Wine Trail Traveller set to discover Campania & Umbria Cantinas

Travelling wine lovers, Terry and Kathy Sullivan of Wine Trail Traveler, have spent many years exploring, tasting and writing about different wines and regions across the world. Coming from careers in education, Terry and Kathy’s mission is to use what they learn to inspire and inform others to feel confident visiting wineries, asking questions and developing an appreciation for different wine cultures. Having tasted over 150 different varietals, they’re bringing their palates and experiences to the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy this January. In anticipation of their talk, we asked them about Italian wine, what they hope to bring back to their readers, and some of their favorite travel tips.

1.) The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

We are in the process of researching this region for varietal grapes and wineries to visit. Last year we were introduced to Sagrantino by Claudio Salvador, owner of Firelands Winery in Sandusky, Ohio. Claudio also imports wines from Italy. Sagrantino is similar to a wine we were hoping to make. Terry likes the bold to outrageous tannins the grape offers. We made a blend of California Cabernet Sauvignon and Virginia Tannat just to create a bold tannin wine. We look forward to discovering different varietal grapes and wineries in the Umbria area. In addition to writing articles for each Umbrian winery visited, we would like to create a trip itinerary for wineries in Umbria. The itinerary can be used as a tool for wine travelers interested in visiting this wine region.

2.) You indicate on your website that you have visited Tuscany, what are your thoughts on Italian wine tourism so far and what are you most looking forward to learning in Umbria? We discovered that many wineries in Tuscany do not have an address that one can simply input into a GPS. Many just have the nearest town as an address. This caused us to work backward with our GPS. We found the approximate location of the winery on a map and told the GPS to take us there. Most of the time we were successful. We also learned that wine tasting at wineries in Tuscany has its similarities and differences than tastings in the United States. Those we visited required an appointment. Making an appointment requires research on the part of the traveler. There is a much higher use of fine stemware at the wineries we visited in Tuscany compared to the wineries in North America. In our articles about wineries in Umbria, we plan to provide the GPS coordinates as well as information about visiting the winery such as appointments. We are looking forward to meeting passionate wine people and learning about their stories. While spending two weeks at Mormoraia in San Gimignano we discovered the old next to the new. We observed large aged wine casks next to gleaming stainless steel tanks each with a touch screen monitor to control temperature. We enjoy the old and new approach to wine and will observe what methods are used in Umbria. We want to continue learning more about the use of wine and Italian food. Kathy read and wrote a review about the book My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South and was fascinated. We are looking forward to finding such a relationship in Umbria. While in Tuscany we fell in love with the house wines being served at each table. Here in the States one typically reads the wine list and orders a bottle from the list. In Tuscany wine is treated as food, something that many in the States should learn. History of wine is fascinating and we hope to learn more about the “old ways” of making wine in Umbria, the history of wine in Umbria and the made varietal grapes of the region.

3.) Coming from long careers in education, how did you both first get into wine? What is it about wine that excites you most? And what steered you from the everyday consumer to the wine-professional? Our daughter, Erin, spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence where she learned about wine. She taught us the steps to structured tastings. We then attended a wine festival with the goal of selecting wines for our oldest son’s engagement party. We followed the structured tasting steps and selected several wines. Our selection proved to be a hit at the engagement party. From that point in 2004, we began to visit wineries to taste their portfolio of wines. In late 2006 we retired from our education careers. While visiting with a friend who is a professional with a doctorate degree, we talked about visiting wineries. We mentioned how enjoyable it was to winery tasting rooms. This professional responded that he would like to do that but was too intimidated to visit them because he wouldn’t know what to do. His statement became the tipping point and with our background in education we thought we could help encourage people to visit wineries and vineyards. We began writing articles about wineries visited in late 2006 and created the WineTrailTraveler.com site in January of 2007. Wine comes with a story. We love to hear the stories of owners and winemakers. One would think that we have heard every story possible after visiting 700 wineries and vineyards, but we still believe that everyone’s story is unique, so are their wines. As soon as we began to formally write about wine we wanted to increase our learning. We attended a local community college class that met for two evenings. The instructor provided a crash course on white wine one evening and red wine the second evening. We tasted ten different wines each night. Terry then took the Intermediate Level WSET course. Kathy learned along with Terry as studying for the exam proved to be much more intensive than the course itself. We also attended TEXSOM, the Texas Sommeliers Conference. There were five sessions that we attended with ten wines presented each session. The community college course, WSET and TEXSOM were similar in instruction. The instruction was heavy on geography and memorization of producers and grape varieties. However we thirst for different wine knowledge. We decided that in 2008 that if we were going to write about wine we should make wine. Since then we have made wine at home from kits, from juice and grapes. We made mead from scratch. In 2009, we made a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend with grapes at Tin Lizzie Wineworks in Maryland. The wine was aged for nine months in American oak before bottling in 2010. Also in 2009 we made a barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes at Vint Hill Craft Winery in Virginia. The wine was aged 20 plus months in new French oak. It was bottled in August of 2011. We are now in the process of making a Sauvignon Blanc, peach wine and raspberry melomel. Along with making wine, we took two online courses in wine from Washington State University. Actually making wine is exciting. Some of the wine we made is destined to be mulled during the winter or made into Sangria during the summer. We made some wine that passes as a good everyday wine. We also made wine that will be reserved for special occasions. Visiting and writing about wineries as well as making wine steered us from wine consumers to wine professionals.

