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The Business Flier Survey


Now you've heard it through the grapevine: It's the best time of the year for a trip to Northern California wine country. With the harvest running through October and the Bay area's best weather setting in, wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties are sponsoring outdoor festivals, classes, and special tastings. Meet the winemakers. Sample the goods. Enjoy the food and music.

The festivities kick off Labor Day weekend, but plenty is happening throughout the month. In Napa, the free Wine & Crafts Faire on Sept. 11 features 200 arts and crafts vendors and wines from the region. Beginning on Sept. 17, St. Supery Winery offers a $250 "harvest adventure" that includes breakfast, instructions on grape-picking, tours, and a Cabernet-blending seminar. Over in Sonoma on Sept. 11-12, Chaka Khan, Bobby Caldwell, and Harold Jones's Big Band will headline "Jazz on the River." Or how about this: On Sept. 18, build an outhouse racer -- yes, it's what you think it is on wheels -- and test your driving skills (707 887-9841). To get a complete schedule and check prices, go to winecountry.com.

The summer has been sweet for cocoa traders: After a two-year downturn in prices, futures on the New York Board of Trade have spiked by more than 25% since late June, to $1,700 per metric ton. Heavy buying by hedge-fund managers as well as too little rain in the Ivory Coast, where 40% of the world's crop is grown, are fueling the rally.

Prices are not expected to stay high for long. "The dry weather may have been overplayed," says Luis Rangel, vice-president of commodities at brokerage Fimat USA. That means chocoholics probably won't be paying more for their truffles and other treats next year. Or if they are, it won't be because of the cost of cocoa.

From Victorinox, the new SwissMemory multitool comes with a USB 64- or 128-MB portable data storage device to transport photo, music, and data files. It also includes a mini light, pen, key ring, blade, nail file, screwdriver, and scissors ($69/$82; swissarmy.com).

Do you usually book your business flights through an airline Web site, by calling the carrier, through your corporate travel desk -- or in some other way? Is price paramount in selecting a carrier, or does scheduling still count? To answer these and other questions, complete our airline survey at www.businessweek.com/go/airsurvey/. Do so, and you'll be eligible to win a two-night stay at select Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The deadline for filling out the short questionnaire is Oct. 3. Results will appear in a special business travel section in mid-October.


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