As 2013 comes to a close, I find myself thinking about our wine travel experiences during 2013. Which was my favorite? We did travel to wineries on Long Island, New York as well as Istria region of Croatia. While on the trip to the International Wine Tourism Conference in Zagreb, Croatia, we also visited wineries in Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Our next trip was to visit wineries and vineyards in Quebec, Canada. That trip was followed by a trip to France to visit wineries and vineyards in Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. We made a quick trip to Texas and visited a few wineries in the Texas Hill Country region. Our last major wine excursion of the year took us to the country Georgia.
Some may think that my favorite wine travel experience would have to be France. However, our experience included a poor tour operator who never matched our group’s needs. You do not take a group of winemakers to a wine shop for a wine tasting in caves that show wine faults. This happened twice. Having winemakers taste faulted wines is not the best way to showcase French wines. My other sense of France was that I didn’t learn much that was new. The trip was like a repeat of previous trips to other wine regions around the world.
My favorite wine travel destination for 2013 was one where I learned a great deal during the visit. That was the country Georgia. Kathy and I learned the ancient winemaking practice of making wine in a qvevri. We helped a family harvest Rkatsiteli grapes. At Twins Wine Cellar of Napareuli in the Kakheti region, we cleaned and sanitized a small qvevri. Later we filled the qvevri with Rkatsiteli grapes. We will return to Georgia in the spring and open the qvevri. Georgia was different than our other travel experiences. The grape varieties were all different. We tasted over twenty wines made from grapes that we previously did not experience. We only tasted three wines with grapes that we tasted before. We experience both modern winemaking practices as well as ancient winemaking practices. We experienced the connection between wine a Christianity.
As I ponder over our wine travel destinations during 2013, Georgia stands out being the most educational and the destination that provided more new experiences. At the end of 2013, I am unsure where 2014 will take us. The only place on our schedule so far for the year Is Georgia. In the last few days of 2012 the only destinations for 2013 was Long Island and Zagreb. All the other places we visited this year were developed over the year. I wonder where our wine travel will take us in 2014.
Where will your wine journey lead you in 2014?