Thursday, January 28, 2010

Worthwhile Present and Incredible Future at Club Med Sandpiper

Though I have been to more all- inclusives than I can count, I was a Club Med virgin.   Everyone told me that Club Med Sandpiper wasn’t the best example for my “first,” but when the opportunity to go there presented itself, I really wanted to give it a try.

There are many reasons why Club Med Sandpiper isn’t a good example of the company, which began in 1950 as the first all-inclusive chain and now has 57 resorts around the world.  They didn’t originally include drinks as part of the plan and the idea was for minimal furnishings and group dining.   They have evolved over the years, altering plans to include drinks and less communal meals.   They have also continually renovated resorts.  And Club Med Sandpiper  is last on the list.

For awhile, it looked like they weren’t going to keep the only remaining (there used to be a resort in Colorado) Club Med on U.S. soil,  but this complex in St. Lucie, Florida was meant to stay.  The plan changed with the idea that this property would not only be renovated, but it would become a golf and tennis destination.  The place for the active traveler to enjoy an all-inclusive in the United States.

I arrived at Club Med Sandpiper after the resort had been closed for the months.  It was the end of the first phase of the renovation, which began with the transformation of the tennis facilities and some of the rooms.  Most of the staff was brand new and many of the rooms had problems (ranging from brown water to broken televisions).  But the kinks were worked out as the week went on and, despite rain that kept many from enjoying the Caribbean atmosphere, I’ve never seen so many people go from complaining to raving in a few short days.

The truth is, even as I changed rooms (three times) and encountered staff who didn’t even know where the restaurant was, it was hard not to like Club Med Sandpiper.  You can grab the strawberry daiquiri, sit by the  pool listening to Calypso music, eat tropical fruits and dance the night away as if you were in the Bahamas, without worrying about passports and customs, which are a harsh reality of today’s traveling climate.  Though most of the staff knew less about the resort than I did, they were more than willing to learn with me and stay with me until I got where I needed to go.

As you walk through the Club Med property you won’t have a doubt that renovations are necessary.  The plan, according to Kevin Batt, Director of Leisure Activities for Club Med, is to spend $35 million dollars “to build something with an emphasis on active guests, including running paths with stations and a modern wellness center.”  This will be in addition to the transformation of the pool and beach area and the golf facilities, which will become – like the tennis – a place for training as well as playing.

Batt says Club Med Sandpiper will close during the fall months (their slowest time) to complete the renovation in stages.  It will take longer that way, but the guests will not ever feel like they are in the middle of a construction site.  In the meantime, everything is open, including the golf, tennis, spa (which was about to be renovated so next time I enjoy that incredible massage it will be in a hut along the water), two restaurants, circus tent (for kids of all ages), pools and more.  

One of the best parts for me was being introduced into the “G.O.” (Gracious Organizers) experience.  In the all-inclusive resorts I’ve previously been in, there were guests and there were workers.  The two were not supposed to mingle.  The Club Med philosophy is the exact opposite.  The G.O.s are your guides.  They play, eat and drink (after their shift has ended) with you.  It’s never about tips as they aren’t supposed to take them.  It’s about making sure you have the best Club Med vacation you can.  And that philosophy continues with the executives.  Jean Marc Desy, the resort’s General Manager, was out each night, leading the entertainment and mingling with the guests.

While we await the new version of Club Med Sandpiper, due to open in December 2010, it’s still worth a trip to the old version. There are some great deals and you don’t need to even leave the country for this Club Med. You may not get a brand new room or the perfectly pedicured property that has already been finished in Punta Cana, but the food is about the best I’ve ever had at an all-inclusive, the activities are endless and the staff will make sure you have fun – with your favorite drink in hand!

