Out of our two days of winery visits in the Wachau region of Austria, our favorite was at Nikolaihof. 31-year-old Nikolaus Saahs, now the winemaker, showed us around his family’s winery and cellar, the oldest winery in Austria, with origins dating back to the year 985. Nikolaihof was also the first winery in Austria – if not the world – to use biodynamic practices.
We spent four amazing days visiting Austrian winemakers this October – two days in the steep slopes of the white winegrowing regions on the Danube River west of Vienna called the Wachau, Kamptal, and Kremstal, and two days in the flatter primarily red regions south of Vienna called Caruntum and Burgenland, with a special stop to taste the sweet, botrytis-influenced wines of the Neusiedlersee.
I've long been a fan of red wines from Austria -- in fact, I usually order Zwiegelt whenever I see it on a wine list (which, sadly, isn't as often as I'd like). No matter the producer, it's usually a reliably juicy, slightly spicy wine with cherry and red berry flavors, sometimes aged in oak but sometimes not. However, Austrian wine is still rather difficult to find...
After a rough morning wine tasting around the Boucherie Mountain Bench area of the Okanagan Valley, west of the city of Kelowna, we had to stop for a bite to eat to rejuvenate – and preferably somewhere with a view. The restaurant at scenic Quails' Gate Winery fit the bill perfectly.
Restaurants: Sonora Room at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Okanagan Valley, BC: Local food with a view
The Okanagan, a scenic five-hour drive east of Vancouver, boasts some of the loveliest vineyards anywhere in the world. Many of them are on the banks of the Okanagan River and offer sweeping views of the water and the vines, many of which slope down to the river's edge.
Jay and I were excited about visiting the wineries on Vancouver Island this fall because when we'd last gone there two years ago, we'd had some surprisingly good wines, most of which are very difficult to find outside of the area. The wineries on the Island are mainly small-production, family-run places where the owner or another family member is also likely to be pouring your wine, so they're good places to ask questions about the growing and production process.
Just 50 years ago, some of the only things growing on Long Island’s North Fork were potatoes. But now this area just north of the Hamptons and only an-hour-and-a-half east of New York City is home to more than 40 wineries, some producing very high-quality wines.
If you haven't tried the new Chocolate Cheerios you are missing out on one of the great breakfast pleasures. Sure, they taste like Cocoa Pebbles or the delicious crunchy parts of Count Chocula. They must be healthier...and would you believe they work just as well with a nice merlot from Vancouver Island as they do with cold milk.
On my first-job-out-of-school paycheck I splurged on a bottle of wine. A 1995 Rabbit Ridge Winery Zinfandel cost about $25 (we found it later down the street for $12 retail), and since we didn't really know much about wine at the time we went by its charming name.
Bodegas Ysios was one of the first wineries to be completed in the Rioja region by the parade of starchitects - designed by Santiago Calatrava in 2000 and opened to the public (by appointment only) in 2003. Liz and I visited the winery grounds during our first trip to Spain in 2003 when the estate vines were just tiny clusters of leaves on the ground. We actually stumbled upon this stunning structure as we peered across the valley from the hill town of Laguardia and since we were rushing from one town to the next (as always) we didn't have time to inquire about a tour. We did drive up to the building - drawn in by the contrast of the glittering aluminum roof and the bleached cedar walls with the granite and green mountain range behind.