Inside the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction

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Photo Courtesy: DuVine
I recently had the opportunity to cover the Hospices de Beaune wine auction, which occurs every November in one of my favorite wine towns in Bourgogne (Burgundy) France.
The Hospices de Beaune estate (most of it Grand Cru and Premier Cru) and its prestigious wines produced by 22 hand-chosen winemakers are utterly famous. The wines are sold annually at auction on the third Saturday of November in an event conducted by Christie’s auction house. The proceeds of the sale are still used in a non-profit fashion for the conservation of the historic Hôtel Dieu. There is also a charity lot, the Pièce des Présidents, proceeds from which are generally the highest in the auction and are donated to a very small number of select organizations each year.

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The Enjoyable Wine Tasting That Didn’t Happen!

Lugana & Valpolicella winetasting

We live in the mid-Atlantic region, so it takes us 1 1/2 to 2 hours to make a trip into the center of Washington, DC via car and Metro. We don’t mind the trip especially when we are cordially invited to a special wine tasting. This week was the first time we had trekked into the city for a wine tasting and a seminar but there were no wines to taste! You may wonder why a wine tasting event did not have wines available. It was all explained to us. One of our early wine courses emphasized the three entities that influence the wine in your glass. These include the vineyard, the winemaker and government. Government can control the vineyards with laws on whether you can irrigate or not. During winemaking, government may have laws regarding chaptalization. Then there are numerous rules regarding labeling the bottle. ...

Lirac: Five Star French Wine And Travel

Lirac Vineyard
A view of a Lirac vineyard at Château de Montfaucon. Photo Credit: Jill Barth
France’s Rhône River runs north to south, beginning in the Swiss Alps and eventually finding its way to the Mediterranean Sea. Populating its banks are world-renowned vineyards, divided into Northern and Southern designationsthe latter of which includes the Lirac Cru. In a valley where wines are classified by region – not variety – possessing this Cru designation is a key distinction, as there are only 13. Though Lirac was officially recognized as such in the 1940s, the area has been known for quality vineyards since the middle ages, famous for fresh, aromatic and structured wines.
Domaine Clos Sixte Lirac
Photo Credit: Jill Barth

The AOP – which includes the communes of Roquemaure, Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres, Saint-Geniès-de-Comolas and Lirac — produces red, white and rosé wine from 782 hectares. It is home to 44 domaines and châteaux, 18 négociants and ...

Lirac Vines
Lirac, Vacqueyras, Rhône, Gigondas, Rasteau
Avignon at Night
red wine from France, south of France, travel to France for wine
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A Travel and Wine Destination: South Africa

Sign outside the SA Embassy in Washington, DC

Early in October we visited the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Washington, DC for a presentation emphasizing the wonderful experiences of visiting South Africa. Before our visit, we already were aware of the wine industry in the country. We were impressed by the enthusiasm of all the presenters at the embassy event. The word “beautiful” was liberally sprinkled throughout the presentations. 

Symbol of South Africa

We were first welcomed to the event by Ambassador Mahlangu. In addition to his smile, he talked about South Africa as if it was a country he was in love with. Inspiring comments by Ambassador Mahlangu included: that they “always welcome visitors,” there is a “people to people engagement, people should “experience South Africa as a country.”  He also encouraged people that if you have not been there, then you should go ...

October is Virginia Wine Month

October is Virginia Wine Month!

During October 2018, Virginia is celebrating its 30th year Virginia Wine Month. Virginia lays claim to being the oldest state with a Wine Month.  History buffs and wine lovers will want to know that the first Virginia Wine Month was established in 1988 by former Governor Gerald L. Baliles. Governor Bailles signed a CERTIFICATE of RECOGNITION  which stated, “By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized: VIRGINIA WINE MONTH.”  The document made note that Jamestown settlers had been using native American grapes for fermentation and that Jefferson experimented with growing vinifera wine grapes in Virginia soil. To see what difference in the Virginia wine industry has taken place over the years, the document noted that at that time, in 1988, Virginia had more than 40 ...

October is Pennsylvania’s Wine Month!

