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November's a big month for wine lovers

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Will you be partaking in Beaujolais Nouveau Day next Thursday, Nov. 19? For the record, Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from gamay grapes produced in France's Beaujolais region.

Law decrees that all grapes in the region be harvested by hand. The wine is fermented for a short time (just a few weeks) and then released for sale on the third Thursday of November each year.

According to Wikipedia, around 49 million liters of Beaujolais Nouveau are produced each year, comprising almost half of the region's total wine production. Just about half of that figure is exported, with Germany and Japan leading the biggest markets, followed by the United States.

In English-speaking countries, the traditional slogan for this day was "Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrive!" but in 2005 was changed to "It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time!" and in the United States it is sometimes promoted as a drink for Thanksgiving, since the holiday occurs a week after the wine becomes available.

In San Diego, French restaurants such as La Bastide Bistro and Bleu Boheme, will be celebrating with special menus, wine deals and more. This day is a big deal, because the Beaujolais provides wine lovers with a hint of what to expect from the year (or vintage).

San Diego luxury resort, The Grand Del Mar, recently received one of the travel industry's most elite ratings: a Five Diamond rating from AAA for 2010. Additionally, the property's dining venue, Addison, achieved both the AAA Five Diamond status and Mobil Five-Star ranking for the second consecutive year.

The 249-room resort is one of two newly designated Five Diamond properties in California; the other is the new Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach. Also, The Grand Del Mar is one of only three Five Diamond properties in San Diego, joining The Lodge at Torrey Pines and Four Seasons Resort Aviara. Only 113 properties in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean attained Five Diamonds for 2010.

In addition, Addison, is the only restaurant in Southern California to earn both Five Diamond and Five-Star status. To be considered for AAA approval and ratings, lodgings and restaurants must undergo a thorough inspection. The Auto Club's staff reviews Southern California establishments, and Five Diamond venues undergo the most scrutiny, with an estimated 0.2 percent of the thousands of establishments reviewed garnering this status, according to a press release.

The Mobil rating system is equally exacting -- restaurants, hotels and resorts must meet or exceed the guide's bar-setting service standards, determined through an unannounced, undercover service evaluation conducted by expert inspectors.

KSDS-FM (Jazz 88.3) recently welcomed Dave Drexler as host of "Inside Art," the station's weekly conversation with people and events of note in the local arts community.

As part of his show, Drexler will occasionally take 'Inside Art' on location with both local and visiting artists in order to profile artists and perfomers in their own environment and open up radio beyond its usual studio interview format.

Carlsbad-based Islands Restaurants has named Michael Smith, former VP of Operations, as president, who will oversee all business aspects of the company. Smith has been a part of the chain for the past 22 years, as he started at the restaurant straight out of college.

San Diego's Master Chorale was recently recognized at the Chorus America 32nd Annual Conference in Philadelphia. Awards recognized a wide range of achievements, including artistic excellence, adventurous programming, innovative education programs and generous philanthropy.

Under the direction of Gary McKercher, the SDMC received the 2009 Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award for programming recently composed music that expands the mission of the chorus and challenges the chorus' audience in new ways, according to a press release.

The award was based on the SDMC's work in preparing and performing the world premiere of Daniel Kellogg's "Fiery Furnace" oratorio with the San Diego Symphony in 2008. The choir only received the first pages of the composition in January for an April 2008 concert but did not receive the full score until the month of the concert and most notably -- the music was being revised continually up through the week of the debut performance.

Kellogg himself noted, "most groups would never even attempt such a challenge," and "the San Diego Symphony has one of the most talented and dedicated choirs of any of our major orchestras."

In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the San Diego office of Morrison & Foerster is sponsoring the La Jolla Playhouse world premiere of the musical, "Bonnie & Clyde."

Directed by Jeff Calhoun, the production is currently running through Dec. 20th in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.

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