You won’t find any shortage of drinks at Club Med no matter what your taste, but this spirits traveler can be difficult at times as a citrus allergy keeps me from imbibing in a lot of standard cocktails.  I challenged each bartender at Club Med Sandpiper to come up with a drink I hadn’t had before and would really enjoy.  The winner?  Ryan and what he defined as a “57 T-Bird with Cape Cod Plates.”  To translate this yummy concoction:
Vodka, Amaretto, Triple Sec and Cranberry Juice in a Martini Glass!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Distinct Spirits from North Shore Distillery

I met Sonja Kassebaum for a weekend of bar-hopping run in downtown Champaign.  This wasn’t an exhibition of partying, it was two night of discovering.  The discoverer was me and it was the spirits of North Shore Distillery that I was learning (and tasting).  You see, this isn’t a company where you just walk through a distillery and taste their products, North Shore Distillery does the traveling and brings the adventure to you.

The husband and wife team of Sonja and Derek Kassebaum own and operate North Shore Distillery, an artisanal distillery located in a Chicago suburb of Illinois.   They started six years ago and have put their time into making quality products in this small distillery.  They are hands on with everything, including Sonja’s picking of the herbs for the gin.  She readily admits that “Grey Goose makes in one day what we do in six years.” 

There is another who makes the spirits of North Shore possible --  Ethel, the 250 liter copper still that was hand-crafted to the Kassebaum’s specifications.  It is Ethel who is responsible for the Gins, Vodkas, Aquavit   and Absinthe that I so enjoyed tasting at the downtown Champaign stops that carry the North Shore Distillery Products --  Radio Maria (incredible Tapas), Bacaro (small, but enticing menu) and Seven Saints (home of the best sliders around).

After sampling (you don’t have to twist this gin-lover’s arm too hard) through Radio Maria and Bacaro on Saturday night, I joined a group of about 40 at Seven Saints for a spirit by spirit tasting led by North Shore’s Sonja Kassebaum and Seven Saint's Manager Andy Borbely, two people who know more about spirits than anyone I know.  It was Gin No. 6 that had my immediate attention.  With tastes of fresh juniper, lavender , floral and citrus, this small batch spirit won the bronze medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and I wasn’t missing the tonic at all.  Even more flavorful is the Gin No. 11, which is much heavier on the juniper, without the floral.

The North Shore Vodka went down smooth, but it wasn’t what had everyone talking.  It was the three surprises Sonja had up her sleeve (or should I say “in her bottles”).  This small, private distillery was actually the first in the United States to make Aquavie.  This oak aged spirit is full of spice – coriander, caraway, cumin, cinnamon – and is best served cold.  The second treat, while popular (it sold out rather quickly on the first run), was not to my taste.  The Mole Pablano, like the Spanish Mole, contains seven types of chile peppers, cocoa beans and spices for a very unique taste.

Finally, at this most unusual tasting, was a drink that has quite a history.  The reputation of Absinthe is not well-earned, as Sonja Kassebaum explained.   It was because of one man (whose drinking problem was quantity, not the spirit itself) that it was rumored to be a dangerous spirit.  That didn’t stop North Shore Distillery from deciding to make it when it was legalized in the U.S. two years ago.  This anise-flavored liquor is usually served with water and sugar to sweeten the taste.  It was a first sampling for many, including me.  I found it to be reminiscent (but smoother and not quite as sweet) of Sambuca.

Among the events coming up where you can taste North Shore Distillery products is at a Classic Cocktail Hour in Chicago February 11th at the Marriott and a Celebration of American Distilling in Madison, Wisconsin, February 18th.  For more information on Distillery and some events around the country you can find them visit their website, follow them on Twitter or find them on Facebook

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Visiting the beauty of Traverse City & its wine

Where can you find blue waters like the Caribbean, wineries reminiscent of Napa, chateaus that belong in France, food as varied as the Big Apple and skiing you'd expect in the mountains?  In Michigan, of all places. Traverse City, Michigan to be specific.