Naylor Wine Cellars, PA

Did you know that October is Pennsylvania’s Wine Month? Enjoy traveling along Pennsylvania’s countryside roads while touring the state’s many wineries. Wine enthusiasts can discover small, boutique wineries as well as much larger wineries. Pennsylvania wineries are producing a vast array of wines. In addition to many traditional wines produced with vitas vinifera grapes, Pennsylvania wineries are producing wines crafted from hybrid varieties and vitis labrusca grapes as well as a variety of fruits.

Clover Hill Vineyard & Winery, PA

Pennsylvania vineyards include more than two dozen grape varieties. While visiting wineries in Pennsylvania look for vitis vinifera, hybrid and native American varieties. Check the list below for the varieties below growing in Pennsylvania.

Oregon Hill Winery in Pennsylvania

Vitis Vinifera Varieties Albariño
CabernetFranc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay
Gewürztraminer
Grüner Veltliner
Pinot Grigio
Lemberger (Blaufränkisch)
Merlot
Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris)
Pinot Noir
Riesling
Syrah     Hybrid ...

Two French Wine Trips To Take This Fall

The vineyards of Beaumes-de-Venise with the commune of Suzette in view. Credit: JILL BARTH
I’ve recently written about two extraordinary travel opportunities for lovers of French wine. Both dive deep into culture and experience while keeping wine front and center.

An Autumn Escape To France’s Hilltop Wine Towns, published on Forbes, is all about Rhône Valley communes in Provence, along the Dentelles de Montmirail:

Hill towns capture the imagination and inspire travel, and Provençal villages situated around the Dentelles de Montmirail are no exception. These villages anchor gem wine regions of France’s Southern Rhône Valley, distinct cru defined by their own names: Beaumes-de-Venise, Cairanne, Gigondas and Vacqueyras.

Offering the natural, rugged side of the south of France, the Dentelles de Montmirail are a lacy, jagged skyline caused by prehistoric geological upset to Jurassic limestone. Ancient villages cling to the mountains and vineyards are planted along the terraced slopes and the hem ...

Cahors: Your Favorite Wine For Fall

Cahors for fall Where I come from, fall is a relief. Summer is hot and humid and winter is long and unfriendly. Fall, most Midwesterners agree, is the best time of year when it comes to weather. It’s a short window of time, the truly kind season, so it’s common for people to fall into tradition to make the most of nostalgia and comfort. But we’ve got nothing to lose if we shake things up a bit — if we try new things. Like, perhaps, a new wine. Cahors (“kah-OR”) wines are made from malbec, a variety featured on wine lists around the world. It’s a marginal member of the classic Bordeaux blending crew (found more in Côtes de Bordeaux than elsewhere) and Argentine growers have embraced malbec in such a way that their treatment could be seen as a full-on revival. A dash is also grown in the Loire Valley. Called côt ...
Cahors Mapa

You Might Want To Take Notes: Wine Writers On Cahors

French wine, wineophiles, This month our French Winophiles group covers Cahors. It’s a singular wine region that works with a singular grape: malbec. Malbec is situated nicely, I think, in a position to satisfy most wine drinkers. It tastes great with many foods, comes in a range of prices and represents wine regions around the world. Though South American malbec hits the headlines lately, the origins of this dark-skinned varietal are actually in the south of France. Cahors is home to the original malbec. One of the oldest wine regions in France, this relatively small spot is situated along the Lot River in Occitanie. Curious to learn more? Follow the Winophiles Twitter chat on Saturday, September 15, 2018 with our hashtag: #Winophiles. These writers have prepared background stories packed with history, food-pairings and perspective. Join us in our chat and brush up on Cahors with the following articles: Rob from Odd Bacchus tells ...

5 Surprises About Greek Wine

Assyrtiko, Savatiano, Skin contact wine, orange wine, natural wine, wild ferment, Santorini, Papaginannakos It is a coincidence that I published a story on European island wines this week and here I am, writing about Greek wines today. A coincidence, sure, but a fortunate one. Nearly all of the regions I featured had an ancient connection to Greek wines. Santorini, obviously. But also Hvar and Lanzarote. Corsica and Sicily, them too. Much olden-day influence wrapped in mystery. So much has happened since the Greeks ruled the seas, so much has changed in culture and method — even Greece itself has transformed greatly. As recently as the phylloxera (a Greek word, by the way) outbreak in the late 19th century, Greece had to decide an identity, how to move forward. Like so many regions, they replanted with what would not only survive but also sell and worked toward the future. Some old ways were retained, some new cards were dealt. There are so many fascinating ...