4.) Your website outlines your travels through multiple wine regions in North America, Europe and New Zealand, what advice do you have for fellow traveling wine lovers? Kathy: Do your homework. Find out what the customs of the region are before you go. Do not compare wines with other regions. Let the wine speak for itself. Go with the flow. While language can be a barrier, wine is a commonality that brings people together. It is a wonderful experience learning how others enjoy wine and make wine. Terry: Ask questions. Realize that everyone is different and so are their likes and dislikes when it comes to wine. Just because you taste a wine doesn’t mean that you are going to like it. Form your own decision of what you smell and taste. Learn to identify wines you prefer to drink and those you would rather pass on drinking. Wine is very subjective and another person’s score of 92 may not be what you prefer. Travel, taste and drink. Travel to wine regions and visiting wineries is one of the potential avenues to wine knowledge. One can read about the wines and wineries of Umbria in a book, however, travel to wineries in Umbria offers a different experience and education. Fellow traveling wine lovers can start by visiting wineries close to home. Then extend the travel outside of their local area.

5.) Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

Terry: I’m looking forward to Sagrantino and Tannat but also would like to taste little known varieties. I’m looking forward to tasting Grechetto, Moscatello, Moscato Bianco, Pinot Bianco, Procanico, Trebbiano, Aleatico, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Even though I made several Cabs, I like to try many different Cabs. Kathy: I will taste any wine with the exception of a wine produced with hot chili peppers. Yes, we have come across a hot chili pepper wine. It has a tendency to ruin any wine you drink after it. I enjoy red wines with food, white wines for a relaxing summer day and dessert wines, of course. Also, I am looking forward to tasting varieties I have not tasted before. We are both working on our second hundred wines for the Wine Century Club. Thus far we have tasted over 150 different grape varieties and like to experience different grape varieties while in Umbria.

To learn more about Terry and Kathy’s wine experiences, explore Italy and mingle with 300 other wine lovers, sign up for the International Wine Tourism Conference today!

L’Enoturismo è un business redditizio ed economicamente stabile

A giugno 2011 il Great Wines Capital Global Network ha diretto un progetto di ricerca di mercato intitolato Stabilità finanziaria e redditività dell’industria dell’enoturismo GWC. Hanno rivolto a circa 500 cantine nel mondo alcune interessanti domande come:

Quanto spende in cantina un enoturista? In Italia (Firenze) 200 USD, in Napa 188 USD

Quali sono i vantaggi più importanti per voi come territorio? 69% Branding, 62% Fatturato, 36% Occupazione.

Gli strumenti di promozione più efficaci sono gli uffici per il turismo, i Tour Operator e gli agenti di viaggio. Soltanto nel nuovo mondo si fa un grande utilizzo dei canali di social media. L’Europa investe ancora in materiale stampato che è invece in declino.

Tutti gli intervistati considerano l’enoturismo come economicamente redditizio ad eccezione per quelli di Firenze e Mendoza. Dall’altra parte il 100% delle cantine di Napa considerano l’enoturismo economicamente redditizio. Conclusione del sondaggio: I proventi dall’enoturismo rappresentano il 20% del reddito complessivo ma questa cifra non tiene conto delle vendite dei vini dopo le visite. L’enoturismo è uno strumento di marketing che dovrebbe essere integrato al 100% in un piano di marketing in quanto il suo impatto è importante per l’immagine di tutto il mondo. 

L’International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop (IWINETC) 2012 si terrà nella città di Perugia (Umbria, Italia) dal 30 gennaio al 2 febbraio 2012. L’evento del prossimo anno vedrà di nuovo un programma di 3 giorni di convegno  con oltre 40 relazioni, un giorno di workshop per agenti e tour pre e post conferenza  nelle cantine della Campania, delle Marche, della Toscana e dell’Umbria. 