As a New Yorker now living in the Midwest, I am constantly surprised by what the world around Lake Michigan has to offer and I was definitely not prepared for what I could find in Traverse City.  The drive through Illinois and Indiana has become a bit more familiar to me and I had even ventured into some of the Wolverine state, but I was prepared for the beauty as I headed north.  The winding rounds and hills gave way to crystal clear water as I entered Traverse City.

Spring through fall, Traverse City looks like it could be any beach town, with resorts lining the miles of sand and fishing boats docked where the jet skis and boogie boards aren’t.  In the winter, it all gives way downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.  But there is something that Traverse City has that you won’t find at a Caribbean island or mountain resort area – wineries, lots and lots of wineries.

Most of the wineries in the Traverse City area are within the Leelanu and Old Mission Peninsula.  I’d like to tell you how many there are, but that number seems to be changing (increasing) all the time.  I can tell you that I managed to visit a dozen in two days – and that was just a sampling!  Of course it helps when you have the Media Relations Director from the Convention and Visitors Bureau as your tour guide (thank you, Mike Norton!), but there are some excellent print guides on the Visit Traverse City site to help you with a tour of your own.  Here is a small sampling from my Traverse City trip that I would highly recommend not missing:

Chateau Chantal

I could have easily mistaken this breathtaking property for one of the chateaus I visited in Cognac, but it isn’t France that the Begins came from, it’s Canada.  That’s where founders Robert and Nadine – a priest and nun respectively at the time -- met.  The couple married and lived out their dream of creating a European style chateau on this 65 acre property.  Originally the plants were all cherries, but they were slowly replaced with grapes and the first vintage was in 1991. 

Today, Chateau Chantal has about three dozen different wines and champagnes.  They grow many of the grape varieties used and import the rest from around the world.  Their Celebrate!, a mixture of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Mendoza Malbec grapes, won three medals in 2009.  The 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Chardonnay2008 Semi-dry Riesling, which has a unique taste of smoky and sweet, with green apple undertones. deservingly has five prizes to its name, including the Gold Medal from the 2009 Tasters Guild International.  This wine was new oak barreled to give it that strong oak flavor . One of their bestis the 2008 Semi-dry Riesling, which has a unique taste of smoky and sweet, with green apple undertones.
Two Lads

It was from the old world to the new world as I entered Two Lads.  The two lads are Cornel Olivier, raised in the vineyards of South Africa, and Chris Baldyga, a Traverse City native.  This is one of the newest wineries around in a modern building that strongly contrasts the rest of the Old Mission Peninsula.  The other thing that makes Two Lads stand out is their dedication to the reds.  It is their focus and it’s paid off – the 2007 Cabernet Franc, which hits the palate with everything from blackberry to cigar and chocolate, took prizes home that included Double Gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.   Also not to be missed is if you are looking for something powerful is the Pinot Noir, a spicy blend with just enough sweetness, thanks to 70% aging in oak and 30% in stainless steel.

Brys Estate
From the old to the new to the familiar.  At Brys Estate you feel more like you are in the family living room than in an “estate.”  Walter and Eileen Brys are the owners and they have a house on the property.  The couple welcomes you into their home to taste their award-winning wines.  It is here in Traverse City, their favorite place to visit, that they began their second lives as vintners and every wine is a part of them. 

The Brys were the first in the area to boldly charge $50 and up for a bottle of wine, like their Artisan-Chardonnay, which carries the vanilla aromas with a smooth finish.  The Brys say it is made “without any malolactic fermentation, to preserve the balance of acidity.”  The one wine that does hit that price range at other vineyards in Traverse City is Ice Wine and Brys Estate had the best I tasted.  It wasn’t quite as sweet as some of the others, yet it was a perfect finish with a slice of cheesecake (how they sample it, only $5 for both).  This wine has received numerous accolades.

