking good beer and indulging in some great snacks.…

Melissa’s offers a bounty of fall produce


Have you ever just wandered through the bountiful produce section of a grocery store and wondered what kinds of apples or onions or potatoes or squash to buy? There are so many choices and so many differences.…

Your Guide to Holiday Wine


What wine are you going to serve for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals? What wines are you going to give as gifts to your friends, your colleagues or your holiday […]…

Ashland’s Alchemy Restaurant: a food lover’s Magnum Opus


On a recent trip to Ashland, in southern Oregon, we were fortunate to meet both the owner and Executive Chef of Alchemy Restaurant and Bar, which is located in the historic, boutique Winchester Inn.…

Valle de Guadalupe’s outstanding culinary scene


Susan Montgomery was interviewed on the SoCal Restaurant Show about her recent tour of the Valle de Guadalupe.…

The Phantom Visits Europa


I’m scared. Are you? The mysterious Phantom of the Opera will be visiting Europa Village Winery on October 29, just before the spookiest day of the year.…

Southern Oregon: An Emerging, Exciting Wine Destination


When you think about Oregon wines, what comes to mind first? Is it the Willamette Valley? If so, think again. Think the Rogue Valley, 230 mile south of Willamette around Medford, where you can find some of the best wines…

Imagine Medford: A destination for everyone


Imagine lovely rolling hills and green farmland. Imagine inviting boutique wineries just waiting to be discovered. Imagine creative, delicious cuisine featuring fresh local produce. Imagine abundant charm and history.…

Cuisine of the World Comes to Hollister


On our way from Southern California to Southern Oregon, we recently spent a brief overnight in Hollister, California, which was at about the halfway mark on our route north.…

New chef presents exquisite dishes at Pechanga’s Umi


Imagine a bowl of fragrant miso soup with mussels, salmon, lobster and King Crab—all delightfully kicked up with a touch of jalapeno oil? This was the inventive and uniquely delicious version of miso served by Kiyokuni Ikedea.…

Valle de Guadalupe wineries in Baja continue to thrive


Our recent venture into Baja Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe for a tour of several wineries was an exceptional experience. The stark desert beauty of the region, the gracious hospitality of our hosts, and the excellence of the wines were beyond…

Baja Wine Country: Aging Well


Our recent venture into Baja Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe for a tour of several wineries was an exceptional experience. The stark desert beauty of the region, the gracious hospitality of […]…

Meet the New Top Chef at Pechanga’s Umi Sushi


Kiyokuni Ikeda, the innovative, new chef at Pechanga’s Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar, presents unique, tasty, appealing cuisine.…

Escape to peaceful San Benito County


If you live in a big city or sprawling urban area, do you ever have a craving to visit a peaceful, picturesque destination that still has lots of interesting things to see and do? Look no further.…

Andrew Harris: Charismatic Food Talk Radio Show Host


What does it take to successfully host a radio talk show focusing on the extensive culinary scene in Orange County and surrounding areas? It takes what Andrew Harris, host of the SoCal Restaurant Show on Sports Radio AM 830 KLAA…

Harvest 2U Delivers a Bounty of Deliciousness


We were like little kids at Christmas when our first Harvest2U Family Harvest Box was delivered. We eagerly opened it and “oohed” and “awed” over the many vibrant fresh vegetables and fruit,…

Cave at Pala: Innovative, Delicious Dining in a Stylish Setting


Are you looking for fresh, healthy, creative cuisine elegantly served in an exquisite setting? We just found it. We were recently invited to meet Chef Luciano Cibelli at Pala Casino’s […]…

It’s Restaurant Week in Claremont


What are you doing during the next week or weekend? If you live anywhere in Southern California and have a free day or more for a quick getaway, we have a great idea for you . . .…

Imaginative, Delicious Dishes from New Chef at Umi


Imagine a bowl of fragrant miso soup with mussels, salmon, lobster and King Crab—all delightfully kicked up with a touch of jalapeno oil? This was the inventive and uniquely delicious […]…

Meet Chef Luciano Cibelli: His Food Speaks to the Soul


Pala Resort’s new restaurant, Cave, is headed by Chef Luciano Cibelli who focuses on fresh, healthy, seasonal cuisine.…

Savoring Scrumptious Summer Fruit


Imagine vibrant sweet strawberries, juicy succulent peaches, flavorful figs, melons with a hint of citrus, and tangy tasty plums. We tasted all these and more at Melissa’s World Variety Produce,…

Savory Mustards: Delicious and Unique


We were excited and also curious recently when we had the opportunity to taste some unique artisan mustards being produced by a new company based in Southern California, Sassy Mama’s Mustards.…

Summer wines to sip and savor


Our Wine Review Council recently gathered around a member’s luminous, azure pool and, as palm trees swayed in the breeze around us, we tasted seven easy-to-drink wines that I would like to call “summertime sippers.”…