Programma del IWINETC

La Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo del Vino è stata ed è tuttora il primo evento globale dedicato al settore del vino e dei viaggi, offrendo ai professionisti di tutto il mondo del vino, della gastronomia e dei viaggi un posto dove incontrare faccia a faccia e a viso a perto le opportunità di oggi sul vino e sui viaggi. E’ inoltre l’unico evento che ha una piattaforma dove vendere e comprare i servizi e i prodotti del turismo eno-gastronomico: Il Workshop del Turismo del Vino.

Organizzato da Wine Pleasures, l’evento di quest’anno consiste di cinque sessioni plenarie sulla questione del turismo del vino, come oltre 40 relazioni per introdurre e nutrire discussioni pratiche su un ampia scala di aspetti concernenti il turismo eno-gastronomico. Gli esperti di Social Media organizzeranno anche pratici workshops, che mireranno a connettere in maniera ottimale l’industria dell’enoturismo ai social media networks. 

Il convegno di tre giorni è strutturato in modo da incoraggiare l’acquisizione di competenze ed informazioni, lo scambio tra esperienza e competenza, e per favorire le opportunità di networking. Ogni giorno comprende un programma “Dopo Convegno” che consiste in degustazioni di vini e la sera, i partecipanti avranno l’occasione di cenare e bere del buon vino in varie location dell’Umbria. Lunedì 30 gennaio Jane Hunt Master di Vino e, che a volte risiede in Umbria, condurrà la Grande degustazione dei  vini d’Italia.

I partecipanti possono inoltre prendere parte a dei tour pre e post convegno che vedono in programma visite alle cantine di Orvieto, Montefalco e Torgiano alla scoperta del ricco patrimonio enologico dell’Umbria.

Il Workshop di un giorno consentirà che tour operators internazionali e agenti di viaggio incontrino privatamente i fornitori di prodotti enoturistici di tutto il mondo. Gli agenti partecipanti potranno completare il loro soggiorno con uno dei 3 viaggi di familiarizzazione da scegliere tra: Marche, Toscana o Umbria. Gli agenti ad oggi confermati arrivano da diversi posti degli Stati Uniti, California, NewYork e Florida sono ben rappresentati  Norvegia, Sezia, Germania, Inghilterra, e arrivano anche da Singapore, Filippine e Australia.

Dal 28 gennaio al 5 febbraio metteremo a disposizione dei Blogger e Media un pacchetto di 8 giorni di viaggio che comprenderà visite a cantine in Umbria e Campania.Tra i bloggers attentamente selezionati ci sarà la famosa rete televisiva di Hollywood  Celebrity Wine Review TV e molti bloggers chiave influenti nel settore dell’enoturismo 

Note per i Media

Sull’International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop 

Fondata nel 2009 e tenuta annualmente, La Conferenza Internazionale sul Turismo del Vino è organizzata da Wine Pleasures, una società che offre servizi all’industria del vino e dei viaggi. L’annuale IWINETC riunisce professionisti del vino e dei viaggi di tutto il mondo per discutere, riflettere e sviluppare idee. Il programma del convegno offre molte opportunità per contatti professionali e sviluppi…  

La conferenza dell’anno corrente in Porto (Portogallo) ha attirato qualcosa come 250 partecipanti da più di 40 paesi.  Tour operator, agenti di viaggio, cantine, ristoranti, alberghi, Consigli e uffici del turismo, amministrazioni pubbliche, agenzie di in-coming, musei, giornalisti, blogger e fornitori di servizi complementari, erano tutti ben rappresentati durante l’evento.

Le quote per le iscrizioni anticipate per IWINETC 2012  sono di Euro 250. Dettagli ulteriori su tutto ciò che succederà IWINETC 2012  

Sponsors 

Lo sponsor principale del IWINETC 2012 è il Movimento Turismo del Vino. Altri sponsor sono l’Hotel Gio, il Comune di Perugia, la Regione Umbria, Vina Croatia e molte cantine, alberghi e ristoranti.

Wine & Technology to wed in Umbria with Big Pinots

David Lowe of the blog, Big Pinots, has successfully merged his two great passions: wine and technology, into a unique blog and career. After earning his WSET certification, he decided to combine his love of wine with his knowledge of social media and technology to create a unique platform for both winos and techies alike. He dishes about wine tasting iPhone apps, users experience on a website, and how the traditional world of wine can benefit from the latest technology.

As a speaker at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and a member of the Blogger/Media Fam Trip in Italy, we caught up with David and asked him a few questions about the benefits of social media for the wine industry, who is doing it right and what he hopes to learn at the conference.

1. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

That Umbria is often overlooked in favour of its neighbour is something of its charm. I think of it as a region for people in the know; although I suspect that it would rather be like Tuscany. I got married in Umbria because we love the place so much: all the wine served at the wedding was from a vineyard near Panicale in Umbria [La Querciolana] and was superb. Unfortunately, we only managed to bring a couple of cases back with us and it’s all gone now.

