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Explore Three Amazing Wineries in Galicia

Visit the Amazing Galician Wineries of Martín Códax, Pazo Baión & Granbazán

Did you know that every year there are over 4,000 fiestas in Galicia?  With this amount of celebrations, the Gallegos need a lot of wine; and boy do they have some amazing wine.  In fact, the wine was one of the reasons why I wanted to visit Galicia. Of course, Galicia is famous for the city of Santiago de Compostela which is where pilgrims complete their journey after walking through parts of Spain, Portugal, and France.  The landscapes in Galicia are stunning and the region is filled with lush green forests.  It also has hundreds of beaches that can be enjoyed during the summer months.

As I mentioned, one of the reasons I traveled to Galicia was to search for amazing bodegas (wineries) and I also wanted to create a new wine escape for WTT.  I couldn’t have been more satisfied with the wineries I visited.  I also found the Gallegos to be open and very friendly.

Old palace at the Pazo Baión Winery in Galicia, Spain.
Old palace at the Pazo Baión Winery.

There are five main wine regions in Galicia:  Ribiero, Ribiera Sacra, Valdeorras, Monterrei, and Rias Baixas.  It is in Rias Baixas that I visited and focused my efforts due to its internationally famous Albarino grape which the locals will tell you has led the resurgence of the wine region.

I made my way to my hotel Pazo O’Rial in Villagarcia de Arosa after a two-night stay in Vigo, Spain.  From my hotel, I was able to visit all three wineries in three days.  Each winery was within 15 miles of the hotel.

Pazo Baión (Cordelina Wine Company)

The first winery I visited was, Pazo Baión.  If you’re looking for a winery with stunning landscapes and centuries worth of history, Pazo Baión will not disappoint; nor will the wine.  This beautiful winery has passed through different hands since the 15th century.  I was excited to visit the winery due to its history stunning views.

Place at the Pazo Baión winery in Galicia, Spain.
Pazo Baión Winery

The 76-acre winery is single vineyard winery.  Their Albariño is made exclusively from grapes from the vineyard.

Address:  Pazo Baion | Abelleira 4,5,6 – Baion CP 36614 Vilanova de Rousa Pontevedra, Spain

Phone: +34 986 543 535

Email: info@paxobaion.com

Bodegas Martín Códax

Day two was filled with more learning and exploring the amazing city of Cambados.  However, in the early afternoon, I visited the famous winery, Bodegas Martín Códax which was founded in 1986 after a famous medieval poet.  The poet wrote about his love for Galician coast and the sea.  The winery could not have selected a better name for this winery.

I loved all three wines I tasted, but my favorite was the Lias.  However, their flagship wine along with the Organistrum was also amazing.  The most interesting thing about the winery is that it is set-up as a collaboration of over 300 families whose grapes are supplied to the winery.  They pride themselves on being a winery of the people for the people.

Address:  Bodegas Martín Códax | Burgans 91 – 36633 Pontevedra, Spain

Phone: +34 986 526 040

Email:  comercial@martincodax.com

Granbazán Winery

On day three, I headed north to Santiago de Compostela but on my way, I visited my third amazing winery, Granbazán.  The winery has been in production since 1980.  I was impressed with the three bottles I tasted.   The winery not only offers amazing wine, but also canned delicacies like sardines and clams.

Entrance to the Granbazán winery in Galicia, Spain.
Bodega Granbazán

I enjoyed all three wines, but my favorite was the Limousine.  I enjoyed it so much, I had to take a few bottles back to my hotel for further tasting.  However, you will want to also try their other tasty bottles.  Try the Etiqueta Verde and Etiqueta Ambar.

Address:  Granbazán Winery | Lugar de Tremoedo, 46 Vilanova de Arousa (Pontevedra), Spain

Phone:  +34 986 555 562

When to Go and Where to Stay

Galicia can receive up to 50 inches of rain per year, that is why its best to plan your trip from May to August.  If you’re interested in experiencing the wine harvest, you should plan your trip from late September to early October.  Contact the wineries for further details.

Hotel Pazo O’Rial

Hotel Pazo O’Rial in Galicia, Spain.
Hotel Pazo O’Rial.

I had an amazing three-night stay at Pazo O’Rial.  The staff were friendly, professional, and always helpful.

Website:  http://www.pazorial.es/es

I had a wonderful experience at each of these wineries and I know you will too.  If you’re planning to visit wineries anywhere in Europe, do not overlook Galicia.  Not only are the wines amazing, but the overall trip cost compared to other European wine regions might be a no-brainer.

Are you planning a trip to Spain?  Join one of our customized Spain Escapes.


Are you planning a trip to Rome?  Sam Garza is a Travel Specialist who helps small groups and couples who want to travel to Europe. Sam creates custom-designed itineraries that blend historical, cultural, and romantic experiences.   

Book your complimentary 30-minute European Travel Session with Sam today.

 


Copyright 2018 World Travelers Today, LLC
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ADVENTURES IN AUSTRIA’S WINE COUNTRY


Traveler’s Spotlight


 

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By Sonja Eberly & Maria Milton

 

 

 

Being half Austrian, half American, I’ve been to Austria many times in my life. As a child, my visits centered around seeing my grandmother, or “Oma,” in Vienna. I have fond memories of walking with her to the local bakery for fresh rolls and cakes each morning, trying to catch hedgehogs in her garden, going to the Zoo at Schoenbrunn Palace, staring up at the impossibly ornate, vaulted gothic ceilings of Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) in the city center, and having an ice cream at Vienna’s famous Tichy ice cream parlor. All those things are great. You should do those things when you’re in Vienna.  More recently, though, my visits to Austria have been for its wine.

As the wine director of a busy neighborhood café and wine bar in the Washington, DC area, I was invited to come along this year on the annual wine buyers’ trip organized by one of the main importers of Austrian wine with whom I do business. This is fairly common in the industry. Buy and promote enough wine from one wine importer, and you might get an all-expenses paid (aside from airfare) invitation to Greece or Chile or France.

Through wineglass at Tegeernserhof vines

Of course, this is the importer’s way of saying thank you for the support. But it’s also an incredibly educational and enriching opportunity to understand the wines you’re buying on a much more intimate level. To see first-hand where the wines come from, smell the air, feel the soil. To meet the people who painstakingly tend the vines from winter’s dormancy to springtime budbreak to Autumn harvest, praying all the while for the good graces of mother nature and the weather gods. To meet the families who have made the wines for generations. To understand the unique culture and history and philosophies and traditions, which drive winemaking styles. To taste the finished, bottled product and to share a meal with the people who made it, often in their own home.

My first buyers’ trip to Austria was in 2013. It was life changing. Literally. I was inspired by the people I met, by the striking quality of the wines that I tasted, by the incorporation of wine in daily life, and of course by the desire to connect on a deeper level to my own heritage (I found out a few years ago that my great grandmother was a vineyard hand in the region of Burgenland). I was so inspired that I decided to quit my wine job in the US to work the harvest and live in Austria in 2014. Over a year later, to have the opportunity to return once again, to revisit old wine friends, familiar vineyards and cellars and to taste the new wines from those cellars, was something I wasn’t about to pass up. And this time I decided to bring along my friend and coworker, Maria. It was her very first time traveling abroad.

New to Austria

Start of the Trip

Sonja Eberly & Maria Milton

“If you’re like me, with a first grader’s grasp of German and you really want to practice, Austrians are just as happy, eager in fact, to help you polish your Deutsch.”

I can’t deny that I felt a certain sense of pride and excitement that Austria would be Maria’s first international experience. I did have a certain amount of apprehension about what it would be like for her being out of the US for the first time. (Book a direct flight; it’s absolutely worth saving the time and the achy muscles.) But in all honesty, for anyone deciding on their first international travel destination, Austria should be on your top five list.

