Where guests pay to do the cooking

The Baltimore Sun

These days, a good deal of travel centers on food and drink as much as scenery. Travelers eat gourmet meals, drink fine wine and, in some cases, do the cooking themselves. Here are some examples:

Tuscan Way offers a five-night cooking and spa vacation in Bagno Vignoni, Italy, a medieval spa village clustered around thermal waters in the Val d'Orcia, 40 minutes south of Siena and an hour from Florence. The year-round package, limited to four to 12 people and costing $2,950 per person, provides accommodations in a restored 13th-century building, a day at the spa, hands-on cooking classes, all meals, wine tastings and sightseeing excursions. Call 800-766-2390 or go to tuscanway.com.

September and October are the months for the wine harvest throughout Portugal, complete with grape stomping and parties. Many packages and programs are available. The Port Harvest Tour, Oct. 1-7, features behind-the-scenes tastings at some of the region's rising stars and famed port producers in Porto and, across the river, Vila Nova de Gaia. The price is about $4,200 a person. Go to fortheloveofport.com and click on "2007 Harvest Tour." At this writing, two spots were left.

Pacific Northwest Journeys plans a culinary tour of the Seattle area, Sept. 22-29, called Cornucopia: The Bounty of the Harvest. The tour will revolve around the foods of the fall harvest as interpreted by leading area chefs, who will dine and talk with participants. The cost is $3,595 a person, including seven nights' lodging, meals, activities, cookbooks and more. Taxes and tips are included, and the group is limited to 14 people. Go to pnwjourneys.com or call 800-935-9730.

There will be a dusting of flour, and perhaps snow, in Woodstock, Vt., Dec. 7-9 when King Arthur Flour presents Sarah Copeland of the Food Network for a two-part course called "The Twelve Days of Cookies," timed to coincide with the town's Wassail Weekend. Copeland will preside over a cookie-making demonstration ($30) and a hands-on program ($140). Benchmark Inns, a group of 15 lodging spots with prices from $125-$200, promises additional holiday ambience. Go to benchmarkinns.com.

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