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Ask sunset: have a question about life in the west? We have the answers.

Q: My granddaughter, a junior at Colorado State, is turning 21 soon. We want to celebrate with a trip to California wine country, including introductory wine tasting, good meals, and nice lodging (it needn't be luxurious). We'd love to see redwoods too. -FRANCES CHAPMAN, FORT COLLINS, CO

DEAR FRANCES Here's a three- Or four-day tour that will introduce your granddaughter to both Sonoma and Napa wine countries. For Sonoma, base yourself at Healdsburg's H2hotel (b2hotel.com) and drive west into the Russian River Valley. We love The Barlow (the barlow.net), the Sebastopol marketplace where boutique wineries like La Follette and Mari-mar show off the region's way with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and Zazu Kitchen + Farm (above) does stellar things with local produce. Back in Healdsburg, head to Ridge Winery's Lytton Springs tasting room (ridgewine.com) to savor great Dry Creek Valley Zinfandels. Next, on to Napa Valley. Take idyllic State 128 through Alexander and Knights Valleys (for redwoods, stop at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park) to Franciscan Estate (franciscan.com), where you can play vintner in a blending session, and to St. Supery (stsupery.com) for savvy food and wine pairings. Cap your visit in Michelin star-laden Yountville: Book a room at Hotel Yountville (hotelyountville.com) and celebrate the big 21st at Thomas Keller's sublime yet unstuffy Ad Hoc (adhocrestaurant.com).

0: What's your take on collage photo frames? I have a bunch of family photos to hang, but since I live in a 1907 building with concrete walls, I have to hang them gallery-style from the picture molding. I think one combo frame with many openings will look better than a dozen small frames. When I told a friend I was considering a collage frame, she was horrified--she thinks they're tacky. -G.G., SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR G.G. We don't hate collage photo frames. They can be real problem-solvers, and it's possible to use them stylishly. First, select photos that are black and white to rill them. (When many small photos crowd next to one another, color can look frenetic.) And the fact you have to hang the frame from molding is a style bonus--that added bit of something different (versus just hanging the frame on the wall) will really help. Instead of a basic nail or a hook, think about interesting hardware like a tiny knob or drawer pull from places like Anthropologie or Cost Plus World Market. Finally, choose something modern and cool to hang the frame on--twine, a small link chain, or a leather cord.

CI: Two years ago we planted a Ceanothus gloriosus in our backyard. At first it thrived, but now it's withered and unhappy. What's going on? We live in Sunset climate zone 17, about 10 blocks from the ocean, and have foggy summers. -NANCY J., SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR NANCY Remember When Harry Met Sally, when Billy Crystal told Meg Ryan she thought she was low maintenance but was really high maintenance? Ceanothus is like that. The rangy, tough-seeming plant with the foamy blue blossoms--generally at their peak this month--looks like it could handle anything. But it's more finicky than you'd think. Clay soil makes it unhappy, as does too much water. Give it sandy, well-drained soil, and make sure you're not overusing the hose or drip-irrigation system (where you live, ceanothus wants no summer water at all)--and the fraught relationship between you and your ceanothus can resume a smooth course to happiness.

Email your questions about Western gardening, travel, food, wine, or home design to asksunset@sunset.com.

SUNSET (ISSN 0039.5404) is published monthly in regional and special editions by Sunset Publishing Corporation, 80 Willow Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025. Periodicals postage paid at Menlo Park and at additional mailing offices. Vol. 232, Na. 3. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright[c] 2014 Sunset Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. Member Audit Bureau of Circulations. Sunset, The Magazine of Western Living, The Pacific Monthly, Sunset's Kitchen Cabinet, The Changing Western Home, and Chefs of the West are registered trademarks of Sunset Publishing Corporation. Na responsibility is assumed for unsolicited submissions. Manuscripts, photographs, and other submitted material can be acknowledged or returned only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Sunset, Box 62406, Tampa, FL 33662-4068, or call (800) 777-0 I 17 U.S. subscriptions: $24 for one year.
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Publication:Sunset
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Mar 1, 2014
Words:722
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