Friuli wines and gastronomy top class at La Subida Restaurant

After a long trip by bus our group was rewarded with a great dinner at La Subida Restaurant in the Eastern part of Friuli, the famous wine growing area called Collio,  not far from the Slovenian border and Trieste.  This area has a great tradition in wine and cheese making, and also for its olive oil. The indigenous white grape Tocai Friulano, similar in character to Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, is in the whole area of Friuli, the most popular variety. To prevent confusion with the Hungarian and Slovakian Tokay, the grape’s name can only be used to denominate the varietal, but cannot be used on the label. The Friulana’s strong minerality suits well to accompany the prosciutto which is served all over the places. But the international  varieties (Anything But Chardonnay comes to mind) have been planted widely, and this not only during the past twenty years as in many other parts of the world.

La Subida CormonsI also should mention the tank fermented blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, a refreshing off-dry sparkler of good commercial quality, which was offered to us immediately after entering the restaurant, together with a baked cheese soufflé in form of a star on a wooden stick.

The 2010 Merlot was from the second vintage of a young wine maker. This wine with its soft tannins was quite pleasant in the expression of its varietal character. The desert wine, a Verduzzo from the North West of Friuli, was a sweet wine of straw/golden colour.

La Subida Cormons 2The meal lived up to our expectations. As already stated, Friuli and in particular Collio are famous for the high quality of local produce. All the dishes were masterly home -cooked, and as usual the hors d’oeuvres and entrées, together with a splendid “trou Normand” (a sherbet with balsamic flavour), and the desert and other sweets were outstanding.

A truly outstanding start of our Friuli trip (part of the International Wine Tourism Conference Blogger- Media Fam Trip) organised and sponsored by the Strade del Vino e Sapori Friuli Venezia Giulia!

Jochen Erler

Denis Ivoševič opens IWINETC Croatia with truffles, olive oil prosciutto & wine!

The 2013 International Wine Tourism Conference got off to a great start this morning with Anthony Swift of Wine Pleasures welcoming attendees followed by the Plenary Session led by Denis Ivoševič from Croatia’s Istria Tourist Board. Croatia has become a wine and culinary destination. Denis pointed out the differences between pre-1990 and post-1995.

Before 1990, Croatia was very isolated and fresh from Communist rule. The country was unspoiled, unbuilt and was known mostly for its seaside camping. Since 1995, the Tourism Board got involved and today Croatia is known for gourmet tourism and last year saw 3.2 million visitors.

With wineries, cooking classes and gourmet packages, Croatia is definitely on the gourmand’s map. The country boasts 500 restaurants and 200 taverns today. Major changes have taken place over the past 25 years resulting in seven wine roads, 120 wine producers, 500 sommeliers and 155,000 wine country visitors.

They’re not casual tourists. They come in small groups, averaging more than two hours per winery visit and they are wine buyers. Croatia now produces more than seven types of Malvazija and they have increased the number of reds and Moscatos, too.

Not only is the nation known for wine and food, there are seven olive oil routes as well with 60,000 visitors coming for the oil alone with 145 producers. It’s ranked the second best olive oil producing region in the world.

Like truffles? Croatia has 2,500 licensed truffle hunters, 160 truffle sommeliers and ar 15 parts and accessories it is the only place in the world that grows both white and black truffles. The Guinness Book of World Records heaviest white truffle was found in Croatia at 1.31 kilograms.

There are also 200 Prosciutto producers.

95% of wine and culinary visitors are from a foreign land. Wineries ask that you make reservations in advance so they can provide an exceptional experience for you.

Zagreb, Croatia has a History with Heart

Snow and sleet did not deter 10 passionate blog writers and our “I’m used to this kind of weather” guide, Ivana, from taking to the streets of Zagreb. Armed with emblematic umbrellas courtesy of The Zagreb Tourist Board, our herd of North American writers ventured out of the warmth of the Esplanade hotel for a tour of the city.

2013-03-15 09.48.31The snow falls gorgeous on the19th century trees that line Zrinjevac park. The park is the oldest in Zagreb. It is surrounded by architecture of the Baroque style and is reminiscent of the communist times when Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic were all part of the same regime. It was a time when the same architect did the same style everywhere. What you see more around Zagreb, however, is the color yellow, the Empress of the 18th Century’s favorite, and the cheapest color in the 19th century.

