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Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo Present at the IWINETC

Over the next few weeks we’ll write about some of the people we know attending and presenting at the International Wine Tourism Conference, IWINETC later this month.

Our first visit to Texas wineries was in April of 2009. On our first day we met Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo at their Messina Hof winery. Their winery, with 42 acres of vineyards, a restaurant, wine bar and bed and breakfast is among the few in the country that could be the poster child for the agri-tourism movement. Our late afternoon visit lasted for hours while we learned about Paul and Merrill and their passions for wine. The roots of the couple’s families are traced to Messina, Sicily and Hof, Germany.

Southern hospitality and Texas charm combined with wine, food and conversation enveloped hours that vanished in a moment. We learned of Paul’s red beret and Merrill’s cookbook. We learned of the challenges of placing a large chandelier in the foyer of the villa bed and breakfast. We toured the property and spent a lovely evening at the Villa to wake to a gourmet breakfast.

Our conversations with the Bonarrigo’s touched on many aspects of wine. Paul mentioned that he will taste other winemakers’ wines, always a good practice for a winemaker. When asked how he handles a wine that is faulted or he doesn’t like, Paul’s answer caused Kathy and me to look at each other and smile. Kathy and I feel strongly that since WineTrailTraveler is a virtual visitor center, it isn’t our job to bash a winery or its wines. If there is a wine we dislike for whatever reason, we’ll simply note that the wine is “interesting.” Later when we write about the wines we omit those that we felt were interesting.  When I asked Paul about wines he didn’t like, he mentioned that he would call them “interesting.” We have since met other wine writers that use the word “interesting” to mean a wine they personally disliked.

We look forward to spending time with Paul and Merrill on the blogger/media FAM trip to Umbria and Campania and the International Wine Tourism Conference in Perugia, Umbria, Italy. At the conference, Paul and Merrill are presenting, “Connecting with visitors and turning them into long term customers.”

We plan to take a couple bottles of a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that we made at a winery in Virginia. The wine was bottled last August after 20 months in French oak. Hopefully the Bonarrigos won’t find our wine interesting.


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