Fast Track Cuisine


The track is fast—one of the fastest in the world. The food, however, is not. (Well, it may arrive speedily, but it is not your typical sports venue fast food.) […]…

ACS Serves Up Fabulous Food on a Fast Track


The track is fast, one of the fastest in the world. The food, however, is not. (Well, it may arrive speedily, but it is not your typical sports venue fast food.) Who would have known that we would have a…

San Benito, Mendocino Wines Shine


Earlier this year, we visited the San Benito area and our group had the wonderful opportunity to visit four of their wineries. We were immediately entranced by both the area’s lush rolling hills and the luscious wines we tasted.…

Good friends, wine and food


It may have been chilly in the Temecula Valley Wine Country on Memorial Day weekend, but hearts were warm and spirits were high as a happy group of wine and food lovers gathered at a beautiful wine country estate to…

A Short but Very Sweet LA Getaway


A few weeks ago, we celebrated a friend’s birthday with a short trip to LA. We spent the late morning and afternoon at the magnificent Getty Center and the night […]…

The Perfect Summer Getaway


What do you look for in the perfect summer getaway? Do you want beautiful beaches, water activities, great food, and maybe even a few wineries? Ventura County Wet has it […]…

SOCO Showcases the Best of the Best


Last month we attended the first annual SOCO Uncorked, a neighborhood wine and food fest in Costa Mesa, California, that was one of the most captivating, upscale and delightful events […]…

World-class White Wines Enhance Food Pairings


Summertime is white wine weather—although since I love white wines, anytime is white wine weather for me. But I must admit to bristling when I am in a wine tasting room or at a restaurant with a group of red…

Ventura County West: A two-day adventure


When visiting a new destination, knowing where to go and what to do is always a challenge, especially when traveling to a region as diverse as Ventura County West.…

San Benito County: A Peaceful Getaway with Lots to Do


If you live in a big city or sprawling urban area, do you ever have a craving to visit a peaceful, picturesque destination that still has lots of interesting things […]…

Savor Fresh Produce from Melissa’s


Do you ever think about how the fresh produce you find in your neighborhood grocery store is actually processed, packaged, and delivered? We learned so much at Melissa’s World Variety Produce.…

How to Grill the Perfect Steak


My son, David, is the head cook on the award-winning “Meat, Drink and Be Merry” competitive BBQ team. So recently, while visiting him in Memphis, I was thrilled when he agreed to show me how to grill the perfect steak.…

Savor the Best in Authentic Mexican Cuisine at Mexicano


Most food writers hesitate to describe a restaurant with too many superlatives, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that the recently opened Mexicano in […]…

Europa Offers Exquisite Pairings at Winemaker’s Dinner


As wine and food lovers, we have been enjoying the challenges and joys of pairing wine and food for some time, but we always relish new pairing experiences.…

Where can you buy good wine at great prices?


Think about where you buy your wine and why. I bet you look for places to find high quality wine at reasonable prices. And perhaps you are also looking for […]…

Melissa’s: the place for fresh and accessible produce


It’s wonderful to be a food writer who meets talented chefs and tries enticing dishes at great restaurants, but sometimes my experiences are especially unique and inspiring.…

The Wine Exchange: Quality Wine, Great Prices


How do you buy wine and what are the factors you consider? Do you buy wine in retail outlets or do you by it online or both? Most people would […]…

Chocolate and Wine: A Wining Duo at Pechanga


We’ve always known that chocolate and wine are a match made in heaven. This photo essay captures the gooey decadence of Pechanga’s recent event.…

Journey’s End: A Savory Beginning


So let’s envision the perfect breakfast or lunch to launch your day, perhaps before or after a golf game. How about a warm (but not too warm) Southern California day in February?…

Cultivating Good: A Photo Essay


We recently had a wonderful experience learning about a Southern California company called Cultivating Good, the parent company that includes E.A.T. (Extraordinary Artisan Table), Harvest2U, and E.A.T.@Home.…

IFWTWA’s Emerging Writer Program


Susan Montgomery was interviewed on Big Blend Radio about what it takes to be a travel writer and what IFWTWA can offer writers wanting to become travel writers.…

Broadway Hit Highlights Wine Country Romance


The sun had just set. The lights were low. The music was lilting. The wine at first sparkled and then was deep and rich. The food was beautifully presented with aphrodisiacs that added to the evening’s ambiance.…

Temecula wineries participate in Pechanga festivals


The whole month of February, not just Valentine’s Day, should be devoted to love and chocolate and, yes, wine—at least that’s my humble opinion.…

Innovative winemaker comes to Temecula Valley


George Bursick joined the Europa Village Winery team last fall as the winery’s new winemaker, bringing a wealth of valuable experience and exciting ideas for the future of Europa wines.…