2013-03-15 10.37.52Much of the city of Zagreb has been built and rebuilt over a tumultuous history that includes of course, invasions – it’s Europe! But a disastrous earthquake in 1880 crumbled much of the city including parts of the St. Mark’s Church. From the outside, whiter stone is contrast to older weathered stone. There is homage to the old stone wall of the 1500s with the two original spires of the church placed beside the wall in remembrance. Inside, the architecture is divided distinctly between the arches of the 16th century and those of the 20th.  Remarkably, several pieces throughout the church withstood the effects of the earthquake, including the stained glass windows and organ pipes.

2013-03-15 10.38.39If ever lost in Zagreb or looking to meet up with someone head, “under the tail.” The statue of an 1848 General riding a horse with a sword is the only statue in Zagreb square. Over time, it has been relocated from the right to the left. It was hidden in a Professor’s basement until the Berlin wall fell, and it once pointed North toward Hungary. After WWII when Austria and Croatia fought and won against Hungary, it was rotated to point South.

The heart-shaped ginger bread cookie that is the logo the Tourism Board uses for Zagreb, and adorns our umbrellas, is based on a tradition started in the 1600s. An artist gave his lady his heart-shaped cookie with a mirror in it, “so she could see herself in his heart.” These cookies remain a symbol of the people of Zagreb and a gift at Christmas to all who are loved.

2013-03-15 10.39.05Ironically, this love-filled city is home to a unique love-themed museum. A ride on the funicular saves us a steep climb and at the top, the Museum of Broken Relationships. The premise of the museum is built on an emotion that is relatable across all ages, countries, and time boundaries. Started as a traveling exhibit, the well-received artifacts of love-lost are housed in a modern building in Upper Town. Items are donated from around the world, from men and women, and are submitted with their story. A cathartic exercise for those donating and a for those visiting, confirmation of what makes us all human.

Great starter for the 5th International Wine Tourism Conference at the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, Croatia

Julie Meyers

What does it take to satisfy the wine tourist? A glass of Prosecco?

Dr. Giovanna Sacchi works within the Agricultural Economics and Policies department at Ca’ Foscari Venice University. Her research focuses on the analysis of the multi-functionality of agriculture as a tool to exploit new opportunities for economic and sustainable development within the tourism sector. She will be presenting research that looks at the satisfaction level of wine tourists; which she believes is one step closer to revealing true facts about the different dynamics of wine tourism. 

You are gathering a bit of statistical research about Prosecco area wine tourists. What was the main objective of the online study?

The overall objective of our study is the analysis of satisfaction level for services within the Prosecco District. 

Do you think the study findings would be applicable and relevant for other wine regions?

I do think the study findings will be relevant for other wine regions even though each region is characterized by different dynamics, different stakeholders and services for tourists. Thus, I strongly believe that, as researcher, we have to take into account the differences and adapt our studies and surveys to the different regions considered.

Will understanding the motivations of Prosecco area wine tourists help the economy? How so?

I think that findings on satisfaction will help economy more than tourists motivations in terms of adapting the services to wine tourist real needs.

Was there an “ah-ha” key finding from the study that you share with IWINETC attendees?

In general terms, the “ah-ah” findings regard the very high level of satisfaction of our sample of wine tourists. We did not find anyone unsatisfied regarding his wine tourist experience.

Hmm Giovanna is not giving much away so you’ll just have to come along to the talk which will be at 15.00 in the Emerald Ballroom on Friday 15th March

View the all the talks at the Conference>>

Register to attend the conference>>

Gaumarjos! Bolomde! Georgian Wines To Taste at IWINETC 2013!

The first word most tourists to Georgia learn is “guamarjos!” – cheers! Long thought to be the birthplace of wine and supported by archaeologists finding wine vessels from 6000 years ago and ancient architecture with frescos of grape vines; this is a wine country.

Georgian wine is rooted in natural and ancient technologies. Grapes are still pressed by foot and the juice is still stored in clay amphorae called “qvevri.” Today’s Georgia is authentic history in a bottle, though more and more Georgian wine is being made using state-of the-art equipment.

Kakheti is the heart of a fertile wine country. It is nestled below the Caucasus mountains to the north, the Azerbaijan basin to the south and the Black Sea to the west. The mixture of climates lends itself to indigenous grapes of great character. Though sometimes hard to pronounce, the wine is some of the most highly regarded by those in-the-know.

On Saturday March 16th at the IWINETC, get in-the-know!

IWINETC closes with a tasting of Georgian wines. “Bolomde!” – bottoms up!

Bringing wine made from Saperavi, Georgia’s most prominent red wine varietal identifiable by it’s pomegranate color and velvety structure, are wineries Winiveria, Khareba, and Shumi. Also taste Chateau Mukhrani’s Seperavi which delivers on mulberry, blackberry and cherry aromas.

