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Château Pape Clément, Pessac, France

One thing I’ve learned after visiting a few wine regions in France is that popes really liked wine. Château Pape Clément was Clement V’s love. The vineyard was given to him as a gift when he was appointed Archbishop of Bordeaux. It was an ideal grant since the pope (well, back then he was known […]

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The vats are raised to accommodate the fires that used to help control the temperatures.

Château Figeac, Saint-Émilion, France

This was the least-interesting wine visit of the week, but the wine was exceptional. There was nothing wrong with the tour; there just wasn’t anything about the operations or history that stood out. I guess that’s probably a good thing when it comes to turning out a dependable product year after year! Though the winery […]

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The grapes' first stop: large vats

Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, France

Since Pauillac is famous for its dense concentration of outstanding châteaux, we visited a second area winery, Château Lynch-Bages. Here, we toured the facilities, learned about the process and toured the cellars. A unique part, however, was the second-floor museum, situated over the steel vats, where old equipment including transport rails, presses and sorting table […]

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Steel vats

Château Gruaud Larose, Saint Julien, France

I’d never tried a Gruaud, but during research this château came up a few times as producing solid, well-regarded wines. That sounded good, then I discovered that it is an organic winery, which set it apart in this region where production is steeped in tradition. Our tour group had eight people, and we received a […]

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Upstairs, above the steel vats

Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac, France

We were looking forward to visiting at least one Premier Cru in the infamous Médoc region, which is about an hour northwest of the city of Bordeaux. Since two of the three first-growth châteaux were closed (Lafite was closed until October and Latour was closed for renovations), Mouton-Rothschild it was. Visiting a top château in […]

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Award-winning olive oil

Poggio Antico, Montalcino

Poggio Antico produces what Montalcino is most famous for – Brunello di Montalcino. We tasted two Brunellos and a Super Tuscan. The microclimate, high altitude and winemaking process contribute to turning out elegant, complex wines. Poggio adheres to the traditional method and refines the wine in barrels for at least three years and in bottles […]

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Simon Bize & Fils, Savigny-lès-Beaune, France

Simon Bize & Fils is a true family operation. When we visited, everyone was hard at work. Patrick Bize was putting labels on bottles and readying a shipment. His young son, who was on school vacation, helped out while wife Chisa educated us about the operations and poured tastings. The domaine has been around since […]

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Tasting room

Bouchard Père & Fils, Beaune, France

This is one of the biggest and oldest wineries in the region. It’s been around for nine generations and has the French Revolution to thank for most of its holdings since that’s when most of the clergy’s land was confiscated and put up for sale. Today the estate owns 130 hectares of vines, of which […]

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Modern tasting room

Domaine Michel et Stéphane Ogier, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France

In small wine villages, we spend a fair amount of time looking for wineries down remote roads and showing up at places that are supposed to be open but are not, even though we called ahead of time. Most of the chateaux are staffed by only one or two people (in many cases, the owners) […]

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Porto Taylor

Taylor’s Port

We climbed Gaia’s steep hill to visit one of the only wineries open on Sunday, Taylor’s. Founded in the 17th century, Taylor’s was one of the first wineries in Portugal. It is the last of the independent British houses, still family-owned and operated. Taylor’s was one of the first producers to acquire their own vineyards […]

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