Two Cultures, One Spirit: A Book Review


Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers is a beautiful memoir of lives and families from completely different cultures that have intertwined and enriched each other for decades.…

Lebanese Food and Wine: A Match Made in Heaven


Think garlic, olive oil, herbs and lemon juice. These are key ingredients in most Lebanese dishes, as our group of food and wine writers discovered during a recent special dinner […]…

Welcome this new year with sparkling wines


Throughout the month of January, we find ourselves wishing friends and family a Happy New Year and what better way to do it than with a sparkling wine?…

New Winemaker Comes to Temecula Valley


George Bursick joined the Europa Village Winery team last fall as the winery’s new winemaker, bringing a wealth of invaluable experience and exciting ideas for the future of Europa wines.…

Solvang: Take a short trip to Denmark


You don’t have to take a long plane trip to experience the charm and wonderful food of Denmark. Solvang, California, often referred to as “California’s Little Denmark,” is just a […]…

Irvine Offers the World on a Plate


Since the population of Irvine, California, is about 40 percent Asian, it’s no wonder that this destination is the place to go for authentic and delicious Asian foods.…

Scintillating Spirits Sparkled


Our Spirits Review Council (SRC) met earlier this fall to taste and review a variety of what I am calling “scintillating spirits” because they were generally lovely and flavorful.…

Award-winning wines tantalize the taste buds


Lots of wines win awards, but what do these awards mean? Are award-winning wines always better than non-award-winning wines? Not necessarily, since many wineries don’t enter their excellent wines in contests and even wine judges are not infallible.…

Solvang Has It All


Solvang, California, often referred to as “California’s Little Denmark,” is one of the most celebrated Danish towns in America. In the past, we had briefly stopped at several of its […]…

Even ghosts love good food and wine


It was a dark and stormy night in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Gloomy gray clouds swirled across the sky as evening descended against dramatic streaks of pumpkin orange.…

A Wedding on Ocracoke


When my niece, Hana, announced that she was being married on Ocracoke, I knew I had to go. I had never been to this southern most of a string of […]…

A Magical Night in the Wine Country


What does it take to create a magical night in the wine country? Delectable food and wine? A personable musician playing familiar tunes? The ambiance of congenial new and old friends?…

Jane Culp: Dorland Artist Captures Desert Landscape


Throughout the years, many accomplished artists have created some of their best work while they were Dorland Mountain Arts Colony residents.…

Learn about wine at LCA wine and the Neptune School of Wine


So do you love wine tastings? Do you love choosing wines to pair with your favorite foods? Do you love reading about wine? Maybe, like me, you even love writing about wine. But despite your devotion to wine, the beauty…

Europa Village Winery’s musical, wine-paired dinners enchant guests


Europa Village Winery has earned a well-deserved reputation for hosting elegant, musical, wine-paired dinners—and their new season promises to continue to exceed expectations.…

Czech wines: Beautiful, refreshing, and ideal for pairings


It was a beautiful, warm late August day when we headed to Seal Beach—no, not for the beauty of the beaches but for the beauty of some luscious wines from […]…

Oxnard: A Magical Getaway


Last year we took a fun-filled trip to Oxnard, California, a beach town on the California coast located close to the Channel Islands. This year we visited Oxnard again and our initial enthusiasm was renewed.…

Paisano’s at Pechanga: Italian at its best


We recently had the opportunity to return to Paisano’s Italian Restaurant at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. We were so pleased to talk with Chef Francesco di Caudo again. […]…

Eddie V’s features Napa Nights


How long has it been since you’ve savored Napa? How about tonight—and wherever you live in Southern California, you can be there in an hour or two. We recently enjoyed a scrumptious Napa getaway at Eddie V’s in the newly…

Sipping and pairing summer wines


Our Wine Review Council met recently in the Temecula Valley Wine Country to taste a variety of California wines. We had a heavy emphasis on whites because of the warm weather and, after all, we were sipping and snacking around…

New Mexico wines enhance spicy dishes


When you think of wine-producing states, which states come to mind? California, Oregon, New York, Washington State? Do you ever think of New Mexico? Probably not, but our group of wine reviewers thinks you should.…

Greek wines savored in California


On a recent gorgeous Southern California afternoon, we were happily transported to the green, rolling vineyards of Greece. Although we were actually sitting on a lushly landscaped patio in San Diego, we truly felt like we were in Greece for…

Oxnard revisited: better than ever


Last year I wrote an article about a fun-filled visit to Oxnard, a beach town on the California coast located near the Channel Islands. This year we had the opportunity to visit Oxnard again and our initial enthusiasm was renewed.…

