Remember when we could travel without really thinking about all the health issues involved? Well, I do and it causes me to look back to some of our earlier trips to Europe. In October 2011 we landed at Charles de Gaulle picked up a rental car and headed to the Champagne region of France. After spending several days drinking lots of Champagne, we drove to Strasburg and the Alsace region before boarding a River Cruise with Tauck. On the River Cruise, we visited Obernai, Baden Baden, Heidleberg CastleBamberg, Numberg and lots of other places along the way ending in Prague. This Blog is the first of several that will highlight that trip.
Our adventures in the Champagne region were fantastic and clearly a spot I would like to return once all the current craziness is past.
After touring the region for several days, we headed towards Alsace to explore Ribeauville, Colmar and Strasbourg before joining our Tauck river cruise. The next post will include these adventures and then off to Germany on the Rhine River with Tauck with stops along the way ending in Prague.
In April of 2011, Janeen and I flew to Italy – specifically for a week along the Amalfi Coast for a week and then to Rome for several days. During our time we visited a number of places and when we returned home, I created a book highlighting our trip. What follows is that book. I hope you enjoy this adventure from 10 years ago.
I hope you have enjoyed visiting this part of Italy with us – it was a wonderful adventure and a part of the world we would love to get back to for sure.
I can identify the specific person who caused me to start collecting wine (Tom Anderson) and I can point to the person who sent me out to visit various wineries (Bob Michero) but I honestly can’t tell you who was the first winemaker I met. Over the years we have traveled up and down the state of California – from Temecula in the south to wineries nestled in the Redwoods of Northern California and of course the wines of Oregon have been a favorite too. During our trips to Europe, we seemed to have a focus on wine for a least a part of the trip – Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Germany and other parts of the world have all been visited and wines tasted.
Over the years we have collected a number of wines AND have become friends with a number of winemakers. During these adventures I have tried to get a picture of the winemaker and this post is just a little listing of some of those folks we have met – winemakers, owners of wineries and other people significant in the wine world. Enjoy.
At one point we were introduced to WesMar wines and ultimately made the trip to Santa Rosa and connected with Kirk Wesley (Wes) Hubbard and wife Denise Mary (Mar) Selyem. The name Selyem might ring a bell with Pinot Noir lovers from the Russian River Area – yes, Denise is the daughter of Ed Selyem who co founded William Selyem with Burt Williams many years ago. Denise and Kirk met worked together at William Selyem in the late 90’s and decided to start their own label in early 1990. I think we first hooked up with them in 97 or so and have enjoyed their wines very much. With limited production, they have a focus on Pinot Noir and occasionally have made a Chardonnay but the really focus is on Palate Pleasing Pinot Noir. Check them out on their web site https://wesmarwinery.com.
Another favorite in the Sebastopol area is Littorai. Ted Lemmon trained originally in Burgundy and when he came back to the US to make wine he brought all of his experience to his new vineyard. Making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We recently opened a 17 year old bottle of Chardonnay and where blown away by the depth of flavor the fantastic mouthfeel and the after taste went on forever. Truly a producer who is making some great wines. https://www.littorai.com/
Our first venture to the Oregon Wine Country was late 1990’s or so. On that visit we tasted at 3 producers – Argyle, Sokol Blosser and Domaine Drouhin Oregon. We were introduced to these producers by their distributor at the time and thus our visit was top notch. Of the three, we clearly have fallen in love with Domaine Drouhin Oregon. DDO, as it is called, was started in 1988 by a French producer, Joseph Drouhin and more particularly by the Drouhin Family. Bringing their 100 years plus experience in making wine to Oregon was a huge risk but they felt confident enough to build a large production facility in the Dundee Hills and start making wine. During our first visit there was not an actual tasting room or really any facilities for visitors. We were met by Scott Wright (then the GM of the place) who preceded to give us the history of the place and pour a LOT of wine. Over the years we have been back to DDO countless times – summer visits, fall harvest festivals, tasting trips – really any excuse to visit would have us flying up for a long weekend. When they started a wine club, I contacted them and said I wanted to be wine club member number one – and we are! Having collected a lot of this wines over they years, we have hosted two different vertical dinners. At these dinners, we tasted Pinot Noir from every year since they started. Sadly I cannot do this anymore as I’ve continued to drink through the inventory.
