washingtonpost.com — Modular homes have been around since the first trailers sheltered migrant workers in the 1920s. But the stigma of double-wides and flimsy suburban boxes is being blown away for the money-conscious Lexus set, who can now order their dream homes off the shelf.
Click here for the full article including photo gallery and video: Mansion in a Box (w/ photos)
Friday, March 5, 2010
by Sebastian Blanco
BMW ActiveE concept – Click above for high-res image gallery
BMW said recently that participants in the Mini E lease program were "Delighted with [the] Electric Vehicle Experience." The Mini E, though, will probably seem totally lame compared to the production version of the BMW ActiveE concept (an all-electric 1 Series). After all, who doesn't like a rear seat? Oh, and the 100 mile range per charge and a 90 mile per hour top speed aren't bad, either.
There are around 450-500 copies of the Mini E out and about, and BMW is reportedly going to offering up a few more units of the all-electric 1 Series when it becomes available some time in the next year. BMW's board member for sales and marketing, Ian Robertson, told Automotive News that between 600 and 700 units will be leased to selected customers in major global cities. Robertson said the leases will be divvied up with 200 destined for the U.S. and between 300 and 400 driving around in Europe. As for the other hundred or so, maybe those will be demonstration or fleet or test units?
Gallery: BMW Concept ActiveE
[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]
Are you ready to meet Jesus? Do you have an extra $13,000 burning a hole in your hovercraft-less pockets? If so, then this totally real, totally functional hovercraft might be just the thing for you.
Designed by New Zealand inventor and mechanic Rudy Heema, the fiberglass WIG is all hover, all the time, until it hits 70kph at which point it starts to fly. Who wants to fly when you can hover? Not the J-Man, that's for sure. The auction runs through next Saturday, so act quickly if you want to be ready for church.
Weight Watcher’s Gives The Filet-O-Fish Point Approvalhttp://www.nbcchicago.com/
youtube.com — Hurley heads to the island where the famous ppl go, to have fun and to P.A.R.T.Y.
Not all of us own land for farming, but even urban dwellers can grow gardens and plants. There are more and more fantastic green living concepts being designed for people who want to try out their green thumb. Here are 15 fantastically futuristic plant growing design concepts.
One Pot, Two Lives
(image credits: Yanko Design)
The planter and fish tank work together to make your fish and your plant healthier. The system works by the fish poo acting as a moist fertilizer for the plant. The filter system helps to maintain neutral PH quality in the water for the fish while extending the watering period by about one week for the plant. One Pot, Two Lives was created by designers Sheng-Zhe Feng and Ling-Yuan Chou.
(image credits: designawards)
Urb Garden by Xavier Calluaud allows people who do not have space for traditional horizontal gardens to indulge in gardening. Vertical food gardens encourage urban dwellers to grow their own food. It comes with a self-contained drip watering system, keeping the plants hydrated. It was also designed for organic recycling to act as plant fertilization.
PC Green Computing Concept
(image credits: core77)
Designer Luis Luna created this green computer concept design called “O.” The project was inspired by the oxygen and the photosynthesis cycle, trying to reduce the amount of CO2 that computers generate. This CPU is both decorative and meant to encourage a green thinking lifestyle for computer users.
Kitchen Garden & Moss Bathmat
(image credits: La Chanh Nguyen,La Chanh Nguyen)
Designer La Chanh Nguyen came up with both of these green living concepts. The Kitchen Garden basically grows over the pot holding kitchen utensil and provides a vertical garden. The chef can cut some fresh aromatic herbs as needed. How about a moss bathmat? Moss Carpet utilizes the humidity of the bathroom as well as water dripping off a person to stay watered. It would also provide a very different feeling under your feet than most people experience when stepping out of the shower or tub.
Office Partition & Foot Rest
(image credits: yankodesign)
Having plants in the office is not a new idea, but designers Jinsun and Seonkeum Park have a couple of plant growing concepts that you have doubtfully seen in the office yet. For those of you trapped in the dreaded cubicle, perhaps office life would seem a bit less bleak with a Breathing Partition? They claim it will bring an ever-lasting oasis to an otherwise dull and dreary office environment. Not for you? Then how about a grass foot rest to allow a feeling of nature under your bare feet?
