Fernando & his Camino de Santiago

A lovely gentleman named Fernando Rojo (the star of this show!) sells Jens several lines of Spanish wines for J. Strecker Selections, our local import company. For the last couple of years he has made parts of the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a lifelong dream of mine. I had so much fun following him this year on Facebook, that I decided to do a blog post of his trek with a little about the nearby wine lands as a side note.

[By the way, Fernando will be visiting the Seattle market from October 31-Nov 2, so stay tuned for tastings so that you meet him, hear his stories and taste his wines!]

UNESCO_World Hertiage_Camino de Santiago
For background on this historical pilgrimage>

In 2003, Fernando walked from O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela (7 days // 190 kms). Last year, he started in France (Saint Jean Pied de Port) and finished in his hometown of Burgos (10.5 days // 290 kms). This year, he did the middle section: Burgos to O Cebreiro (12 days // 360 kms), for a total of 29 days & 840 kms (approx 522 miles). Wow!

Here’s is story in pictures and a few words:

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August 12 // Day 1:  Burgos – Hontanas (approximately 30 km)
“Here I go again. Hoy no aparqué mi polo en una zona no regulada para salir corriendo con las maletas y coger el autobús 🚌 con destino el aeropuerto. Hoy comenzó el tercer y último capítulo…”

Translation: Here I go again. Today I didn’t park my Polo (it is my car, my 21 year old Volkswagen Polo) in a unregulated area to run out with the bags and catch the bus 🚌 with the airport as my destination. Today started the third and last chapter…

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August 13 // Day 2:  Hontanas – Boadilla del Camino (~ 30 km)

“Hoy me duele todo, pero aún no me he preguntado: pero qué coño hago yo aquí? Hoy con un campo de visión de más de 50 kms me he sentido el único ser vivo del planeta 🌍🌎”

Translation: Today everything hurts, but I haven’t asked myself yet: What the fuck am I doing here? Today with a field of vision of more than 50 kms, I felt like I was the only living being on the planet 🌍🌎

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August 14 // Day 3:  Boadilla del Camino – Carrión de los Condes (~ 30 km)

“Al que no madruga Dios le da ración triple de vitamina D. Me compraría el paseo junto al Canal de Castilla. Qué bonito puede llegar a ser el silencio.”

Translation:  I didn’t wake up early, and sadly I didn’t catch the worm. I now have to walk many hours under the sun. But this may be God’s way of giving me a triple vitamin D ration. I would pay to walk next to the Canal de Castilla. How beautiful silence can be.

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August 15 // Day 4:  Carrión de los Condes – Ledigos (~ 30 km)

“Buffff!”

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August 16 // Day 5:  Ledigos – Bercianos del Real Camino (~ 30 km)

“No vuelvo a quejarme por la estar 12 horas sentado en un avión…”

Translation: I’ll never complain again about sitting 12 hours on a plane…

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August 17 // Day 6:  Bercianos del Real Camino – Mansilla de las Mulas (~ 30 km)

“Ya vamos a más!”

Translation:  I feel better, I feel stronger!

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August 18 // Day 7:  Mansilla de las Mulas – Valverde de la Virgen (~ 30 km)

“Primera semana completada. Que mal empecé el día, que dolores. Ya superé los 200 kms…”

Translation:  First week completed. How badly I started the day, what pains! I’ve already walked more than 200 kms…”

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August 19 // Day 8:   
Valverde de la Virgen – Santibáñez De Valdeiglesias (~ 30 km)

“Hoy el radar me cazó…”

Translation: Today the radar hunted me…

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August 20 // Day 9:   Santibáñez De Valdeiglesias – El Ganso (~ 30 km)

“Día amargo y no por el sabor de los antiinflamatorios: mi compañero tuvo que parar y visitar urgencias. Ya queda poco.”

Translation:  Bitter day and not for the taste of anti-inflammatory drugs: my partner had to stop and visit the ER. I am near the end.

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August 21 // Day 10:   El Ganso – Molinaseca (~ 30 km)

“Si hay purgatorio hoy lo he cruzado. Más de 30 kms, con 18 bajando puro barranco. El demonio vino a visitarme…

Translation: If there’s purgatory today I’ve crossed it. More than 30 kms, with 18 down pure ravine. The Demon came to visit me…

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August 22 // Day 11:   Molinaseca – Villafranca del Bierzo (~ 30 km)

“Si Dios quiere mañana completaré el Camino. 29 kms y un desnivel de 1.000 metros faltan”

Translation: If God wants tomorrow, I’ll complete the way. 29 kms at 1,000-meters still to walk.

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August 23 // Day 12:   Villafranca del Bierzo – O Cebreiro (~ 30 km)

“Día 12 de 12. Hoy es nuestro día. Estuvimos juntos en 2003, 2017 y 2018…”

Translation: Day 12 of 12. Today is our day [talking to his t-shirt]. We were together in 2003, 2017 and 2018…

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“Gracias Camino!”

Translation: Thank you pilgrimage!

And thank you, Fernando, for sharing your trek with us! See you at the end of the month in Seattle!

Here are the wine regions along his “camino”:

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Navarra and Rioja in orange, the northern part of Castilla y León in green including Bierzo and then Rias Baixas (home to Albariño) in pale blue on the Atlantic Coast. If the best you can do to experience the trek is learn about and drink wine from the lands from whence they came, then we support the effort!

Cheers!

Julie, co-owner with Jens
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

 

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Australia 2018

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My girls are taking part in Panpapanpalya (one of the world’s largest gatherings of dancers, dance educators, and artists of all ages) through their Kaleidoscope Dance Company, and luckily for me, it takes place this year in Adelaide, Australia… handily an hour or less from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, and Adelaide Hills wine producing regions. So… let’s go:

Wine Folly_Australia_South Australia
map credit:  Wine Folly

Barossa Valley // Monday, July 9, 2018
First stop: Elderton
Elderton owner, Cameron Ashmead, (in black) // Winery history>
Elderton winemaker, Richard Langford (in green)

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Next up: Kalleske 
Kalleske, est. 1853 // Biodynamic wines. Best value/quality producer

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Last stop: Henschke Winery
Henschke, one of the most prestigious wineries in the Barossa Valley

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McLaren Vale // Tuesday, July 10, 2018
First stop: D’Arenberg
The Cube is D’Arenberg’s info center. Also, the craziest urinals I’ve ever seen! The sheep are at work grazing, weeding & fertilizing the vineyards!

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Stopped by Maslin Beach with Mark (one of the other dancer dads) on the way back to Adelaide:
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Cleland Wildlife Conservation Park // Wednesday, July 11, 2018
A day off dance meant a trip to see the local wildlife! A kangaroo scratches its back on the ground just like a dog, btw!

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Adelaide Hills // Thursday, July 12, 2018
First stop: Shaw+Smith Winery
David LeMire, MW, was our host.

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Next stop: Sidewood
Pinot Noir vineyards with emus! Plus Seth Piszczuk, tasting room manager and our host. 

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On the way home: Largs Bay, Western Adelaide on the coast:
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Many thanks to WineAustralia for setting up these tours! We’ve had a wonderful time!!

One more day to come… Barossa Valley again on Saturday, July 14. Stay tuned…
Jens

Wine Tour of Southern Italy

Wine Folly_Italy_cropped to Southern Italy_croppedAre you ready for an adventure? It’s a new year- time to expand the horizons! Southern Italy hosts beautiful, lesser-known varietals (and regions) at reasonable prices (on both accounts). From the Amalfi Coast to the “heel” of the boot to the bounties of Sicily, Southern Italy has so much to offer with wine, cuisine, culture and travel.

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photo credit: science.howstuffworks.com

Southern Italy does not include Central Italy. Southern Italy begins at Campania and Puglia as the demographics change with Mt. Vesuvius (pictured above) and the impact of the Ionic sea and Amalfi coast. Gorgeous. One of the most dynamic and most beautiful aspects to Southern Italy is embracing that it is greatly influenced by the migrations that occurred through Greece (Rome) and the Arab eras. The cuisine, the culture, the cultivation of wine- everything began here- THEN migrated north.

Differences in cuisine begin with sardines, oil, beans, cured meats, livestock and the curing of dishes. It’s all in the transport. The southern tip has a mild Mediterranean climate which is excellent for vacation and travel; however, the land is supposedly infertile and best for wine, livestock and creativity. Why else would I pick it? Here are a few top picks for my dream adventures for 2018:

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Campania– A region perhaps more noted for art, culture, history, and cuisine …but the wine! If only I could eat pizza in Naples! But, rumor has it they make an amazing rabbit dish and some beautiful fish dishes. If I could get my hands on Massimo’s rosato again, we would enjoy that with colatura di alici. But as many of you know, my go to is that killer Aglianico! Massimo makes other classic wines from Campania, including the white wine Falanghina, known for flavors of citrus minerality combines with fleshy tree fruits and the lesser-known Peidrosso, more like Pinot Noir, just more dirt! [Note: Massimo Setaro (pictured above) is the owner/winemaker at Casa Setaro . We hosted him for a wonderful tasting at Portalis in 2017.]