Red chair visits Inn at Europa Village


A very unique but unpretentious red chair is making the rounds of small inns and B&B’s across the country. Last week the red chair traveled to the Inn at Europa Village in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. We visited with…

Yuma, Arizona: A fascinating getaway


Are you interested in early American pioneer history? Do you enjoy soaking up the culture and art of a very distinctive, multi-cultural community? Do you appreciate hiking or walking through the pristine terrain of a Southwestern desert? Do you relish…

The Wine Council gets spirited


Our Occasional Wine Council (OWC) has been meeting for several years in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Our group is called “occasional” because it meets occasionally and because we wanted to differentiate it from two other councils—the Women’s Wine Council…

‘Sweet spot’ wines hit the spot


Our Occasional Wine Council, which meets occasionally in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, recently reviewed some wines on the more expensive side of the wine purchasing spectrum. Those wines ranged from about $40 to $90. While not in the more…

Pizzeria Mozza: the new hot spot in San Diego


We had been to Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach a few months ago and, at the time, I described our lunch as just about the best I had ever had. I try to use superlatives sparingly so, from my perspective,…

Domaine Porto Carras: luscious Greek wines come to California


For a few wonderful hours recently, we were magically transported from Irvine, California, to the lush slopes of Mount Meliton overlooking the deep blue waters of the Gulf of Toroneos in Halkidiki, Greece.…

Are more expensive wines always better?


Our adventuresome Occasional Wine Council, organized by our mentor Linda Kissam, recently enjoyed an upscale wine tasting hosted by gracious Ginger Giordano at a charming, Mediterranean-styled estate in the Temecula Valley Wine Country.…

Exciting new dining venues open at Pechanga


We already knew that Pechanga Resort & Casino offered a variety of wonderful restaurants, but now we have even more options. Recently two new dining spots opened to rave reviews (inlcuding mine).…

Love and romance in the wine country


It’s hard to imagine a more romantic and unique Valentine’s Day celebration for lovers than what took place last weekend at Europa Village Winery located in the Temecula Valley Wine Country about an hour from San Diego.…

Pechanga offers internationally inspired buffet


The buffet at Pechanga Resort and Casino is not just any buffet. Under the creative leadership of Chef Frank Ortiz, the buffet offers guests innovative and internationally inspired dishes that you would not normally expect in a casino buffet.…

Top of the Market offers topnotch cuisine, ambiance and service


For many years, when we flew into San Diego from Wisconsin, our first stop was the landmark restaurant, Top of the Market, right on San Diego Bay. It was always the place to assure us that we had really left…

Who did it at Europa Village Winery?


Last weekend, Europa Village Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country presented another one of its stellar dinner theatre events. The mystery this time was “Trouble at the Tropicana.” Some of us (of a certain age) may recall the infamous…

Lazy Dog offers tasty Asian-inspired menu


Since we moved to Temecula three years ago, Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar has become one of our favorite go-to places for many reasons. Todd and I like sitting outside with our cocker spaniel, Catie, who appreciates the dog items…

Europa Egg Cooking Class Was All It Was Cracked Up To Be


Recently Europa Village Winery held a unique and highly successful cooking class called Egg Cookery. The Winery’s Executive Chef, Dean Thomas, entertained and informed an enthralled group of about 50 people.…

Europa is cooking up eggs


So how do you like your eggs? Scrambled, fried, or sunny side up? Or perhaps you love omelets, eggs benedict,egg salad sandwiches, and deviled eggs. But have you ever thought to a twice-baked cheese souffle with a quail egg and…

Wine Council creates wine pairings that work


What makes a good wine pairing? Why is it so important to serve an appropriate wine with your dishes or to have the right dish with certain wines? Most of us start with a dish we would like to serve…

Cooking eggs: A challenge worth pursuing


So how do you like your eggs? Scrambled, fried, or sunny side up? Or perhaps you love omelets, eggs benedict, egg salad sandwiches and deviled eggs. But have you ever thought of a twice-baked cheese souffle with quail egg, braised…

Open pit BBQ: A birthday hit in Tennessee


Memphis is known worldwide for great barbecue. So why were we driving about an hour northeast to the tiny mid-Tennesse town of Brownsville for barbecue? We were picking it up for my son David’s birthday party held on a recent…

Holiday Thriller Wows Temecula Wine Country


What happens at wineries? People make wine, drink wine, and sell wine, but lately in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, wineries have also become the settings for some great entertainment.…

‘The Game’s Afoot’ at Baily Vineyard and Winery


What happens at wineries? People make wine, drink wine, and sell wine, but lately in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, wineries have also become the settings for some great entertainment.…

Italian wines impress LA tasters


Italian wines came to Beverly Hills recently and they were a huge hit. For the 11th consecutive year, International Exhibition of Verona and International Event & Exhibition Management of Miami hosted a trade wine tasting event aimed at wine industry…

