Wine Travel

Monterey County Wines: Coming of Age

It would be easy to suggest that if John Steinbeck hadn’t written Cannery Row and other novels about the Monterey Bay region, it might never have come into prominence as a wine region within the confines of California.

Vinho Verde: Portugal's Largest Wine Region

The first thing you should know about Portugal's Vinho Verde wine region is that the name, which translates to "green wine," doesn't describe the color of the wine produced here.  Instead, the name refers to the tradition of drinking Vinho Verde wines while they are young.  In fact, the worst thing you can do to a Vinho Verde wine is save it for next year.

Douro Valley: Portugal's Best-Known Wine Region

If your local wine shop is like mine, you've noticed that the Portuguese wine section grows larger every month.  Wines from Portugal are becoming more and more popular.  At the heart of this surge in popularity is the Douro wine region, known for centuries as the home of Port wines.  Today, the Douro Valley is also famous for its excellent unfortified wines, particularly reds.

Navarra Wine Region of Spain: History, Wines, & Producers

In December 2008, the Navarra DO will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its first constitution.  Of course, Navarra has been producing wines for much longer than 75 years.  In fact, archaeological finds from the second century B.C. include Roman-era earthenware wine jars.  Perhaps the DO should be celebrating its 2,075th anniversary instead.

Rheinhessen: Germany's Largest Wine Region

Size Isn't Everything
Rheinhessen's long winemaking history and large size are the building blocks of its reputation in the world of wine – and there are pros and cons associated with both.  Rheinhessen's most famous wine, Liebfraumilch, while well known as far back as the mid-1700's, might well be called "infamous" today because of its reputation for insipid sweetness.  Still, it's hard to argue with brand-name success, so you're likely to find Liebfraumilch prominently displayed in your local wine shop's German section.

Pinot Noir in La Cote de Beaune: Burgundy’s Bouchard

The name Burgundy conjures up images of lush pinot noirs and chardonnays with expensive price tags, served to you with a French accent. It’s most wine lovers dream to visit the region and immerse yourself in pate, pinot and pastries.

Cariñena: Wine and History in the Heart of Aragón

Cariñena's winemaking heritage goes back a long way.  The Romans who built Carae, today's Cariñena, discovered that the local inhabitants mixed wine and mead – a fermented beverage made from honey and water – as early as the third century before Christ.  The Romans continued this winemaking tradition, as they did wherever they settled in western Europe. 

Hessische Bergstrasse: A Touch of Italy in German Wine Country

Between the Rhine River and the Odenwald forest, in the area between Heidelberg and Darmstadt, you'll find a tiny German wine region, the Hessische Bergstrasse.  Its name means "Hessian Mountain Road" in English.  Long ago, the Romans named their trade route through this part of Germany the "strata montana," or "mountain road." 

Campo de Borja: Spain's "Empire of Garnacha"

I must admit, I didn't know much about Campo de Borja when I first read about the results of this year's San Francisco International Wine Competition.  I was surprised to learn that Masia de Bielsa's 2007 Garnacha won the "Best Grenache" award – quite an honor for a $12 bottle of wine from a DO with only 17 wineries.

Germany's Saale-Unstrut Wine Region: One Thousand Years of Winemaking

Most wine drinkers have never heard of Saale-Unstrut, unless they happen to live in Germany.  That's understandable, since nearly all the wine produced in this small German wine region is consumed locally.  Wine production varies here, because Saale-Unstrut lies so far north.  In particularly harsh years, crops are lost and production declines accordingly.  Still, Saale-Unstrut has a proud winemaking history, dating back over a thousand years. 

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