sunset over Virginia's Hickory Hill Vineyards & Winery
I really do seem to have become a bit obsessed about American wine of late, but then they are very interesting and can be exceedingly good and I really enjoy visiting the country. Quite a while ago I wrote a couple of pieces about wines from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Well, I had never tried them before and became pretty excited about them and now I am about to set off to see the wine growing areas of Virginia for myself. I am really looking forward to learning about them properly and being able to report back on anything interesting and exciting. Continue reading →
Many things about my trip to New York State and Canada surprised me, not least the fact that there is a vibrant wine culture in this seemingly unlikey part of the world.
I used to always imagine that if you traced a line from Toronto, say, to Europe you would arrive at Bergen or Aberdeen – actually it’s Tuscany. Tuscany with extreme winters though. It is the winters that have traditionally prevented this part of the world from being seen as a leading wine region.
The New York part of the trip was wonderful, I learned and experienced a great deal, but the Canadian leg of the journey was in no way an anticlimax.
Firstly the journey over the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls was terribly exciting and then Niagara-on-the Lake was simply one of the prettiest towns I have ever visited – indeed it was quite like Stellenbosch in many ways, twee and touristy, but so nicely done. Staying in a wonderful hotel like the Shaw Club was a real treat. It was a great place to stay and if you are feeling lonely they will even lend you a fish for company! Continue reading →
I love Cape Town, it is a vibrant and exciting place. When in need of some relaxation and a break from tasting and judging wines, then a stroll around Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is absolutely perfect. The air is lovely, there are shops that cater to every need and want and bars and restaurants galore. In fact the only downside is the abundance of dive-bombing seagulls.
The Waterfront is a gentrified harbour that has been spruced up and turned into a shopping centre and leisure complex, as found the world over from San Francisco to Valencia, but it is very well done and provides a splendid place to relax.
I spent a pleasant evening there last night, strolling, window shopping and drinking – all followed by a memorable dinner in a seafood restaurant called Baia, which means bay and is pronounced ‘ba-hia‘. Continue reading →
When I am away being entertained in an organised group then food looms rather large. Hosts always seem to imagine that yet more food is required – and I suppose it does help to soak up the alcohol of all the wine tasting and to keep people even tempered. However mealtimes seem to come around with incredible frequency and this trip is no exception.
I have enjoyed lots of lovely food on this trip, but one dish really stands out as being utterly delicious – Skilpadjies (as far as I can make out this Afrikaner word is pronounced skill-pike-ies). Continue reading →
I had no idea what to expect and was half thinking that I would rather stay in bed, but I am so glad that I didn’t.
appreciative crowds at Watkins Glen
For a start the scale of the event was incredible, there were huge areas with wine tents, food tents, beer, ice cream, gifts – you name it – and the people there were really having a good time. This being America the music was pretty good too – I was very taken with Strat Cat Willy and his blues band. Continue reading →