Casa Setaro_vesuvius gravel
This is the Vesuvial gravel that makes up the dirt in Massimo’s vineyards.

Casa Setaro Falanghina
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Casa Setaro Piedrosso
Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99

Wine Folly_Puglia

Puglia– the “heel” of Italy’s boot. Nothing could be farther from the truth when you discover the quality, diversity, the amazing cuisine and the gorgeous coastline. Salice Salento is a sub-region within Puglia that offers native plump bombastic Negroamaro or the killer Rosso that you can blind test with your Chianti Classico besties to see if they know the difference. It is not Sangiovese! It’s Malvisa Nero. And that is just a subregion. Puglia, and Southern Italy, are known for Primitivo. A varietal that has been dna proven to be related Crljenak Kasteljanski from Croatia to Zinfandel (grown in California). Puglia is HOT with Mediterranean influences… why would it not be just as killer as California if not better?

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Photo credit: nuvomagazine.com

Palazza Malgara Negroamaro
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Palazza Malgara Primitivo
Reg $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79
Palazza Malgara Rosso del Salento
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

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Sicily– The give and take of war, culture, struggle, life and wine… wait, not just Sicily? Truth, most wine regions are filled with this dynamic. Sicily is an island constantly in the midst of cultural transition. Most know Sicily for Marsala or the Italian Mafia… times change and Sicily has embraced change. The late ’90’s brought infrastructure to embrace clean winemaking techniques. Grillo, the base for Marsala, is clean, rich and refreshing. Excellent with sea bass, poultry, and rich cheeses. Inzolia, a classic native, is a bright ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. The fruits are freshing yet warm- ripe apples, soft melon, with subtle citrus. Nerello Macalese– a light bodied, hedonistic leather bomb with the abilty to convert lovers of old school Burgundy to try something new. It iss unique and worth the adventure. And many of you know my favorite Boulliabaise pairing- Nero d’Avola– not a light weight contender, nor is that dish.

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Vineyards at the Planeta estate, Sicily

Palazza Malgara Grillo
Reg $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Palazza Malgara Inzolia
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.19
Palazza Malgara Nerello Mascalese
Reg $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99
Palazza Malgara Nero d’Avola
Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

As with any region- culture, history, cuisine and transition- all go hand in hand to tell a vivacious story. This one is not to be ignored, and on top of that it’s affordable- for now.

I may not make it to Italy this year, but I will definitely be in Seattle soon.

Cheers!
Jaci

https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-geography-of-italy-4020744

A Walking Tour of Sicily

As we are surrounded by the cold, dark, rainy days of Seattle in winter, I thought it would be a good time to enjoy the photos of a trip to Sicily that my parents (ardent supporters of Portalis and lovers of food & wine) took with some couple friends of theirs last spring. It was a walking tour, so every day they’d take a 4-6 hours hike (primarily through the countryside) and then they’d return to their guesthouse for a wonderful meal of local foods & wines.

Here’s the itinerary (which you can follow on the map) with photos from each day:
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Day 1: Arrival in Syracuse with a walk through Syracuse Archaeological Park and a historical tour of Ortygia

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Day 2: Noto & Oasi Naturale di Vendicari

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Day 3: Mount Etna
This hike was moderate to challenging with an elevation gain/loss of 2200 ft.

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Day 4: Necropolis of Pantalica

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Day 5: Mount Ganzaria with a visit to Villa Romana del Casale, which is considered the most important Roman archeological site in Sicily.

Day 6: Parco Naturale Regionale delle Madonnie followed by a cooking class

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Day 7: Walking tour of Cefalu, a beachside resort, followed by visits to the towns of Segesta and Erice, and the hilltop Castle of Venus.

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Day 8: Riserva Naturale di Monte Cofano, plus a wonderful night of dinner and drinks at Planeta Estate and Vineyards

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Day 9: Selinunte archaeological site; “La Dispensa” winery and vineyards

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We carry several wines produced by a large Sicilian co-op. Interested in experiencing some of the wines from this beautiful land? Let us know and we’ll hook you up:
Palazzo Malgara Inzolia
Palazzo Malgara Nerello Mascalese
Palazzo Malgara Shiraz
Palazzo Malgara Nero d’Avola

Cheers!
Julie, Co-owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

A Day with the Giovanett’s & Castelfeder Winery

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We arrived in the Cortina village square at dusk after driving over the Brenner Pass in Austria and then down through the Alps, over Bozen (Bolzano). There was an old castle ruin on top of a mountain peak every turn of the way. We were in the northern Italian region of Alto Adige, but the look and feel of the landscape and the architecture was Germanic.