2. Wine is usually associated with tradition not technology; in your opinion, how can technology benefit the wine industry?

I’m not a wine-maker, so I try not to get sucked into the tech vs nature debate in terms of production. But, as consumers, we are benefiting more and more from technology. Social tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, are allowing us to discuss wine with people which would have been prohibitively difficult in the past; it just wouldn’t have been possible to engage people like Tim Hanni, Randall Grahm and Jancis Robinson in conversation until these came about. Although many businesses claim to be using these technologies to benefit their customers, only a few truly are. It’s these businesses that will see loyalty and business growth in the future, whilst others will struggle.

Another noticable advancement, which I think is changing our interaction, is apps. I can now record a full tasting note using a bespoke tasting method, get recommendations for wines in a specific restaurant, and loads more, all on my phone. I think the future for lots of companies is augmented reality. This is where your phone’s camera shows you the image you’re looking at, but additional information is laid over the top of it. The wine industry has yet to get a handle on this, but I see huge potential, especially in terms of wine tourism.

However, I can’t stand it when companies jump into technology without considering what they actually want to achieve. They just end up with nonsense which makes the whole industry look bad. 

3. On that note, which wineries, retailers or other companies in the wine industry are doing it right with regards to technology? Who should we watch and learn from?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the one company in the UK that stands way out in front of others is Naked Wines. They have a fantastically loyal customer base that feels part of their venture because they nailed the social aspect of their business right from the start. I’ve got involved with them on a few occasions as I’m so impressed. They are truly innovative.

There are many other companies that have a good handle on social media, such as Bibendum and Majestic, but Naked is pushing technology through every pore of its business and is benefitting as a result.

4. What are you hoping to gain from the wine conference in Italy? What are you most excited to share?

I have managed to persuade one of the major brands that I work for to let us build some tour proposals in a workshop, and they have promised to review them upon my return. There are many companies offering wine-based holidays and tours, but I’m hoping that we can create something truly innovative and special for their customers. My dream is that the brand starts to offer wine-based tours as a result of what we produce at the conference. I’ve got some ideas of my own, and I’m very excited to see what we can generate in Perugia and how we can get it implemented afterwards.

5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

I’m always happy to drink Barolo, Chianti, Prosecco, etc, but I’m hoping for something new that I’ve not drunk, or maybe even heard of, before. In 2006 I had a glass of Prosecco Passito that knocked my socks off – but I’ve never seen it since. It’s that kind of discovery that I’m hoping for. But, failing that, I’ll take a glass of Sassicaia!

Join us at the International Wine Tourism Conference to network with David and 300 other attending wine professionals.

Buggs & Waters to investigate Italian Wines for Minority Wine Report

Thaddeus Buggs and Jennifer Waters of the wine blog, Minority Wine Report, offer their readers an unpretentious, fun and honest look at the world of wine. Their goal is to expand their knowledge base and at the same time help others learn the ins and outs of wine. A fantastic resource for novices and connoisseurs alike, their website outlines wine basics, food and wine pairings, interesting winemakers, best value wines and upcoming events.

As speakers at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy and part of the Wine Blogger/Media Fam Trip, we caught up with Thaddeus and Jennifer about what they hope to learn in Perugia, what advice they have for those new to wine and which wines they’re most excited about now. 

1.) The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

Umbria has long been overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Tuscany, but we see it going through a renaissance of sorts as new — and even more experienced wine enthusiasts — “discover” it and the fabulous wines produced there: Oriveto, Montefalco Sagrantino and Torgiano Rosso Riserva. 

2.) What experiences with wine are you most excited to share with fellow wine lovers in Italy, and what are you most looking forward to learning?

Thaddeus’s aha moment was when he tasted his first American merlot, loved it like none other he had ever tasted and delved right into merlots. “That’s where the love affair began,” he said.

For Jennifer, who had been drinking wine since her late teens — and much of it cheap then too! — it was a Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet in the mid-1990s that opened her eyes, and her nose and tongue, to the world of tannins and long, smooth finishes. “It was the first time I ever could understand what people meant when they said it had a “velvety finish,” she said “I wanted to know more about that!”

We are both most interested in really learning about the Umbrian region and what makes it so special and its wines so fine — something we want to share with our followers and friends. 

3.) How did you both first get into wine? What is it about wine that excites you most? And what wine region is next on your list to visit?

Thaddeus ventured into wine in his 20s when he tasted that first merlot. At the time, he had only minimal exposure to wine and that merlot opened the world of wine to him that has become his passion. What excites him about wine is that while it’s steeped in history and tradition, it’s forever changing. He’s an adventurous traveler who is looking forward to trying wines in Argentina and Chile.

Jennifer, like many in the 1980s, started drinking white zinfandels and chardonnays before her tastes became more developed, moving on to more robust reds. There was a time, in fact, when she refused to drink white wines, believing that reds were really the only “true wines. She’s since come to her senses about that and enjoys any number of whites. Having never been to Italy, she’s looking very forward to Perugia and mastering those bold Montefalco Sagrantinos.  

4.) What advice do you have for novices just getting into the crazy world of wine?

 Thaddeus says to just go for it. Jennifer, who has been introducing her 22-year-old daughter and her friends to wines, says you should never be intimidated by wine snobs or be afraid to talk about what you like, because what you like is what you like. Your tastes change over time and you should just enjoy the ride! 

5.) Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

Jennifer’s looking forward to tasting and learning about all the Italian varieties that she’s not had the pleasure of tasting and learning about in their homeland. Thaddeus hopes to get a chance to sink his teeth into the Aglianico grape, which he believes is an “amazing grape that Americans need to know more about.”

Join us at the International Wine Tourism Conference to network with Mary and 300 other attending wine professionals.

Mary Cressler to Vindulge in Italy at IWINETC 2012

Mary has worked in almost every facet of wine business, from the tasting room to sales and marketing, and is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her love of wine has taken her to the wine regions of Oregon, Washington and California and her background in education has prompted her to start Vindulge, a wine consulting company. It is through Vindulge that Mary hopes to make learning about wine a fun and approachable subject and get her students as excited about wine as she is.

As one of the speakers at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy and member of the 8-day Press/Blogger Fam Trip, we caught up with Mary and talked to her about her wine experiences and Vindulge

1. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

 I view Umbria as a very up and coming wine region quite often overshadowed by its larger and more popular neighboring regions.  It is an exciting destination to discover some good wines at great values and equally great regional foods and I am looking forward to exploring all that it has to offer. 

2. As your blog is dedicated to educating others about wine through your consulting business, how did you get into wine and what is it about wine that excites you most?

I got into wine many years ago while living in San Francisco. At the time I was in a graduate program in communications and teaching college level courses on public speaking and communications.  Being so close to so many fantastic wine regions it became a hobby to spend my weekends visiting new wineries and educating myself on wine.  It wasn’t until five years later after I had moved to Oregon that I made it a profession.  I started by working at different wineries in various positions, then I wanted to focus more on a variety of regions, not just the one I was living in. It was then I started studying for my certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers to explore wines from all over the world.  I started my blog to document the many things I had been learning while studying for my exams.  My consulting business took off soon after as a result of requests I had been receiving to lead classes on wine and help restaurants (who didn’t have a full-time sommelier) build their wine lists and train their employees on wine service. Combining my background as an educator with my passion for wine just fit perfectly. What excites me most about wine is that it is always changing and never the same.  Even two bottles of the same wine can taste different depending on when and where you open them and whom you drink them with.  Wine is the most exciting beverage that exists and there is an unlimited amount of information to learn about it for those who are interested.

3. What do you hope to take away from this conference that you can use in the future with your business?

What I hope to take away from the conference is twofold. First I hope to soak up as much information as I can about the wines and regions we will be exploring so that I can share that newfound knowledge with my readers, clients, and friends back home.  But what I also hope to take away is hospitality best practices that I can use to educate my clients and help them strengthen their businesses.  I hope that from learning from some of the many experts in attendance at the conference I can provide my own clients with examples from perspectives from all over the globe on wine, tourism, and hospitality. 

4. Your blog mentions you have worked and explored the wine regions within Oregon and California, what advice do you have for fellow traveling wine lovers?

My best advice for traveling wine lovers is to explore new regions with an open mind.  Avoid walking into one region thinking the wines should taste the same as another.  For example, do not expect to walk into a winery in the Russian River Valley and expect the Pinot Noir to taste the same as they do in the Willamette Valley. Appreciate each region for the unique characteristics it has to offer their wines.  In addition I also people to plan to spend as much time as they can in one specific region so that they can soak up as much as they can on one region at a time, instead of rushing through a bunch of regions in a short amount of time.  I also recommend that they go into a region with a few places they want to visit and schedule time to visit those on their list. Importantly, though, I also advise to also schedule time to explore wineries at random.  Some of the best wineries I have visited I found by accident or by asking winery employees for their favorite spots.  Having a pre-planned itinerary can be important, but exploring a region with no agenda can allow you to discover some wonderful gems you may not have discovered otherwise! 

 5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

I would love for Hunt to present a variety of Italian wines including some of the more internationally well-known wines. But more importantly I would love to hear about some of her favorite gems that we would not be introduced to otherwise.  I know from working at wineries in Oregon that many of the best produced wines never leave the state (let alone the winery’s tasting room), so I would love to experience some of those wines that never leave the country therefore we in the Unites States never get to experience unless visiting the country itself.

Join us at the International Wine Tourism Conference to network with Mary and 300 other attending wine professionals.

Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo: Where Italian Tradition Meets Texan Attitude

Messina Hof Winery and the Bonarrigo family are where old world meets new world. Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo have been making wine in Texas since the 1970s, but the Bonarrigo winemaking tradition dates back to the 1800s when Paul’s family was making wine in Sicily.

That tradition was reborn in the United States when he and Merrill pioneered a viticultural experiment in the 1970s which set the foundation for the Texas wine industry as we see it today. From three wineries in the 70s to 250 today, that determination and excitement has spurred the Lone Star State on to become the 5th largest wine producer in the United States.

In anticipation of the Bonarrigo’s upcoming presentation at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we talked with Paul about going back to Italy, Texan wine tourism and how his family has developed Messina Hof into the most awarded Texas winery in domestic and international competitions.  

1. Having been a part of the 2011 conference, what are some of your favorite memories and what are you most looking forward to this year?

Last year every winery, restaurant and lodging could not have been nicer.  Texas means friendly, I could not have been more surprised how everyone was so friendly.  I have been to Europe many times. Wine and Food people know the hospitality industry. 

2. Italy is known as a land of great wine, but for you Paul, it’s also the land of your forefathers; what are you looking forward to most in Italy?

As an Italian American who grew up in a very ethnic area of the Bronx, there was only one type of wine consumed: Italian and Home Produced. Every time I return to Italy I feel the warmth of the people and the common bond of ethnic customs.  Italy has so many wines that are not known in America.  There are so many grapes that I am not familiar with.  Perugia is an area of Italy I have not been and I am looking forward to visiting the area and meeting the people. 

3. You host wine and travel lovers all the time at your hotel and winey; what advice do you have for people travelling and tasting through wine regions?

When people travel thru a new area it is so important to take many pictures and many notes.  When you complete a wonderful trip those pictures remind you of those fabulous memories.  In Italy it is important to know what grapes grow best in that area. Some wines are blended and some are not. The interaction of the grape blends and the pairing with the regional foods enhance the regional cuisine. 

4. Texas is not the first place people think of for wine, but from reading your blog, it appears to have played a huge role in the industry. What should we know about the history, wines and wine tourism in the Lone Star State?

Texas wine began in 1640 when the Spaniards established missions and planted grapes. In 1977 Messina Hof was part of a great experiment planting 50 varietals in 13 locations throughout Texas. There were 3 wineries in 1977, now we have 250 wineries in Texas. Texas is 5th in wine production in the USA. Messina Hof is distributed in Texas and 8 other states.  We produce 100,000 cases. 

5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

In Jane Hunt’s wine tasting, I am looking forward to new grape varietals, new techniques and new blends. 

Join the 2012 International Wine and Tourism Conference this January in Italy and network with Paul, Merrill and 2-300 more attendees.

Melba’s Wine Discoveries and Travels heading to Italy

Melba Allen, of the wine blog Melba’s Wine Discoveries and Travels, is one of the leading women in the wine industry today. Originally from Texas, her love affair with wine began when she was living in Paris as a young model and discovered that she had an incredibly acute palate and sensory memory. Her interest in wine grew into a career and she has spent the majority of her adult life living and working in the wine industry in France.

A member of the Union des Sommeliers de France, Melba has earned a ‘Sommelier Conseil’ diploma from the University du Vin of Suze-la-Rousse and an advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London. In addition to her own studies, she teaches others at the European International Management Institute in Paris.

As a speaker at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference and a member of the Blogger/Media Fam Trip in Italy, we caught up with Melba and asked her what she is most excited to learn, what it’s like being a part of the of the French wine industry and what advice she has for wine travelers to France.  

The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

Although I’ve been to Tuscany, Veneto and Naples, Umbria is a region in which I’ve only read about and have yet to visit. I’ve heard and read many great things about the food and the people and am looking forward to discovering them and their wines so that I can better share my experiences with my public.

What experiences with wine are you most excited to share at the conference in Italy, and what are you most looking forward to learning?

I’ve not tried the Orvieto whites nor the Rosso di Montefalco, so both of these styles of wines are high on my list of things to experience and learn more about…

Living and working in France, you are surrounded by legendary chateaus and wines on a daily basis. When you’re not working, what other wine destinations to you like to travel to?

