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IWINETC Media FAM Reunion

Thousands of miles from Tbilisi, Georgia, the site of the 2014 International Wine Tourism Conference, several members of the Media FAM group are having a reunion under the hot Texas sun. We are meeting at fellow IWINETC presenters’ wine estate Messina Hof in Bryan, Texas. Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo are hosting the reunion. Kathy and I will join them along with Melba Allen from France, Tom Plant from Southern California and Allison Markin from Canada. This will be the first time we will share wine, food and stories together since we opened our qvevri of wine at Twins Wine Cellar in Napareuli in early April.

Kathy and I are looking forward to hearing about Allison’s adventures. After the FAM tour of the Kakheti wine region, Allison began a search for the village where her ancestors were from. We are also anxious to catch up with the others from our group. They have not been stationary but rather on the go traveling and tasting throughout the world.

Merrill and Paul are wonderful hosts and have planned an exciting four days. Actually the itinerary is similar to IWINETC Media FAM trips. We will visit several wineries in the Texas Hill Country AVA after enjoying the wonderful Texan hospitality in Bryan. Merrill and Paul planned a dinner at their house tonight. In addition to Messina Hof’s wines, we brought a bottle of our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles AVA. After five years, the wine is quite good now. We hope Tom will bring a bottle from Temecula. Tomorrow, we will help with the grape harvest. Kathy and I harvested grapes at Messina Hof last year as well as at a Maryland winery/vineyard and at Twins Wine Cellar in Georgia. Although hot and sticky, there is just something romantic about harvesting grapes.

Harvest at Messina Hof in Bryan, Texas

Harvest at Messina Hof in Bryan, Texas

As with the IWINETC Media FAM trip, our reunion FAM trip will involve blogging, tweeting and writing articles. Kathy and I have visited a few of the wineries that the Bonarrigo’s plan to take us. We will update those articles. Perhaps the visit I am most interested in is Garrison Brother’s Distillery. They produce Bourbon, my go to drink when I get tired of drinking wine.

Just one example of the food served at Messina Hof

Just one example of the food served at Messina Hof

The Texas Hill Country AVA is about a three hour drive from Bryan, Texas. We will spend two days at the Messina Hof Fredericksburg Tasting Room and Lodging. In ways, Messina Hof reminds me of Winiveria Winery at Chateau Mere Vardisubani, Telavi Region, Telavi, Kakheti, Georgia. George Piradashvili and his wife, Nino Gagua are passionate about getting their visitors involved in the wine culture. Their estate in Vardisubani is next to vineyards, has a winery, restaurant and rooms for lodging. Like the Bonarrigos, they also built another lodging facility. Paul and Merrill are a prime example of wine tourism done right. They expect over 100 people to show up to harvest grapes tomorrow. Messina Hof has several opportunities to harvest during the summer at both their Bryan and Fredericksburg locations.


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