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The next morning we met Ines Giovanett, daughter of Günther & Sandra Giovanett, the proprietors of the estate and sister of Ivan Giovanett, winemaker. She took us on a tour of their vineyards on the eastern side of the valley:

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Castelfeder_Aug 2013_Ines in wineyards with dog

The tour included such Castelfeder label landmarks as the stone on the “Rieder” Lagrein label and the bridge on the “Glener” Pinot Nero label (on our next shipment):

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After our morning tour, we met Ines’ (very fit 90+ year old) grandparents who live in a house on the property, and then we settled down to lunch on the terrace.

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After melon & parma ham, garden tomatoes with mozzarrela & basil, vitello tonnato (thinly sliced veal with a tuna & anchovy sauce, spaghetti with tomato sauce, pasta with homemade garden pesto, and ice cream for dessert (and tasting through the wines in their lineup!!), we headed out through the apple orchards on the valley floor to their winery, just off the main village square in Cortina.

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Ines gave us a great tour, finishing in the Castelfeder cellar:

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After saying good-bye & many thanks to Ines, we returned to our hotel for dinner…

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…and took some silly photos to remember the day:

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And then we ended our wonderful tour, full-circle, admiring the beautiful village square at dusk:

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We direct import (close to) the full Castelfeder line as well as their premium Burgum Novum line. All of the following wines are available at Portalis. As well, lovely Ines Giovanett will be in Seattle next week, so join us for a tasting next Thursday, October 24 (RSVP>) to hear the details of this extraordinary land & the wonderful wines it produces!

Castelfeder Pinot Biance “Vom Stein”
Castelfeder Pinot Grigio “15”
Castelfeder Kerner “Lahn”
Castelfeder Grauvernatsch/Schiava “Kegl”
Castelfeder Lagrein “Rieder”

Burgum Novum Pinot Nero Riserva
Burgum Novum Cabernet Riserva
Burgum Novum Lagrein Riserva

Cheers!
Julie, Co-Owner
Portalis Wines & J. Strecker Selections

Weingut Prechtl & a Trip to Austria’s Weinviertel

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Portalis owner Jens Strecker & his family visited some of their producers in Italy & Austria this past summer. Julie (his wife & business partner) reported in on Weingut Prechtl:

On our way out of Austria, we passed through the Kamptal & Wachau Valleys, beautiful stretches along the Donau with vineyards straight up the steep slopes of the river valley and medieval castles on top of craggy mountains around every bend in the road. And as we drove through, Jens would point out wineries we used to carry: delicious wines, too expensive.

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Our drive out to the Prechtl’s didn’t look like this. Heading northwest out of Vienna until you’re about 10k short of the Czech border, you find relatively flat farmland with small rural villages. On the map, the DOC known as the Weinviertel (translates as Wine Quarter) looks huge, but you don’t really begin to see vineyards until you’re on the Weinstrasse about 10k short of the Czech border. Even when we arrived in our destination village of Zellerndorf, we didn’t see the magic until we spent the day with the Prechtl’s.

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Down at the end of the village road, just before you head into more rolling vineyards, is the entrance to their oasis, a beautiful Weingarten within the walls of the once functioning farmhouse that Franz Prechtl grew up in. From April thru September the Prechtl’s open their doors on Saturday from 10am to 7pm for guests to have a sit, taste their wines, eat some of their delicious homemade local foods (sausages cooked in Grüner Veltliner and black bread with different sorts of house schmalz). The garden was full of trees, blooming flowers and huge pots filled with Oleander. It had German-style biergarten tables and from the time we arrived for breakfast until we left mid-afternoon, it was packed. They told us that this is the fifth year that they’ve had their Weingarten and business is brisk with locals, tourists and a good number of visitors from Vienna (about an hour away) looking for a weekend getaway from the big city.

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Franz Prechtl (pictured above) is a big man, easily 6’5″ or 6’6″ and he’s serious about the little empire he’s building. He left home at 16 to attend a winemaking school combined with Abitur (German high school for university bound students) and was living in Vienna some years later when we met Petra Prechtl (6 years his junior and also from Zellerndorf) and they decided to return to the farm and make their living making wine. From this modest beginning, the Prechtl’s have risen to notoriety, receiving the honor of Austria’s Champion Grüner Veltliner with their 2012 Längen Gruener Veltliner at the annual Austrian wine competition known as SALON.