Left Foot Charley
My final Traverse City winery was appropriately a combination of many, and it was one of the best.  Left Foot Charley isn’t  located among rolling hills or acres of grapes, it’s in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, a former asylum turned shopping mall/restaurant pavilion.  Left Foot Charley doesn’t spend their time growing grapes, Bryan and Jen Ulbrich concentrate on doing justice to the grapes that are already there, from the Leelanau and Old Mission Pavilion, as well as a some from Antrim County.

The formula seems to work for Left Foot Charley.  The must have here is the 2008 Murmur – a combination of Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Traminette that they recommend gets its full flavor with a curry spice, but I think it’s just fine with a serving of The Goat (goat cheese, fig and walnut spread with crostini).  If you happen to be there in the fall, go for some of the Hard Cider, using a mixed variety of apples and finishing with 6.5% alcohol.

As for accommodations, I stayed at the Bayshore Resort, which offers oceanfront (yes, I know it’s not really an ocean, but it certainly looks like one!) accommodations with Jacuzzis and Fireplaces for year round comfort whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation.  There are incredible views from the balcony and it’s a short walk into town.

Though we didn’t stay there, I got to tour the Grand Traverse Resort (and have a great meal in their rooftop restaurant, aerie).  I would highly recommend this place for a more complete travel experience as they have a selection of accommodations (including condominiums); an indoor waterpark for winter months and outdoor pools & beach for the summer; tennis courts; three championship golf courses; and many more activities. 

If you are looking for the true wine/travel experience for a short visit, it doesn’t get more authentic than Chateau Chantal.  You can stay right at their bed & breakfast where you only have to walk a few hundred feet to your wine tasting.

Photos by Marcia & Samantha Frost

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hope for Haiti – And a Friend

update 4/11/10-Jaimee remained in Haiti to teach and help the locals after the earthquake.  She came back to the U.S. last month to visit family and friends, and to collect donations of money, clothing and other items to bring back.  She is having difficulty getting enough to get back there and still have money to buy food when she is there, especially with the airline baggage fees.  Donations of airline miles would be greatly appreciated.  Contact me for details.

update 1/18/10 9:00 am-I heard from Jaimee this morning! She is not on Les Cayes, but on a remote island past there. She made it to Les Cayes on Friday and found everything closed, but there was a company giving out cell phones for free use Monday & Tuesday. She had no idea things were turning worse on Port au Prince or have gotten so bad on Les Cayes -- the only place she can get to by boat. Now, it's a matter of getting her off or getting supplies on. With the bad connection, I could not even get the name of the island. If anyone has ANY information that might be helpful, please email or tweet me. Thank you.

I know this is far off topic, and I promise you I will not regularly go off on tangents from Wine and Spirits Travel, but this needed to be written.

It has been difficult for me to concentrate on work this week with everything going on in Haiti. All of us have looked at the photos and newscasts in disbelief and sorrow. I feel for every single person in Haiti who is suffering, whether they were injured, lost a loved one or no longer have a home. My heart goes out to all and I wish my pocketbook was as deep as my emotions. But this is personal to me.

My oldest and closest friend (we met at junior high gymnastic tryouts when we were 12) is there. She was a victim of the recession who could not find a job so she chose to go to Les Cayes, Haiti, help build a school and teach. I can honestly say that it shocked everyone who knew her. “Impatient” was her middle name and I found it hard to imagine her without her daily Starbucks, but we were all wrong. She has been there since May and has reported back the poverty and need there even before this earthquake. There have been many days when she – like the village she stays in – also went hungry.

I had received email from Jaimee after the earthquake, but nothing in two days.   Twitter has been my lifeline to that area and I have been reading about the unrest moving through to Les Cayes with tears. The fact is that she and those with her have no idea what is coming. They have no phones and no electricity, which means no radio or television. They only had minor damage from the earthquake and they have no reason to imagine what really happened in Port au Prince as we see it on television. The one communication tool is a computer an hour away that can get out that occasional email.

