Posted on 19 September 2012 by brett
Red wine and water fountain of Bodegas Irache Winery (1891)
Is it ever too early in the morning to drink wine in Spain? A few kilometers from Estella lies Bodegas Irache’s fountain of wine. It was 8:30 in the morning but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to drink from the magical fountain of wine. The fountain was installed in 1991 for thirsty pilgrims on their way to Santiago. The inscription on the fountain says, “Pilgrim, if you want to arrive in Santiago with strength and vitality, drink a mouthful of this great wine and overflow with happiness!” Bodegas Irache Winery has been in operation sine 1891, but the vineyards of Irache have existed since before the 12th century and are closely linked to the nearby Irache Monastery. Interestingly, there is a live webcam pointing at the fountain enabling anyone to see pilgrims in “real time”…indulging in their red wine at Bodegas Irache Wine Fountain.
Grape tasting in Navarrean vineyards
Continuing on a beautiful country trail for 7 kilometers, we made our way to Villamayor de Monjardin. Upon approaching the village, we spotted San Esteban de Deyo Castle (formerly a Muslim fortress) perched high on the mountaintop. We thought for a second about the hour climb to the top, but quickly came to our senses as we remembered the 12 kilometers ahead to Los Arcos. We whizzed past the 12th century Romanesque Iglesia de San Andres, and departed from the other side of Villamayor. Continue Reading
Posted on 14 July 2012 by brett
Plaza View from Eger Castle
Most people we met en route to Hungary darted straight for Budapest, the capital city. Our engagement anniversary date is July 13th….. and we wanted to do something special in the wine country. Why? Because we were engaged at Matanzas Creek Winery in their beautiful lavendar gardens. Well, that’s easy! We will just swing by St. Stephen’s (10th century) town of Eger. But seriously, this is not a straight forward destination from places like Zdiar, Slovakia. Christie found the best route, which took over six hours and consisted of a bus to Poprad, train to Kotice, train to Fuzesabony, and train to Eger.
Eger feels like a cross between Mikulov and Olomouc in the Czech Republic. It has Olomouc’s vibrant university scene meshed with tons of historic buildings. Add wine country, thermal baths and there you have Eger. Eger’s wine tourism brings an older “cafe crowd” very much like Mikulov. So, if you’re not in school and have some time….. Eger could be perfect for you! Continue Reading
Posted on 27 June 2012 by christie
Does this place really exist?…Mikulov Town Square
When in Central/Eastern Europe…….. every town, city and country is extremely close and only a train ride away. Consequently, we struggled with where to go after Vienna. Should we hop on a one hour train east to Bratislava, Slovakia or perhaps travel west to Salzburg, Austria where “The Sound of Music” was set? In the wee hours of the morning, we decided on a quiet countryside setting in the Moravian wine country of the Czech Republic (CZ). While the Moravian Region is off the tourist radar, it’s known nationally as the best wine producing region in CZ. As it’s only a 1.5 hour train ride north of Vienna, it was a no brainer for our first stop in CZ….. before having to get to Prague by June 30th for Pearl Jam. Continue Reading
Posted on 06 June 2012 by brett
Backyard Wine Making
To most, Israeli wines are only used for religious reasons. Until this week, I could not name one Israeli wine brand besides Manischewitz. It’s true, Israel has traditionally produced mostly Kosher wines of “lower quality”. The topics of quality vs. quantity and increasing non-religious consumption came up severals times as we toured Israel’s wine country. In total, we drove 700km from Tel Aviv to Zichron Ya’akov, Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee. I’m proud to say that we covered a good taste of what Israeli grapes have to offer.
Israel has a distinctly Mediterranean climate with hot, humid summers (April – October) with very little precipitation and a cold, rainy winter (late October to March). Its latitude is similar to San Diego, California. Baron Edmund de Rothschild, a co-owner of Chateau Lafite recognized the opportunity to pioneer modern Israeli winemaking . Around 1882, he sent Israel grape varietals from southern France to help Jewish entrepreneurs kickstart a new industry. We learned that many of these growers were of Romanian descent. His vineyards were planted in Zichron Ya’akov (e.g. Carmel Winery) and Rishon Le Tzion, south of Tel Aviv. Continue Reading
Posted on 09 February 2012 by brett
Photo fun with Cambodian kids
We have finally made it to Cambodia after a surprisingly easy border crossing through Eastern Thailand to our destination of Battambang. The name Battambang was initially the big attraction since it’s the name of our favorite Cambodian restaurant in Oakland, California. The small french colonial town has been a wonderful introduction to Cambodia. We are very happy we made the trip here as it gets missed by most travelers who head straight to Siem Reap. The Cambodian people are quite lovely and the children are incredibly adorable. Cambodia is surprisingly refreshing and we are enjoying it much more than we thought. The US dollar rules the street and you can use local “Riel” currency for small items if needed. $1 = 4,000 Riel Continue Reading