Wine To Match The Trees: 15 Italian Reds for Fall

Italian Reds for Fall 1.jpg There is something about fall that whispers to our senses. We seek comfort and nostalgia in the smells and tastes of spice and bounty. We long for the cool air that where I live we call “sweater weather” and the feel of chill on our cheeks. We look, oh goodness we look, for the colors of fall — in some parts of America, they call this “leaf peeping”, an attraction that causes a migration from cities into the wooded areas of the world — looking for fall colors is a beckoning. Taking inspiration from the appeal, giving into that which we seek, let’s drink to the fall colors and highlight some red wines. Ideal for this season’s meals, many-layered and long-cooked, red wines from Italy offer everything we could want from a fall drink. Variety is the spice of Italy, and here are 15 fall reds for the fall season… ...
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A lineup of fresh summer wines from Umbrian and Lazio
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Around Italy With Red Wines For Fall

Red Wines for Fall
ITALIAN FOOD, WINE AND TRAVEL
On the first Saturday of the month, a group of food, wine and travel bloggers post about a region or a wine varietal. For September’s event, we look towards the change of season with food and wine that celebrate cooler weather and the abundance of harvest. These wines can be from any region, based on your own experience and preference. We are looking for roundup lists, pairing suggestions, travel inspiration, producer profiles and any other story that highlights red wine from Italy this time of year. The Favorite Italian Red Wines For Fall #ItalianFWT event will be Saturday, September 1, 2018. The following posts will go live early that morning and you can follow along on a Twitter chat — using #ItalianFWT — from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. CT. Marcia at Joy of Wine reveals Lacrima – The Aromatic Jewel in La ...

Cahors, The Original Malbec

The September event for our French Winophiles group centers around the region of Cahors. Here malbec is native (though it is called côt) with a history dating back to the 16th century. This email is an invitation to participate and/or mark your calendar for our Twitter chat on the topic of Cahors. We will cover the who, what and where of the region with suggestions, pairings, travel inspiration and more. No one walks away from a Winophiles chat without a long list of new things to try!
HOW TO JOIN US
If you are a wine writer or blogger, this is your invitation to join in!
  • Contact me to tell me you’re in: Include blog URL, Twitter handle,  and any other social media details. If you know your blog post title, include that…but you can also send that a bit closer to the event. We’d just like to get a sense of ...

Favorite Italian Red Wines For Fall

Next month I’m the host of the Italian Food, Wine and Travel (ItalianFWT) writers group and I’ve chosen the couldn’t-be-broader topic of Favorite Italian Red Wines for Fall. Red Wines for Fall
Italian Food, Wine and Travel
On the first Saturday of the month, a group of food, wine and travel bloggers post about a region or a wine varietal. For September’s event, we look towards the change of season with food and wine that celebrate cooler weather and the abundance of harvest. These wines can be from any region, based on your own experience and preference. We are looking for roundup lists, pairing suggestions, travel inspiration, producer profiles and any other story that highlights red wine from Italy this time of year. The Favorite Italian Red Wines For Fall #ItalianFWT event will be Saturday, September 1, 2018. Posts will go live early that morning and you can follow along on a Twitter chat ...

Visiting California this Summer? Discover these Wine Regions

Vineyards at Yorkville Cellars

In my last blog, I wrote about California’s Temecula wine region; however, California has many wine regions where wine enthusiasts can discover quality wines, view prolific vineyards and enjoy the ambiance of a variety of California winery tasting rooms. When planning your next visit to California, I suggest using a search engine to discover what wineries are available in your California destination. Also check out the California wineries we have visited and written articles about for Wine Trail Traveler. The wine regions list for California include these that we have visited:
  • Cucamonga Valley/Temecula/SanDiego
  • Lake County
  • Mendocino County
  • Napa
  • North Central VAlley
  • San Luis Obispo County
  • Santa Barbara County
  • Sonoma
  • Suisun Valley
Numerous wineries throughout the state are using sustainable farming methods in their vineyards. Sustainable programs in California include: California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA), Certified California Sustainable Wine Growing, Fish Friendly Farming, Green Business Program, Lodi ...

Traveling to Temecula, California this Summer? Visit a Winery!