Nearly everyone—I mean, really everyone—even in the smallest of towns will speak at least a little English. Go to Vienna and you’re golden; practically everyone speaks English. If you’re like me, with a first grader’s grasp of German and you really want to practice, Austrians are just as happy, eager in fact, to help you polish your Deutsch. Just keep in mind that Austrians revert to regional dialects at times, even in Vienna, and especially outside of the city. They may throw in a word or two that doesn’t quite mesh with school-taught “High German.” Personally, that’s one of quirks I love about the country. Learn how to say “Oachkatzelschwarf,” correctly and watch peoples’ faces light up. You’ll make friends instantly.

Getting Around

Navigating our way through Vienna was easy from the airport. We took the City Airport Train (CAT) into the city center, where we switched to the subway. In Vienna, there are several modes of public transport, all of which are incredibly efficient, safe and relatively clean. Between the buses, the street cars, the subway, the CAT, and the actual trains which connect all of Europe, you can get basically anywhere you need to go. You can always ask someone in the OBB train info office at each station, or someone in a uniform around the station. I also discovered on this trip that Uber exists in Vienna! As long as I was connected to WiFi, I could use the Uber app I already have on my smart phone to request a car, which ended up being helpful more than once.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have the time, getting lost in Vienna like Maria and I did our first day isn’t all that bad, either (though going 24 hours without sleep after an overnight flight was probably not the best idea). Wandering the city, you might happen upon a festival celebrating the food, music, crafts, culture and wine(!) of Austria’s Steirmark region right in front of city hall. Or you might wander into a nearly deserted amusement park after getting caught in a rain storm, discovering mirrored fun houses, giant clown faces, and bumper cars in the truly enormous city park called the Wiener Prater.

Vienna is big and is broken up into 23 different named districts, or “Bezierke.” But the city is delightfully walkable for the most part, especially within the Ringstrasse, the avenue that encircles all of the old inner city. And if you get tired, you can always pop into a smoky Stuberl for a little beer, or perhaps a stiff nip of schnapps to keep you going.

A note about most bars and restaurants in Austria: like most of the rest of Europe, smoking is still allowed indoors in most places, so if you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, beware. On the plus side, Austrians love sitting outdoors and you can find beer gardens and wine patios nearly everywhere.  

Wine Regions

Sonja-Maria

There are very basically four main federal wine regions of Austria, which spread over the crescent of Austria’s eastern borders. I always tell people to imagine Austria as a chicken drumstick, with the bone pointing to the west. All of Austria’s wine regions form a crescent around the meaty other end.

Vienna itself is one of these wine four main regions and is one of only two European cities to also be recognized as an independent wine region (the other city being Madrid). We skipped Vienna for winery visits only because we didn’t have the time on our own and because none of the wines our importer carries are from Vienna.

The other three main wine regions are Neideroesterreich (“Lower Austria”), Burgenland, and the Steiermark (Styria). You can definitely travel by train, but to visit these regions properly, I recommend renting a car and spending at least a week exploring. You’ll save time with a specific itinerary and appointments set up in advance, but it’s just as easy to tool around, stopping into the small towns, tasting at wineries with open tasting rooms and discovering which of the local Heurigers are open that day. As a buyers’ group, we traveled on a swanky government wine marketing-funded tour bus, complete with beer cooler and a TV that played this beautifully choreographed video, which was really cool the first five times we watched it.

Heurigers
“I spent many a wonderful evening making new friends at communal tables, getting to know local grape growers, tasting the years’ new wines from productions way too small to be sold anywhere outside the family tavern.”

Heurigers are one of my absolute favorite parts of Austrian wine country, and it was one of my big regrets that Maria didn’t get to experience going to one. It didn’t stop me from pointing them out to her every time we passed one. I spent many a wonderful evening making new friends at communal tables, getting to know local grape growers, tasting the years’ new wines from productions way too small to be sold anywhere outside the family tavern.

