After a good night of sleep that followed 29 hours of travel time, I find myself writing this post at the beginning of summer on a sunny 27° day, mere minutes from the Indian Ocean in Perth, Western Australia.
(Incidentally, the Moselland 2010 Kabinett Riesling, loaded with apple, lime and a hint of petrol, paired with the Dark Chocolate Almond Häagen-Dazs Bar was by far the best part of the Vancouver to Hong Kong flight.)
My wife and I are here for her sister’s wedding this coming weekend and, well, Australia’s not the kind of place that you just pop down to for a few days. My business has just hit the one-year threshold and a celebratory vacation seemed to be in order, but a few weeks in Australia still seemed mighty indulgent, particularly for me being still relatively freshly self-employed. As luck would have it, there happens to be an enormous wine trade in Australia, so I figured “Why not mix business and pleasure?”
Fortunately, much of my work can be done remotely (my WE column, writing for Wine Access, etc) and plenty of it would revolve around the loads of wine touring I planned on doing while here. I definitely wanted to hit Margaret River and the Swan Valley while in Western Australia, but then also zip over to McLaren Vale, Eden, Clare, Coonawarra, Yarra, the Mornington Peninsula and more. I needed some solid strategy to fit it all in. I also had fear of visiting a bunch of familiar wineries, but possibly missing some exciting gems that could potentially have been right under my nose.
I’d told her of this potential three-week trip, and asked if she could help me pin down specifics of my itinerary so that I was maximizing time while not feeling I was travelling a well-worn path. She had me plot out my wish-list, of regions and wineries, and said she’d help me polish and tweak it wherever necessary. I’d also made clear that I certainly wasn’t looking for a free ride, -but- if there was a winery I was looking to visit, and they happened to have a guesthouse available while I was there, then it would certainly be awesome if I could crash.
We collectively (after a zillion phone calls and emails) came to a rough itinerary. She was awesome for ensuring that I’d be able to fit in the bigger priorities on my wish list (Pewsey Vale, here we come!), but she also made sure I wouldn’t miss some critical darlings (“Ten Minutes By Tractor,” you say?) that weren’t on my radar. The best part is that our winery touring and tasting is going to be balanced out with plenty ‘off-duty’ time, road-trippin’ the Great Ocean Road, painting the town red in Melbourne, etc. A true mix of business and pleasure, where even the business part is pretty pleasurable.
And so, for the sake of transparency, I am indeed getting a hand with the odd bit of accommodation and some meals here and there when in the midst of wine country, but the majority of this trip is coming out of my pocket (and my Visa.) I’m under no obligation to write specifically about anyone or anything. When I do write about my trip, and wherever I do so, I’m under no obligation to write about it positively. The only deal is that at some point, somewhere, I write something about my trip. Needless to say, I’d totally be doing that anyway.
As always though, you won’t see much negative writing coming from me. I only have so much of a pedestal to stand on in the wine world, and I’ve never felt I should be wasting my energy on sharing things you shouldn’t drink or places you shouldn’t go. I’ve always been more of a glass-half-full guy anyway. So as in everything else I do, if I’m stoked about something- you’ll probably hear about it. I love sharing my enthusiasm for things that I believe are good, whether wine, books, music, movies or whatever.
So here I am, mid-dive into three sun-filled weeks in Australia.
And, my God, I hope they don’t make me drink Sparkling Shiraz. ; )