Le Petit Prince
Le Petit Prince was designed by Martin Miklica and was one of the 2009 Electrolux Design Lab Competition winners. This intelligent robotic greenhouse concept was designed to help with future exploration and expanding population on Mars. The four-legged pod can carry and tend to a plant inside its glass container. It also can send wireless communication to other greenhouse robots, allowing them to learn from each other.
(image credit: trendsupdates)
If you don’t have the farming land for a garden, surely you have enough space to hang a “picture?” Ecohabitare is a vertical garden designed by Daniele Adamo and Ravel Casela. Made from flat plates manufactured from recycled packages, this portable vertical garden takes 20 minutes a day to harvest and irrigate. The fertilized soil only needs changed once a year when you add new seeds. It requires about 9.8 feet or 3 meters of wall space and is best suitable for growing chives, parsley, tomato, basil, mint, bold, strawberry and rosemary.
Air-conditioning Curtain / Vertical Planter
(image credit: designboom)
This air conditioning curtain concept was designed by Laura Boffi. “Fresco Di Lana” is made from wool and meant to be kept wet via a water pump. The air-conditioning curtain could perhaps be considered swag except it also functions as a vertical garden. The wet wool filters hot air, cooling it as it enters the house. The wet wool provides pockets in which to grow your food, flowers, or plants indoors.
Envi Urban Waste Management
(image credits: behance)
Designer Julien Bergignat created Evni, one of 58 projects that was shortlisted for the 2009 BraunPrize competition. Envi is a foresight urban dustbin, promoting composting from biodegradable waste. The concept design shows the benefits of urban recycling in which the waste turns into compost for the plant it carries.
Refrigerator That Grows Plants
(image credits Yanko Design)
Designer Hanna Sandström worked with Green Fortune & Whirlpool to come up with a refrigerator that will nurture a seed into a plant. It’s meant to grow herbs and organic greens that you might normally purchase. Although still in concept design stage, the system should automatically water and give light to the refrigerator garden. Not possible? Once upon a time, the same thing was said about ice spitting out the refrigerator door. Growing plants in your frig would give garden fresh a whole new meaning.
(image credits Yanko Design)
Designer FALTAZI came up with Ekokook, one of the coolest kitchen concept systems ever invented. You can watch the video below whether you understand French or not and see it in action. Ekokook does it all, from use and re-use of your solid waste, liquid waste, organic waste, oh…and cook too. It has a combo fridge/freezer, steam oven, and two-tier dishwasher. Non-smelly waste is placed into a bin and compacted into briquettes. The double sink collects water that is filtered to be reused on the plants hanging above it. Organic waste is taken care of by earthworms and then further recycled into food for indoor and outdoor plants.
(image credits: gizmag)
Volksgarden is not a concept design but a reality of an effective hydroponic garden on wheels. It’s a ferris wheel ride for plants, growing up to 80 plants at once, taking 45-50 minutes to complete a rotation, spinning 24/7. The unit only takes up 1/3 of the floor space used by a conventional flat garden. Omega Garden Technology claims Volksgarden yields three to five times the comparable weight per watt average per harvest. This seems like a great way to grow your own food . . . or weed.
(image credits: designboom)
Philips design completed a project on how we might eat and source our food in 15-20 years from now. This Home Farming concept is a self-contained farm for growing plants and raising fish. This vertical garden is a step beyond those above as you would also be able to provide meat with your veggies. Below is a video of their design probe looking at the future of food.
Some additional info: This is in Crimea, which doesn't consider itself Ukraine, but Russia. This specific building was only erected in 1912 by Baron von Steingel, a magnate of German descent as a summerhouse, according to rumors for his mistress. Check out how the place looked beforehand - http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A4%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0 ...
Google image search : http://images.google.com/images?q=swallow%27s%20nest&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi
The App is called Everyday Looper and it lets you grabs a short snippet of audio recording and loop it, playing it back over and over again. You can then add another bit of audio to it, and the idea is to eventually end up with something resembling a song.
The app has a fairly steep learning curve, apparently mainly touch/swipe controls that take time to adjust to. That said, once you’re up and running, with a bit of luck, you might end up with something half as cool as the video below. You’re also likely to find yourself humming as you click your way through to find the $5 app in the appstore.
What other cool things have you seen one man and an iPhone do? Keep it clean…
[While you're here, check out our 10 Essential Apps To Get You Through The Day]
Link to this video
Miles Daisher turned the extreme sport of skydiving on its head after deciding to jump out of a plane in equipment normally used only in water.
Mr Daisher then swoops in at 50mph and lands on the water in spectacular fashion.
His antics are showcased in a new 3D film on skydiving, BASE jumping, wingsuit flying and Skyaking.
The 40-year-old, from Twin Falls, Idaho, decided to put a twist into has favourite pastime when looking for new ideas to take it even more extreme.
These pictures 13,000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) over beautiful Lake Tahoe show his efforts.
"It took us nearly a year before we could get our wish to come true as no one was really looking to throw a kayak out of an aeroplane.
"To begin with we did it off a 600ft bridge on a static line, and landed in Feather River, California."
Static lines connect the jumper to the point they are jumping from – such as a plane or in Mr Daisher's case the bridge – and automatically pulls their parachute as they fall away.
He said: "A year later I got permission to jump out of an aeroplane and so since that time I have jumped out of four different aircraft, including a helicopter.
"We have taken it all over the world from Mexico to Abu Dhabi and I have been Skyaking for nearly eight years now."
Over the years the father-of-two and his team have slowly perfected the art of Skyaking.
"There are a lot of things that can go wrong in skyaking and so you have to be prepared," he said.
"In skyaking I usually put the chute quite high. With skydives I will pull at 2,000 ft above the ground whereas with skyaking I will pull at 5,000 ft above the ground in case anything starts to go a little crazy.
"That way I have a time to sort things out, get out of the boat and then pull the chute for the kayak."
He has noted some strong differences in regular skydiving.
"The rate at which you fall is a lot different," he said. "Instead of falling flat on your belly you are sitting up right in an L position. I liken it to sitting on a space hopper, balancing front to back and side to side.
"It does take some decent balance skills. And because the boat has such a big surface area your fall rate is a lot slower.
"If you are lying on your belly, a normal sized human will fall at 120 mph.
"If you go into a stand up or a head down then you can build the speed up to 160-180mph.
"But with this boat, that has so much surface area and weighs 35lbs, meaning that I fall at only 98mph.
The reduced rate of Mr Daisher's descent through the clouds means that cameramen wishing to film him need to wear special wingsuits to increase drag and reduce their own fall rate.
Wingsuits are specially adapted bodywear for skydivers and BASE jumpers. Flaps of material running across the gaps between arms and legs increase drag for jumpers and allow them to glide like a flying squirrel.
Mr Daisher has completed more BASE jumps than anyone in the world with 2,570 and has completed a whopping 3,000 skydives since he quit his job and took up the sport in 1995.
Send an email to Mark Wilson, the author of this post, at email@example.com.
What’s headed our way? What’s not?
By Matt DeLorenzo / Photos by John Lamm
Alfa Romeo Pandion concept
This edgy 2+2 from Bertone is one of two concepts that honor Alfa Romeo’s 100th birthday. The large glass roof and swoopy shape recall another of this year’s hot concepts, the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics, which bowed last fall at Frankfurt.
The Pandion also showcases unique scissor-style doors that are hinged at the rear and swing up and toward the back of the vehicle. Based on a shorted Alfa Romeo 8C platform, the rear-drive Pandion is powered by a 444-bhp V-8.
Italdesign Giugiaro/Proton Emas Comfort and Country Concepts
The Turin-based design house headed by Giorgetto Giugiaro introduced a two-vehicle family of small cars for Malaysian automaker Proton. The 5 Porte (5 Door) and Country feature a hybrid powerplant that includes a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine that recharges a lithium-polymer battery pack for these front- and all-wheel-drive vehicles. The 5-door seats four, while the Country, which has only three doors, seats five. Egress isn’t a problem in the Country, which has no pillars and doors that are 52 in. long. Both vehicles are only 140 in. long, yet they offer the interior spaciousness of a midsize sedan.
Opel Flextreme GT/E
The purpose of the Opel Flextreme GT/E is to demonstrate that the extended range EV technology being used in the Chevrolet Volt can be adapted to a larger vehicle. The Flextreme is the size of a more traditional midsize station wagon, yet it offers nearly 40 miles in pure electric range from its plug-in lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle can travel an additional 300 miles thanks to the 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that is used as a generator to drive the car’s electric motor. The 5-passenger Flextreme GT/E sports a sleek exterior with a drag coefficient of just 0.22, which undoubtedly helps the car reach its healthy top speed of 125 mph.
This handsome 4-passenger sedan is intended to not only showcase the design talents of the I.DE.A Institute, but also to demonstrate that there is a market for good-looking hybrid-powered luxury cars. The Sofia is built on a chassis that was an earlier engineering study for the institute, and beneath its sexy shape is a 400-bhp V-8. The battery-electric powertrain produces an extra 100 horses. I.DE.A. is looking at shopping the design around to automakers globally. It could provide some competition for the likes of the Fisker Karma, which is slated to bow later this year.
Pininfarina Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta Concept
This simple 2-seat spider designed by Pininfarina serves several purposes, the first of which is to commemorate the 80 years of cooperation between the design house and Alfa. The second is to mark the Milan-based automaker’s centennial. But it’s more than that; the 2uettotanta plays on the heritage of the Alfa Romeo Duetto, that sexy 2-seater driven by Dustin Hoffman in the seminal coming of age film, The Graduate. Like the Duetto, this new age concept is rear drive and powered by a 1750 cc 4-cylinder engine, although this time the powerplant is turbocharged. This car points to the next-generation Alfa Spider, which switches from front-drive to rear-drive and is said to be part of Alfa Romeo’s lineup when it returns to the U.S., perhaps as early as 2012.
Porsche 918 Spyder
In perhaps the biggest surprise at Geneva, Porsche pulled the covers off the stunning 2-seat 918 Spyder, a supercar that can get 78 mpg, says the Stuttgart company. Aided by a lightweight carbon chassis, the 3285-lb. 918 Concept hits 62 mph in less than 3.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 198 mph. A mid-mounted V-8 with more than 500 bhp is largely responsible for this, fortified by front and rear electric motors that add an extra 218 hp to the car’s propulsion. With a pure electric mode and even a rear-biased race mode, the 918, though only a concept, has real production possibilities. One recently lapped the Nürburgring track in Germany in less than 7 minutes 30 seconds, proving a hybrid sports car does indeed have a role in the company’s future.
The 500-year-old inscription was found on a wall in Salisbury Cathedral, Wiltshire, hidden behind a monument dedicated to an aristocrat.
The faded black lettering was discovered in January but experts have now asked for help from the public in a bid to make sense of the inscription.
The digitally-enhanced image of the inscription on a wall in Salisbury Cathedral
Conservator Tom Beattie examines the lettering which was revealed after a 350-year-old monument was removed
Probe: Dr John Crook has produced a digitally-enhanced image of the text
Conservators came across the writing when they were preparing to clean a 350-year-old monument to Henry Hyde, a local aristocrat who was 'martyred' in the English Civil War for his support of King Charles I.
The text on the cathedral's south aisle wall had been whitewashed over with lime, which is why it is hard to read.
Tim Tatton-Brown, the cathedral’s archaeologist, said: 'The cathedral’s conservators quite unexpectedly found some beautifully written English text behind the Henry Hyde Monument on the cathedral’s south aisle wall.
'It was discovered when the monument was temporarily removed as part of the ongoing schedule of work.
'I originally surmised that the text dated from the 16th century, bearing in mind that the monument was erected soon after 1660.
'However, our researches now suggest it was written a century earlier and therefore pre-dates the Reformation.
'Study by specialist academics is leaning towards the text being written in the 15th century.
'This was period when English was, for the very first time, being used just occasionally in preference to Latin, which was then "the norm".'
Sir Henry had been buried there in 1650 after his execution. The monument was put up in 1660 and refers to him as ending life 'kissing the axe ... to suffer the envied martyrdom of Charles I'.
The writing was found behind this monument. It was put up in 1660 and refers to Henry Hyde as ending life 'kissing the axe ... to suffer the envied martyrdom of Charles I'
The inscription was found behind a monument in Salisbury Cathedral
So, what would English have been like in the 15th century?
The era saw the development – and finally dominance – of an English language that we would recognise today.
Not only were peasants using it, but the ruling class, who were still largely descended from the 1066 Norman invaders, increasingly spoke it too.
Revolutionary: Caxton's printing press
Middle English, which more closely reflected its Saxon roots than today’s language, was already used in Parliament (from the 1360s) and the royal court (from King Henry V, who acceded in 1413).
Latin, however, remained the official language of the clergy, making the use of the inscription at Salisbury Cathedral all the more fascinating.
It perhaps reflects a growing confidence in users of the tongue during a time of great upheaval as men from lower levels in society came into positions of power.
The advent of William Caxton's printing press in the 1470s also led greater standardisation, with more recognisable forms of grammar and syntax.
So, as a wider public became familiar with a standard language, the era of Modern English was truly underway.
Mr Tatton-Brown added: 'My guess is that it is a biblical text, put there in the Elizabethan period when the nave was fitted out with high pews for people to sit in to listen to the "new" sermons preached there.
'Inscriptions of the Bible, the Word of God, would have been written on the inside walls of the building following the Reformation, having been translated into English in Cranmer’s bible.'
Although in the 15th century the clergy stuck to Latin, English was increasingly spoken by wider society, including the ruling class.
The royal court used the language from 1413 onwards.
Experts in deciphering similar messages have attempt to find the meaning of the inscription but have so far failed.
Dr John Crook, who produced a digitally-enhanced image of the text, said he had found one line which read 'and we are c...' but the rest was illegible.
He added: There seems to be a phrase but so far we have not been able to work out more.
'If anyone thinks they can identify any further letters from the enhanced photographs, please contact us via the Salisbury Cathedral website.
'The basic questions of what exactly the words are and why the text was written on the cathedral wall remain unanswered.
'It would be wonderful for us to solve the mystery.'
Dr Crook also believes there are likely to be other inscriptions in the cathedral, which have since been lost or painted over.
He said: 'It would be too much of a coincidence that the only one happened to be behind this monument.'
The inscription has now been re-covered by the Henry Hyde monument, as scholars said it would be better protected.
Game show from Japan.You can't laugh or you get swatted and your out.
Posted By Michael Taylor
The Superleggera is back, and it’s faster and lighter than ever before. Debuting at the Geneva Motor Show, the new variant builds upon the new LP570 Gallardo line, which was first introduced in 2008. The car is a successor to the previous Gallardo Superleggera, which was produced in 2007 for less than a year.
by Willy Volk
As a wine judge and hobby winemaker, my favorite wine trips have always been to out-of-the-way places, away from tourists and kitsch. This is where you will find the best wines and the most interesting experiences. Here are dozens of not-to-miss wine experiences to plan into your next trip.
San Gimignano, Italy
San Gimignano is an ancient city in Tuscany whose medieval towers still fill the skyline today. While several grape varieties are grown in the area, the town is famous for its Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a dry white wine made in the region since the 13th century, and made famous by a reference in Dante's Inferno.
Beamsville, Ontario, Canada
The Niagara Region of Canada has developed into a thriving wine region over the past thirty years. Its micro-climate is perfect for European-style grape growing and this area is known for award-winning Chardonnays, Rieslings, and Merlots.
The region's best product, however, is its Icewine. This naturally sweet dessert wine is made from white grapes that have been allowed to remain on the vine into the winter and are picked and pressed during the first hard freeze.
Forgo the touristy Niagara-on-the-Lake and stay in Beamsville to the west. Beamsville is surrounded by small craft wineries and vineyards producing a number of varietals. From Beamsville, wine tours are an easy day trip. Beamsville restaurants also carry many local wines, so you can sample to your heart's content while planning your trip through wine country.
On your next trip to France, escape Paris and drive three hours south east to the city of Beaune. Even without wine, Beaune is a beautiful, historical city, with centuries-old cathedrals, ancient ramparts, and world-class cafs and restaurants.
The best place to sample wines in Beaune is the Marche aux Vins. The Marche, located in a 15th century Franciscan church, is a collective run by many of the region's wine merchants. For a mere 10.00 €, you can spend a morning or afternoon sampling a very large selection of Burgundies. You will be provided with a souvenir tasting cup and will make your way through the maze of wines. All of the wines are available to purchase. I most enjoy the heavier, older, and often more expensive vintages which are presented near the end of the tastings. Don't fill up on the cheap stuff first!
Temecula, California, USA
When one thinks California wineries, the exclusive and hip Napa Valley is the first area that comes to mind. While the Napa region produces some amazing wines, California harbors a wine secret farther to the south.
An hour from San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles, Temecula has been quietly gaining a name for itself in the wine industry. The hills to the north and west and the ocean breezes make for a perfect grape-growing climate.
If you enjoy gaming as well as wine, the Pechanga Casino and Resort just outside of town provides both. Or take a self-guided tour through Temecula's small boutique wineries and discover vintages that you will be unlikely to see on your supermarket's shelves.
Mainz sits perched on the banks of the Rhine as it has for almost two thousand years. The surrounding countryside is famous for its Rieslings, Sylvaners, and Muller-Thurgau. The cultivated vineyards encompass over 65,000 acres and, like many wine-growing regions along the Rhine, their soil imparts a unique character to these delicate white wines.
In Mainz, you can sample wines at many of the local vineyards, or take a boat ride down the Rhine with wine glass firmly in hand -- my favorite activity when I visit Germany. Stick with the Rieslings and forgo the more everyday Mullers. They want to be Rieslings when they grow up.
The Mediterranean Sea keeps the vineyards around Valencia at just the right temperature. The Valencia area is famous for paella and its locally-produced wines; two treats that can easily be combined into one outing to one of the city's many Spanish restaurants.
The wineries in Valencia are some of the largest in Spain due to the city's large port and ability to ship large quantities of wine around the world. The area produces deep red Riojas, unique roses, and complex aged sherries.
There are several wine tours, both guided and self-guided that you can sign up for to see the wineries and sample a wider variety than what is available in restaurants.
Bellingham, Washington, USA
Washington is one of the great wine regions of the United States. Although just coming into its own in the past decade, Washington is now the second largest state producer of wine in the country.
While wine towns can be found in most areas of the state, Bellingham, near the Canadian border, is a fun experience and a short trip from the British Columbia wineries to the north.
Bellingham is known for its wine bars and local wine can be found in every one of them. The pace of life in Bellingham tends to be a little more laid back than you may be used to so sit back, enjoy the wine, and listen to live music. If visiting in the fall, include tours of local vineyards in your plans and watch the winemaking happen first hand.
Brisbane makes the list, not because of its own wine-growing identity, but because of its location. In Brisbane, you can sample the fruit wines produced to the north, on the Sunshine Coast, including pineapple, kiwi, or mango wines. You can also sample more traditional wines from farther south
Australia is known for its Shiraz, a red grape originally from Europe and there are many to choose from in Brisbane restaurants. My favorite way to enjoy wine in Brisbane is to find an outdoor table at one of the restaurants surrounding South Bank park and sip some of Australia's finest while watching kids play on the man-made beach.
Cape Town is the center of South African wine-making and both reds and whites have been made here for almost 300 years. All of the great grapes of Europe can be found here including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (called Petit Syrah in France), and Sauvignon Blanc.
Many of Cape Town's upscale hotels offer packages that include tours of the 130+ vineyards (or 'wine farms' as they are called in South Africa), wineries, food pairings and accommodation. This is the best way to see Cape Town's surrounding wine country and an opportunity not to be missed
Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada
Pelee Island is the southernmost tip of Canada and is, in fact, farther south than parts of California. This tiny island is inhabited by only about 500 full-time residents but boasts some of the best vineyards on the continent.
Pelee Island Winery grows all of its grapes on the island (over 500 acres). A weekend on Pelee Island is a great opportunity to get away for a romantic weekend, which I do as often as possible. There are several bed and breakfast inns on the island and the winery offers various wine tours, tastings and educational sessions. And when you tire of drinking wine (an unlikely occurrence), you can enjoy the nature preserve or take a bike ride around the entire island.
-- The above was written by Angie Mohr, Seed contributor.
Walla Walla, Washington, USA
This small town is a four-and-a-half hour drive from Seattle, and it's a completely different world. Besides having a semi-arid climate and little-to-no traffic, Walla Walla is one of the world's hottest wine regions. Scattered throughout the countryside are vineyards and tasting rooms (highly recommended is Pepper Bridge Winery, one of many great producers in Walla Walla).
In the small but charming downtown there are enough tasting rooms to keep a wine tourist busy for days. Add in a few very high quality restaurants (Saffron and Brasserie Four, for example), and Walla Walla is one of the world's most inviting and laid-back wine towns.
The wine-tourism capital of Bordeaux is an obvious pick for this list. The vineyards of Saint-Emilion surrounding the ancient town center (a World Heritage Site) produce some of the world's most sought-after wines. Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Ausone are the only two Chateaux to receive Saint-Emilion's highest ranking, and great vintages of the wines frequently fetch over $1,000 per bottle. There are plenty of more economical choices though, and with nearly all of the 13,600 acres dedicated to wine production, there's plenty to go around.
Portland, Oregon, USA
The largest city in Oregon sits on the banks of the Willamette River and is a mere half-hour drive from many wineries in the Willamette Valley, one of the world's premium Pinot Noir growing areas. If touring the vineyards isn't on the agenda, there are numerous great wine bars and restaurants. Check out Alu Wine Bar, which claims a stellar wine list of both Oregon Pinot Noirs and intriguing imported selections.
Cochem is one of dozens of small towns along Germany's Mosel River, and it is particularly charming. The Mosel is famous for producing some of the world's best -- as well as age-worthy -- Rieslings. The wide range of wine styles guarantees a hit with every palate. The town is surrounded by steep hillside vineyards, and a thousand-year-old castle on a hill overlooking the town square adds to the atmosphere.
San Francisco, California, USA
One of the most diverse cities in the United States also has plenty of choices when it comes to wine. Dozens of wine bars are scattered throughout the city center -- try Yield Wine Bar for an earth-friendly wine list or the aptly named WINE for a constantly rotating glass selection.
Bonus: Outside the bustling downtown, Napa Valley and Sonoma are easy day trips to sample some of the best U.S.-made wines.
Los Olivos, California, USA
Rather than fighting the crowds in Napa Valley try this quaint Victorian town just north of Santa Barbara. The area is now famous as the setting of Sideways. Don't let the Hollywood connection scare you away though: the region is stunningly beautiful and is one of the best Pinot Noir producing areas in the United States (alternatively, swing by Andrew Murray for some killer Syrahs). The historic downtown is home to over a dozen wine tasting rooms in a small area.
The town name is translated as "new castle of the Pope," from the days when the Pope ruled from nearby Avignon. The Pope no longer lives there, instead you'll find some of the best wines in the world in this on the rise region. The stellar 2007 vintage is getting a lot of attention around the world, so a visit is recommended before the crowds become unbearable, which seems almost inevitable for good reason.
It's hard to imagine any better place to be in the summer than in Tuscany. This old hilltop town has been booming since the 1970s when its now world-famous wine, Brunello di Montalcino, began to receive praise. It's now surrounded by the world's premier Sangiovese vineyards, and provides a stunning view of the Tuscan countryside.
Tampa, Florida, USA
While this city is not even close to a major wine region, it does have events and restaurants to make it one of the East Coast's best wine destinations. Possibly the biggest draw is Bern's Steak House, which has an absurdly huge wine list. There can't be many other restaurants in the world offering a 1970 Pauillac for $18 per glass. If that doesn't suit your style there are 150 other wines by the glass to choose from.
Pro tip: The Florida Wine Festival is held every April in nearby Sarasota.
New York, New York, USA
If money is no object, but drinking wine is, New York is hard to beat. There's a particularly high concentration of wine bars in the East Village and Midtown. If you're in Midtown, check out Clo WineBar above Columbus Circle for a high-tech, interactive wine experience. The wine list is displayed on a touch screen bar top, and the wines are dispensed automatically throughout the room.
-- The above was written by Steven Washuta, Seed contributor.
Yountville, California, USA
Tucked into the vastness that is Northern California's famous wine country, is this 5-mile-long, cozy village. Wine country has many excellent dining opportunities to enjoy with their world class wines -- but Yountville beats them all with top restaurants (several are Michelin). It's hard to say which is better -- the wine or the food -- but wine pairing is what this area is all about. Stay at the Villagio Inn, and explore the town's antique shops and art galleries. And at night, get ready for Wine Pairing 101, taught by some of the world's best sommeliers.
This quaint town is home to Germany's largest open-air theater, the Volksschauspiele. Nestled along the French border, this area also has it's own understated wine country: many of these vineyards grow the grapes that make German whites so infamous and versatile.
The tiniest restaurants here pride themselves on their schnitzel or other old world dishes. Pair a favorite with one of the regional, world class Rieslings -- some are produced in such small quantity, you may not find this nectar anywhere else in the world.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA
When you visit other cities, add a new wine to your repertoire. As years go by, when you taste that varietal, it can take you right back to your special trip. While known for world class skiing, Steamboat is a summer haven -- to enjoy fresh mountain air, wine and music. A tiny specialty grocer, Market on the Mountain, can assist you in packing the perfect picnic basket with your favorite cheeses, crusty bread and a Pinot Grigio, so you may enjoy the majestic beauty of Mt. Werner and the Yampa Valley.
Pro tip: try to visit during "Strings on the Mountain" -- Steamboat's summer music festival (though Strings also runs a winter concert series, as well).
London has it all -- excellent wines from all over the world to pair with multiple cuisines, entertainment, and easy ways to get around without driving. Start out in one of Mayfair's excellent restaurants (we like the Greenhouse). Ask the sommelier for a brand new release -- or a warming Cabernet before taking the tube to the West End. SoHo's wine tasting and dancing venues top off the night, and grab a taxi back to your place. Wine, food, entertainment and transport are all integral to global scale, "good times" in the London scene.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
Host to the nation's largest music festival (Musikfest), Bethlehem has an historic "Party Hearty" reputation. This may have originated with the 1741 settlers: Moravians (who were wine-makers) moving in alongside Germans (who, even today, remain devoted wine-drinkers).
Pro tip for novice oenophiles: Where ever you live -- your town (and home) can become The Best Place for Wine Drinking. Take time to train your palate by starting with a single varietal, maybe a Merlot, and stick with it for a while. Then add another -- perhaps a Pinot -- and try that for a couple weeks. Soon, you'll be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test. When you're ready, try adding a Cabernet to the mix, but don't push this one. And, when you visit other cities, add a new wine to your wine repertoire. As years go by, when you taste that varietal, it can take you right back to your special trip.
--The above was written by Kris Myers, Seed contributor.