Heurigers are only allowed to be open 6 months out of the year and most will be open during the wine harvest, or “Wein Herbst,” from August to November. This is of course the optimal time to visit wine country. But there are always one or two Heurigers open in each town during other times of the year. Keep an eye out for a “Buschenschank,” a braided wreath or evergreen frond hanging over a doorway or a sign along the road reading, “Aus’gesteckt is,” to find the closest open Heuriger.

Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Get ready to eat. A lot. And really, really well.” That’s one of the first things I told Maria when preparing her for Austria. Each and every winery we visited made it a point to welcome us–how else—with lovingly prepared food to accompany the wines we were tasting. We toured almost as much of Austria’s food as we did its wines.

We were served the most comfort-foody of traditional dishes like the tears-of-joy evoking Paprika Gulash that Christine Netzl made for us in Goettlesbrunn, the melt-off-your-fork Tafelspitz with apple and horseradish sauce prepared for us by Mathias Jalits’ mother in their family restaurant in Eisenberg, and the perfectly tender and crispy Backhendl served for dinner at Weingut Strauss in the Steiermark, which Maria truly loved, Southern Belle that she is. I couldn’t get over dipping hunks of freshly baked bread in the most delicious Kürbiskernöl, made from local Pumpkin seeds.

We were also served the most gourmand of meals, including breathtakingly delicate Zander (freshwater perch) served with perfectly cooked Spargel (white asparagus) after an even more breathtaking tasting of single vineyard Gruner Veltliners and Rieslings (they’re, dry) with Martin Mittlebach of Tergernseerhof winery in Austria’s famous Wachau region. Our grand finale meal was hosted by Anton Bauer at the uber-fine Mörwald restaurant, housed at Graffenegg Palace. If you’re looking to splurge on an unforgettable culinary experience and you find yourself within driving distance of Schloss Graffenegg, make sure to visit and taste at Weingut Anton Bauer in Feuersbrunn, and then take a taxi up to the palace for dinner.

Amazingly, in the eight days we spent in Austria, not once did Maria or I eat Schnitzel. Take that, stereotypes. (Ok, but really, Schnitzel is actually fantastic, especially with fresh lemon squeezed over the top. If you’re in Austria, go to the most local non-chain looking restaurant you can find and order it. At least once.)

Spargel

Spargel

Spargel.

We visited Austria in March, which meant we didn’t see any grapes on the vines, but we were just in time to see the first bud breaks all over the vineyards. We were also just in time for Spargel! But just barely. Spargel is the supremely coveted and celebrated white asparagus that decorates farmers’ markets and roadside produce stands beginning around mid-March. While prices don’t get reasonable until April when the season really sets in, we were very fortunate to have been treated to numerous meals featuring this delectable albino vegetable. The best part is seeing your Austrian dining companion’s excitement when they see Spargel on their plate, an enthusiasm that’s easy to adopt.

Desserts
“There is no end to the fine selection of carefully confected patisserie in every bakery window, every glass café case, even on the breakfast tables!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would be committing a grave mistake if I were to exclude a nod to the sweeter side of Austrian cuisine. Yes, perhaps it’s a truism to say that Austrian pastries—particularly Viennese—are the envy of the world (though I’m sure the Parisians would have something to say about it). There is no end to the fine selection of carefully confected patisserie in every bakery window, every glass café case, even on the breakfast tables! But of all the memorable desserts, the Kardinalschnitte made by Roland Steindorfer’s mother at their family home in Ilmitz by Lake Neusiedl is legendary. Perfectly airy, it’s almost a cloud of cake and cream, and there is nothing more suited to accompany this fluffy dessert than a sip of what the Neusiedlersee region is most famous for: Trockenbeerenauslese (“TBA”), i.e. liquid gold. This also happens to be one of the types of wines (though young Roland is developing his dry reds and sparkling roses now, too) that the Steindorfer family is most famous for. Impossibly, shamefully sweet, equally impossibly balanced and vibrating with acidity. Wonderfully harmonized. Amazingly long-lived. That is a Steindorfer Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese. Amazing cake and amazing sweet wine that create magic together; go figure. We definitely poured some of our TBA right onto our cake. Perfection.

