California’s Oil Boom

California's Oil Boom

August 2, 2019

With thousands upon thousands of acres of vineyards producing some of the world’s great wines, it’s no wonder people refer to the northern California destinations of Sonoma and Napa counties as Wine Country. But if current trends continue, by 2025 the region might have a second name: Olive Country. Statistics from the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), which certifies California Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), indicate that California produces 99 percent of the country’s olive oil with Sonoma and Napa booming with artisan producers. The appeal, according to COOC executive director Patricia Darragh, is that “olive trees are more cost-effective than many crops from a farming point of view. They like dry weather and need very little water.” For farmers, this means greater diversification and more crops. For visitors to the area, it means something entirely different: A growing number of olive-oriented luxury experiences to enjoy at more than a half-dozen artisan olive-oil purveyors in the region, providing travelers with ample opportunity to embrace the region’s next big crop.

California’s Olive Roots Records indicate that Franciscan monks planted the Golden State’s first olive trees at the San Diego Mission in 1769. The same monks took cuttings with them as they moved north; every time they founded another mission (there are 21 in all), more olive trees were planted. Olive cultivation continued in pockets until the latter half of last century, when producers such as Long Meadow Ranch, The Olive Press and McEvoy Ranch in Marin County started bottling the very best oils. The COOC was born in 1992. Several years later, it started a certification program as a way to hold local oils to a higher standard and give consumers the confidence that California oils are what they say they are. (There had been issues with European olive oil producers mislabling oils in the news.) In addition to testing the oils, producers sign two legally binding documents stipulating that the oil is produced locally. “I’m not aware of other countries that have standards like ours,” Darragh says, explaining that California maintains some of the highest quality standards in the world. 

The Tasting Experience 

There’s nothing particularly graceful about tasting olive oil. Sure, the place settings usually are set with Riedel stemware and Mediterranean-looking ceramic plates. And, yes, most local purveyors usually offer some sort of nibbles. When it’s go-time, however, and your host tells you to throw back that first sip of golden unctuousness, she will instruct you to let the oil run over your lips, feel it coat your tongue and—at the very moment it is about to slip into the back of your mouth—slurp it down. Loudly. There are scientific reasons for this approach; experts say that slurping aerates the oil and therefore gives you more surface area to taste. The same experts partially rate oils by the effect they have on your throat after that—the more you cough, they say, the better the elixir actually is. 

The whole cough scale has to do with chemical compounds called oleocanthols. These compounds are directly related to the pungency of an oil—the more of these compounds that an oil possesses, the more pungent that oil will be. The most pungent oils create the sensation of a spicy kick at the back of your throat—a sensation that can be so intense it prompts a cough (or two, or three). Then, of course, there’s the oil itself. Whereas that other Wine Country product is best when you let it age, olive oil is actually best if you eat it while it’s young, within two years of being pressed. The freshest oil tastes more like a shot of wheatgrass than the oil you’d pour into a frying pan for sauteeing mushrooms. According to Vicki Zancanella, a biologist and the tasting-room lead guide at The Olive Press in Sonoma, olive oil oxidizes even more quickly than wine and should be consumed as soon as it’s opened. “We always say that the enemies of a bottle of fresh olive oil are light, heat and air,” she says. “The longer your bottle is open, the more those enemies become a problem.” 

Tasting Sampler

If anybody knows olive oil, it’s Zancanella, the woman behind the tour program at The Olive Press, an award-winning producer that sources its fruit from orchards within a 150- mile radius. Her $5 tour starts at the mill’s Pieralisi equipment that was imported from Italy and walks visitors through the process, from the de-leafer to the hammer mill and on to the centrifuge. For all that, olive oil is a low-yield product; 1,000 pounds of olives result in only 152 pounds of oil. Round Pond Estate’s $45-tour of the orchard located in the Napa Valley town of Rutherford concludes at the renovated tractor shed that serves as the estate’s millhouse. But from there it moves into a stark and modern tasting room, where guests can compare Round Pond’s Italian Varietal EVOO to their Spanish Varietal EVOO, as well as flavored olive oils and a number of other house specialties, including red-wine vinegars and citrus syrups. As part of this tasting, guests are brought heaping portions of food—cheese, vegetables, fruits and even roasted chicken. “We encourage visitors to make salads and try our oils and vinegars on just about everything,” explains Round Pond’s wine and olive oil educator Ann Catterlin. “The crazier the concoctions, the better.

Sampling olive oil at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg in Sonoma is memorable in different ways. All visitors to the winery’s tour and tasting are invited to sample estate oil, blended fresh each year by executive chef Todd Knoll. Those who participate in the $120 estate tour, which includes a ride around the nearly 1,200-acre property, enjoy a food-and-wine pairing featuring their Chardonnay with their estate oil and a sushi-like stone fruit nigiri with tasty vegetable escabeche.

Oil Futures

Other local olive-oil hotspots—including Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, DaVero Farms & Winery in Healdsburg and the momand-pop-operated Napa Olive Oil Manufacturing Company in St. Helena—enable visitors to get up close and personal with oils as well. Even the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone has an olive oil tasting at its Flavor Bar. Cristopher Hall, executive vice president of Long Meadow Ranch, home to trees planted in the 1800s, said that as people become more interested in the origin of the food they eat, the appetite for artisan products will continue to grow. “My gut tells me that as a product, as an industry, artisan olive oil is about to get huge,” he says. “People want food with a story, a heritage, and olive oil is the perfect answer.”

Sonoma State of Mind

Willow Stream Spa Natural mineral hot springs and a Watsu® pool highlight this award-winning spa, part of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. Most packages include use of the on-site fitness facilities, as well as access to an exfoliating shower, a therapeutic bath, an herbal steam room and more. CornerStone Gardens Inspired by the International Garden Festival at Chaumontsur-Loire in France, this Sonoma spot celebrates art, architecture and nature with more than 20 gardens by famous artists and designers. Stop by for the shopping, bocce ball, lunch at Park 121 or wine tastings at any of the intimate tasting rooms. Oxbow Market Situated along the Napa River and Napa River Trail, the Oxbow is the epicenter of the valley’s organic and sustainably-produced local produce and artisan foods. Partake by K-J Yes, this Healdsburg hotspot from Kendall-Jackson does tastings, but it’s the menu that keeps locals coming back. One highlight: red wine french fries, sliced potatoes that are slow poached in Cabernet Sauvignon and then crisped to crunchy perfection. Lagunitas Brewing Company Microbrewing is an art form at this Petaluma institution, and at the TapRoom and Beer Sanctuary, which is open Wednesday–Sunday, visitors can find some of the most original brews anywhere in America such as a sweet brown sugar ale and a cappuccino stout. Sonoma Golf Club Playing just over 7,100 yards from the championship tees, this course’s classic layout, designed in 1928 by Olympic Club Lake Course architect Sam Whiting, offers strategic choices and challenges that excite golfers today, just as it did when players were carrying wooden clubs more than 75 years ago. Wine Country Polo Held every weekend during the summer on the field in Oakmont, right off Hwy 12. 

Make Yourself at Home

Sonoma Inspirato members can escape to the hills and settle into their own house such as the five-bedroom, 5,000-squarefoot Palladian Estate high above the valley or enjoy the sleek and intimate one- to three-bedroom options at the striking Wheelman House in charming, pedestrian-friendly, downtown Healdsburg. Sonoma is home to a mix of eight Inspirato Signature Residences of various sizes and settings that can suit any type of vacation members seek.

