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Extreme Wine Tourism

Different travelers may have different ideas as to what constitutes extreme wine tourism. My concept involves an opportunity to walk through vineyards, taste wines, tour the winemaking facility and then spend the night on the property and not have to walk far from the lodging to a restaurant. The restaurant and lodging are the two extreme criteria that separate many of the world’s wineries from the others. Are there wineries that offer it all?


Over the years Kathy and I have stayed at many of these extreme wine tourism sites. Some were small and very homey such as Ciban in Pavlov?ani, Croatia in the Croatian Uplands wine region. An Italian site we enjoyed was Comelli in Faedis (Ud) – Italy. In far Eastern Europe we enjoyed a multi-night stay at Chateau Mere in Telavi, Kakheti, Georgia. While at Chateau Mere we also had the opportunity to make some Georgian foods.


At home in the United States we have stayed at several properties that offer an extreme wine tourism experience. Perhaps the poster child of those would be Messina Hof in Bryan, Texas. They have beautiful vineyards where we helped to harvest grapes. The restaurant and bistro are steps away from the winery area and lodging. The lodging experience in the Villa is glamorous and restful. We were there on three occasions.

Messina Hof Villa is adjacent to tasting room, bistro, a restaurant, winery and vineyards.

Messina Hof Villa is adjacent to tasting room, bistro, a restaurant, winery and vineyards.


Room in the Messina Hof Villa

Room in the Messina Hof Villa


Today, we experience Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia with an extreme wine travel experience at Wessex Hundred. Like Messina Hof, Wessex Hundred can also be the poster child of extreme wine tourism. The site includes the Williamsburg Winery, the Gabriel Archer Tavern and accommodations, some fit for royalty, at Wedmore Place. Although we have been to the winery on a couple occasions and ate in the tavern, we never spent the evening at Wedmore Place. The hotel is a member of the Select Registry of Distinguished Inns of North America. It offers modern amenities, but you also have the presence of Colonial Virginia.

Wedmore Place in Williamsburg is next to vineyards, a restaurant and winery.

Wedmore Place in Williamsburg is next to vineyards, a restaurant and winery.


One of the rooms at Wedmore Place, fit for royalty

One of the rooms at Wedmore Place, fit for royalty


While at Wessex Hundred we will taste the current selection of wines and have two multi-course meals prepared by the chef and paired with Williamsburg Winery wines. The Williamsburg Winery has a special place in our hearts. It is the first winery that Kathy and I visited well over a decade ago. We will also have an opportunity to taste ten sparkling wines in a blind tasting and evaluation. This activity blends well with our upcoming International Wine Tourism Conference in  Reims, France in the Champagne region.


There are many other wineries throughout the world that offer the extreme wine tourism experience. Check them out, perhaps some may be close to where you live.


Boston Wine Expo, February 14-15 (Valentine’s Day Weekend)

The Boston Wine Expo is quickly approaching. The expo is a celebration of wine, food and culture. The Boston Wine Expo is one of the largest expositions of its kind in the United States. Wine tastings take place for the trade from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm on  both Saturday and Sunday. On those days wine tastings for consumers are held from 1pm – 5pm.  In addition numerous one-hour seminars are available.

The Boston Wine Expo includes numerous opportunities. For an additional fee attendees can choose from among many seminars. Possible seminars to attend include:

  • Languedoc: The Frontier of French Wine
  • The Secret Life of Pinot Noir
  • The Biodynamic Approach to Winemaking
  • Argentina’s New Terroirs
  • Scotch Versus Irish Whiskey
  • Central Otago: The Burgundy of the Southern Hemisphere.

Tickets for the wine tastings and seminars are available online.

Wineries from numerous countries will be represented at the expo. Look for wines from Europe, North America, South America, New Zealand and South Africa.

Exhibitors will include wineries, vineyards, importers, distributors and trade commissions.  Other exhibits will include wine accessories, wine art, wine preservation, cooking schools specialty foods and more.

Many presentations by chefs will be taking place on two stages during the public wine tasting. Watch them demonstrate and create samples. They may even share recipes!

