So it's the last day of 2017 and I'm excited about welcoming the new year! I love looking forward as new ideas, projects and wine travels awaiting me, though it is also a good exercise to look back acknowledging how far I have come!
2017 started with a big milestone as I turned 40 - BAM - yep that big four - zero. I had a fabulous party with some great friends. My highlight of the day was that I learned how to saber champagne. I loved it!
In February I was able to show international visitors, who introduced me to their extensive wine cellar many many years ago, a few vineyards in South Australia, including Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills. Our favourite winery visits included cellar doors of Tapanappa Wines, Ashton Hills, Deviation Road, meeting the people behind Ulithorne, wandering through their McLaren Vale vineyard, a private tasting with Craig Stansborough of Purple Hands at the Stansborough vineyard in Barossa, as well as visiting Charles Melton cellar door and experiencing Yalumba's history and a Rare & Fine wine tasting in Angaston. Also in February, I started running my monthly wine tasting classes, collaborating at Swallow Bar in Maylands, which continued until December and 2018. Certainly a lot of fun meeting other wine enthusiasts, wine lovers and those who like to learn more about wine. We certainly had a lot of fun together. Last day of summer in 2017, I launched www.cannygrapes.com, two Canny Grapes milestones in one month!
March was my month of travel! For three years I wanted to visit the largest wine show in the world, the Prowein. Over 6000 exhibitors come to the Prowein every year. It was quite overwhelming to start with, having literally every single winemaking country and region in the world right in front of you. I spent three days meeting winemakers, tasting their wines, taking my notes, attending masterclasses by renowned wine professionals and chilling in the Champagne lounge. From the Prowein in Duesseldorf I travelled to the Mosel to meet the legendary Ernst Loosen at his Dr Loosen Estate in Bernkastel. You think you can't top anything after visiting Prowein, think again. I learned so much and was finally able to understand Mosel Riesling and how German's drink their Riesling. The tasting with 'Erni' was very entertaining and lasted only for 3.5 hours. Even though I have German heritage, I didn't know much about German wines until I started working in the wine industry and started my WSET wine education courses. From Mosel my trip went to France, Champagne in particular. After my amazing champagne journey in 2016 entering and experiencing the Vin de Champagne Awards I had to go and visit champagne to see it with my own eyes. I wanted to feel it, making sense of all the stories I read and champagne I tasted. For me, visiting wine regions, your acquired wine knowledge finally comes to life, because you are right there, you can touch the soil, see the vines, feel the grapes, meet the people behind the wines and listen to their stories. I stayed in Chouilly, a small commune south of Epernay. It was amazing to wake up so close to the vineyards, fetch your croissants from the boulangerie and go for a wander, or let locals take you a champagne tour of their own vineyards sharing their family traditions. My top visits were in Vertus at Champagne Veuve Fourny & Fils, and in Epernay Champagne Pol Roger and Champagne Alfred Gratien. This is by far the shortest version of my trip to Champagne, but its a quick review I have to remind myself. I also did a quick day trip to Beaune to tick the tiniest box of Burgundy, driving past DRC via back roads (so much fun) and stopping for a wine tasting and tour at Dubreuil-Fontaine in Pernaud-Vergelesses. I will be back for sure.
In April I got to see my family in Germany for two days, not at my hometown, but in Sachsen, Germany's smallest wine region. It was great inviting my mum to cellar doors around Meissen, along the river Elbe and taking her to the famous opera house, the Semperoper in Dresden. Back in Oz, I couldn't wait but taking wine lovers on a Sparkling and Spanish Wine tasting journey.
May, June and July were relatively quiet in regards to wine travel as I only went once to Margaret River. I continued my wine tasting classes and loved sharing wines in the hospitality world representing eight Australian wineries. Ulithorne at 'Game of Rhones', Grace Farm at City Wine and Petite Mort for a wine dinner.
August was another big 'Champagne' month with Tyson Stelzer's 'Champagne Taste' hosted in most Australian capital cities. I took the chance and flew to Brisbane, my home for 7 years. A quick drive and visit to the Sunshine Coast, followed by the big day of Champagne Tasting at the Sofitel in Brisbane. What a fantastic event and finally a chance to experience champagnes I had not tasted before. From Brisbane I went straight back to Perth as I could not miss out on the Perth's Champagne Taste. Oh I nearly forgot, apart from champagne, another highlight this month was to learn some pruning techniques from viticulturist Tim Quinlan, big 'thank you' here as I love spending time in the vineyards.
In September I was finally able to take a small break, have some fun learning how to make cheese with Tanya, Perth's ultimate Cheesemaker! Tanya runs classes at Shadow Wine Bar and in the Swan Valley.
October, most of you know was one of my most important month in 2017 hosting my first ever Champagne Dinner at Petite Mort with Charles Fourny! Check out my previous blog post or the wine events section on my website. All I can say is, I love Champagne Veuve-Fourny & Fils and that I felt very honoured to have worked together with Charles Fourny and De Bortoli and the team of Petite Mort. It was an amazing 'Champagne Lover' event in Perth. October also meant for me to expand a little and follow my other passion other than champagne and sparkling wine, Spanish wines. I hosted not only one but two wine tasting events at Duende, a 'Chef's Table' dinner and my first Spanish wine tasting class: Whites of Northern Spain. And to top it all of, why not also travel to 'Thailand' by hosting Itsara's very first 'Aromatics & Thai' dinner inviting everyone on a journey exploring aromatic wines matched with Itsara's stunning Thai food. Casey from the Travelling Corkscrew wrote a fantastic blog about it here.
November was certainly another highlight this year. How many times have I used the word 'highlight' and 'amazing' so far? I think I had an incredible amazing year! Reminding myself to 'keep believing in you' and 'follow your passion' which I have always done as this is what makes me happy, it was somehow meant to be that I got to meet one of my biggest role models in the world of wine! It was my first time to experience the 'Great Gourmet Escape' in Margaret River with this years 'special guest's' being Jancis Robinson and Huon Hooke. I met Huon last year and as a huge admirer I always wanted to meet Jancis. All events were either incredibly expensive or already booked out, but I just had to put it out there that I will just go and meet her! And I did, thanks to my wonderful husband. Best ever!!!! 2017 moment.
In December I hosted my last 'Champagne Sunday' for the year and loved taking wine lovers on tasting journeys, at Swallow Bar, Duende as well as private functions. I went for a quick trip to Sydney visiting other wine enthusiasts and planning my new ventures for Canny Grapes. It's been an incredible ride with all of you and want to say 'thank you' to my biggest supporters. You know who you are. I loved enjoying a quiet and relaxing Christmas with my husband and very special friends. And now... I'm off to welcome 2018, with a sunset picnic by the beach and champagne, of course.
Happy New Years!