Desiree Stinson’s Pick’s; Inspirato Destination Manager

Eat: In Sonoma, don’t miss breakfast or lunch at Fremont Diner, the hippest in roadside eateries.
Day Trip: Head to Dillon Beach and Nick’s Cove, specifically, for their Hog Island oysters. Napa Valley’s Castillo di Amorosa, an authentic recreation of a 13th-century castle set among its namesake vineyard.

Modern Classics

Modern Classics

August 1, 2019

Nestled in the most traditional of landscapes—the pastoral central Italian region of Tuscany—sit two reconstructed villas that embody a luxurious modern style all their own. Meticulously rebuilt and impeccably curated, La Galleria and Monticelli are part of a collection that will eventually include another nearby villa, San Bartolomeo. “Our vision is that of a new way of living the timeless beauty of Tuscany,” says Massimo Lauro, owner and designer of the villas, along with his wife of 35 years, Angela. “The striking contemporary art, iconic design and the latest technology lead to a different style of understated elegance that blends with local culture and lifestyle and fulfills the fantasy of la dolce vita.” Restoring the historic properties according to a comfortable, contemporary aesthetic is a shared passion for the couple. A scion of a prominent family of former ship owners in Naples, Lauro grew up in a home filled with works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and other pop art masters, which his parents collected during the 1960s. Along with his wife, Lauro began collecting art in earnest during the 90s. “Massimo has a very good eye,” she says. “He can spot a great artist years before he becomes famous.”  

In 2009, the Lauro family began spending less time in Naples and more at a family property in the ancient comune of Città della Pieve, near Perugia, the capital of Umbria, which is known as “the green heart of Italy.” Nearby, they renovated a winery formerly run by Lauro’s father into an art space called Il Giardino dei Lauri to house their now-sizeable collection, which includes significant works such as New York-based artist Banks Violet’s Untitled (Horse), a galloping white horse projected onto a wall of vapor. 

Inspired by the beauty of the area, especially nearby Val d’Orcia, a scenic valley and UNESCO World Heritage site that is “one of the few wild and unspoiled areas of Italy,” Lauro says, the couple bought two old country homes and began a new shared passion: restoring historic residences. “In the 18th century, the properties hosted both stables and farmers’ homes,” says Lauro. “The homes were not habitable, so we started off by tearing them down. As we rebuilt both houses, we ensured that they would fit beautifully into the gorgeous landscape.” Following strict local historic preservation rules, La Galleria was reconstructed in the traditional stone-and-mortar style with redtiled roofs. Because environmental concerns were a priority, the home, as well as Monticelli, boast energy efficiencies that earned both an AAA energy rating. 

The interiors, however, are another story. In contrast to the local tradition of using antique furnishings, the villas’ interior spaces are bright, open and filled with a mix of contemporary art, furniture and the latest modern amenities. “I want the houses to be as comfortable as possible,” says Angela Lauro. “I think about what I would want to find in a house. One must feel at home inside.” Working with local artisans and craftsmen, Lauro designed the windows, doors, beds, tables, white-upholstered couches and armchairs, kitchen cabinets, stone sinks and even the fireplaces. “The process was long and difficult because we wanted everything to be custom made,” he says. Interspersed with the contemporary furnishings, such as Philippe Starck bathtubs, are Biedermeier pieces from the mid-1800s. 

Completed in 2009, the 6,400-square-foot La Galleria can comfortably host 12 guests with six bedrooms and 6.5 baths. The 1,700-acre estate features a private infinity-edge pool, bocce ball court, rare rose gardens, a vegetable garden and a magnifi cent 400-year-old oak tree that “fascinated me from the start,” says Lauro. The expansive patio and lawns offer a majestic view of Val d’Orcia— green rolling hills, bright red poppy fields and the old volcano lava dome of Monte Amiata—stretching all the way to the ancient towers and cathedrals of Pienza, another World Heritage site that is considered the ideal representation of a Renaissance-era town. Located nearby on the same estate, the recently completed 6,450-square-foot, 6-bedroom Monticelli offers similarly delightful touches, including a color therapy shower in the bedroom beside the infinity pool. Lit by lamps, the rain-effect shower water changes colors (yellow, green, blue and red). Angela Lauro created two distinctive rose gardens at the house. “Everyone here has wild herb gardens with rosemary and lavender,” she says. “I thought, ‘what’s the most different thing I can do?’” Roses were the answer. The smaller walled garden features languid shades of red and pink. In the westfacing terrace garden, pink, orange and yellow blooms reflect “the same fantastic sunsets you find in Renaissance paintings, with very wild, bright colors,” she says. 

Guests at La Galleria and Monticelli enjoy a unique opportunity to live with museumworthy contemporary art curated from the Lauro’s private collection. For instance, over Monticelli’s fireplace hangs Massimo’s favorite painting, Young Lonely Palm, done by his close friend, American artist Aaron Young. Nearby hang two works by another American painter, Richard Aldrich. Rashid Johnson’s Run Jesse Run, the title’s words spray-painted white on a large mirror, animates La Galleria’s dining room. Other artists represented include Brendan Fowler, Piero Golia, Matthew Chambers, Nicola Pecoraro and Sam Falls. Massimo inherited his passion for art from his parents, who discovered contemporary art and began collecting it during travels abroad. “I learned to love beauty in general and to search for the very best—that one can afford,” he says. He still keeps updated on emerging young artists, “which is not that easy living in Italy,” he says. “But I manage.” 

After completing the third residence later this year, the Lauros’ twin passions of art and architecture will turn to an even more ambitious project. Close to home in Città della Pieve and Il Giardino dei Lauri, they have purchased a parcel of land where Perugino painted his famous fresco, Il Battesimo di Cristo. There, they plan to build Art Borgo. “A borgo is a group of houses around a church or council, but in this case, it’s a museum,” says Lauro. Internationally known architect Piero Sartogo, who designed the Italian embassy in Washington, D.C., is currently working on a very contemporary plan. “It’s something not seen here,” Angela says. 

When asked why they go through the expense and time to carry out their ambitious projects, Massimo and Angela respond with the passion for which Italians are famous. “I try to offer as much as I can. I want our guests to have a special experience in my house,” says Angela. “The houses aren’t built to be rented; we create them as if they were our own home,” Massimo adds. “Many of our guests say the house is even better than the photos. We try to take you to a more passionate place and every small detail contributes.” 

Make Yourself at Home

Tuscany The Lauros’ homes in Val D’Orcia are just two of the more than 12 Signature Residences available in the general area of Tuscany that also includes Chianti and Siena. Members can choose from the sprawling 12,700-square-foot Il Campanile villa in Siena with its nine bedrooms to host a family reunion or the more intimate Cottage Chianti and its two bedrooms and 2,370 square feet of charm. Between the two, members can pick from villas with three, four, six, eight and nine guestrooms.

Elda Cannarsa’s Picks; Inspirato Destination Concierge 

Eat: A former 16th-century convent, Relais Santa Chiara in Sarteano serves local classics in its elegant courtyard. In the ancient walled village of Monticchiello, seek out the trattoria, La Porta. The restaurant inside the castle La Locanda del Castello is famous for its white truffle dishes, the best in Montalcino. Day Trip: The road to a wine tasting at Montalcino winds through the vineyards that produce one of Italy’s most exquisite wines, Brunello di Montalcinao.

Songs for Angels

Songs for Angels

August 1, 2019

Playing Live has the intimacy of gentle sex,” says singer and songwriter Sarah McLachlan. “You’re emotionally wide open up there on stage, and when it’s good—when the audience is giving back—you feel part of something much bigger.” Speaking from her home in Vancouver, British Columbia, McLachlan chuckles with mild embarrassment at her admission, but it explains her sense of excitement heading into her tour this summer in support of Shine On, her first album in four years. 