Neusiedlersee and Burgenland

 

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Lake Neuseidl in Austria’s Burgenland region is the largest body of water in the country. Yet, they say that a man over six feet tall can walk across the entirety of the lake without drowning. The lake itself is absolutely gorgeous and a favorite day-trip destination for people and families from all over lower Austria. On nice days, couples, families and individuals alike flock to its shores to sunbathe on docks, take boats out on the choppy waves, parasail, fish, raft, or just sit out on the deck of one of the many wine-centric restaurants overlooking the glittering waters. When she saw the photos we posted online, my mom was full of fond recollections of childhood trips to the “sea” with my great-grandmother Anna, who herself worked the nearby vineyards as a teenager.

This uniquely shallow body of water creates an amazing microclimate of humidity in the region, perfectly suited for the formation of Noble Rot, that grape-shriveling fungus which means death to red grapes, but sweet immortality for the right white grapes. This fungus is what allows for the extremely labor-intensive creation of ethereally sweet dessert wines.

The rest of Burgenland is primarily celebrated for its incredible range of red wines, from supple, silky Pinot Noirs like those of beautifully, wholistically Biodynamic Meinklang winery just across from the Hungarian Border, to Mathias Jalits’ structured, thoughtful, moody and complex library of Blaufrankishes, which come from the iron-rich soils of the Eisenberg DAC. And then there’s former super model Leo Hillinger’s super hip, ultra-modern winery in Jois, with its toasty, oaky robust reds. Burgenland nurtures reds for all palates and preferences.

Steiermark

Steiningerwine

Further to the south, along the border of Slovenia, is the Steiermark, the “Green Heart of Austria,” where white wines dominate production, and mirror the styles of Italy’s Alto-Adige region more than the Rieslings and Gruner Veltliners of Niederoesterreich. Yet to put Styrian wines in any category other than their own is totally wrong. There is a distinct mineral expression in the wines that’s like no other wine region, while the whites can range from the lightest and most aromatic of Muskatellers to the nuttiest, creamiest of single vineyard Chardonnays. These are the sorts of wines and the sort of variety that you will find from Weingut Strauss, located directly across the road from the famous Gamlitzberg, a cross-hatched mountain of vines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Styria is by far, the most mountainous of all the wine regions, with gut-wrenchingly dramatic vistas and hopelessly steep vineyards. We learned that at least one person dies from a tractor tipping over in the vineyards every year. And yet, looking down at the vines plunging below the wine road along which we drove, I couldn’t help but feel an aching sense of beauty and connectedness as well. Those mountains felt like home.

Niederoesterreich

Klaus (left) Franz Netzl of Netzl Wineries (center) and Sonja Eberly (right)

If you like red wines, fear not, there are certainly parts of Lower Austria that boast a range of reds, from Burgundian-trained Anton Bauer’s subtly oaked Pinot Noirs and velvety Blaufranksich and red blends, to the ancient roman ruins of Carnuntum, where Netzl cellars regal red blends and single vineyard Merlot, Zweigelt and St. Laurent.

That being said, white wines—specifically Gruner Veltiner and Riesling (it’s dry!)—are crucial. And when you taste the whites from regions like the Kremstal and the Kamptal and the Wagram and the Wachau (all about 15-30 min apart from each other), you’ll see why each of these designations matters so much. 15 minutes, heck, 15 footsteps, can mean a completely different personality in a bottle of wine made from the same grapes in the same year, from even the same winery.

 

Do yourself a favor and take the time to really delve into the whites wines of this area. There’s Tegernseerhof, with Martin Mittelbach’s pure, mineral-driven single vineyard Rieslings that will leave your taste buds reeling. And Steininger, where father Karl and daughter Eva produce not only some of the most beautiful and classically expressive method-traditional sparkling wines in Austria (they might even let you try to saber or disgorge your own bottle), but also a mind-bogglingly wide array of Kamptal-specific and reserve still wines.