Idaho wines: A wonderful surprise


What comes to mind when you think of Idaho? Potatoes perhaps? Well, think again. Two wine-loving colleagues of mine recently visited the Snake River Valley area of Idaho and brought back some surprisingly wonderful Idaho wines.…

Wine Council takes to the hills


It was a tranquil fall night at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony as the sun set over the glorious hills and our Wine Council members gathered to share pairings of some special wines matched with delicious dishes.…

Bella Notte: A beautiful night at Europa Village


It was truly a Bella Notte—a “good night” at the Europa Village Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. It was a beautiful night in mid September for the winery’s first musical, internationally-themed wine dinner of the fall season. Europa…

“Kampai:” Time to discover and savor sake


We’ve all been to wine tastings and beer tastings, but what about sake tastings? Discover Sake LA was a first sake tasting experience for me, even though I have always loved sake since I took a trip to Japan about…

Long Beach Beer and Wine Festival rocks


It was a magical night of great craft brews, luscious wines, delicious and diverse food, rocking music, and wonderful camaraderie on Long Beach’s Promenade for the first ever Promenade Wine and Beer Festival held last Saturday night. The newly completed…

Cooking together at the wine artist


The Wine Artist is a unique and special destination. It’s the place to spend a few hours for a variety of great reasons. Do you want to get to know your work colleagues better by cooking together as a team?…

24 glorious hours in Julian


Julian is a former gold mining town up in the mountains, only about two hours or less from almost anywhere in San Diego, Riverside or Orange counties. Founded more than 100 years ago, Julian is rich in history and still…

Thai cuisine: A feast of flavors


While most of us have tried and enjoyed Thai food, I learned recently that there is so much more to Thai cuisine than the few popular dishes many of us order. Thai Restaurant Week is an ideal time for all…

Pechanga offers an authentic taste of Italy


Where do you go in Southern California to enjoy a stellar meal for a special occasion or just for a wonderful night out? We all have lists of special places, but is Paisano’s Italian Restaurant at Pechanga’s Casino in Temecula…

Celebrate California wine in the Temecula Valley Wine Country


When you think “wine,” which of our 50 states comes to mind first? Of course, the answer is California. While most states now have wineries, California produces the most and arguably the best wine. (Yes, I know this point could…

Star King BBQ in Koreatown features Piedmontese beef


Koreatown is a fascinating, bustling neighborhood in Central Los Angeles, known for its ethnic diversity, outstanding restaurants, enticing shops, and grocery stores with unique Asian produce and products. We had never been to Koreatown, but we recently had the opportunity…

New chef brings authentic Italian cuisine to Paisano’s at Pechanga


Where do you go in Southern California to enjoy a stella meal for a special ocassion or just for a wonderful night out? We all have lists of our favorite places, but is Paisano’s Italian Restaurant at Pechanga’s Casino in…

Jeremy’s on the Hill: a lovely drive for a luscious meal


There are many good reasons to take a trip to Julian, the historic mountain mining town in Southern California that is well known for its apples and beautiful views, but one of the best reasons is Jeremy’s on the Hill,…

The Wine Artist: The place to cook, mingle, taste and have fun


The Wine Artist is a unique and special destination. It’s the place to spend a few hours for a variety of great reasons. Do you want to get to know your work colleagues better by cooking together as a team?…

New Mexico Wineries—A Tasty Adventure


We recently took a long road trip across the country to visit family and friends in Wisconsin. On our way back to Southern California, we decided to stray from the main highways and meander off on side roads, which is…

Jeremy’s on the Hill: An exquisite bistro in a mountain setting


There are many good reasons to take a trip to Julian, the historic mountain mining town in Southern California that is well known for its apples and beautiful views, but one of the best reasons is Jeremy’s on the Hill,…

Journey to Scotland by way of San Diego


Recently we attended the San Diego Scottish Highland Games & Festival held at Brengle Terrace Park in Vista. We felt like we were in the real highlands of Scotland where we had attended highland games years ago. As in days…

New Mexico wineries: A treat for the senses


We recently took a long road trip across the country to visit family and friends in Wisconsin. On our way back to Southern California, we decided to stray from the main highways and meander off on side roads, which is…

Oxnard: A Fabulous Southern California Retreat


On Temecula Night Out, we like to occasionally share information about easily accessible getaways for either a day or a weekend. Wherever you live in Temecula or elsewhere in Southern California, Oxnard is only a few hours away and it…

San Diego Scottish Highland Games: Bagpipes, hammer throws, and whisky tastings


Recently we attended the San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Festival held at Brengle Terrace Park in Vista on June 22 and 23. We felt like we were in the real highlands of Scotland where we had attended highland games…