Living and working in the Wine Industry in France is great. Most of the people we meet are very kind and passionate about what they do. That passion is very contagious and passes quite freely from the winemaker to whoever is listening. We tend to work mostly on a daily basis with small Domains because of their availability, meaning that you can always find a family member ready to talk with you. We particularly like working with Family owned properties where everyone in the family is involved from A to Z. Because of the many years of hard work and constant self-doubt, I usually try to focus my blogs on many of these smaller Properties. Houses like Michel Picard here in Burgundy, or Château de la Gardine of Châteauneuf-du-Pape of Château de Clapier of Luberon in the Southern Rhône, to Château Charmail, Haut Médoc in Bordeaux and Domaine Cazes in Rousillon.

When we are not working, we organize approximately once every two months either at our house or the neighbors, tastings of wines coming from all over the world. Our neighbors and friends are happy, because that get to travel with us through the wine that they taste. We’ve had wine coming from the Penedès in Spain, to the Hill country of Texas. This is fun, because everyone gets to participate by bringing a wine that they find interesting and where we all taste blindly. After the tasting, we then sit down to dinner together to finish off the bottles during a delicious meal. I don’t blog about this because it is very personal and some of the people are quite sensitive to having their life story published for everyone to read. But one day, I will probably write a fiction about these very special moments.

For many people, tasting and touring through France is the apex of wine travel. What advice do you have for wine travellers visiting France?

My advice to Wine travelers in France is because each wine region is so completely different; don’t try to do all the regions at once. Take the time to enjoy each region one at a time, even if it means that you will probably have to come back.

Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

As mentioned before, being that I have very little knowledge of these wines, the Orvieto whites and the Rosso di Montefalco for starters. But if there are indigenous grapes of good quality, I would be very interested in discovering them too!

Sign up for the International Wine Tourism Conference today and network with Melba and 300 other attendees.

Watch out WINEormous is coming to #Italy!

Wine is something that is uniquely special to everyone who consumes it. For Tom Plant, wine has become something more than just a hobby. Originally a realtor, Tom Plant has turned to his other passion of wine and he, along with his wife, Laura, created the website WINEormous to share their love with others. 

Through WINEormous, Tom’s experiences in the wine region of Temecula, CA gave him the background to start his own wine tour company through the Valley. His excitement for the area and for the wine there is evident with his honest, no-nonsense way of writing about his experiences and his desire to share the region with anyone who is interested. 

In anticipation of Tom’s presentation at the upcoming International wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we talked to Mr. WINEormous about his thoughts on Temecula, experience with wine tourism and what he hopes to bring back home from Italy. 

The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?
I think Umbria is an exciting destination choice. Italy has a long and storied history of wine making and the food and wine pairing is hard to beat. 

As your blog is dedicated to touring and tasting in Temecula wine country and beyond, what have you learned that could be useful to people in other wine regions?
Do all you can to get to know the people in your local wine industry. Most of them have fascinating stories to tell.

 From your blog we see you have visited wineries across the United States as well as Nova Scotia and France, which one(s) do you think cater to tourism the best?

I think Paso Robles, California does an outstanding job of promoting its region. Their wine country alliance does a tremendous job of organizing and promoting events and there is a true sense of regional identity. The vast majority of wineries there go out of their way to make you feel welcome and invite you to return. 

What do you hope to learn in Italy that you can bring back to Temecula?
It’s always fascinating to see how things are done in different cultures. We grow a few Italian varietals here. I want to see what foods pair the best with them and share it with my readers and the wine makers/restaurateurs here. 

5) Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?
I don’t have a huge education in Italian wines, but I would hope to see Barolo, Nero D’Avola, Amarone, Sassacaia and Ornelaia. 

Come join the International Wine Tourism Conference and have a chance to speak more with Tom as well as over 300 other wine professionals.

Wine lover Diane Letulle to add Italy to her wine & travel – based memoir

Diane Letulle of the wine blog, Wine Lover’s Journal, has been blogging about her wine travels for over four years. During that time, she has taken readers along on her journey through wine regions in France, Tokaji and Canada.

In addition to blogging about wine travel, Diane earned her Advanced Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and teaches regional wine and food pairings at a local adult school. She stays actively involved in the wine community through joining groups like Women for Wine Sense and the American Wine Bloggers Conference. Currently, she is compiling all of her experiences into a wine and travel-based memoir.

As one of the speakers at the upcoming International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy, we had a chance to speak to Diane about her wine travels, her memoir and her recent visit to the Wine Bloggers Conference. 

The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

I feel that Umbria is an exciting destination that offers wines of excellent quality and relatively good value compared to more popular Italian regions.  I discovered some of Umbria’s wines at the Vino 2011 event in New York City this past winter and was fascinated by Sagrantino di Montefalco. As a tourist destination, I have heard that Umbria offers much of the same beautiful landscape and delicious cuisine that makes Tuscany so popular – but without the crowds—making it an ideal “next big thing” in Italian tourism. I will be excited to tour and taste these wines and then to share the knowledge of them with an American audience through articles as well as wine classes. 