For fans of the singer, the album and the tour can’t come soon enough. For McLachlan, though, the timing is perfect. “I started writing songs for this album three years ago,” she says. “But I had some big distractions: revamping and running an afterschool music program at an inner-city school in Vancouver; being a parent to two kids. By the time I got back to those songs, I realized I was a different person.

My father had passed away as well, and I recognized that life was so much bigger than what those songs were about.” McLachlan started fresh, fueled partly by the loss of her father, partly by the changing perspectives that come from being a parent to her daughters, now 12- and 7-years-old (Of parenthood, she says, “It’s a terrifying and joyously beautiful responsibility”). Many of the songs on the new album are about mourning a loss, but she explains that because of her children, she found herself dwelling less on the past and more on moving forward in a meaningful way. Finding solace through her music, McLachlan uses the songwriting process to work through her own demons and issues. “It’s very therapeutic,” she says. “If I’m feeling wound up and frustrated, I’ll go settle down at the piano and noodle around. If I like something, I’ll record it on my iPhone and keep going.” 

Eventually those therapy sessions turn into melodies that become songs. “There’s nothing sharp about the process,” she says. “It happens when it happens.” Her lyrics come after the melody, and she’s learned in her 25 years as a professional to jot down those snippets immediately or lose them forever. In the studio, the melody and lyrics come together to form a song that she’ll perform for the rest of her life. With more than an estimated 40 million records sold in her career and Grammy awards for songs on her 1997 album Surfacing, McLachlan brings her emotionally powerful voice to cities across North America this summer.  

When asked how she knows whether a song will work live or not, she replies, “If a song works while singing solo and playing a single instrument, then you know it’s strong.” Exhibit A: “Angel,” her smash-hit song from Surfacing that features McLachlan, her piano and nothing else. She enjoys summer tours for the chance to play outside.  

The first half of the show is under the fading light of day, when she feels surrounded by the audience and embraces the casual atmosphere. Then for the second half, darkness sets in and the dramatic stage lighting takes over. For this tour, she gave herself plenty of time to line up venues she loves that allow her to do just this: Red Rocks in Denver, the Santa Barbara Bowl and Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, among them. But beyond the venues, a summer tour schedule means that her children can come with her on their summer break from school. “It’s a big camping trip and road trip for them, and it’s wonderful to show them new places and new cities,” she says. “I’ve been to many children’s museums and science and natural history museums. It’s all about exploration with the kids. Everything looks new again through their eyes,” she says. “If we have time, I do like to seek out nature. I get a truer sense of place from the landscape—the trees, mountains or the ocean—than I do from the downtown streets where our hotels are usually located.”  

Two weeks after she finished recording Shine On, and mere days after returning from a well-deserved Hawaiian vacation, McLachlan sounds ready to open herself to an audience on a nightly basis, revisiting heartache and triumph through songs old and new, and recharged by the presence of her children and fans, many who’ve already snapped up the tour’s VIP tickets months ahead of her opening night. “It’s comforting to know that those people are there, and they care about what I do.” 

Whale of a Tale

Whale of a Tale

July 31, 2019

To celebrate my 44th birthday last February, my wife and four of our friends booked a last-minute Inspirato Jaunt™ vacation to Punta de Mita on the Pacific side of Mexico, 10 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. We enjoy vacations near water, and I’ve gotten into sport fishing the past few years, so it seemed like a perfect fit for our first Inspirato trip. We arrived at our five-bedroom Vista Bahia residence at Los Veneros Resort Residences and Beach Club to fresh margaritas, martinis, beers and meat prepped for grilling. There were floor-to-ceiling accordion doors leading outside, and the whole front of the residence opened up to a patio and a private pool overlooking the ocean. There seemed to be an endless supply of chips and salsa available at all times.

Each morning we awoke to the smell of breakfast being prepared by our personal chef who started our day with delicious pancakes, waffles, quiche and huevos rancheros. During the day we enjoyed couples’ massages and specialty cocktails while looking out over the Playa de Estiladeras. The nights that we weren’t grilling and relaxing by the pool, we went out for lobster dinners along Puerto Vallarta’s famed malecón, or boardwalk, a short drive away.

They took care of everything—I was never left wondering what would happen next. We even had a rental car delivered to us with such detailed instructions on where to go and how to get there that we had no problem navigating our way around the scenic peninsula. Sometimes it’s nerve-wracking trying to navigate in another country, but everything went incredibly smooth during our five-day stay.

The highlight of our visit was day three, when we took an all-day fishing charter out of the marina at Punta de Mita on a 35-foot-vessel. There were huge swells out on the open ocean, but our captain did a phenomenal job of maneuvering us through the chop. I can’t say enough about how fantastic the captain and crew of the Banderas in Paradise (BIP) charter were that day. I’ve been on fishing boats where no one really talks and there’s no effort to connect with you. This team was super supportive and made an effort to get to know us. They seemed to be having just as much fun as we were out there on the ocean. 

When I started reeling in a fish, the crew ran around the boat making sure there were no obstructions. I welcomed their assistance since I lost a marlin after 30 minutes of serious effort during a previous fishing charter because I gave the line too much slack. I didn’t want that to happen again. I was lucky enough to snag the largest of the four fish caught that day: a rooster fish that was about 4 feet long. My adrenaline was pumping. It was quite a birthday catch. On the water later that day, we also spotted two large humpback whales and a baby whale a mere 20 yards from the boat. Our boat looked small compared to this trio of giants. They swam right by us and would breach, splash, drop and shake their tails. It was very like something out of a National Geographic documentary, one mashed up with a SeaWorld show. At one point the whales glided through the water side-by-side, jumping and weaving back-and-forth between one another and truly showcasing their playful side. It was as if they knew that we were there to watch them and decided to put on a show for us.

Back at our residence, we sat out on the balcony and spotted a few more whales and dolphins popping up out of the water. We were thoroughly impressed. While talking with locals about our great sightings, we learned that we witnessed the tail end of the annual whale migration. The height of migration is a few weeks earlier and most whales have moved on by late-February. If we’d come just a little bit earlier, we might have seen ten times the number of whales. Whenever Kim and I get together with the other couples from the trip, we always talk about our day out on the boat and our desire to head back to Punta de Mita to see the whales again. In fact, by the time you read this, we’ll have probably already returned. 

Castle of the Sea

Castle of the Sea

July 31, 2019

In a corner of the economy that few get to see and even fewer get to experience, there exists a conveyance known as the mega-yacht. Nothing short of castles upon the sea, these vessels are more than 100 feet long, 25 feet in beam, and more than 50 feet tall. Bulging with four decks and more than 5,000 square feet of living space, they are multilevel Park Avenue penthouses—that float.

Lady J, at 142 feet, is the definition of mega-yacht; and what better place to show it off than the island of Providenciales, part of the Turks and Caicos archipelago. As we walk the pier to board, Lady J’s crew of nine, including captain Steve, snap to sharp attention to welcome us. The yacht has a capacity of 12, but its passenger list seldom exceeds 10, meaning the ship’s ratio of crew to guest is roughly 1:1 so there is no wish left unanswered or, more impressively, unanticipated. A few steps up to the main deck and we are given cool towels and still cooler champagne. While the captain explains the vessel’s safety features on our introductory tour, I can’t help but eye both the collection of wines and the collection of water-born sea toys that includes two jet skis, a 32-foot, fishing/waterski/do-whatever-the-hell-you-want speedboat, and an arsenal of associated apparatus from paddleboards to wakeboards to banana boats, all accessible from a hardwood sports deck that extends invitingly off the stern a foot or so above the water.

Morning begins with a breakfast of smoked salmon, eggs Benedict and cappuccino as we cruise toward our anchorage off a lovely coastline on the west side of the island. Once there, the crew squires us aboard the tender for a day on a deserted beach where upon arrival we find beach chairs arranged, umbrellas unfurled, and champagne on ice. The beach itself is beyond pristine, having been raked by the crew hours earlier.

The staff of Lady J operate in a manner that combines the most important elements of white glove service (in some cases even including white gloves), the U.S. Secret Service (each wearing an earpiece to assure that a guest’s mildest requirements can be promptly met) and of traditional hospitality (“Is there anything at all I can get you?”). When one evening a guest decides to have an unannounced midnight swim, it seems as if two of the crew arrive with waiting towels even before he hits the water. “We have a swimmer!” is quietly heard over the radio to a listener being poured some chamomile in the main parlor.

We spend the morning speeding on jet skis, falling off paddleboards, and snorkeling on the reef. Given the choice of lunch on the beach or back at Lady J, the guests agree to return to the ship for chef Nate’s ministrations, which this time included a lovely quinoa salad and some perfectly seasoned grilled chicken. While some of our group elect to spend the afternoon on the sun deck replete with a hot-tub and comfy chaise lounges, Captain Steve suggests we try our hand at some game fishing. Thirty minutes later, we are off in Lady J’s powerboat equipped with tackle well suited for Moby Dick. Steve, who’s an angler by heart, put us on fish almost immediately, and we return with both fresh mackerel and some very tired arms.

Fatigued from a full day of indulgence, we assemble in the formal dining room for a carefully crafted sauté of diver scallops, shrimp, and lemon flounder.  It is delectable, as is the freshly baked bread, in which Nate takes particular pride With the exception of some unexpected rain which the crew handles with the deftness and coordination of a race car pit crew, our cruise on Lady J is a mix of luxury, excitement, relaxation, and service that leave us thinking only of the next time we might be aboard.

Providenciales: Jewel of the West Indies 

The gleaming, reef-enclosed island of Providenciales sits at the northwest corner of the Turks and Caicos island chain, yet it’s neither Turk, nor Caico. It’s not technically part of “the Caribbean” either according to purists who claim that the Turks and Caicos, along with the Bahamas, are not Caribbean islands. Whatever the case, to most visitors the warm, gentle and gin-clear water that explodes in turquoise and surrounds Providenciales is a decidedly Caribbean experience. What’s not Caribbean about it? That Turks and Caicos appears to be relatively underdeveloped with respect to other islands, which are both farther away from the United States and no more beautiful. “Provo”—as the locals call Providenciales—lies a mere 500 miles from Miami, and the airport’s 9,000-foot runway can serve the largest jets in the world. The islands are also possessed of the earth’s third-largest barrier reef (behind Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and that of Belize) and offer some of the best diving and fishing in the Americas.

Unfurl the Sails in the seas of the Caribbean

Unfurl the Sails in the Seas of the Caribbean

July 30, 2019

On the morning of Friday, April 4, the waters of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, which runs through the heart of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), will be teaming with cruiser-racer and bareboat sailboats, all waiting for the blast of an air horn and wave of a flag that signals the start of the 43rdAnnual BVI Spring Regatta. The captains aboard the boats will have their sails set and bows pointed to cross the starting line and gracefully carve through the Caribbean’s stunning cobalt waters.  Several races will stretch over the next three days but for many, the fun starts five days earlier at Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola when the 12th annual Sailing Festival begins and the party scene kicks into gear, fueled by a generous helping of painkillers, the signature rum-based drink of the BVI. 

As sailing events go, the regatta and festival may just be the most democratic and accessible in the world. It has something for everyone from America’s Cup and Olympic sailors to neophytes who want to give competitive sailing a try and even for people just looking to enjoy those painkillers and hitch a ride on a boat. The attraction: The BVI’s geography makes it a veritable theme park for the sailing set.

Warm Water, Hot Sailing 

The British Virgin Islands’ archipelago consists of 60-odd islands nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, about 70 miles east of Puerto Rico. Christopher Columbus came across this collection of long-dormant volcano remnants in 1493. Notorious pirates such as Sir Francis Drake, Blackbeard and Black Sam Bellamy, credited with capturing 53 ships in his day, all sought refuge in the numerous coves and anchorages hidden throughout the BVI during their careers.  Fast forward to 1972 when members of the BVI Hotel and Tourist Association decided to put on a regatta to bolster the growing recreational sailing community. One of them, Peter Haycraft, served as the regatta’s chairman for 25 years and has the distinction of sailing in every race to date. It started off small, consisting of roughly 20 boats; mostly tiny one- or two-person boats such as Squibs and Sunfish racing between islands over the course of a weekend. This year more than 3,000 people will flock to the Sir Francis Drake Channel for the Regatta and Sailing Festival, with 125 boats expected to participate. What draws them? Phenomenal sailing in an incomparable setting.

“We’re very fortunate to have constant trade winds and fair seas,” says Judy Petz, director of the BVI Spring Regatta. In late March and early April, when it’s still frigid in much of the northern hemisphere, the BVI enjoys days with temperatures in the 80s (F), but the sea breeze keeps it comfortable. That same breeze blows steady through the islands, which form a protective circle around the waters between St. John to the west, Tortola to the north, Virgin Gorda to the east, and a string of close-together islands to the south. The Drake Channel, a deepwater straight that’s roughly nine miles long and four miles wide, runs between Tortola and the southern chain and bisects the territory. In all, the BVI offers nearly 60 square miles of nautical paradise. For the week of March 31 through April 6, the spiritual home of island sailing sets up on the docks of Nanny Cay Marina, just west of Tortola’s main city, Road Town. By 6 p.m. on that Monday, the docks will be shaking from the good vibrations of a reggae backbeat, as the first Mount Gay Welcome Party kick-starts the week’s festivities.   On Tuesday morning you can participate in the Round Tortola Race, which doesn’t earn points in the regatta but is a cherished part of the weeklong festival. Boats that enter are trying to win the Nanny Cay Challenge for the fastest sailing time around the island. (The current record is 3 hours, 29 minutes, 41 seconds.) There’s another “pre-race” race for fun on Wednesday that ends in a beach barbecue. On Friday, with the start of that first official regatta race, it’s game on.

Sailing’s Caribben Open 

Fortunately, you don’t even have to know your spinnaker from your jib to take part in the BVI Spring Regatta. “There are all kinds of people involved, from Olympic and America’s Cup competitors to people who have never been on a boat before,” Petz says, going on to point out that the event has drawn competitors from as many as 17 different countries including the U.S., Canada, Italy, China and Croatia.

In all, there are 16 classes of boats that race in three different areas throughout the islands. Because the water is so protected—and land is almost always on the horizon—sailors rarely find themselves in adverse situations.  Experienced sailors without their own vessel typically charter a raceready bareboat, which is the equivalent of renting a car from the airport: You pick it up, sail off and return it when you’re done. It’s a family sailboat, with no crew or captain provided, and no spinnakers (the big billowy sails that are used to sail downwind). Most charters start on Tortola, the most populous island and the home of the international airport. 

“The BVI is a great place to try your first regatta,” Petz says. “It’s very relaxed and many of the boats are a lot smaller, maybe 40–50 feet.” With an experienced captain, it’s a safer endeavor, and you can bring along some of your own crew and participate as much as you want, from learning how to work the sails and man the tiller to simply moving from one side of the boat to the other to maintain the proper keel angle (the way the boat leans as it glides through the water).  

Depending on the boat’s size, a crew consists of anywhere from two to 22 people. If you don’t want to charter an entire boat, there are ways to sign up to be a part of someone else’s crew, with spots available for any skill level from novice to expert. After the last race on Sunday, everyone makes their way over to Regatta Village on the beach at Nanny Cay for the awards ceremony where the winners pick up their trophies and relive their experiences, while the revelers try to remember theirs.

 With first-, second- and third-place prizes given out for all 16 classes, there’s plenty of love to go around, starting with the winners who pick up bottles of champagne or top-shelf rum and quickly disseminate it to their crews. It may be the only time all week where a captain’s shout, “Bottom’s up!” is met with a cheer instead of fear.

Sailor’s Paradise 

The same characteristics that make the BVI ideal for a regatta make it easy for newbies to give cruising a try. For one, it’s hard to get lost. “It’s mostly line of sight sailing,” says Bob Friel, the former editor in chief of Caribbean Travel & Life magazine about the friendly confines of the Drake Passage. “It works for sailors of any experience level.” “Every day you’ve got a pretty straight forward plan,” Friel says. “You wake up in a gorgeous anchorage with a beach bar and sail to another gorgeous anchorage with a beach bar.” Many charter companies such as Palm Yacht Charters offer three-day sailboat charters that give you a taste of the island cruising life. Or opt for a day-cruise outing that involves snorkeling, island hopping and a stop at a popular restaurant or beach bar.

The bars of the BVI are stuff of legend, starting with the Soggy Dollar Bar in White Bay on Jost Van Dyke. Set back from the white sand beach in a canopy of palm trees, the Soggy Dollar earned its name from patrons paying for their drinks with wet money from swimming in or falling off their dinghies—there’s no dock so you have to anchor off the beach. The Soggy Dollar lays claim as the home of the original painkiller. Just around the corner in Great Harbour, there’s Foxy’s Bar. The key is to go in the daytime and hope the legendary proprietor, Foxy Callwood, is performing. Callwood has called himself the laziest man on earth, but his bar and musical performances have attained cult status. “He’s the most famous raconteur in the BVI and will make up a song about you and your crew on the spot,” Friel says. Those lucky enough to earn an original composition leave with some of the same sailing street cred attained from a weathered Mount Gay hat. 

If bar-hopping BVI style isn’t your style, book one of the best dives in the entire Caribbean, the wreck of the Rhone, a British mail ship that sunk during a hurricane in 1867. Pirate enthusiasts and literary types can investigate Norman Island, the place that reputedly inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Treasure Island. Or cruise over to the natural wonder of The Baths on Virgin Gorda, where giant boulders along the beach trap secluded pools of water. And there’s the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, perhaps the most well known sailing destination in the  BVI with its sheltered North Sound, an ideal playground for small boats.

Jill Neumann’s list Personal Vacation Advisor

Beach: The best is going to be the sugar-white sand and aqua-blue waters of Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. 
Eat:  You can’t beat the local flavors of the Banana Keet Café located in the hills above Cane Garden Bay  
Spa: At Serenity Spa inside Sopers Hole Marina, they’ll pamper you with everthing from massages and facials to yoga and acupuncture. 
Day Trip: Hop over to Virgin Gorda and explore The Baths, a collection of giant boulders along the beach. It’s the BVI’s signature natural wonder and photo op.

Kentucky Gold

Kentucky Gold

July 30, 2019

“This is our country’s native spirit. Everyone in the states can lay claim to that,” says Chea Beckley, when asked about bourbon’s recent surge in popularity, not just in Louisville on Derby weekend, but nationwide. Beckley’s the restaurant manager at Louisville’s Proof on Main, the restaurant tucked into the chic boutique 21c Museum Hotel, where a room Derby weekend is almost as hard to score as a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate. Craft cocktails, farm-to-table cuisine and contemporary art installations like deer heads in leather masks attract both travelers and hip locals to Proof. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have up to 80 bourbons behind the bar. The number depends on the time of year: Bourbons typically get released in the fall with a smaller release in the spring, and small batches often sell out in between. “Bourbons have also gotten a lot better over the years,” Beckley says. The craze for a $130 bottle of top-rated Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20 Year, distilled by the third and fourth generation of Van Winkles at Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, has encouraged mass distillers to develop small batch, higher-quality bourbons. Typically, local guests at Proof know the bourbon they want, Beckley says. Maker’s Mark with its sweet notes, the smooth balanced Woodford Reserve and the sweet and spicy Johnny Drum are Proof’s best sellers, with Basil Hayden’s (spicy, but not overpowering) also a popular request. If you’re new to the spirit, Beckley suggests sampling a few types by ordering a flight of 10-year-olds. Another way to discover your bourbon of choice, of course, is to hit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. While there are formally eight distilleries on the official Trail that highlight Kentucky’s liquor heritage, let’s be honest, it’s the craft distillers that create some of the best. With that in mind, we cherry picked the ones to see on the Trail.

South

Heading south from Louisville on I-65, you’ll experience all the charm of an interstate for most of your drive to the Jim Beam American Stillhouse. But almost as soon as you’ve begun to take in the Kentucky countryside after turning off onto KY-245 South, a big white barn with the Jim Beam logo blazoned across is your signal to turn left into the compound. Yes, it’s a massive facility, producing the world’s most popular bourbon, but you’re here to check out Beam’s small-batch Knob Creek, where if you’re lucky, they’ll enlist your help to dump out a barrel or sterilize a bottle in a bourbon wash (cleaning it with water would alter its taste), place it back on the bottling line and then buy that same bottle later after they etch your name on it in appreciation for your help.  

Then you’re back on KY-245 South for another 16 miles of Kentucky countryside before coming into Bardstown. Taking the right onto North Third Street will bring you smack into the brick-laden downtown of Kentucky’s second-oldest town, and a mainstay on many “best small towns in America” lists. Every September, Bardstown hosts the sixday Kentucky Bourbon Festival; regardless of what time of year you’re visiting, its restaurants and shops are worth a detour. The casual New American Circa is in the city’s oldest stone house, while Hadorn’s Bakery is the place to go for a quick morning pastry (try their doughnuts).

A 2-mile drive from downtown Bardstown, the Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center showcases the country’s largest independent family-owned bourbon producer. The distiller of Evan Williams and Elijah Craig offers a three-hour appointment-only Behind the Scenes Tour that includes barrel filling, dumping, warehousing and bottling operations and bourbon tastings for a full-sensory experience. Head due south on the windy KY-49, passing cows, horses and tobacco barns on the way to the scenic home of Maker’s Mark Distillery. Get out of your car and you’ll notice the smell resembles a bakery. That’s for good reason: Maker’s Mark uses a red winter wheat, which gives it a sweet flavor. “The world’s oldest operating bourbon whiskey distillery” (according to the Guinness Book of Records) is home to America’s only handmade bourbon whiskey, so says Maker’s. And while the fermentation room contains some of the only wooden vats still in use at a bourbon distillery, it’s the gift shop that’s the major attraction: You can dip the top of your own bottle of Maker’s into its iconic red wax sealer. 

Go East

The drive on I-64 from Louisville to the eastern distilleries takes you into the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region. Turn south onto KY-151 for the winding drive to Four Roses, which has one of the more interesting histories of the bourbons. Among America’s top sellers in the 1930s through 1950s, it disappeared from the U.S. market in the 1960s, until a new owner fired up the distillery in 2002. Housed in a historic Spanish Mission-style spread, the bourbon has gone on to become a four-time winner of Whisky Magazine’s Whisky Distiller of the Year—America award.  

Of all the distilleries on this tour, Woodford Reserve best represents Kentucky’s twin passions. It’s the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby and the facility itself, the self-proclaimed oldest and smallest working distillery, used to stable racehorses. Woodford is also the bourbon used in the $1,000-a-glass mint julep prepared and only sold at the Derby (the ingredients change each year but have included gold-filtered mineral water, Turkish mint grown near the Euphrates and ice from the Arctic Circle). The distillery’s tour features the longest barrel run in the United States, where the barrels travel from the distillery to the warehouse, and the only copper pot stills used in a bourbon distillery, the traditional means for distilling small-batch bourbon. Beyond bourbon, Woodford serves up delicious farm-to-table dishes from April through October when chef-in-residence Ouita Michel, a four-time James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast nominee, prepares her legendary Picnics on the Porch.

Kentucky’s Favorite

When asked where in town to find a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year, a near-mythical bourbon that’s aged at least 20 years before bottling and can fetch more than $1,000 a bottle at auction, Louisville’s Chea Beckley answers with, “Chicago.” A fair amount of Louisville restaurants carry it though. Call first; just because it’s on a drink menu doesn’t mean they’ll have a bottle of it on hand, and even if it is in stock, it doesn’t mean the restaurant will sell it to you: The New York Times reported that a Louisville steakhouse refused to dip into its Pappy stash even for the CEO of Buffalo Trace, the distillery where Pappy’s is made.

Bourbon and the Kentucky Derby 

Its history doesn’t go back quite as far as bourbon, but for 140 years, Louisville has been home to the Kentucky Derby. Other than the horses, locals associate the first Saturday in May with mint juleps, the cocktail made from bourbon, crushed mint leaves, sugar and water. Churchill Downs estimates it sells 120,000 of the cool drinks over Derby weekend.

Louisville Sluggers

If your Derby itinerary is short on time, Louisville offers plenty of bourbontasting distractions that don’t involve travel. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience located on Whiskey Row honors the man who opened the first commercial distillery in the state. Or spend an evening sampling one of the 50 to 150 bourbons available on the Urban Bourbon Trail. Another option: set up at Proof on Main, located inside 21c Museum Hotel, which doubles as a contemporary art gallery, Proof on Main’s 80-bottle collection of rare and premium hooch from around the country offers drinkers the chance to compare notes and finishes with our selection of Kentucky’s finest bourbon whiskeys (see below).

The Best Pours From the Bluegrass State

Pappy Van Winkle Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery (in collaboration with Buffalo Trace): One sip and you’ll understand the craze for this balanced, wheat bourbon with hints of caramel, vanilla and fruit— and why someone stole 195 bottles of it last fall from the warehouse.

Blanton’s; Buffalo Trace Distillery: The bourbon from Blanton’s Original Single Barrel carries a deep nose of nutmeg, vanilla, honey and caramel. Even better, track down a bottle of Blanton’s Gold Edition for its sharp taste and long finish with hints of toffee and apple, but only sold internationally or in U.S. dutyfree shops. 

Angel’s Envy Cask Strength; Louisville Distilling Co.: Created by Lincoln Henderson, who previously developed Woodford Reserve, among others, Angel’s Envy’s limited Cask Strength release was ranked “best spirit in the world” by Spirit Journal.

Jefferson’s Chef’s Collaboration; Jefferson’s Reserve: While not technically bourbon, this balanced blend of two bourbons with a 14-year-old rye came from a collaboration between Jefferson’s master blender, Trey Zoeller, and Louisville’s 610 Magnolia chef/owner Edward Lee.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Straight Bourbon; Jim Beam Distillery: A proprietary process pulls out the rich whiskey trapped inside the barrels’ wood aer they’re emptied, ages it and then blends it with a 6-year-old bourbon to make this new elixir. The result has a full-bodied oak flavor unlike anything else.

Eagle Rare 17 Year old; Buffalo Trace Distillery: Wine Enthusiast rated Eagle Rare 17’s delicate, dry taste and “very long” finish a 96 out of 100. ‘Nuff said.

Voice of Gold

Voice of Gold

July 30, 2019

Andrea Bocelli has never been on to balk at a good challenge. Blind since age 12 due to congenital glaucoma worsened by a soccer mishap, the internationally beloved Italian tenor says, “I was a restless kid. I had grown a taste for challenges, with a tendency to do all that I was forbidden or suggested not to do—and, if possible, to do it better than the others, even with enormous sacrifices.” Indeed, before he became a father, Bocelli, now 55, says, “I did not miss out on the excitement of water-skiing and paragliding as well as the thrill of speed.” Add to the list snow skiing, riding horses and bicycles—even skydiving and driving a car—and you’ll begin to grasp the confident tenacity that enthralls millions of fans worldwide.

What’s not challenging for Bocelli these days is selling out massive venues as well as albums, more than 80 million of them, making him the best-selling classical solo artist ever and one of the best-selling artists in music history. Perhaps the one bastion that may never fall to the richly emotional charms of his fluid, versatile voice is the conservative opera-world establishment. “Andrea Bocelli is one of those crossover artists who infuriate the opera purists, but is loved by many for his musical gifts,” says Michael Sinclair, editor of The Opera Critic. “I don’t consider him an opera singer in the true sense of the word.” In this way, Bocelli’s career shares parallels with The Three Tenors phenomenon, when Luciano Pavarotti, Plàcido Domingo, and José Carreras brought opera and classical music to huge stadium audiences, an anathema to opera traditionalists. Given that opera is Bocelli’s first love, enflamed when his nanny Oriana gave him a record of the late Franco Corelli, the famous Italian tenor who would later become his teacher, disdain from some critics must sting a bit—but only enough to reaffirm his disciplined dedication to improving his bel canto every day and with each performance. Earlier this year, Bocelli released Passione, a collection of Mediterranean love songs. Essentially a sequel to his highly popular Amore, a 2006 collaboration with Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster, the well-reviewed album features classics like “Garota De Ipanema” (Girl from Ipanema), “Love Me Tender,” and “Sará Settembre” (better known to English-speaking audiences as Neil Diamond’s “September Morn”).

On the album, Bocelli sings in six languages (Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Neapolitan), is accompanied by Latin rhythms and a 63-piece orchestra recorded in London, and performs duets with pop stars Jennifer Lopez (“Quizás Quizás Quizás”), Nelly Furtado (“Corcovado”), and even the late French chanteuse Edith Piaf, whose vocal for “La Vie En Rose” Foster extracted from a 1940s-era master recording.  

Many of the songs on Passione were among those often requested when Bocelli sang and played piano six nights a week in bars throughout Tuscany in the mid-1970s, to help pay for voice lessons with Corelli. During this time, he also studied law at the University of Pisa, near the family farm in Lajatico, where he and his younger brother, Alberto, grew up. Bocelli remembers these youthful days fondly: “It often happened that a beautiful girl who could sing in tune would come up and ask to sing something with me.” “I have always been singing, since I was a boy,” Bocelli says. “I used to compete, in the living room of my home, with the voices of my heroes whose interpretations came through the record player.” At age 6, he began studying classical piano, later learning to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, guitar, drums, and more.

“Up to age 18, I had quite a radical attitude toward pop, excluding a priori all that was not classical or opera,” he says. But when he began playing “light music” in piano bars, he says, “an entirely new world opened up to me; I realized pop has its masterpieces.” For Bocelli, it’s easy to identify beauty in a piece of music, whatever the genre. “The fundamental difference is in the consequences it generates; it slowly gets inside you and helps you to grow, developing your spirituality.”

For a year, Bocelli worked as a stateappointed attorney. But his heart was in music. His big break came in 1992, when Italian rock star Zucchero called for tenors to make demo tapes of his song “Miserere,” hoping to convince Luciano Pavarotti to record a duet with him. Legend has it that Pavarotti refused to believe Bocelli’s tape was made by an unknown piano player, then told Zucchero to use him instead, famously saying, “There is no finer voice.” Pavarotti did, however, record the duet, but it was Bocelli who performed in his place on Zucchero’s European tour, quickly gaining a name for himself. Around this time, Caterina Caselli signed Bocelli to her Sugar record label. Three things drew her to the tenor she says: a “deeply marvelous” voice, with “low frequencies that creep into our emotional fields and conquer our hearts”; beauty (“He looked like the young and absolutely heart-throbbing Omar Sharif ”); and charisma that “enables him to relate to people from all walks of life.” In 1996, Bocelli recorded “Time to Say Goodbye,” a duet with English soprano Sarah Brightman that quickly shot to the top of the charts in Europe. In 1999, he began a grueling world tour, which included his first performances in the U.S. His opening performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. won several standing ovations. This marked the beginning of a special relationship with America and with New York City in particular, where then-mayor Rudy Guiliani granted him the Crystal Apple in 1999. In 2011, Bocelli gave a Central Park concert broadcast on PBS and attended by 60,000, singing with Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, and many others.

At every break in the tour schedule, Bocelli traveled home to his expansive villa, a former hotel on the northern Italian coast near Pisa, to spend time with his two growing sons, Matteo and Amos. At a party in 2002, he met the younger woman who would become his fiancé and manager, Veronica Berti. “A few minutes after we met, he dedicated to me the romanza ‘Occhi di Fata’ [or Fairy Eyes],” she recalls. “That evening was enough for us both to decide to choose to spend our lives together.” Their light-filled home includes a large collection of musical instruments, ready for spontaneous harmonizing. Collaborator David Foster describes a typical scene: “We have so much fun when we’re working together. Andrea has an incredible sense of humor and his musical tastes are unbelievably varied. On any given night, while on a break, you could find us in the living room: me on piano; Pierpaolo, the sound engineer, on bass; Andrea’s sons on percussion; and Andrea himself on drums, playing and singing a Beatles song.”

Foster says the first time he heard Bocelli sing was a rare “aha” moment: “I was completely blown away by this powerful yet gentle voice singing in a style that I had never heard before. He is the only person I know who walks perfectly in both the pop world and the classical world. His pop voice is effortless and his knowledge of classical is vast. He prefers one over the other but he’s so clever that you will never figure out what his favorite is.” Those closest to Bocelli are clearly inspired by his will and passion for life, but are quick to add that these are balanced with a gentle humility, integrity and loyalty to his family, friends, and homeland. Together with his brother, Alberto, he owns a winery, “an adventure designed to honor and pass on the great love of our father, Sandro,” Alberto explains. “In the eighteenth century, the Bocelli family worked as sharecroppers on a property of the Corsini princes. The passion for our land has remained in our chromosomes.” Producing quality traditional Tuscan wines is a point of pride: “If we can recoup the expenses we are already happy.” In his hometown of Lajatico, Bocelli also helped sponsor construction of an open-air amphitheater, where he hosts a packed concert with special guests every July. Aptly named the Teatro del Silenzio, the venue goes dark the rest of the year. Growing up, Alberto watched his brother transform what could have been a limitation into opportunity for growth. “I think he grew his strong will in the difficult apprenticeship  of childhood, when he used to do half the things because he liked them, and the other half to demonstrate how silly others’ prejudices were.”

His old friend Adriano Fiaschi says that during their endless youthful discussions of dreams, love, and life, he came to appreciate Bocelli’s unique perspective on the dichotomy between being and appearing. “Since he was a boy, Andrea has pursued ‘to be,’ not ‘to look’,” he says. “Those who do not have any sight problems may be misled by the superficiality of the appearance, while Andrea is prone to see the essence of things; he knows how to capture what matters. Sight implies practical advantages, no doubt, but in this sense, also some disadvantages.”

To select the songs for Passione, Foster spent two 14-day stretches at Bocelli’s villa, coming up with a list of 80 candidates. Asked what makes a great love song, Bocelli told Foster, “When I sing a song, I must first fall in love with it and feel it in my heart. It must arouse emotions and enter the fibers of those who are listening to it. It must become the voice of many in the world, so that they can mirror in it their most genuine feelings.” In the midst of his Passione tour this summer, Bocelli reflected on his ambivalence about touring. “Mine is a wandering life. The rhythms it requires still cost me physical and psychological strain today, as 20 years ago. I spend most part of the year abroad, and every time I have to leave the peace and the happiness of my house and most of all, my loved ones. At the same time, I am perfectly aware of how wonderful my work is, and I certainly do not complain.” His preparation for a tour is always the same, he says. But with rising fame and growing public expectations, he says, “I cannot afford leaving anything to chance. The set list is quite meticulously prepared and reasoned. The performance of the pieces, especially the opera ones needs constant study.” Thankfully, tour logistics are handled by his staff, ‘an enlarged family.’ And after a decade of exhausting airport waits and delays, he now travels by private plane, a luxury which affords him “the perception of a family ambiance even when I am among clouds, traveling from one continent to the other,” he says. While on tour, Bocelli maintains a strict regimen. “Between concerts, I try to spend my time in isolation. I avoid drinking wine, coffee, and other pleasant things. I follow the diet of an athlete and take with me a gym ball, a simple tool to keep in shape. I try to speak as little as possible and to maintain the maximum concentration. Therefore, there’s usually no shop- ping, no trips. In fact, I can say I have traveled the world wide and far, but most of the time, I just know the airport, my hotel room and the dressing room of the theater. Before concerts, I study, read, or write myself (poems and aphorisms) in order not to give in to laziness and to keep my brain fit.”

Caselli vouches for his disciplined work ethic. “Andrea always aims for the sky and gives his very best, even when he is not in tiptop shape,” she says. “I recall seeing him perform live on Good Morning America at 7 a.m. without a speck of hesitation, after waking up jetlagged at 5 a.m. And this, let me say, is a rather unlikely practice among performing artists, who normally refuse to sing anything sooner than the early afternoon.” The day before any live performance, she says, he has a strict rule of almost religious silence: no interviews, no phone calls for the sake of his voice.

Shows share with all Bocelli’s live performances a special quality—an alchemy born of the magical effect his voice seems to have on his dedicated fans. His former piano teacher and collaborator for 20 years, Carlo Bernini, describes the effect, especially common in large concerts in the United States and South America. “[His] singing interacts at a deep level with the listener,” he says. “I see many couples arrive and absentmindedly occupy their places. Gradually, as the concert proceeds, people have a happier disposition and end up hugging or holding hands, or one is weeping and the other one is encircling his or her head. At the end of the concert, the public comes out visibly regenerated, pacified, and full of new energy.” Part of the magic is that his audience senses that Bocelli himself quite naturally embodies passion and romance. “I’m still very much in love with life. Love, the engine of the world, and even romance are essential ingredients of a whole existence, regardless of the passing of time. I think it is a priceless privilege for man to have the possibility to interpret, poetically, their own adventure on Earth,” he says. “What is often too large to be contained in the rational mechanisms of our minds, we can perhaps, if not really achieve, at least perceive through a poem, or perhaps a musical phrase.” With his fairy tale life and overwhelmingly positive outlook, Bocelli has little patience for labels like crossover artist or for petty critiques from opera-world purists. At the June opening of the opera season in Verona, he reportedly remarked with characteristic pragmatism to a journalist’s question about the attendance crisis in opera [houses] today, “We should invite young people to the theaters, to rehearsals. We have to spread it just as we do with sport. In a word, opera needs to be supported by an adequate marketing operation. For the rest, opera is more than alive and enjoys good health.”

When he looks ahead, Bocelli sees plenty of music projects— and a desire to give back something of what life has given him. He recently founded the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, which works to help people around the world who are in need due to illness, disability, poverty, and social exclusion. “I created a foundation to put all our strengths together, to make sure that my actions are not ‘a drop in the sea’ but united with all other drops—as Mother Teresa teaches us—to become an ocean,” he wrote in a letter on the nonprofit’s website. Appropriately, one of the first grants went to the MIT Fifth Sense Project, where researchers are working to develop a technology that can help blind people to perform the activities of daily life more independently and efficiently. Another, named Project Virginia, supports high-risk pregnancy care at a hospital in Haiti. After this tour wraps at the end of the year, Bocelli says he’s dreaming of just one thing. “At the top of my desires, there is always the peace and the quietness of my home in Tuscany, together with my children and the people I love,” he says. “That is my favorite holiday, the main goal in my wish list.”

Simona Bresciani’s list Destination Concierge for Tuscany

Spa: Relax at Espa, a modern wellness center tucked into Castello del Nero, a 12th-century palace located among the rolling hills of western Chianti. After a massage and skin treatment, take in the view of vineyards and olive groves from its heated pool.
Meal: Steps away from the duomo (cathedral) in Siena sits Antica Osteria Da Divo, which serves classic Tuscan fare in ancient Etruscan underground rooms carved out of the region’s soft volcanic rock.  Wine: Combine two Italian classics into one with a guided road trip in tiny 1960s’ vintage Fiat 500 cars that ends at a 15th-century villa and vineyard. Harvest grapes, stomp them into juice, and learn the Italian way to producing wine.

Eight of the Cowboy States’ Impact Players

Eight of the Cowboy States' Impact Players

July 29, 2019

The Skier, Kit Deslauriers

When it comes to skiing firsts, DesLauriers is quite simply the best. In 2006, the two-time freeskiing champion was the first person to ski off the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent, as well as dozens of other first descents around the world, including runs down the Polish Glacier on Aconcagua in South America and Mount Isto, the tallest peak in Alaska’s Brooks Range. In 2011, her big mountain exploits earned her a spot in the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame. And in between these high-altitude accomplishments she’s mom to two daughters, a lifestyle that she attributes entirely to Jackson. “Nowhere else in the Lower 48 can you challenge yourself like you can here and expose your children to the best of the outdoors at the same time.” Local Escape: “Ice skating over Jenny Lake or skate skiing trail creek.”

The Photographer, Jimmy Chin 

Mountain climbers who need a shooter to document their jaw-dropping ascents inevitably call Chin. The 40-yearold climber and skier originally turned to photography to pay for his global adventures that include skiing off Mount Everest, climbing the sheer wall of Pakistan’s imposing Tahir Tower, and scrambling up Yosemite’s El Capitan 15 times. As his skills improved so did his ability to capture the extreme. His breathtaking images have graced the covers of Outside, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic magazines. In 2010, he expanded to video and produced the award-winning documentary, Samsara, about his failed attempt to climb the 20,700- foot Meru Peak in India.
L
ocal Escape: “I love hiking up and skiing down Taylor Mountain. It’s a 3,000-vertical-foot descent in a big bowl that gets loaded with powder.”

The Snowboarder, Travis Rice  

Rice cemented his reputation as the most daring snowboarder in history thanks to a 2011 Red Bull commercial where he dropped into a steep chute, flew off a jump, and executed a triple backflip while covering half a football field in the air. “That’s what I do,” says Rice, 31. “I find geographical oddities and figure out how to ride them.” Since Rice started riding in 1995, he’s always taunted gravity. By 2002 he was an X Games gold medalist and in 2008, he co-produced and starred in the snowboarding film That’s It, That’s All, regarded by critics of the genre as the greatest action sports movie of all time.
Local Escape: “There are amazing hot springs just outside Jackson Hole. I won’t say where but spend time searching on the computer and you’ll find them.” 

The Designer, Stephan Sullivan 

If you’ve bought a soft-shell jacket in the last 15 years, thank Sullivan. As founder of the activewear brand Cloudveil, he introduced the world to comfort and mountain-tough performance. After leaving Cloudveil, Sullivan, 48, launched Stio in 2012, which marries outdoor-sports fabrics with mountain-town style. The results are clothes with go-anywhere versatility such as weatherproof men’s blazers that stretch and a woman’s cocktail-party skirt that doubles as a running skirt. “It’s clothing you can wear climbing or skiing but also looks good at dinner that night,” he says. Reshaping people’s ideas of what their clothes can do is no easy task, which is why Sullivan retains tight control on where Stio clothes are sold: only through the company store in Jackson’s Town Square, the website, or the catalog. “We want to make sure people know that this emanates from the Jackson Hole lifestyle.”
Local Escape: “The Wilson Ice Rink is a gem. They light it three nights a week.”

The Curator, Carrier Geraci  

In 2010, when Geraci became the town’s art coordinator, she “felt like it was our responsibility to share with the 3.5 million visitors to Jackson Hole each year, our deep appreciation for the natural world.” Since then the 45-year-old has curated projects such as “Sky Play,” a flock of steel ravens on a concrete wall along Highway 89, and “Strands,” a stained-glass installation at the Home Ranch Welcome Center that depicts the DNA fin – gerprints of bison and grizzly bear, indigenous animals to the area. “My goal,” she says, “is that the art not only tells a story about the area’s past, but also about today and the future so that we have responsible stewards protecting one of the last great natural ecosystems.”
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ocal Escape: “Hiking to the top of glory bowl and skiing down. Then going into town for margaritas at Picas or a glass of wine at bin 22.” 

The Architect, Stephen Dynia, 

When New York City Architect Stephen Dynia arrived in 1993, local style could best be described as log-cabin chic. Fastforward 20 years, and Dynia, 57, has reshaped mountain architecture, introducing flat roofs, exposed steel, and “lots and lots” of glass. His hallmark building, the Center for the Arts’ performance hall, features a 500-seat theater with a wall of glass that looks out on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a detail that Dynia calls a “storefront to the community.” His work has also attracted national acclaim: This year the American Institute of Architects awarded him a fellowship, their highest honor, in recognition of his signature aesthetic. “My objective,” he says, “is to make sure people are able to experience the light and nature of their surroundings.” 
Local Escape: “The heated out – door pool at the Amangani Resort is fabulous.”

The Writer, Alexandra Fuller

Fuller moved to Jackson from Central Africa in her mid-20s always knowing she wanted to be a writer. To make that dream a reality, she would roll out of bed at 4 a.m., before work as a river guide or waitress, or waking up her children, and write about the things she knew: growing up during civil war in Central Africa, learning to load an Uzi machine gun as a child, and losing three siblings. Those experiences turned into 2001’s “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight,” a New York Times Notable Book for 2002. Three more books followed including The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, about the hardscrabble life of a boy growing up in Wyoming’s oil fields. The 44-year-old continues to write almost every day.
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ocal Escape: “I love the crosscountry skiing up and down cache creek. You can hear the snow settle, it’s so quiet.”