Barcelona is for…

Welcome back! Here we are, on day 1 or day 2, depending on how you look at it,of my whirlwind spin through Barcelona, Penedes, and Priorat.

Getting here was certainly enough of and adventure for anyone, let alone someone that is 5’11” and mostly legs, not to mention a tad wider than the last time she few coach.

To catch you up, I left my house at 11:00 PST on March 10th. After spending at least 1.5 hours in the check in line – which in itself i absurd for an international departure, it then took another 30+ minutes to clear security and enter the International Departures hall in SFO.

Lucky me, I somehow managed not only to score a middle seat, I also managed to achieve that travel mecca – the completely full but not yet overbooked plane. Now, I would have happily given up my fabulous middle seat if it had meant taking a flight that either was not sardine city, or that my possibilities of getting a coveted upgrade (ha fat chance!) were more than 1 billion to one.

So there I sat, in my spiffy middle seat. Luckily, I shelled out the extra fee for the extra leg room, because honestly if I had not, this would not have been pretty. As it was, my middle seat was the next to last row in Economy Plus. That would have been perfectly fine, because my seat mates were really nice fellows, until…

After watching the first movie and eating a rather unsatisfactory lunch, I downed two melatonin in the hopes that I could catch at least a few hours of shuteye, knowing that I arrived in Frankfurt at 9:30am. Well, that apparently was not going to happen.

I am pleased to report that the row behind me was occupied with three people who simply should not keep their traps shut. Even after multiple announcements by the flight crew to please close your window shades, be quiet and let people rest due to the very short night, what I heard for the next 13 hours (and I do not exaggerate when I say this) was the equivalent of 2 nine year old boys playing Angry Birds. Now this was not the soft lilt of a French accent. This was the percussive staccato of two — increasingly inebriated — Germans — who would. not. shut. up.

To add a sprinkling of joy to this situation, which could be heard through both earplugs and headphones, two older gentlemen were having a rather animated conversation in the emergency exit row immediately behind my German buddies. And what I mean by animated is loud. Why they felt that it was their right to stand there, in front of the people who lucked out and got the exit row who were also trying to sleep, is beyond me.

So here we are, in Frankfurt. No sleep. No brain cells. It’s really only 1am my time since we had just switched to Daylight Savings Time, but I was zonked. Of course, I had 3 hours to kill in the airport. Unbeknownst to me, once you exit the United/Lufthansa International Terminal, you kinda enter no man’s land. There was literally one cafe which was a mix of German airport food and Asian fusion. Hrm ok…After 2 coffees and 2 stale pretzels for lunch, and several tours down the A concourse, I discovered some additioanl shoping optinos, but at that point I had to board my second hop.

Would you like to make a guess as to how many school groups can fit on one Airbus 320? C’mon! Guess! I’m thinking about 100. The airport was teeming with mostly American school groups which were clearnly on spring break. It warmed my heart to hear the hacking coughs that were about to get on my flight.

Things observed to this point:

    • Travelling for just under 22 hours is less than desireable. Do whatever you need to to make it faster, more direct, or break it up.
    • Smoking cubbies are bizarre, tiny enclosed boxes where you walk in, light up and walk out with more smoke in your clothes than in yoru lungs.
    • While you are not allowed to smoke in the airports, you can smoke in cubbies, and everyone still smokes like chimmeys, particularly in Germany and Spain.
    • March is school group travel time. There are hundreds of French adn American stuhigh school students wandering around Barcelona
    • Get to the tourist sights EARLY or you will be in line fo rabout six years.

My feet hurt, and my still not reparied foot is about the size of a basketball. Remember your drugs when you are on a plane for that long!

More importantly, Barcelona is lovely. It’s in the mid-60s, the beer is great, and while there are crowds in the touristy sections of town, it’s also a wonderful old rambly city.

This afternoon I’m off to Penedes to learn about Cava. There will be a siesta in my very near future! Happy tavels!

Happenings!

Spring has sprung, and summer is starting to show glimpses.  A side effect of this season, is that there is a plethora of wine events going on in May and June.  A few of the highlights in the next few weeks are:

Tuesday May 11th, the Rose Avengers and Producers (RAP) hosts thier annual Pink Out celebration in San Francisco.  From 6:30 – 8:30pm, the celebration of all wines pink features an extensive walk around tasting of 40 wines, still & sparkling, as well as some tasty appetizers.  This event does sell out (sorry for the late notice!) and tickets can be purchased online for $35 or if any are left, for $45 at the door.  For those of you who can’t make it in person, TasteLive is hosting an online tasting forum with the Mutineer Magazine crew.

Have you ever been to a tasting room with 20 wineries?  Well, ok there are more and more coop tasting rooms out there, but how about one housed in a custom crush facility?  For those of who are less familiar with the winemaking minutia, a custom crush facility is a place where many wineries / labels can use the same equipment, share costs, and share space.  Vinify Wine Services is one of these meccas for up and coming cult wines, in Santa Rosa.  It’s housed some of the best botique wines in Sonoma County over the past few years, and many more to come.  As the nature of the beast goes, you use a place like this for as long as you need, but then you might outgrow it and use your own facilities for various reasons.

On May 23rd, VINIFY IS HOSTING their annual Open House.  This is a rare opportunity for the public to enjoy some 20 labels of delicious juice, for the bargain price of $20 (including a fancy glass).  There will be over 40 wines, and you will have the chance to meet the winemakers, bottlewashers, and salespeople – being the same person – in an intimate setting.  I hope to see you there to taste some of the following:

  • Baker Lane
  • Bevan Cellars
  • Bjornstad Cellars
  • Lattanzio Winery
  • Pfendler Vineyards
  • Sojourn Cellars
  • Westerhold Family Vineyards
  • Calluna Vineyard
  • Jemrose Vineyard
  • Barbed Oak Vineyards
  • Claypool Cellars
  • Desmond Wines
  • Frostwatch Vineyard and Winery
  • Olsen Ogden Wines – a personal favorite of mine
  • Gracianna Winery
  • Cinque Insieme Wines
  • Suacci Carciere Wines

Vinfiy Wine Services is located at 3358 Coffey Lane, Suite D in Santa Rosa.  Tickets should be purchased in advance at Local Wine Events and you can reach them at 707-495-4959

On June 5th & 6th Sunset Magazine Celebration Weekend will have several expanded wine seminars and sessions.

  • With the Glam Camping Compound at the heart of the festivities, Sara Schneider could suggest her favorite bottles for the ultimate “glamping” trip (more details here: http://www.sunset.com/marketplace/camp-glam-00400000066902/)
  • Expanded wine seminars, including tours through the wines of Washington, Southern Oregon and California’s Central Coast (these always sell out!)
  • A sneak peek at Savor the Central Coast, Sunset’s new food & wine event that will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in San Luis Obispo County

The Celebration runs all weekend from 10am to 5pm, and admission is $16.  Wine Seminars are $10 each, and you can sign up at the event.  Susnet is located at 80 Willow Road Menlo Park, CA 94025, schedules and info can be found HERE


Also on June 5th, the Tempranillo Advocates Prodcuers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) is hosting their annual tasting at Ft Mason.  TAPAS is the most extensive annual tasting of domestically produced Spanish and Portuguese varietal wines in North America, and the annual tasting is a great time to taste wines produced by TAPAS members from grape varieties indigenous to Spain and Portugal that are now cultivated in America, in a delightful walk-around setting where they may chat with the TAPAS growers and producers. These new and delightful domestic wines originate in Arizona, California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, and range from crisp, refreshing whites, through big full-bodied reds, to elegant port style wines. This is a unique opportunity to sample wines made from varieties like Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Graciano, Mourvedre, Touriga, Verdelho, Bastardo and more. Many of our members are limited-production, boutique wineries whose wines are not generally available in stores.

The consumer tasting will run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Consumer tickets are available at tapas2010.eventbrite.com for $35, or $200 for a pack of 10.  Bring your friends!  There will be many hard to find wines at this event.