Attending the Boston Wine Expo would be a great activity for celebrating Valentine’s Day!


Super Bowl Sunday Deserves Good Food

Whether you enjoy wine, beer or a cocktail while watching this year’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, be sure to include some tasty foods. When serving either of the chilis below, provide plenty of chips to go with hot bowls of chili.

The recipes below are from Barrington Cellars, a boutique winery in Penn Yan, New York. The winery is located close to Keuka Lake, one of New York’s beautiful Finger Lakes.

Enjoy and may the best team win!

Barrington Cellars DeChaunac Chili


½ lb Dry Pinto Beans
5 cups Canned Tomatoes
1 lb Green Peppers, chopped
1½ lbs Onion, chopped
3 lbs Lean Ground Beef
1 lb Lean Ground Pork
2 T Chili Powder
1½ lbs Ground Cumin
1 c Barrington Cellars DeChaunac Wine

Note: may substitute a semi-dry red for the Barrington Cellars DeChaunac Wine


  1. Wash beans and soak overnight.
  2. Simmer beans in soaking water until tender.
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Sauté peppers, garlic, and onions until tender.
  5. Sauté meat in a little oil until browned.
  6. Combine sautéed vegetables, browned meat and spices in a large pot and mix well.
  7. Add the beans and wine and simmer covered for 1 hour.
  8. Skim grease from the top and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes.

Barrington Cellars Cincinnati Chili


1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 cup Barrington Cellars Baco Noir
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Note: may substitute a dry red for the Baco Noir.


1. In a large saucepan or soup pot, brown the beef with the onion over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until no pink remains in the meat.
2. Drain off any excess liquid, then return the saucepan to the stove and add the remaining ingredients; mix well.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

TIPS: This type of chili has the mole (pronounced “moe-lay”) flavoring that is popular in traditional Mexican cooking. And to make it authentic Cincinnati-style chili, serve it up over spaghetti and sprinkle finely shredded Cheddar cheese over the top.

Barrington Cellars
Penn Yan, New York

IWINETC Early Bird Registration Ends January 31!

This week is your last chance to get the Early Bird reduced price tickets to the International Wine Tourism Conference in Champagne, France. Register online at http://www.iwinetc.com/2015france/conference-registration.

The 2015 IWINETC is scheduled for April 8 and 9 in Reims, France. Participants attending the conference will have the opportunity to network with other professionals including wine, culinary  and tourism professionals.

The two-day conference offers talks and presentations.The conference also includes approximately 30 exhibitors.

This year the key sponsors of IWINETC include La Champagne La Marne, Champagne Convention Bureau, Wine Tourism  in France, Glass of Bubbly, Wine Tour Advisor and l’Office de Tourisme de l’Agglomération de Reims.

Enjoy attending the IWINETC Conference this year in the heart of Champagne! Remember to get your Early Bird special rate by registering no later than January 31.

While in Reims, take time to enjoy walking about the historic city.

Historic Cathedral in Reims

Historic Cathedral in Reims

Cheers, Kathy


Discover the Champagne Tourist Route

A vineyard in Champagne, France

A vineyard in Champagne, France

Have you traveled the Champagne Route in France?

The  Champagne Tourist Route in the Champagne region of France is long. The route is divided into five separate trails that include: Massif Saint-Thierry, Reims Mountain, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs Route, and Hills of Vitry Route. Whether visiting Reims, Epernay or Vitry-le-François tourists can find their way along the winding trails. They can enjoy views of vineyards, small villages, historical sites and, of course, champagne.

An article I wrote about the Champagne Route is on the International Wine Tourism site. When you have a moment, read the article and enjoy the photographs that were added by Anthony Swift at IWINETC.


The Musée du Vin’s Champagne Scene

Many delegates to the 7th International Wine Tourism Conference will arrive in France by flying into one of its airports. While in Paris, many are drawn to the Eiffel Tower. Just across the river from the Eiffel Tower and a short walk to 5, square Charles Dickens street, wine enthusiasts can visit the Musée du Vin. The museum is laid out in the underground caves that were quarries for chalk. At one time these caves were cellars holding wine. Now they hold artifacts and dioramas of the French wine industry from the past to the modern.