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Weingut Prechtl was founded in 1839 by Karl Prechtl, whose original wine press and huge aging barrels are still in a cellar next to their Altenberg vineyard & a few yards down the road from the village church which was started in the 900’s and completed in the 1100’s. Franz clearly feels a strong connection to his land and his grapes. He’s not as interested in buying other people’s grapes as he is in acquiring more vineyards to grow his own. His philosophy in the vineyards is to let the grapes grow as naturally as possible and then to make accessible, juicy, delicious wine. He’s a serious guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously. That may be due in some part to the influence of his wife of 20 years, Petra (pictured with Franz below). She is a woman with a lot of personal warmth and a quick smile. She runs the business side of their wine business as well as leading the team in the Weingarten every Saturday.

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The Prechtl’s have a diverse line of whites (Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Welschriesling, Riesling), reds (Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, and blends of the 3), as well as a line of dessert wines and Pinot Noir bubbly. The Weinviertel is not picture-book experience that other Austrian wine regions provide, but it’s a wonderful look at real life wine production in northeastern Austria, and the Prechtl’s are a top-notch example of the stellar wines produced in the Weinveirtel & Austria as a whole! Importantly, too, as an insider-tip, these wines don’t carry the price tag of wines from better known areas and more famous producers. The Prechtl’s, with their hospitality, their beautiful Weingarten & their deep connection to their history and their land, make a worthy destination if you’re ever in the area.

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In the meantime, here are the Prechtl wines that J. Strecker imports into Seattle. All are available at Portalis. It’s truly a stellar lineup:

Weingut Prechtl Classic Grüner Veltliner 2012
Weingut Prechtl Längen vom Löss Grüner Veltliner 2011
Weingut Prechtl Altenberg vom Urgestein Grüner Veltliner 2011
Weingut Prechtl alte Reben aus Löss Grüner Veltliner 2012 (arriving end of Sep 2013)
Weingut Prechtl Kirchfeld vom Löss Welschriesling 2011
Weingut Prechtl Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (arriving end of Sep 2013)

Weingut Prechtl Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine (arriving end of Sep 2013)
Weingut Prechtl Weinviertler Rotweincuvée (Reserve Red)
Weingut Prechtl 2010 Satzen (Zweigelt)

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Cheers to the great work that they are doing!
Julie

Take a Wine Trip to Tuscany with Gina

It’s your big chance! You’ve heard about these wonderful wine tours to Italy with Gina at the helm. Now is the perfect time to join in for her fall trip.  Below are pictures as well as a sample itenerary for what you’d get to do if you decide to sign up. Photography © Red Box Pictures

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PREMIER VINEYARD TOURSFALL TOUR 2013
Saturday, October 5th – Saturday, October 12th

Be our guest for an exquisite weeklong winery tour to Tuscany, Italy. Your tour includes: • Pick-up and drop-off from Florence airport, • 7 winery tours, cooking class, & ground transportation • Breakfast and lunch included. Most dinners included, with two dinners on your own. Tour cost is €3,200 per person (airfare not included).

Below is a sample itinerary of the extraordinary week you’ll enjoy as a guest on one of our exclusive personal tours. For a detailed itinerary visit www.premiervineyardtours.com or email us at info@premiervineyardtours.com to book your tour today!

Day 1 Arrival and check in by 4pm – Welcome reception and visit to a local winery in San Gimignano for tour, tasting and light appetizers. The evening ends with a welcome dinner in the historic center of San Gimignano.

Day 2 Our adventure begins with a visit to the Chianti Classico region for winery tour and tasting at one of the oldest family-owned wineries in Tuscany and picnic lunch. Dinner will be a multi-course family meal prepared at the villa.

Day 3 We head south to the Arezzo Chianti wine region for a vineyard tour and tasting plus lunch at a very small, family owned organic winery followed by a visit to historic Siena to dine at local wine bar.

Day 4 Travel to the famous Brunello region of Tuscany for a full day of touring. We will visit two area wineries with a lunch, al fresco, over looking the beautiful valley. Upon our return to San Gimignano, there is dinner at a lovely osteria in Saint Agostino piazza.

Day 5 We stay local with an all-day, hands-on cooking class at family operated agriturismo. Learn local recipes and after each course is prepared, enjoy the dishes along with the typical wines of the region.

Day 6 Today, we visit one of Chianti’s most impressive wineries and tour the family’s beautiful castle gardens & private cellar followed by a multi-course lunch at the winery especially designed to highlight their wines.

Day 7 Unwind with a leisure walk and lunch in the famous commune of Volterra; known for its Neolithic history and Etruscan walls. The evening ends with a farewell celebration dinner in one of the areas best ristoranti.

Day 8 Checkout of villa by 10am.

You can book your tour at www.premiervineyardtours.com . Hope to hear from you soon!

Ciao,
Gina, Co-owner
Premier Vineyard Tours