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Dear Reader,

California may have been under a lot of pressure this summer, with its budget holes and fires, but the Golden State still loves to celebrate. In that spirit, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared September the fifth annual Wine Month, where more than 1,000 wineries, restaurants and retailers across the state are offering special tastings, winemaker dinners and deals. Check out

Fall is an ideal time to tour the state’s wine regions, from Temecula, Southern California's best-kept secret, to Santa Barbara Wine Country and Santa Ynez Valley and Paso Robles further up the coast to the mothers of them all, Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Find out how to make the most of these destinations in 72 hours, from where to stay to where to dine, as well as insider tips. Save big by visiting the wine bars, lounges and collectives in Downtown Napa with the Taste Napa Downtown Discount Card. Or check out Napa’s renowned Stags Leap District, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

California is also the home of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, one of our Top 10 Wine Country Inns, a selection that also includes a 16th century-style French Chateau in Georgia and a modernist vision in North Fork, New York. For fans of vinotherapy, we have compiled the Top 10 Wine Spas Worldwide.

But loving wine doesn’t mean you have to splurge on a $2,000 suite. For you and everyone else who likes a good deal, enjoy our collection of Top 10 Wines Under $10. And, finally: friendly sipping at the Top 10 Wine Bars and exquisite selections at the restaurants near you with our Top 10 Wine Lists. After your sips, clean your lips. Seriously, we’ve discovered Wine Wipes. They were designed by a master sommelier to wipe away stains while cleansing your palate.

In the country where it all began, France, Beaujolais Nouveau is released at 12:01 a.m. on the third Thursday of November, so look out for offerings of this young effervescent red. Then read up on the world’s most important wine-growing regions in The Concise World Atlas of Wine.

And then there’s beer. It’s the time of year to raise your stein at one of the Top 2009 U.S. Oktoberfest Celebrations. Or leave your dirndl at home and quaff one of our hearty Top 10 Fall Beers, such as a domestic pumpkin ale.

We haven’t forgotten liquor lovers. We’ve made the acquaintance of an impressive 27-year-old recently, the Parker’s Heritage Collection 27 Year Old Bourbon. Check out our cocktail recipes, including the sweet Appleton Classic Mai Tai.

We have plenty of other features to help you learn about wine, including wine news, our wine of the week, new releases and wine events near you, as well as a Port and Sake section.

So enjoy the bounty of fall, and to paraphrase Gov. Schwarzenegger: we’ll be back with more good stuff in December with our Champagne & Holiday edition.

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