Of your multiple trips to Europe, how does the winemaking and viticultural practices compare to those in the United States? 

The winemakers of Europe have by and large mastered the challenge of terroir. With two thousand years experience, they know what grows well, where.  Nothing is as amazing as viewing the vineyards on Burgundy’s Cote d’Or and observing how the vines are planted to take advantage of every bend in the sloping soil.  In America, our newer vineyards are often planted with grapes that are popular, rather than the best grapes for the climate and geography.  For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is being planted where Chambourcin would do better.  Viticultural practices are still being refined, new areas are being planted–it’s still an age of experiment in much American winemaking.  Europeans know what grapes to grow and, in many areas, have taken advantage of advanced winemaking techniques to improve traditional wines. 

According to your blog, you’re writing a wine and travel memoir. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your experiences that others interested in wine travel should know?

As an author who has traveled throughout Europe’s top wine regions, my advice is to travel to the region that grows what you love.  If you are a fan of Chianti, then, by all means, plan a trip to Tuscany.  If you love Riesling, explore the Mosel.  Every wine producing area in Europe offers traditional local cuisine that pairs with these regional wines, as well as cultural and historic attractions that are fascinating to Americans.  Travelers who follow this advice are sure to have a wonderful wine vacation. 

You also indicate in your blog that you traveled to the American Wine Bloggers Convention. What have you taken away from this conference that will be beneficial at the upcoming conference in Italy?

My IWINETC presentation is a comparison between American and European wine tourism. During the North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, I was able to tour vineyards and tasting rooms in a part of America that I had never visited before. These small regional tasting rooms offer a different experience than what is available in Napa and Sonoma, for example. The experience of visiting smaller American wineries will amplify the presentation I will give at the International Wine Tourism Conference. 

Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

At the grand tasting, I hope that Jane Hunt, MW will lead us through wines from a variety of regions.  From the great Nebbiolos of Piedmont to the Nero D’Avolas of Sicily, I am looking forward to enjoying wines that I know and treasure as well as discovering many hidden gems. For me, this is the joy of Italian wine: there are so many great wines that are loved the world over and so many unknown varieties and regions that are like mining gold – providing secret treasures for wine lovers.  In addition, I look forward to hearing about the tourism opportunities in all of these areas. 

Join the International Wine Tourism Conference for a chance to Meet Diane, as well as 300 of her peers in Italy this January.

Top wine travel writer, Marcy Gordon comes back for the wine

Marcy Gordon of the wine and travel blog, Come for the Wine, spent years exploring the world as a travel writer and marketing professional. In addition to her published travel works, the self-proclaimed reader, writer, eater and traveler, shares her experiences with wine and cultures around the world.

A returning speaker at the 2012 International Wine Tourism Conference in Italy and a member of the Blogger/Media Fam Trip, we asked her about her favorite memories from the conference last year, what advice she has for fellow wine travelers, and what she hopes to learn this year. 

1. Welcome back! Having been a part of the 2011 conference, what are some of your favorite memories from Portugal, and what are you most looking forward to this year?

The entire Portugal trip was exceptional, but the best memory is celebrating my birthday on the Douro with great new friends and a few wonderful old Ports. Plus the folks at Quinta do Pego made me a birthday cake that was amazing and quite a surprise.

2. The 2012 Wine Conference takes place in Perugia, Italy, how do you view Umbria as a wine destination?

Umbria has incredible wine regions that are finally getting the attention they deserve. Also Umbria is a perfect place to discover many regional foods and, of course, the wonderful olive oil.

3. You have spent most of your life on the tourism and travel side of things, how did you get into wine and what is it about wine that excites you most?

My background is in consumer marketing and I worked positioning start-ups including Travelocity and OpenTable. My love of travel and writing led me to work in publishing and I was co-editor of the Authentic Italy guidebook series for the Touring Club of Italy. I started a wine blog three years ago to learn more about wine and share my travel experiences in different wine regions. In my view, wine is the very essence of a place, it’s truly travel in a bottle. The first place I go when I travel somewhere new is the wine areas of the region.

4. Having traveled all over the world and explored many of its wine regions, what advice do you have for fellow traveling wine lovers?

Take the time to linger in the vineyards and really get a feeling for the landscape. It’s what makes each region unique. Also avoid wearing white shirts, dark colors are best when wine tasting and leave room in your bag to bring home wine!

5. Which Italian wines do you hope to see in the Jane Hunt MW Grand Wine Tasting Wines of Italy?

I am a fan of Umbrian Sagrantinos and Merlots, so would be nice to see some of those. Also hope to see some varietals from lesser known regions.

Early bird registration for the 4th International Wine Tourism Conference 2012 is now open! Register here