Thornton Winery’s Champagne Jazz Series jazzing up the summer


On a gorgeous Saturday in May, acoustic jazz guitarist, Peter White, rocked the terrace at Thornton Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Every seat was taken and, as is almost always the case, the weather cooperated perfectly with a…

25 Years of Champagne Jazz


On a gorgeous Saturday in May, acoustic guitarist, Peter White, rocked the terrace at Thornton Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Every seat was taken and, as is almost always the case, the weather cooperated perfectly with a late…

Oxnard: a glorious getaway


Wherever you live in Southern California, Oxnard, which is just south of Santa Barbara, is only a few hours or less away and it provides a wonderful getaway for families and travelers looking for a relaxing retreat with lots to…

Judging Wine: Hard Work but Someone Has To Do It


It’s hard to believe I tasted 96 wines in one day, but I did, and I walked away both totally coherent and much more knowledgeable about wine competitions. As a member of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association…

How to be a wine judge


It’s hard to believe I tasted 96 wines in one day, but I did—and I walked away both totally coherent and much more knowledgeable about wine competitions. As a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA),…

Europa guests savor Spanish flavors and festive music


El Fandango, named after the famous, lively, Spanish dance, was the theme of Europa Village Winery’s most recent musical wine pairing dinner in the winery’s beautifully decorated and romantic “cave.” Europa Village regularly holds these internationally-themed dinners for its members…

Europa Guests Party to a Spanish Beat


El Fandango, named after the famous, lively, Spanish dance, was the theme of Europa Village Winery’s most recent musical wine pairing dinner in the winery’s beautifully decorated and romantic “cave.” Europa Village regularly holds these internationally-themed dinners for its members…

Cellarz93 launches new menu next week


Cellarz93 Restaurant and Winehouse will launch its new menu next week. Well-known chef, Greg Stillman, was recently selected to be the restaurant’s Executive Chef. Cellarz93, which opened last fall, is one of the Temecula area’s premiere restaurants. Chef Stillman has…

Cellarz93’s Sneak Preview Wows the Senses


A shining star has descended on the Temecula, California, culinary scene. Well-known chef, Greg Stillman, was recently selected to be the Executive Chef at Cellarz93 Restaurant Winehouse, one of the area’s premiere restaurants, which opened last fall. We were recently…

Men’s wine council: serious but fun-loving tasters


I had heard all the stories about the infamous Men’s Wine Council: that they sipped fast and furious; that they were sometimes loud and boisterous; that they were opinionated and devoured meat like animals; and that they sometimes finished their…

Men’s Wine Council Rides and Rocks Again


I had heard all the stories about the infamous Men’s Wine Council and, since this recent meeting was being held at my home, this was my chance to find out what really goes on. In the process we tasted some…

A magical night in the wine country


Magic happened one night last week at the Europa Village Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. The scene was an exquisite “old world” winery surrounded by rolling vineyards as the sun set majestically over the hills. The event was…

C’est La Vie: a magical night at Europa Village Winery


Magic happened one night last week at the Europa Village Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. The event was a Musical Wine Pairing Dinner called “Moulin Rouge,” which featured the wine, cuisine, and music of France. The scene was…

Hot new chef hits Cellarz93 in Temecula


Cellarz93 Restaurant Winehouse has just announced that its new Executive Chef, Greg Stillman, will launch his position with a spectacular Easter brunch. Cellarz93, one of Temecula’s premiere restaurants, opened its dining room, wine retail outlet, piano bar, and music lounge…

W.O.W. — Made Even More Special by Black Car Tour


What better way to tour the Temecula Valley Wine Country than in an authentic black cab from London? And it was our perfect mode of transportation during the wine country’s popular World of Wine (W.O.W.) weekend, March 2-3.…

WOW! Tom Plant visits 35 wineries in 2 days!


If there is a “King of Wine” in the Temecula Valley Wine Country it is Tom Plant and he proved it over this past weekend. Like hundreds of wine lovers, Tom participated in the popular World of Wine weekend, March…

World of Wine: champion wine taster Visits 35 wineries in 2 days!


If there is a “King of Wine” in the Temecula Valley Wine Country it is Tom Plant and he proved it over this past weekend. During World of Wine weekend, Tom visited 35 wineries in two days. These wineries opened…

Tin Roof Cellars: good wines at great prices


It was a bright, wintery late afternoon in southern California when the Occasional Wine Council gathered to taste some delicious Tin Roof Cellars wines paired with dishes prepared by the participants. These very good wines are all available for prices…

Tin Roof Cellars: wonderful wines at wonderful prices


It was a bright, late afternoon in southern California and the Occasional Wine Council gathered in the Temecula Valley Wine Country to try some very good, reasonably priced wines from Tin Roof Cellars.…

World of Wine: a feast for Temecula Valley wine tasters


There is nothing like early spring in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. And it is the perfect time to enjoy the World of Wine Barrel Tasting weekend on March 2nd and 3rd. The weather is heavenly and the rolling landscape…

Irvine Restaurant Week: Try swishing at SWSH Shabu Shabu


Almost three dozen Irvine restaurants participated in Irvine Restaurant Week in January. Since its beginning in October, 2011, SWSH Shabu Shabu has become a favorite among locals and tourists alike.…

Laguna Canyon Winery provides savory tasting experience


The Occasional Wine Council’s early December wine tasting featured delicious Laguna Canyon wines. The setting was seasonally decorated for a gala holiday time with festive colorful table decorations in Linda Kissam’s gracious and welcoming home.…

Thornton Winery: a joyous holiday destination


There are many ways to be jolly at Thornton Winery during the holiday season, especially with Cafe Champagne’s seasonal menu and wonderful wines.…

Cellarz93: Temecula’s newest hot spot


Cellarz93, the newest spot for casual but sophisticated dining and drinking in the city of Temecula officially opened on October 29. Temecula is located in Southern California about an hour from either San Diego or Orange County.…

Middle Ridge Winery produces innovative, elegant wines


Middle Ridge Winery, based in the picturesque, mountaintop town of Idyllwild, in Southern California (6000-foot elevation), is a real life winery in every sense of the word. It may not have its own tasting room or vineyards, but the wines…

Cellarz93 is Temecula’s Ultimate Hot Spot!


Cellarz93, the newest spot for casual but sophisticated dining and drinking in Temecula, held its grand opening on October 29th. My husband and I were fortunate to be able to sample its food, drinks, and relaxed but decidedly upscale ambiance…

Start up a conversation with Middle Ridge wines


Middle Ridge Winery, based in the picturesque, mountaintop town of Idyllwild in Southern California (6,000′ elevation), is a real life winery in every sense of the word. It may not have its own tasting room or vineyards, but the wines…

Lorimar Winery celebrates the harvest


Recently in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, the evening was gorgeous by any measure, but it was particularly lovely at Lorimar Winery where hundreds of wine lovers stomped grapes and rocked to the cool beat of the Bayou Brothers.…

Woofs & Purrs in the Vines: a way to support furry friends


Recently, on Sunday, October 7, a very special event called Woofs & Purrs in the Vines was held at Oak Mountain Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country. Its goal was to raise funds for Cause for Paws, a 5013C…

Dorland Mountain Arts Colony launches Associate Artists Program


Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, sitting on a 300-acre wooded nature preserve near the Temecula Valley Wine Country, is a special artists retreat, which has attracted artists from all over the world for decades.…

CRUSH features Temecula food and wine


It’s that time of year again in the Temecula Valley Wine Country when the burgeoning vines give up their bounty to the eager harvesters for crushing and then aging. The air is fragrant with cabernet and chardonnay and syrah (and…

Temecula Valley Wine Country celebrates California Wine Month


September is the month for sipping in the Temecula Valley Wine Country and it’s not too late to take advantage of some special events and money-saving opportunities. Celebrating California Wine Month, the Temecula wineries are in the midst of harvesting…

French wines: A hit with Temecula wine tasters


The Occasional Wine Council, which meets “occasionally” in the Temecula Valley Wine Country to taste wines from all over the world, recently braved some sudden, turbulent weather to get to their most recent tasting of some fabulous Gerard Bertrand wines…

Ladies: Pamper yourself this weekend


A gala event of shopping and sipping, sponsored by the Business Women’s Network, will be held at Tesoro Winery this weekend. This event will also support Save the Animals Horse Rescue and Michelle’s Place, a resource center for those who…

Oak Mountain Winery offers entertaining and informative wine tasting classes


Whether you are a novice or experienced wine taster, a few good tips on how to get the most out of wine tasting will undoubtedly enhance your experience. Oak Mountain Winery on De Portola Road in the Temecula Valley Wine…

BBQ Cooking Class at Thornton


On a recent, pleasantly warm Saturday afternoon, about 50 food and wine enthusiasts sipped a cool Thornton Winery Brut Reserve, plus some other delectable Thornton wines, while picking up great grilling tips from Thornton’s Executive Chef Steve Pickell.…

Thornton Winery: Time to grill out


On a recent, pleasantly warm Saturday afternoon, about 50 food and wine enthusiasts sipped a cool Thornton Winery Brut Reserve, plus some other delectable Thornton wines, while picking up great grilling tips from Thornton’s Executive Chef Steve Pickell. They were…

Temecula wine tasters savor Bordeaux wines


Tasting Bordeaux wines in the Temecula Valley Wine Country? Sure. Wine lovers here enjoy the whole spectrum of wines from all over the world. Recently, the Occasional Wine Council, which not surprisingly meets “occasionally” to review a wide variety of…