There are so many who are helping and will give their time, but let’s not forget the volunteers who were already there. Hope for Haiti has organized many of these and they are doing their best to make sure the volunteers (as well as the people of Haiti) are safe and have supplies. I would be lying if I said I didn't want my friend back on American soil. I don’t know that she is going to come back yet as her purpose in going was to help others and that is needed even more than ever, but I would hope she and all those selfless people have the opportunity to come home -- and supplies they desperately need.

Please donate as you can to And, if you have any information on Les Cayes or my friend, please email me or send me a message on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cognac in Cognac

My first venture into the world of spirits travel came just a few months ago as I had the good fortune to be invited on a press trip to Cognac, France. We were quite a group -- journalists specializing in spirits (and/or travel) and representatives from the four major cognac producers.

The trip began in the lounge of British Airways at JFK, where we met for the first time to embark on our weeklong journey. I would highly recommend Open Skies, as an affordable all business class alternative to Paris, with comfortable seats and excellent food. It was my first venture into Paris’ Orly airport and I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly we were out of there and on a bus to Montparnasse train station.

From Montparnasse in downtown Paris, you can reach Angouleme on the high speed train in about three hours. From there it’s just a scenic 30 minute ride to Cognac, where our first night was at Chateau de L’Yeuse, a quaint and beautiful accommodation where we could have tea on the terrace, overlooking the rolling hills and greenery of Cognac.

Exploring the Town
Cognac is more than a drink, it’s a town full of cobblestone streets on the banks of the Charente River. The shops and cafes line the streets, which provide for a great walking tour if you don’t want to take the tram from the Tourist and Information Office. We strolled up Vieux Cognac and past the striking architecture of the Musee des arts du Cognac (Art & History Museum); the Chateau and Saint-Jacques Gate (the town's walls); and the river that leads to the Gabare and Marina. In the middle of the town is the statue of King Francis I, born in Cognac in 1494. There are also two churches, Saint Leger's and Saint Martin’s, which date back to the 11th and 12th century.

The Drink and on to the Big Four
There are four regions in this area that produce Cognac -- Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fin Bois, Bon Bois and Bois Ordinaires. The basic process of the beverage is simple: it starts with wine; turns to eau-de-vie; and is blended into cognac. I also learned what those letters on the bottle mean: VS-Very Special; VSOP-Very Superior Old Pale; and Napoleon XO-Extra Old.

The reason cognac is so much more expensive than wine is because of the aging. Starting with a liter of wine, after 20 years of aging, you have two thirds of a liter. In an additional 30 years, there’s just half a liter. And, after a hundred years, there is only 10% of the original liquid. It is the blending of these “eau-de-vies” of various ages that makes cognac -- the older the liquid in the blend, the more expensive the drink.
Cognac was first produced in the middle ages and today 96% of the world's cognac made in France. The majority of that (80%) comes from four major distilleries -- Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin and Courvoisier.

The day started bright and early with a true French breakfast of croissants, fruit, cheese and yogurt. We headed through the windy roads of Cognac to the Hennessy Vineyards. Cyrille Gautier-Auriol, Hennessy's Ambassadeur de la Maison, met us there to show us the vineyards, explaining how the grapes from this region don't make great wine, but they produce outstanding brandy — which can be blended for the best cognac.

These company-owned vineyards are not the main source for Hennessy. They use nearly 2,000 different growers from the region. Hennessy also maintains a Visitors Center downtown where there are rare bottles, as well as an exhibition on its history. (The company was started by Irish Richard Hennessy, who realized the best brandies where coming from Cognac..)

From the Visitors Center we took a short boat ride to the Distillery and Aging Warehouse across the River. From there we were then whisked off to the Tasting Room, where the Maurice Hennessy himself joined us. We sniffed, smelled and tasted our way from 180° pure alcohol to the eau-de-vies and samplings of XO, Paradis and finally Richard Hennessy, the most expensive in the line.

The experience at Martell was a bit different as the company has its own cooperage (to make barrels for aging) so we learned quite a bit about wood. