2013 is behind us now. For WINEormous it was another year filled with travel and adventure. 2014 promises more of the same. In mid-March I landed in snowy Zagreb, Croatia for the International Wine Tourism Conference. The sun appeared on the second day and that afternoon we boarded a bus and set off for the northeastern corner of Italy, Friuli. Our group spent three glorious days there, visiting wineries, cheese producers, museums and cathedrals and soaking in places like Cividale, Cormòns and Spilimbergo.
In April it was a quick visit to Paso Robles for the CABs of Distinction event, featuring barrel samples of the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and a panel discussion featuring luminaries like Gary Eberle, who later popped open two bottles of his 1980 Cabernet.
In May, 2012, I slipped and fell, rupturing my left quadriceps and had surgery the day before I was schedule to head to New Orleans for their Wine & Food Experience. Nothing was going to keep me from missing it last year. Over four days I dined on food from some of the best chefs in the Big Easy as well as some up and coming culinary superstars. I stopped in at one of my favorite New Orleans eateries, Louisiana Bistro, where Chef Mars served up course after tasty course. Executive Chef Brian Landry wowed me at Borgne. James Beard winner Tory McPhail dazzled me at Commander’s Palace. I can’t imagine a finer place to stay than Hotel Monteleone in the heart of the French Quarter.
At the beginning of May I took off for British Columbia for the Wine Bloggers Conference. This was my first visit to Penticton and the Okanagan and I sincerely hope it won’t be my last. The natural beauty, the emphasis on fresh, local food and the incredible wines made for a memorable experience.
I paid my first of two visits to the Napa Valley in July, this time for the annual Day In The Dust in Rutherford, a chance to taste some of the 2010 Rutherford Cabs, a few not yet released, and lunch outside at the historic Rutherford House with the winemakers.
July also brought the second annual reunion of bloggers from the International Wine Tourism Conference at Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas. Paul and Merrill Bonariggo are the consummate host and hostess. It’s hot in Texas and it was harvest time. We spent two nights at their lovely villa and enjoyed their surprisingly good wines. I have shocked more than a few people when I shared Messina Hof wines with them.
In September I visited Idaho with a group of fellow writers for the Sun Valley Harvest Festival with stops in Boise, Twin Falls and the Snake River Valley. Idaho wines and Idaho in general exceeded my high expectations, with a focus on farm to table and an emphasis on fresh.
At the end of the month, I drove north again, this time to visit the Sonoma Valley. I spent the first night in Geyserville at the Geyserville Inn and finished my stay in Healdsburg at the charming Grape Leaf Inn. I visited several of the Wilson Family wineries as well as Francis Ford Coppola Winery, J Vineyards, Dry Creek Vineyards and Twomey.
Nine days later I was off to Spain to visit the 50 Great Cavas. I spent a week with a small group tasting Cava and exploring Catalonia. Spanish Cavas rival the finest French champagnes.
I wrapped up this dizzying year of travel with a visit to Jacksonville, Florida. This was another example of having my expectations exceeded by a longshot. The food was exceptionally good, with Bistro Aix and Azurea at One Ocean presenting superb food. We also got a sneak peek at Moxie about a week before their scheduled opening. I’d go back to Jacksonville just to dine there it looked so good. Other highlights were a visit to the Jacksonville Zoo, the Farmers Market, the Cummer Museum and Gardens and an airboat ride.
In 2014 plans include a visit to Kingston, Jamaica for the Food Wine and Spirits Festival and the republic of Georgia for the International Wine Tourism Conference. There’s little doubt there will be at least on more trek to Napa/Sonoma and a few other surprises. Thanks for coming along for the ride!