Exploring the world one glass at a time...
A few years back, my husband and I took one AMAZING vacation to Napa Valley, CA. I learned then that combining travel, food, and wine as going to be a big theme for the rest of our lives. I dove in head first into learning more about wine and how those flavors end up in the glass. I want to share all I learn with you – just in case anything I learn can help you in YOUR wine journey.
I look for ways in most of my travel to incorporate learning about a place through wine and through food. It’s a theme I continue to seek out as it gives me so much perspective about the places I visit.
I’ve also l have become a complete wine dork. Taking classes and reaching for certifications just because I’m hungry to have a deeper understanding of how history, culture, and tradition shape how wine continues to be made.
I want to taste it ALL!
Ok, well, maybe not ALL… For example, I’m not to keen on anything that’s still moving or still has eyes, and spicy food really doesn’t like me all that much. However, I am intrigued to learn about a place through what people eat and DRINK! Which means trying all kinds of new flavors and dishes.
I am also a BIG wine lover. Many of the trips my husband and I take are centered around trying new wine, exploring wineries and vineyards, and meeting the wine makers if we can. And although I don’t currently work in the wine industry, I am always excited to learn more about every facet of wine and love it when I’m able to help others to enjoy wine as much as I do.
The Travel Bug Bit Me Hard...
Wine, wine, and more wine! Travis and I spent 9 vino-filled days in Napa Valley back in 2015. It was our first real trip together as a couple and it was an extremely educational trip for me. Not only did we learn about wine, but we learned more about each other in the process! My favorite vineyards from this trip were Beaulieu Vineyards, Artesa, Frogs Leap, and Hess. And even though Travis is afraid of heights, I was able to convince him to take a hot air balloon ride over the vines. While the wake up time was WAY too early, the views were stunning and the brunch after at Chandon was pretty great. This was the trip that causes me to search for wine-related activities even when it’s not the overall theme of the trip (though it often IS the theme…).
I have been fortunate enough to have held jobs in the past that have allowed me to travel to some great places. And even though my current job keeps me mostly at home in Florida, I still long to continue to explore as many new places as I can as much as my PTO can allow. My travel bucket list is LONG. I’m are continually sorting, re-prioritizing, and adding to the list.
Some of the places I’ve traveled, together with my husband, Travis, include Greece, Norway, Belize, Mexico, Chicago, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Whistler, and, my most recent favorite place, Beaver Creek, CO. I’ve also both had some interesting (and delicious) solo travels. I took an incredible trip to Argentina & Chile, and recently a trip to the United Kingdom (and drove on the wrong side of the road – and LIVED!). My favorite, wine-centric travels have been to Napa Valley (a few times), Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Spain (Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Priorat!).
Studying Wine on the Side
I was always one of those kids that wanted to know why… you know, the annoying kid that can’t handle “because” as a response… yep, that’s me. After that 2015 trip to Napa, I had to know how wine “worked”. What was it that made on Cabernet taste different from the one down just the road? If I like “this wine”, how can I pick another that is similar and be able to know I’ll like it? What is this wine going to do when I pair with food and how can I make choices that enhance my meals and not make it taste odd or bad (going back to that I want to taste all the things need)?
I have also always been a pretty good student, so I thought, why not find some wine classes to really give me some structure. It doesn’t hurt that I tend to follow through better when I’ve paid for something. So I started with a DVD (*gasp* one of the last I ever bought) created by a master of wine to get familiar with the basics, and I just kept going from there. I signed up for the WSET 2 through Napa Valley Wine Academy in Tampa, FL and, after lots of COVID delays, ended up completing it online instead of in person – but passed with flying colors! I discovered the Wine for Normal People podcast and dug in on every dog walk – which were a lot more frequent during COVID in 2020 and listened to each episode until I finally caught up. YES – EVERY EPISODE! And most recently, I completed the America Wine Expert certification, also through Napa Valley Wine Academy online. And of course sprinkled in are other wine magazines (and their Instagram accounts really), local wine shop tastings, and a few of my friends that are almost as into wine as I am. There is always something more to learn and new ways to apply that knowledge into future experiences with wine.