The dioramas are life-like scenes that depict French and wine history. In the scenes, visitors will observe many artifacts used in the vineyards and wine production. There are also display cases of vineyard and winery tools used in different wine regions throughout France. Visitors should allow a couple hours to amble through the displays.


One diorama depicts the Champagne wine region and the production of champagne. Three workers in underground caves at Champagne Henri Abelé in Reims are involved in winery tasks. One of the workers is seen riddling bottles at a riddling rack. Another worker is seen disgorging a bottle. He aims the bottle into an old wine barrel through a cut out in the side of the barrel. Another worker is cleaning a bottle after the label was affixed.


The museum has many other scenes from wine regions. After strolling through the museum, enjoy a wine tasting and visit the onsite restaurant.


Musée du Vin Paris
5, square Charles Dickens
75016 Paris, France


14th Annual Wine & Wishes Event Coming Up Soon!

Robert Biale Vineyards participating in Make a Wish

Robert Biale Vineyards participating in Wine & Wishes

On February 7, the 14th Annual Wine & Wishes event takes place to benefit the Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay Area.

A gourmet food and wine tasting begins late afternoon and ends at about 8pm. Corporate sponsors may enter the tasting a little earlier.

Attend the Food and Wine Tasting or enjoy a leisurely four-course dinner, you decide.

Restaurants will be providing the food tastings (hors d’ouevres) and wineries will provide the wines. More than 50 wineries and restaurants are participating in this charity. In addition to food and wine, a silent auction will take place. Items to be auctioned include wine lots, weekend getaways and one-of-a-kind items. 

A Winemaker Dinner starts when the food and wine tasting ends. The dinner includes four courses paired with fine wines. Participants in the Winemaker Dinner will have the opportunity to take part in a live auction. 

The events take place at Treasure Island, San Francisco. Tickets are available online. Note that VIP tickets are available for the dinner.

If you prefer helping Wine and Wishes, consider volunteering. More information is available online.

Special lodging rates are available at three locations.
Hyatt Regency San Francisco
Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
Fairmont San Francisco



Whiskey, Not Necessarily Over Rocks

Early this week I received an interesting article from Ginny at News and Experts. The article noted that whiskey sales are rising. People are finding different ways to drink spirits.

Mixologists (liquid chefs, bartenders) are experimenting with different ingredients to combine with high alcohol spirits.  “Drink mixologists enjoy finding more and more ways to complement the whiskey flavor with a plethora of other ingredients, whether its syrups, fruit juices, vermouth or even tea.”

At Eastside Distilling  in Portland, Earles, CEO is quoted, “People are drinking less wine and more whiskey, and women have become more inclined to give whiskey a try,” Eastside Distilling uses an array of ingredients in their cocktails. Check out the recipes below for ideas.

• Earl’s Demise
25 oz. Cherry Bomb Whiskey (one 750ML bottle)
12.5 oz. Burnside Bourbon
75 oz. Smith Teamaker Earl Grey Tea (chilled)
25 oz. Orange juice
25 oz. Simple syrup
12.5 oz. Sweet vermouth
5 tablespoons Peychaud’s Bitters

Mix all the ingredients in a large punch bowl, then add ice or ice ring. Serve in small punch glasses. The mixture serves 10-12 people.

• The Sideburn
1 ½ oz. Burnside Whiskey
¾ oz. Aperol
½ oz. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
½ oz. lavender simple syrup
13 oz. Old Fashioned glass over ice

Fill a 14 oz. rocks glass with ice, add all the other ingredients and stir.

• Eastside Civil War
1 ½ oz. Burnside Bourbon
½ oz. Cocchi Torino Sweet Vermouth
½ oz. Cynar
2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
Amarena cherry

Add all the ingredients, except the cherry, to a 16 oz. mixing glass (pint glass). Fill to within 1 inch of the top with ice. Stir until chilled and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an Amarena cherry.

