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.