Alaverdi Monastery Cellar has been producing wine since 1011. Try their Kisi, a soft, full bodied, natural white.

The Krakhuna grape is cultivated in the river valley of Kvirila in West Georgia. Khareba Winery produces a dry white wine from 100% Krakhuna.

Kondoli Vineyards will provide a wine made from a select block of Rkatsiteli grapes which are picked in the first days of veraison resulting in high quality concentrated fruit and complexity.

Chateau Mukhrani also offers Goruli Mtsvanz, Georgia’s local white varietal whose green tinge signifies acidic structure and potential for aging.

Winiveria Winery is bringing a wine made from Khikhvi, a white grape with an identifiable unique fragrance of exotic fruits and a selection featuring Rkatsiteli grapes

View the all the talks at the Conference>>

Register to attend the conference>>

Get Your Palate Ready, Caroline Gilby, MW will be Introducing Wines of Croatia to IWINETC Delegates

Caroline Gilby abandoned life behind the microscope after a degree in Botany and a PhD in plant sciences to join Augustus Barnett as a trainee wine buyer in 1988. After receiving the prestigious Master of Wine title in 1992, Caroline traveled the world to taste, buy, and write about wines. She currently runs her own consultancy, is part of the Circle of Wine Writers, is affiliated with Wine Educators International and is a frequent wine judge across Eastern and Central Europe. Caroline has been working with Hungarian and Bulgarian wines for over 6 years and is a Balkan wine aficionado. 

What inspired you to focus on the wine of  Eastern and Central Europe, and more specifically, the Balkans?

I started traveling in the region in the early 1990s just after the Iron Curtain came down, when working as a wine buyer.  This was a fantastic opportunity to see the new beginning for countries in the region and I have enjoyed following the complete revolution from collectivized state wineries to dynamic private estates making exciting and individual wines.

How would you rate the quality of the indigenous grapes of the Balkans?

As everywhere quality varies, but there are many exciting and high quality indigenous varieties that were neglected for various reasons in the past (e.g. too difficult to grow or too low yielding when the emphasis was all on volume) that are re-emerging. And it’s thrilling to see local winemakers learning what some of these grapes can offer in a world bored by yet another Chardonnay or Merlot.

Do the varietals of the Balkans reflect the diversity of climate and soils and therefore differentiate particular  wine regions?

There are many Balkan varieties that show off the diversity of climate and soils, selected by growers over the years to suit local “terroir”

What can you tell us about the blending principles of the Balkans? 

Still work in progress as winemakers learn what their native grapes can do, and whether they are better solo or giving a sense of local identity in blends.

What are some key characteristics our noses and palates should be ready for when tasting wine from the Balkans at this year’s IWINETC?

Be prepared for some exciting new flavours and styles of winemaking that truly show a sense of place.

What one idea would be most important for attendees to take away from the grand tasting you will lead on Friday March 15

That wine is a great way of exploring the distinct cultural identities across the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Each country has its own grapes, styles and attitudes to wine, and it’s the perfect partner to enhance the local food experience too.  And vineyards tend to be on great scenic locations so a great excuse for a bit of exploration of the countryside

Since making the interview and in light of the apparent lack of interest in most of the S.E European countries to promote themselves as grape escape destinations, the organisers of the event took the decision to change the title of the tasting to Wines from Croatia Grand Tasting led by Caroline Gilby MW which will be held in the delightful Emerald Ballroom at the Espalande Zagreb Hotel at 17.30 on Friday 15th March.

Wines and wineries included in the tasting include: Aries (Capo), Malvazija Bomarchese (Degrassi), Teran Ré 2007 (Roxanich), Plavac Mali (Korta Katarina), Silvanac Zeleni (Orahovica), Goldberg Grasevina (Vina Belje), Traminac (Ilok cellars),  Malvazija, (Agrolaguna), Riesling (Bolfan Vinski), Plavac mali (Jako Vino),  Graševina de Gotho (Kutjevo).

Also included in the tasting are: Sauvignon Breg (Marof – Slovenia) and Biancosesto (La Tunella – Friuli).

View the all the talks at the Conference>>

Register to attend the conference>>

Wine Architecture – what’s that? Can it help increase visits & wine sales?

Fabrizio Bucella is distinguished professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium. He has a Master in Physics, a second Master in Science and a PhD in Science. He leads research programs focused on Architecture and Wine and teaches oenology. He is the wine columnist for the Huffington Post , France, and writes articles in la Revue du Vin de France and la Revue des Oenologues.

If your students were to introduce you to the IWINETC attendees how might they describe the person we were about to hear speak?

They would probably describe me as a highly self-motivated person, enjoying his passions to the fullest.

Do you remember your first love of architecture? 

As an Italian, architecture has always been deeply rooted in my heart. I remember being stricken by the beauty of Assisi, a town built up-hill, with its Basilica of San Francesco (the patron of Italy) and its other architectural jewels of Roman Art. The splendour and serenity expressed by the walls and ceilings overwhelmed me.

Tell us about when you first decided to pursue a sommelier certification.

I discovered my love for wine during a school trip in Burgundy, France. I was about 17 years old and it was the start of a passionate journey in the world of wine.

What can smaller wineries and tour operators learn from your passions?

I have been teaching wine for more than ten years now and founded a Wine Academy in Brussels. I also spent much time travelling the wine regions and meeting with talented winemakers, small and big. Furthermore, I have the chance to be often invited as a Jury member in various wine contests. This broad experience helps me to connect small boutique wineries with tour operators, and finding a perfect match for their needs.

In the abstract for your talk, you point out a possible new correlation between architecture and wine.  You also point to the Bordeaux 1er Cru example where architecture is part of the consideration in becoming a 1er Cru.  How will you help IWINETC attendees distinguish between this correlation being a trend and a fad?

From a philosophical point of view, the difference between trend and fad is quite subtle. But the question is interesting. In other words: can people influence this trend or do they just observe it? Speaking about first classified growth in Bordeaux is leaning more towards the description of an attitude. The important element here, behind the scene, is that there are new ways of understanding wine, new ways of visiting wineries. Smaller winemakers for example, are starting to propose all included ‘wine tours’ and ‘wine weeks’ with visits of the wineries, journeys in vines, lunch or dinner, and so on. This is what I like to describe as a global wine experience, and it is certainly a trend for the future.

Fabrizio Bucella will be in the Paris Suite at Noon on Saturday, March 16th delivering a talk titled: Wine Tourism. Case study with new architectures in Bordeaux & Rioja

Wineries intereested in the topic of Wine Architecture may also be interested to know that SALA FERUSIC will be delivering a seminar titled Wine Tourism. Architecture & Territory which looks at key points in Architecture and Urban Design for wine tourism facilities, wineries or warehouses, from a very local scale up to its territorial influence.

Relja Ferusic & Carles Sala will be in the Paris Suite at 11.00 on March 16th.

View the all the talks at the Conference>>

Register to attend the conference>>

How to combat a hard day of wine tourism – Wine Wellness & Therapy

Retired academic and international civil service officer Jochen Erler is pursuing his true love, of wines, walking and writing. He leads wine walking groups throughout Europe and consistently attends professional tastings. For more than twenty years Jochen has been a member of jury at the International Wine & Spirit Competition in the UK, a juror at many national, regional and international contests, and a wine consultant. At  IWINETC he will explore the wine regions of Puglia, Istanbul, and Ankara.

Can you tell us why Puglia, Istanbul and Ankara make the hit list for your talk this year?

Puglia and Turkey are newcomers to the international winemarket. With the exception of sweet wines, for many years now Puglia’s excellent wines and olive oil have been sold bulk to Tuscany and bottled there under Tuscan labels. Local producers now have their own bottling facilities, and they can receive wine tourists. Regarding Turkey, it has a rich heritage of wine growing and it offers – unique in the world – a great number of indigenous grape varieties commercially grown. 

How much does being a member of the jury at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in England influence your choice of destinations?  

Wine tasting as a judge at IWSC has made me aware that the overwhelming majority of wines are made in a commercial and uninteresting style. There are plenty of well-made wines without personality, without expression, but faultless and perfect for consumption! There are few wines which lift one’s spirit, create sensory excitement.  Wines made from indigenous grape varieties offer a good chance of finding this quality. Hence my presentations highlight these grape varieties. 

You’ve been a tour leader and speaker for many years. This year’s talk is about scheduling a rest day as part of a good wine tour.  Why is that important for tour operators to do?

Wine tours are activity vacations and can be quite tiring.  The argument for a rest day is that it could be put to good use in several ways. The best timing is at the end of the tour, offering a moment to review the tour, to place orders, to buy the wines they liked best and to allow delivery of the wines to the bus. 

When tour operators plan to partner with a spa, how important is the type of spa?

Any spa offers the benefits of facilities for wellness and relaxation. Traditional thermal, mineral and Thalasso resorts are certainly the most impressive places to have a spa experience. Additionally, traditional spa resorts have superb architecture. For many wine tourists a stop at such a spa would introduce them to an unknown world and experience.