Vindemia vineyards in Temecula, California

If you are traveling to San Diego, Orange County or Palm Springs, you will want to be sure to visit Temecula Valley where the vineyards are prolific, the wines are delicious and the dining is awesome with eateries offering quick stops or full menus. While in Temecula Valley, save some time to visit Old Town Temecula with all of its historical ambiance. In 2018, Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary.  While grapes have been grown in Temecula since the  1700s, it was in 1968 that Vincenzo and Audry Cilurzo planted the first modern commercial vineyard. In June the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association released a 50th Anniversary commemorative wine. This anniversary wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.  Enjoy visiting several of the more than 40 wineries in Temecula. The majority of wineries are easy ...

Visiting Oregon this Summer? Visit a Winery

The wine caves at Archery Summit in Oregon

Portland, Oregon is a delightful city to visit; however, there are many other areas of Oregon that are equally pleasant to visit. Our two favorite months to visit Oregon include August and September. No matter what time of year you visit Oregon, you will find wineries that are open and cater to visitors. Oregon is especially well known for Pinot Noir and and Pinot Gris. Amongst the many white grape varieties growing in its prolific vineyards are: Chardonnay, Gweürtraminer, Riesling and Semillon. Also be sure to look for Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel. Oregon’s wine regions include:
  • Willamette Valley (North and South)
  • Columbia Valley
  • Columbia Gorge
  • Walla Walla Valley
  • Umpqua Valley
  • Roque Valley and Applegate Valley
  • Eastern Oregon
Wine Trail Traveler has visited and written articles about many of the wineries in Oregon. These articles are available on the ...

Traveling to Ohio this Summer? Visit a Winery

Raven’s Glenn Vintage Ohio Wine Festival

Ohio wineries can be discovered throughout the state. While traveling to or through Ohio be sure to stop at a winery to discover the wines produced in this large state. Currently Ohio has several AVAs including Lake Erie, Isle St. George, Grand River Valley, Ohio River Valley and Loramie Creek appellations.

Barrel Run Crossing Winery & Vineyard, Ohio

During the 1800s Ohio was known for growing the Catawba grape. This was where the majority of sparkling wines were made in the US during those early years. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about about the Catawba grapes and the beautiful river, known as the Ohio River.  It was the Civil war and grape diseases that led to the demise of the grape industry in Ohio. Later the industry began to develop again but Prohibition put a stop to the industry until the 1960s. Today Ohio has ...

Midwestern Gardens and Missouri Wine: Augusta, America’s First AVA

American wine, where to visit wineries, wine tasting
The View from Noboleis in Augusta Missouri. Photo Credit: Jill Barth
American wine history is packed with unexpected turns and hand-of-fate outcomes. Our population has thirsted for wine since the founding fathers sipped Madiera and Thomas Jefferson’s agrarian pursuits inspired a true American wine. History isn’t complete without the Wente “mother clone” in Livermore Valley or the Judgement of Paris in Napa (with some Sonoma fruit, but that’s another story). I’ve read that New Mexico was the site of the first American vineyards and I’ve followed the prosperity of hybrids from American universities, making it possible to cultivate wine in every state of the union. Many people, despite the fact that they are told to expect the unexpected, are still surprised to find that the first officially recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the United States was awarded to Augusta, MO. 35 miles from Saint Louis along the verdant ...
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sweet wine, Missouri wine, where to taste wine, Day trips from Chicago
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Norton and Food-01

Visiting New York’s Finger Lakes Region this Summer? Visit a Winery!

Seneca Wine Trail sign helps travelers.

New York State’s Finger Lake region offers so much to summertime visitors. Among the many activities of hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and camping, the region offers numerous wineries to visit. Travelers will find small, boutique wineries as well as much larger wineries. Some of these wineries offer delightful views of Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake and Keuka Lake. The lakes provide enough warmth to keep the grapevines safe during the harsh winters that the area can experience.

Lake views between the grapevines

Two of the most well-known wine trails are the Seneca Lake Wine Trail with 35 participating wineries and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail with 16 wineries. A third wine trail is the Keuka Lake Wine Trail with 8 wineries. A few wineries are also close to Canandaigua Lake which also has the Canandaigua Wine Trail. As one drives along the Finger Lakes, also ...