As we have visited the site many times we have had the joy of meeting the entire family all of whom are involved in the wine industry. Additionally we have had the pleasure of visiting the Burgundy site – in Beaune France of Joseph Drouhin on a couple of occasions and visited in the cellars.
During our international travels we have visited a number of wine regions and thus tasted our way through various wines. So, to say we are LoversOfWine would be a very true statement. Below are pictures of a number of folks we have met over the years in the wine business. Enjoy.
Lots of things to say about Stoller Vineyards – and Melissa. We have stayed on in a cottage in the Vineyards a couple of times and could not have been more pleased with the experience. Great wines.
I first met Kris Curran when she was at Sea Smoke as the founding wine maker. She is now making wine with Bruno D’Alfonso in Lompoc and doing a fantastic job. This is another winemaker we have followed over the years and have been happy to have their wines in our cellar. https://www.d-cwines.com/
While Steven is a wine maker now he wasn’t always. If you have ever read the book Judgement of Paris: California vs. French and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting by George Taber, Steven is the guy who put that tasting together.
During our first visit to Italy we had a tasting was Capanna Wines. Producing Brunello isn’t easy and they are doing a fantastic job. Still have fond memories of that visit and I think one last bottle in our cellar.
Trimbach wines in Alsace make Riesling – and they make a lot of it and it’s fantastic. They have been making wines for four hundred years! Fantastic visit and certainly a place I want to get back to on our next trip to Alsace.
This is just intended as a tease – we have lots of wine stories to share and people to highlight. Enjoy.
In 1978, with Janeen pregnant with Jason, we moved from Bethlehem PA to Alhambra California. This was ‘coming home’ for us as we met in 1968 while at the University of California Riverside and David started a new position in 1978 at the University of Southern California (USC). While in that position he realized that he could sign up for free classes and decided to take a scuba diving course. After achieving the Advanced Scuba Diving requirements, he became active in a dive club – The California Wreck Divers. This club had as its primary focus diving on shipwrecks. Each year there was a banquet to celebrate the accomplishments of the past 12 months and to acknowledge individual accomplishments. At this banquet, at the end of 1985 the guest speaker was an underwater archeologist – Duncan Mathewson. Duncan had been working with Treasure Salvors from Key West Florida looking for various Spanish shipwrecks with the goal of recovering the treasure they were carrying back to Spain from the New World. Mel Fisher, and his crew, had found The Nuestra Senora de Atocha after nearly a 20 year search.
Duncan shared his experience with Treasure Salvors (Mel’s salvage company) showed off a number of artifacts and generally told us about the wreck. At the end of his presentation, sitting next to David, he casually invited us to come to Key West and dive on the wreck. Well, after much discussion and planning, David took up the challenge and invited 15 or so of his closest dive friends and went to Key West. David created a small business “Diving Adventures” and rented a dive boat (More Bottom Time), bought some 20 scuba tanks and generally organized the entire trip. David continued to stay in touch with Duncan Mathewson even going to New York City where he received the Lowell Thomas Award at the NY Yacht Club and to Jamaica to attend his wedding in 1991. Duncan used our Alhambra home as a stopover spot for trips that took him from Florida to Guam a couple of times. Over the years, contact became limited to exchanging Christmas Cards and occasional emails. However, the adventure all those years ago has remained a significant diving highlight.
What follows are pictures and general information from that trip so many years ago.
While they had all this “free labor” that got us to move a lot of the ballast pile. during this process of moving stuff from point a to point b, David found a silver coin.
After diving on the wreck, we spent a day or two in Key West touring the conservation lab, the museum and the “treasure room”.
In 2014, Nuestra Señora de Atocha was added to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most valuable shipwreck to be recovered, as it was carrying roughly 40 tons of gold and silver, and 32 kilograms (71 pds) of emeralds.