And when you’re completely tuckered after a very full day of tasting gorgeous wines, and hiking the 7km winery-sponsored Weinweg through the vineyards of Langenlois, trust me when I tell you that the Loisium hotel and spa is exactly where you want to end your day. If there’s only one place you decide to splurge during your time in Austrian wine country, make it this hotel. I can’t think of a better way to start and end your day than by floating in a heated pool in the middle of the vineyards, the onion domes of Baroque churches peaking up over the tiled roofs of the town and a glass of your new favorite Austrian wine at the ready.
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ROME’s ENOTECA IL GOCCETTO


Wine and Cuisine


“Italy has changed.  But Rome is Rome.”
– Robert De Niro

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By Samuel Garza

 

I have visited the ancient city of Rome many times over the past two decades and I can never get enough of Rome’s culture, history, and food.  I have several favorite restaurants and historical sites I enjoy visiting (more blog posts to come), but nothing motivates me more than visiting Enoteca il Goccetto.  This cozy and rustic bar serves up many delicious Italian and French wines along with small plates to hold you down before dinner.  Over the years I’ve met many locals and tourist in the bar, and during my most recent visit, I was surprised to learn that Goccetto is one of the first wine bars in Rome.  The bar opened in 1983, which may seem new, but the cool thing about this bar is that it’s housed in an ancient Roman building called “Palazzetto del Vescovo di Cervia”.

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I like to start my day off with a delicious Italian cappuccino followed by a long walk around parts of the city to take photographs.  Regardless of the weather, I’m usually in need of a rest and a cool drink after a few hours of walking around the streets of Rome.  I usually find my way to the historic street of Via Giulia and then zig zag my way to Goccetto.  Once I arrive, I usually order one of my favorite Italian beers, G. MENABREA E FIGLI Amber.  I highly recommend you do the same, especially on a warm Summer day.

 

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There are several beers to choose from, but I consistently order the amber.  This beer is part of a brewery that was founded in 1846 and has been winning medals for it’s tasty brews for 170 years.

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Food

The bar does not offer large portions of food, but you can order Carciofi Grigliati, cheese, olives, and other small plates to compliment your wine selection.  If you need help figuring out what you should order, ask the bartender to pair some food with your drink selection.  The bar’s staff are friendly and welcoming.  Don’t be shy.  Ask and you shall receive.  ?

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Wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bar has over 800 wines which are mostly a collection of Italian and French.  You don’t have to ask for the menu to see their selection because the wines are the bar’s decoration.  There are hundreds of wines decorating the walls.  You can walk around and select the magic bottle that will keep you happy for a few hours.  I usually have wine in the evening when the bar is filled with people.  I’ve asked other patrons their recommendations when I wanted to try something new.  Trust me, the regulars are friendly and will be willing to help you choose a good bottle or two.

Digestivo

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Before I head home for the night, I always choose a digestivo to cap off a wonderful day.  My favorite Italian digestivo is Amoro Nonino.  This famous digestivo is made in Fuili, which is in Northern Italy.  This delicious drink is grappa based and blended with several herbs.  Amoro Nonino is reddish in color and stands firm at 70 proof.

Don’t be surprised if you see several patrons crowded near the entrance to the bar with their drinks.  The bar is small and many people take their drinks out to the street to chat with their friends.  I recommend getting to to the bar early if you want to have a seat inside, however hanging outside with the locals is also a cool experience.


Are you planning a trip to Rome?  Sam Garza is a Travel Specialist who helps small groups and couples who want to travel to Europe. Sam creates custom-designed itineraries that blend historical, cultural, and romantic experiences.   

Book your complimentary 30-minute European Travel Session with Sam today.

 

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[Video] One Night in Perigueux


History Hiker

Where to Eat Restaurant o2 (Facebook Page) 2 r Lanmary/24000 Perigueux, France How to get to Perigueux From Paris: I took the train from Saint-Lazare station in Paris and arrived three hours later in Perigueux. From Bordeaux: Bordeaux is one 1/2 hour train ride from Perigueux. ©2016 World Travelers Today


©2016 World Travelers Today