• Marionberry Beret
1.5 oz. Marionberry Whiskey
.5 oz. Dry Curacao
2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit juice
Served on the rocks

Fill glass with ice, add Burnside Bourbon and recipe ingredients.

Enjoy in moderation!

An Influence of a Champagne Family on a North American Winery

011515cThis year’s International Wine Tourism Conference takes place in Reims in the Champagne wine region of France. Our thoughts begin to explore this region and the people that make champagne. In our travels to wineries and vineyards in Canada and the United States, we met many winemakers and vineyardists that are from France. Many have set up roots in the new world and have a decidedly French influence on the wines they are crafting. Some have come to North America to escape the destruction by phylloxera, while others wanted to escape conflict or tradition.

A few years ago we met François Scieur a 6th generation winemaker from Champagne. Along with his brother, Jean-Paul, the two established a vineyard and winery in the Canton de l’Est area of Quebec, Canada. At Vignoble le Cep d’Argent, François is the winemaker and Jean-Paul is the vineyard manager. They left behind another brother who runs the family business in Champagne.

François mentioned that when phylloxera became a problem in France, the family used Seyval Blanc to make Champagne. When the two brothers came to Quebec, they planted a vineyard with Seyval Blanc. One reason Jean-Paul and François fell in love with Quebec was,  “We can make wines the way we want.”

The brothers brought with them to the New World a press. A sign posts “A real collector’s item. It originates from France in the Champagne region. This press was built in 1957 and was used since then in the Scieur family, wine producers for 6 generations. In 1988, following one of his owners, it arrived by boat in Quebec, proudly serving us until 1997.”


François Scieur demonstrates how he disgorges a bottle of sparkling wine.

François Scieur demonstrates how he disgorges a bottle of sparkling wine.

François enjoys making sparkling wine in the traditional method. In the winery riddling of sparkling wines is done by hand. Bottles are placed on a riddling rack. François mentioned that a skilled winemaker can riddle 45,000 bottles a day. Disgorgement is done by hand one at a time. Dosage and corking is also done by hand. François greeted us and demonstrated how he disgorges a bottle by hand. He is very quick and if you blinked you missed it.


We tasted several sparkling wines including the 2009 Sélection Blanc de Blancs. The wine was a straw color and was made with Seyval Blanc. The aroma and taste were of baked breads, floral and a hint of citrus. The finish was refreshing. There was a constant stream of tiny bubbles.

Enjoy the video of François disgorging a bottle of sparkling wine.




San Francisco Chronicle Wine Public Tasting on Valentine’s Day

Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine a winner at the SFCWC!

Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine – a winner at the SFCWC!

The winners of San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for 2015 have been announced. A public tasting of these award winning wines will take place February 14. (What a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!) Currently tickets for this special public tasting are available online.

The selected wines were chosen from more than 6,300 entries. Wines were classified by divisions including Sparkling, White Wines, Pink Wines, Red Wines, Dessert/Specialty Beverages. A Wine Label division was also available. As might be expected the largest division was for red wines. Each division was divided into categories. The wine competition offered more than 100 categories for wines to be entered including wines by variety, and price, blends and price, fruit wine, port, cider and more. In addition awards were given for labels and packaging.

A wine was selected from each division to be a sweepstake wine.The 2015 Sweepstake Awards went to Gloria Ferrar, ZD Wines, Dr. Konstantin Frank in New York, Robert Hall Winery, Sonoma-Cutrer, Pezzi King, and Debonne Vineyards in Ohio.

Taking a look at the list of winners, it was great to see that award winning wineries were from several areas of the country. In addition to California wines, look for award winning wines from New York, Ohio, Virginia, Texas, Washington, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Idaho, Oregon, New Mexico, Missouri and Pennsylvania.

In addition, to the numerous wines to taste, food will be available as samples and also to purchase. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to sample or buy: artisan breads, hand made cheeses, sauces, desserts and more.

For anyone attending the public wine tasting of San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the Holiday Inn San Francisco-Fisherman’s Wharf is the official host hotel for the 2015 public tasting.




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