Preparing for Europe

How do I pack this?

Preparations for our extended trip to Spain and France have been fairly extensive. It all started when Raeski and I were at a wine club event where a Rhone River cruise was being promoted and the sponsors were two of Arizona’s winemakers. (There actually is drinkable wine produced in Arizona!) A seven day cruise is nice but hey, we’re going to France and there is much more to see.

Thoughts of what else to do cascaded through our minds and new ideas kept surfacing. Paris was a must see. Plus I have a friend who was planning to move to Italy. Thanksgiving in the Piedmont was enticing. Alas, the friend hasn’t moved yet. Going to Paris, to Arles for the cruise and back to Paris wasn’t the perfect plan.

Spain became our leading candidate. Would it be Madrid, Barcelona or both? A night in Cala Monjoi became unnecessary when El Bulli closed its doors. The draw of the Mediterranean was strong and Barcelona became the destination. As our trip kept getting longer the words, “A three hour tour” kept running through my head. Madrid will have to wait.

Reservations have been made and the trip is set. Planning what to see has been fun. Follow us and you will learn what we chose as we see them. Now we have to do the mundane stuff like canceling mail delivery. One of our challenges will be packing for the temperature variations. Barcelona will be wonderfully temperate. We expect Paris in late November to be chilly and hopefully not cold. So the warm stuff goes in the bottom of the suitcases.

Well, our trip starts this Friday and I still have to figure out what’s going to fit in my suitcase. Cheers, Wooly.

The “Century Club” Quest

Luxembourg vineyards

Years ago when I first started drinking wine I did what most people do. I fell into the rut of only drinking a few varietals. My journey started with reds and one look in my wine cooler is proof that I still prefer the reds. Yet every once in a while I would drink something that would catch my attention and make me wonder what other surprises were waiting for me in the vast sea of wines.

As my journey progressed I joined a wine club with monthly shipments. Unbeknownst to me, this membership was the catalyst that transformed how I would think of wine. I kept getting these wines I never heard of, and certainly wouldn’t buy in a store, simply because I didn’t recognize the “brand”. Nope, I wasn’t the most suave guy in the neighborhood. Most would agree I’m still not.

But I liked a lot of these wines and that got me to thinking about what I had been missing. Then I read about a club in the UK called the Wine Century Club. “What a cool idea! Drink 100 different single varietal wines.” Little did I know how long it would take. I’ve been on the quest for 5 years now. Until you’ve tried it, you don’t know how difficult it is to find more than 30 to 40 different types. Plus I have to stick to a budget.

You would think that it would be a simple task to find all these wines. But darn it, there are rules, like it can’t be a blended wine. Or that a Shiraz is the same thing as a Sirah. Hmm, is that you saying, “But Wooly, just go down to the corner wine specialty store and pick up your hundred.” Ahh, if it was only that easy. However retail stores have to make money and I don’t think they would make a fortune selling Elbling, Pedro Ximenex wine or any other with weird names like that. I’m quite sure Pineau d’Annis is hard enough to pronounce let alone sell it. So, no, the local wine store isn’t the answer.

Slowly (remember, I’m not the brightest bulb in the shed) I realized that I would probably have to travel to the great wine regions of the world to finish the quest. You folks in Europe have no idea how much easier it is for you to join this club. My guess is the 100th bottle will come from either Italy or Greece. Now is this really a bad thing?

Combining my love of travel and thirst for unusual wines seems like a pretty cool thing to do and actually has led to another quest. If you guessed traveling to every great grape growing region in the world, you guessed correctly. However that darn budget thing slows down the journey. So hopefully you’re got a few years left in you to follow me on my quest. And heck, maybe this can inspire you on your own quest, whatever it may be. Possibly climbing all the fourteeners if you live in Colorado. Cheers, Wooly.


Beauty is found where you look for it

Have you ever had someone incessantly (nagging) on your case about an idea, concept or something they think you should do? You know, the old, “You should really blog about your adventures.” Well, that’s not really the case because it was me doing the nagging.

I somewhat liken blogging to writing letters to the editor. Nobody really cares all that much about what you think, their minds are already made up and you’re an idiot for having and different point of view! So now we embark on what I hope will be an interesting window into our world and hopefully I won’t make an idiot of myself too often.

So sit back, grab a glass of wine or whatever… and hitch a ride with us. Wooly

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain