Wine On The Road

Wine On The Road

As I grow Wine On The Road (www.wineontheroad.com), my wine-focused, behind-the-scenes touring company, I am often asked by other wine lovers whether they can tag along in my suitcase or perhaps hold my glass while I write tasting notes in wine country.  All joking aside, I do think it makes sense to let you know what it would take to be one of my Wine Sherpas.  The rest is up to you, and if you’re still interested after you hear the gory details then email me at benweinberg@wineontheroad.com or call me at 303-522-6738.

Jean-Charles at Bonneau du Martray

Jean-Charles at Bonneau du Martray

There are two overriding factors that dictate the sort of person or business that it makes sense for me to partner with on a specific tour.  The first is that this person needs to have an affinity list (in business we’d call this a customer list, in the charitable context it is a donor list, and personally this is probably a contact list) that is strong in wine lovers who have the time, interest, and means to vacation in wine country.

The second is that this potential partner be sufficiently interested in spending time in paradise and growing relationships with his or her best customers, to the extent that he or she is intensely involved in marketing the tour to those prospects.  Most of my Wine Sherpas own or are managerial level employees of regionally focused restaurants and high-end wine stores, but I also work with charities and, in such a case, we can make a portion of the tour fee tax-deductible to the donor.

THE DEAL

In the vineyard with Wine On The Road clients at Fratelli Revello in Piedmont

In the vineyard with Wine On The Road clients at Fratelli Revello in Piedmont

So here’s the basic deal – in exchange for 1) the aforementioned use of your affinity (customer) list, 2) a concerted effort on your part to engage your customers, donors, or contacts at your place of business, charitable events, and via social media that is designed to enthuse them about joining you in wine country, and 3) your (or your high-level employee’s or director’s) attendance on the tour as a Wine Sherpa, I will a) take care of all logistics and scheduling (the dirty work), and b) pay all of your tour expenses, including airfare, lodging, transportation, and all tour events.  If you want to bring another person along (perhaps a spouse) then I would pay half of each person’s tour expenses as indicated above.

TIMING AND OTHER ESSENTIALS

Great Food in Napa

Great Food in Napa

First we would agree on a tour destination and a set of tour dates.  We can go anywhere you want in wine country (a regional restaurant would generally travel to the region that produced its recipes). Tour dates should be set at least a year ahead and most will be planned for spring and fall departures.

We would agree on a marketing (including social media) strategy and I would customize the appropriate Wine On The Road templates, pictures, and videos (see the attachments to the Vendor Participation Packet downloadable from WOTR’s homepage).  I would then set up a special tour webpage at Wine On The Road’s website (www.wineontheroad.com), with our combined marketing efforts directing interested customers to that page.  There they can peruse photo galleries of the tour’s destination, view videos of wine country and client testimonials, and download a preliminary itinerary and booking form that gives complete instructions on how to sign up for that tour.

Special bubbles in Champagne, France

Special bubbles in Champagne, France

One additional idea that has worked well is to set up a wine dinner focused on the region to which we’re going to travel.  For the regional restaurant promoting a tour to that region this is self-explanatory, but in other cases we can work with a restaurant near your place of business or residence that serves the wines and food of the area we’ll be visiting.

After that we sit back and let the reservations come in.  Once we reach a minimum number of paid clients (usually between eight and 16 depending on the destination and level of luxury desired) we finalize the tour and get ready to go!

THE SCARY PART – ACTUALLY DOING IT!

Hanging out in Batard Montrachet, Burgundy, France

Hanging out in Batard Montrachet, Burgundy, France

So what can go wrong, you may ask.  Well, on the first WOTR tour I ever led, to Piedmont, Italy, in late October of 2011, while I made sure to bring along two fluent Italian speakers, by the end of lunch on the first day I was alone in Italian wine country with nine customers and a van driver who spoke only pidgin English.  True story.  I survived, but never forget that it’s important to be resourceful or you’ll quickly drown in this business.

At this point I should probably mention that Wine On The Road has prospered, so much so that in 2013 I wrote an article for Sommelier Journal about wine-focused experiential tourism, of which I offered WOTR as an example.  I’m also the author of a set of ebooks on wine-focused travel, the Wine Roads series through the Wine Appreciation Guild.  So it isn’t all bad!

The road to Badia a Pasignano

Enjoying Tuscany (Badia a Pasignano)

Anyway, if you are interested in this concept and feel that you have the proper qualifications as described above, please email me at benweinberg@wineontheroad.com or call me at 303-522-6738. I’ll probably also write at least one more column about being on tour with clients, most likely after WOTR’s fall 2014 tours that are scheduled for Champagne and Burgundy in France (September 6-13, www.wineontheroad.com/champ-burgunfiltered.php), and Campania, Italy (September 14-21, www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php).

Also, just for grins, I’ve included my tasting notes on some choice bottles that I’ve had the pleasure to recently taste, usually from samples or at an industry gathering.  I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish.  If I can find a domestic retail price then I list it (if there is more than one I err on the higher side), with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.

 

UPCOMING WINE DINNER AT IL POSTO RESTAURANT: EXPLORE CAMPANIA

Il Posto

Il Posto

Il Posto’s Owner/Chef Andrea Frizzi and Wine On The Road’s Chief Wine Sherpa Ben Weinberg will be hosting a special Campania dinner on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, starting at 6:30 P.M. at Il Posto, 2011 East 17th Avenue, Denver, CO 80206. $65 per person (including wine) plus tax and tip. To make your reservation for this special dining opportunity please call the restaurant at 303-394-0100 or go to www.ilpostodenver.com.

 

CAMPANIA UNFILTERED WITH ANDREA FRIZZI AND IL POSTO RESTAURANT: SEPTEMBER 14-21, 2014

Il Posto's Chef/Owner Andrea Frizzi

Il Posto’s Chef/Owner Andrea Frizzi

Immediately after Wine On The Road’s Champagne-Burgundy Unfiltered tour, I’m leading an exploration of Campania, Italy, another of the world’s most renowned wine regions, with behind-the-scenes access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines.  With Wine on the Road tours, Il Posto’s chef/owner Andrea Frizzi and I have created the ultimate in wine-focused, behind-the-scenes wine country experiences, combining award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.  Check it out at www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php.

Highlights of the Campania Unfiltered tour include:

• Seven days in Campania during the heart of harvest focused on acclaimed wine estates, wineries selected by Andrea and me for their distinctive expressions of local terroir and culture

• Up-close-and-personal time with well-known winemakers, as well as one-of-a-kind, winery-focused tours, tastings, meals and lodgings

• Superior accommodations at the Radici Resort in the heart of wine country

• A cooking class with Andrea focused on regional specialties and techniques

• Privately guided tours of bustling Naples (the “Great Pizzas” excursion) and hallowed Pompeii

• Unique non-wine experiences such as helping to make world-renowned Mozzarella di Bufala in its hometown of Caserta, attending cultural events, and joining up with locals for evening activities

• Optional activities such as visiting local markets, personal appointments with select artisans who handcraft unique local products, golf, and spa treatments

Price is $5,995 per person, paid in U.S. funds ($), based on double occupancy for between eight-and-twelve paid attendees, land only, excluding airfare, gratuities and other optional activities.  For additional information on this extraordinary touring opportunity, or to download the Preliminary Itinerary and Booking Form, go to www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php.

 

OREGON WINE COUNTRY WITH DAVIDSONS LIQUORS: MAY 15-19, 2015

Davidsons Liquors

Davidsons Liquors

Davidson’s Fine Wine Specialist Aaron Maher, who leads this tour with his special knowledge of Oregon wines, and Davidsons Liquors have partnered with international wine writer Ben Weinberg and Wine on the Road to offer this extraordinary opportunity. This is the ultimate in wine-focused, behind-the-scenes wine country experiences, combining award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.

Highlights of our Portland and Willamette Valley tour with Fine Wine Specialist Aaron Mayher of Davidsons Liquors include:

• Five days and four nights in Portland and the Willamette Valley focused on acclaimed artisanal food producers and wineries selected by Aaron and Ben, based on distinctive expressions of local terroir and culture

• Up-close-and-personal time with well-known artisans and one-of-a-kind, tours, tastings, and meals

• Accommodations in upscale hotels

• Special access to cultural events, including joining up with locals for evening activities

• Free time in the picturesque towns of Newberg, Dundee, and McMinnville

• Optional activities such as visiting local markets, personal appointments with select artisans who handcraft unique local products, spa treatments, golf, and other cultural events

Price is $2,995 per person, paid in U.S. funds ($), based on double occupancy for between 16-and-24 paid attendees, land only, excluding airfare, gratuities and other optional activities.  For additional information on this extraordinary touring opportunity, or to download the Preliminary Itinerary and Booking Form, go to www.wineontheroad.com/oregonwithdavidsons.php.

 

UPCOMING COVERAGE: CELEBRATE WALLA WALLA WINE

The view from Col Solare (Red Mountain, WA)

The view from Col Solare (Red Mountain, WA)

Ben will be covering the upcoming Celebrate Walla Walla Wine Festival from June 17-21, 2014, in beautiful eastern Washington.  Follow along live with Ben on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare, and be sure to check out his Wine On The Road column after the event.

 

SEATTLE AND EASTERN WASHINGTON WINE COUNTRY: MAY 22-26, 2015

Stacks of wine barrels

Stacks of wine barrels

Explore one of the world’s most renowned wine regions with behind-the-scenes access to top agricultural artisans and winemakers and their incomparable foodstuffs and wines.

International wine writer Ben Weinberg and Wine on the Road offer this extraordinary opportunity as the ultimate in wine-focused, behind-the-scenes wine country experiences, combining award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.

Highlights include:

• Five days and four nights in Seattle and Eastern Washington focused on acclaimed artisanal food producers and wineries selected by Ben and based on distinctive expressions of local terroir and culture

• Up-close-and-personal time with well-known artisans and one-of-a-kind, tours, tastings, and meals

• Accommodations in upscale hotels

• Special access to cultural events, including joining up with locals for evening activities

• Free time in the picturesque towns of Walla Walla and Yakima

• Optional activities such as visiting local markets, personal appointments with select artisans who handcraft unique local products, and spa treatments

Price is $2,995 per person, paid in U.S. funds ($), based on double occupancy for between 16-and-24 paid attendees, land only, excluding airfare, gratuities and other optional activities.  For additional information on this extraordinary touring opportunity, or to download the Preliminary Itinerary and Booking Form, go to www.wineontheroad.com/washingtonunfiltered.php.

 

WINE ON THE ROAD’S LUXURIOUS, BEHIND-THE-SCENES WINE TOURS

Wine On The Road

Wine On The Road

With Wine On The Road (www.wineontheroad.com), my wine-focused touring company, you can enjoy the ultimate wine country excursion with special access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines.  Wine On The Road offers intimate wine country tours that combine award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.  We lodge at excellent and luxurious wine country estates (in the past we’ve occupied ancient yet completely restored castles as well as five-star resorts, all with modern amenities).  We eat at amazing local restaurants and visit wineries that embody the best, most authentic expressions of local wine grapes.

Planned excursions in late 2014 include a combined visit to Champagne and Burgundy (www.wineontheroad.com/champ-burgunfiltered.php), and another to Italy’s Campania (www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php).  Early 2015 tours include Chile/Argentina (www.wineontheroad.com/chile-argunfiltered.php), Piedmont, Italy (www.wineontheroad.com/winebeesandcheeseinpiedmont.php), Oregon’s wine country (in conjunction with Davidson’s Liquors, www.wineontheroad.com/oregonwithdavidsons.php), and Seattle and Eastern Washington (www.wineontheroad.com/washingtonunfiltered.php).  You can learn more about these trips, book private groups in wine country world-wide and request more information on any of these extraordinary travel experiences by visiting www.wineontheroad.com, emailing me at benweinberg@wineontheroad.com, or calling me at 303-522-6738.

 

Recommended:

White

Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc St. Helena 2011 (Napa Valley, California) $18

Pale yellow/citrus, yellow apple/melon, allspice, grass/himod

 

Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc 2011 (Napa Valley, California) $20

Pea yellow/light orange sherbet/lime, starfruit/hilong

 

Trapiche Chardonnay Mendoza Finca Las Palmas Gran Reserva 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina) $35

Bright yellow/smoky pineapple, melon/yellow apple/pie crust/hilong

 

Alamos Chardonnay 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina) $10

Pale yellow/rich cinnamon, smoke, red apple/green melon, lime, cream/himod

 

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2011 (Casablanca, Chile) $25

Rich yellow/dried fig, ginger/yellow apple, lemon zest, mango, butter/hilong

 

Craggy Range Chardonnay Kidnappers Vineyard 2011 (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand) $22

Pale yellow/red apple, green pear/peach, red plum/hilong

 

Yalumba Viognier 2012 (South Australia, Australia) $20

Straw/white pepper, lemon curd/orange blossom, honey/himod

 

John Duval Plexus White 2011 (Barossa Valley, Australia) $25

Gryel/pine grapple/apricot ash/bitter finish hilong

 

Plantagenet Chardonnay 2012 (Great South, Australia) $23

Sunflower/crisp green pear, lemonade/red apple, honeycomb/hilong

 

Reds

Gundlach-Bundschu Pinot Noir Estate 2011 (Sonoma County, California) $38

Ruby/red flower, hibiscus/blueberry, cedar, milk chocolate/hilong

 

MacPhail Pinot Noir Wildcat Vineyard 2010 (Sonoma County, California) $49

Rose/blood, cinnamon, black cherry/sweet black raspberry, cranberry/hilong

 

Klinker Brick Syrah Farrah 2011 (Lodi, California) $20

Raspberry jam/toast, dried cherry/charred meat, red licorice/hilong

 

Rosemount Estate Syrah Balmoral 2011 (McLaren Vale, Australia) $45

Blueberry/black plum, white pepper/coffee bean, black licorice/hilong

 

Kilikanoon Shiraz Parable 2009 (McLaren Vale, Australia) $40

Black red/cherry, molasses, cinnamon/black pepper, blueberry/hilong

 

Brokenwood Shiraz 2011 (Hunter Valley, Australia) $36

Dark purple/wild bird meat, dark plum/black cherry, dark chocolate/hilong

 

Graffigna Centenario Malbec Reserve 2011 (San Juan, Argentina) $25

Black-red/dark plum, cassis/smoke, espresso/himod

 

John Duval Plexus 2010 (Barossa Valley, Australia) $34

Red-purple/blackberry, black olive/violets, granite, cola/medlong

 

John Duval Entity 2010 (Barossa Valley, Australia) $40

Black-red/roasted nut, currant/blood, red apple, black licorice/hilong

 

D’Arenberg Stump Jump Red 2011 (McLaren Vale, Australia) $13

Ruby purple/black pepper, cola, briar/cherry, strawberry, black tea/himod

 

Jim Barry Shiraz The Lodge Hill 2011 (Clare Valley, Australia) $19

Black purple/cherry, dark chocolate/raspberry liqueur, cream, ash/hilong

 

Melini Chianti Borghi d’Elsa 2011 (Tuscany, Italy) $9

Medium-red/cherry flambee, strawberry, dust/white pepper, roses, red raspberry/himod

 

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 (Tuscany, Italy) $40

Black purple/rose petal, brined wood/gooseberry, pomegranate/himod

 

Piccini Brunello di Montalcino 2009 (Tuscany, Italy) $60

Pomegranate red/green leaf, red plum, leather/red licorice, mace, blueberry/hilong