If a spa is not available, what other types of partners would boost relaxation at the end of a trip?

An alternative would be a wine hotel with the best assortment of local wines, some even boast a vinotheque, and some offer wine wellness/wine therapy in their spa.

Jochen Erler‘s talk will be on Friday March 15  from 15:00 to 15:40 in the Paris Suite titled  Destinations for Wine Tours Combined with Spa Wellness

How to bring your wine region into focus

Liza Swift is wine blogger in Northern California, whose day job as corporate marketing executive for a major IT company frequently involves event planning, wine ordering and incentive trip designing. Her passion to share her wine experiences led her to found to provide a vehicle to write about explorations that have taken her to Greece, Istanbul, London, Mexico and all over the United States learning about food and wine and how they bring us all together.

Liza will be co-presenting with Thea Dwelle, but we’ve asked them individual questions about their talk.

How do you go about finding your next destination to explore?

I chose Baja because it was a little known destination that piqued my curiosity since one would not ordinarily think of the land of surf, sand and upside down Margaritas as a wine destination.  So, when I heard they were becoming more known for their wines I tried some and was hooked.  It is so interesting to see the region growing by leaps and bounds and the more wine I try, the more I find to like.  It is also a beautiful, relatively convenient destination that is in keeping with my Hispanic heritage in terms of hospitality and food.  I love Mexican food, and the work that Baja is doing to bring together Mediterranean elements into their local cuisine is really exciting (and yummy). 

You are an expert in technology. What are some of the ways technology can help launch a new wine destination?

Technologies that allow Early Adopters and Influencers to share their experiences are key.  Things like having WiFi so visitors can Facebook/Tweet/Pinterest is important because this allows thought leaders going to areas where their extended circle might not have considered and sharing their good experiences will ignite others and also prove how to visit safely and effectively 

Are there specific tech tools, websites, blogs, feeds that you can recommend  to those just getting a start?

I would recommend HootSuite. It is a dashboard that allows a user to track their presence and responses. It can help them follow a #hashtag easily, schedule tweets judiciously, and even work as a team if multiple users are sharing the Social Media tasks.

What is it you are most looking forward to in Croatia during IWINETC?

Meeting new people and learning about their destinations.  Such a diverse group of wonderful people are expected.  I hope to be able to contribute with my research on how Baja has made strides, but also to see other wonderful places to go and share that back in my writing and blogging.

Liza Swift will be presenting with Thea Dwelle on Saturday March 16th at 11 in the Emerald Ballroom titled Undiscovered to Discovered: Bring Your Wine Region into Focus

View the all the talks at the Conference>>

Register to attend the conference>>

Wines of Croatia Grand Tasting Announced! Živjeli!

Croatia is lucky to have inherited numerous indigenous varieties from its rich centuries-old wine tradition. Even today, when fashion dictates absolutely everything, even the type of grapes grown in vineyards, Croatia’s own wine varieties have managed to preserve their primacy in the total assortment in the country.

Today Croatia has approximately 60 grape varieties in commercial production, with as many as 200 varieties which can still be found in vineyards. However, in such a numerous population, three varieties stand out as the most important ones, Graševina (gra-she-vi-na) in Slavonia and Croatian Danube, Malvazija Istriana (mal-va-zia) on the Istrian Peninsula and Plavac Mali (pla-vatz ma-li) in Dalmatia. Together, the three varieties, each the leading representative of its region, occupy as much as 47% of the total area.

Caroline Gilby MW speaker at IWINETC Croatia 2013During International Wine Tourism Conference 2013, we (Croatian Chamber of Economy Association of Wineries – Vina Croatia – Vina Mosaica) present some of the most successful examples of each of these varieties, as well as several representatives from other major varieties.

Taste the place with Caroline Gilby Master of Wine on Friday 15th March at 17.30


View the all the talks at the Conference>>

Register to attend the conference>>

Wines in the tasting include: Aries (Capo), Malvazija Bomarchese (Degrassi), TeranRe 2007 (Roxanich), Plavac Mali (Korta Katarina), Silvanac Zeleni (Orahovica), Goldberg Grasevina (Vina Belje), Festigia Malvazija, (Agrolaguna), Riesling (Bolfan Vinski), Plavac mali (Jako Vino),  Graševina de Gotho (Kutjevo).

Also included in the tasting are: Sauvignon Breg (Marof – Slovenia) and Biancosesto (La Tunella – Friuli).

It was naively hoped wineries from the whole of the Adriatic and Balkans would participate in this unique opportunity to get wines and wineries known on the international wine and tourism map but sadly this has not been the case.