Art, Food, and Wine of the Southwest

February 15–21, 2015
Led by Peter Abrahamson, General Manager of Bon Appetit at St. Olaf

The American Southwest is rich in art, architecture, food, wine and culture. We will base ourselves in Santa Fe, situated between the surrounding Jémez and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. The city’s stark and dramatic scenery and its striking Southwestern light have made it a magnet for artists and photographers over more than a century. On our weeklong adventure we will visit important museums, enjoy unique cuisine, visit special exhibits, and examine examples of local architecture both in Santa Fe and Taos.

Having recently celebrated its 400th “birthday,” Santa Fe claims to be the oldest historic capital in the United States and the country’s second oldest city. By 1610, it was established as the capital of the Spanish “Kingdom of New Mexico” and officially named “La Villa Real de Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis” (the Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi). Extensive historic preservation efforts have retained Santa Fe’s distinctive character into the 21st century.

We’ll start with a walking tour of Santa Fe’s historic Old Town. Throughout the week we’ll take guided tours of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Museum of International Folk Art, allowing us to compare and contrast the varying art styles. We’ll also make two excursions via private motor coach, one to Taos, a pueblo that has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years, and one to the Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio. Along the stunning road to Taos, we will drive along The Rio Grande and make stops at the bridge at The Rio Grande Gorge and at the 1815 Saint Francis of Assisi Church in the village of Rancho de Taos, possibly the most painted, drawn, and photographed church in the United States.

In between we will learn about – and sample! – a variety of cuisines, but primarily those we associate with the American Southwest. And, we will learn about – and sample! – wines, some from relatively nearby in southern California, others from around the globe, and learn about food and wine pairings.

Program Leader

Peter Abrahamson is the General Manager for Bon Appétit Management Company at St. Olaf College. He started as Executive Chef and has been working at the College for 10 years. Peter was an apprentice for the United States Culinary Team in Frankfurt Germany in 1988. He has worked in many different kitchens in Florida and Minnesota including Roy’s, The Capital Grille, Bellanote, South Seas Plantation, and Sundial Beach Resort. His goal — whether as a chef or manager — has always been to use the best quality local ingredients and cook them correctly to highlight them. He is a Minnesota native and lives in West St. Paul with his beautiful wife, Jen, and his 10 year old son Owen.

What to Expect

Accommodations will be at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, a 4 diamond property, in Old Town Santa Fe, located just a block off the famous Santa Fe Historic Plaza. The weather should be mild during our time in the Southwest. Average highs in February will be about 50, and the average low will be about 22.

The itinerary includes a great deal of walking. To fully participate in this program, you should be capable of walking a minimum of one mile at a time over possibly uneven terrain (especially at Taos Pueblo) and of traveling with a group for several hours each day. Most days, we will depart the hotel between 8 and 9 a.m. and do our group visits throughout the morning. Occasionally we will have lunch together, more often not. Sometimes we will continue touring after lunch; on other days there will be some free time. Some days will have several hours of free time; others will have very little or none at all.

Program Fee

The program fee is $2,950 per person. Based on double occupancy, it includes discussions led by Peter Abrahamson, expert guiding by Art Excursions, Inc., accommodations, breakfast daily and group meals as listed on the itinerary, admissions for group activities, ground transportation (except for airport transfers) and gratuities to group guides, drivers, and meal servers. Add $480 for single occupancy.

Transportation to and from Santa Fe is not included. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses include: domestic airfare or mileage between your home town and Santa Fe • airport transfers • accident / baggage / trip cancellation insurance • beverages, including at group meals • laundry • dry cleaning • phone charges • room service or other items of a personal nature • expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities • lunch and dinner, unless specifically included on program itinerary.

If you plan to fly and would like assistance with flight arrangements, may we recommend Noreen Deiss of Travel Leaders/Suntime Travel. She can be reached at 651-429-0039 or

We recommend you not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go. The Go/No-Go decision date is Oct. 15, 2014. A minimum of 12 participants are needed for this program to go.