Banfi pours at the 3rd Corner, and will be a stop on Tuscany wine tour

The wine glasses were being toasted high and loud recently at the 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro in Encinitas. Not only was there a classic lineup of Castello Banfi Chianti Classico, Super Tuscan Blends and a four-course menu especially created for the occasion by the 3rd Corner Executive Chef Lincoln Williams; it also kicked off the news of a special, personal tour of great Tuscan wineries that I will lead Oct. 7 to Oct. 10 of this year.
I have teamed up with Banfi, the Mazzei Winery, Celebrity Cruise Lines and Vineyard Travel in Escondido for a round-trip Rome to Rome 10-day Mediterranean Cruise with on-board wine events from Oct. 10 to Oct. 20. Ports of call include Naples, Messina Sicily, Mykonos, Santorini, other Greek Islands and Kusadasi, Turkey. Prior to the cruise, our privileged group will set out three days earlier and enjoy hotels, transfers, rustic breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the wine country of Tuscany. It will include castles, wine tastings with extensive winery tours in Montalcino and Castellina, an Italian cooking class and an ancient glass museum. There is no other place on earth like the sun-kissed hills of beautiful Tuscany. I know, I have walked the hills and felt the joy of life in this wine country.
I have carefully chosen Mazzei with its legendary Fonterutoli and Banfi with its Brunello Di Montalcino wines as excellence in a bottle. The wineries are known worldwide for their graciousness and hospitality.
Italy is the largest importer of wine into the U.S. and makes roughly 20 percent of all the wine in the world. All 20 regions of this amazing country, from Sicily to the Alps, offer high quality old world wines from some 3,000 different grape varietals.
Other master-produced wines include Gaja Barbaresco, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, Pio Casare Barolo, Bertani Amerone della Valpolicella Classico, Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico, Marchesi Antinori Tignanello, Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia and Planeta Santa Cecilia.
That is an unforgettable Italian wine journey and we get to sample the heart in Tuscany.  Complete details are available at vineyardtravel.net. Enter offer #676757. Or call Rosemary Nigro at (800) 359-3772.
Wine Bytes
— A Cupid Wine Party is planned from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 11 at Bacchus Wine Market in the Gaslamp downtown San Diego. There will be appetizers, deserts and plenty of wines on hand for the party. The cost is $25. Call (619) 236-0005 for details.
— La Costa Wine Company has an Italian Tasting from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 11. For $20 per person, taste five great Italian varietals including the ’07 Oreno awarded 95 points. New are “Wine Wednesdays,” a three wine flight for just $10. Details are available by calling (760) 431-8455.
— Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas is planning a Bordeaux night from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11. Call the shop at (760) 479-2500 for brands and varietals.
— Orfila Vineyards and Winery in Escondido has a special Valentine’s Day concert in the vines on Feb. 13 for $20 per person or $35 per couple. Includes a welcome glass of sparkling Moscato. Check for times and tickets at (877) 727-9463.
— San Diego State’s next wine class will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 15. Advance sommelier Lisa Redwine teaches “Exploring Wine.” Call (619) 594-6924 for more information.
— San Clemente Wine Company has a Cheese and Wine Pairing Class with Starr Cornwall from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16. Five wines, chocolate, cheeses and educational materials are included for $35. To learn more, call (949) 429-7067.

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