Orange Coast Winery offers outstanding wines in an urban setting


Recently, a group of friends and writers were invited to visit Orange Coast Winery, which was purchased last spring by Doug and Debbie Wiens. Surprisingly but pleasantly located in the midst of an industrial park in Newport Beach, California, Orange…

What Irvine, California, Has to Offer


Irvine, California, is fast becoming an attractive destination for visitors who are looking for an exciting variety of leisure-time activities. Conveniently located in the heart of Orange County, Irvine has long been known as an easily accessible location for business…

Women’s Wine Council Tastes, Munches, and Laughs a Lot


A unique wine tasting phenomenon is going on in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, located about an hour north of San Diego. While it’s not surprising that the wine aficionados here get together and drink good wine, eat good food,…

Innovations abound at Thornton Winery


Always one of the most popular destinations in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, Thornton Winery has continually set the bar for newer wineries and it is now raising the bar even higher with some wonderful innovations, while still retaining its…

Best summer cocktails in Temecula Valley Wine Country


A recent addition to the Temecula Valley Wine Country, the Cellar Lounge is presently the only full bar in the wine country. A cool respite from the crowded wineries during the hot summer months, this bar serves some surprisingly innovative…

County Line BBQ Cafe: an unexpected oasis in the high desert


County Line BBQ Cafe is located just over the county line between San Diego and Riverside counties in an old (very old) stage coach station that has undoubtedly seen many iterations over the previous century, but now it is fortunately…

Wine Tasters Enjoy Eagles Nest Wines


The Occasional Wine Council, a group of wine and food enthusiasts, enjoyed tasting Eagles Nest wines with special food pairings, all described in this article. Eagles Nest Winery is located in the scenic Ramona Valley of Southern California.…

Shakespeare in the Vines launches season with rollicking show


Last Thursday night, a delighted group of theatre and wine lovers laughed, clapped, and even shouted at the lively and hilarious antics of three talented comedians who performed “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” at Europa Village Winery in Temecula,…

Jazzy’s: Hot new spot in Temecula


Jazzy’s, the newest venue on Temecula’s food and music scene, is primed to open on June lst with an enticing menu and a hot line-up of jazzy musicians. At a preview event last night, an excited group of “foodies” and…

A Whisky Night to Savor


This special event brought together distinctive artisan furniture, gourmet food, and fine whiskey. It was an ingenious combination enjoyed in the intimate Planet Rooth Design Haus in San Diego where the artist Gustaf Anders Rooth designs unique furniture made out…

Lorimar Winery: Spectacular Grand Opening


After several years of planning and building, Lorimar Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, opened its gorgeous new tasting room in the midst of its rolling vineyards. The Tuscan-styled building is spacious and lovely, the perfect place to sample…

Ciao! Feasting the Italian Way


Every other Tuesday night, a congenial group of hungry and thirsty food and wine lovers shows up at Spuntino Pizzeria, a family-owned pizzeria and delicatessen in Temecula, California, about an hour from either San Diego or Riverside.…

Thornton Winery: Mindi Abair Rocks Opening of Jazz Series


Thornton Winery’s 24th Annual Champagne Jazz Series was off to a rocking start with superstar, Mindi Abair, and her impressive back-up band, also full of super stars. The champagne and wine flowed and Chef Pickell’s gourmet supper package was exceptional.…

Innovative chef creates fresh seasonal menu paired with wines


Chef Steve Pickell, Executive Chef at Thornton Winery in the Temecula Valley Wine Country, has earned a well-deserved reputation and won many awards over his 18 years at Thornton as a premier Southern California chef. His dishes are not only…

Wine lovers savor tastings and food pairings


The Occasional Wine Council meets “occasionally” to critique wines and pair them with special dishes prepared by the participants. As this article explains, the group learns much about the qualities of different wines and how these wines can enhance certain…

Published Books (3)

In the Moment: The Life and Art of Schomer Lichtner


Published by the Museum of Wisconsin Art, this biography traces the life and art of Midwestern artist, Schomer Lichtner, whose vibrant and frequently whimsical work has been exhibited all over the country. This book is richly illustrated with Lichtner’s work…

In Celebration: The Life and Art of Ruth Grotenrath


Published by the Museum of Wisconsin Art, this biography describes the life and art of Midwestern artist, Ruth Grotenrath, whose luscious florals and still lifes have been aptly compared to Matisse. The book is richly illustrated with Grotenrath’s work and…

What Really Matters Now


This small gift book of “in-the-moment” photography (photos taken by Todd Montgomery) and inspiring words (by Susan Montgomery) was published in response to 9/11. The Montgomerys have three children who experienced this disaster firsthand since they were living in New…