Kathleen is a travel wine writer and co-owner of Wine Trail Traveler, LLC. Formerly a Home-Hospital teacher, Kathleen became intrigued with every aspect of wine after visiting several tasting rooms. She enjoys writing about the wine experience, learning the history of wine, winemaking at home and at wineries and cooking with wine. Beginning in 2006 she began writing about the experiences at each winery visited, taking classes and reading everything she could get her hands on.
Your book called “A Wine Journey” documents 850 wineries you have visited. In what ways have those trips influenced your talk topic?
Since we wrote A Wine Journey, we have now visited a total of 900 wineries. During those visits we have encountered many delightful experiences, but some visits are more memorable than others, making us wish we could return again and again to the same winery. My presentation topic will include descriptions of ways wineries have made a difference and include suggestions that other wineries can do to give visitors a memorable experience and thereby increasing the chances they will return to your winery.
What part of the wine experience is your favorite part to write about?
My favorite experiences to write about are the unique stories behind the wineries. Some of the stories include the story of the winery name. An example is a winery named Rag Apple Lassie. The unusual history of wineries and the grapes they grow are also intriguing. Particularly enjoyable was learning the story of the grape varietals in vineyards at Villa Matilde in Campania, Italy. For example, Aglianico can be traced back to Ancient History.
Why do you think creating a wine experience at wineries or through tour operators is important?
Wine is an unusual beverage. It is unique because every wine has a unique aroma and taste formed by the vineyard and crafted by the winemaker. Therefore it is essential for a winery to promote its own wines. For most wineries, the best monetary value is for wines to be sold at the winery’s location or to wine club members. People who enjoy the experience will want to return. If they are not close enough to visit frequently, ideally they can belong to a winery’s wine club and/or order by mail.
Should smaller wineries and bigger wineries present different types of experiences?
I am not sure the question should be “should” but rather “can.” There are numerous opportunities for small wineries to enhance the visitor’s experience. Smaller wineries do not have the large budgets or facilities to do what the large wineries can do. Often at smaller wineries the owner and winemaker will be available for a few minutes to talk about their wines. The opportunity to talk with an owner, winemaker or viticulturist can be an exceptional experience.
If you could invent the perfect wine experience in Croatia, what would it entail?
We are arriving in Croatia a few days earlier than IWINETC to visit several wineries. I would prefer waiting until those experiences before suggesting details for a perfect wine experience at a winery in Croatia. However, a perfect wine experience anywhere would include a quick greeting upon arrival, quality and polished stemware with no water spots, friendly and knowledgeable staff, a place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, soft music, views of vineyards, a winery tour. It’s the little things that count.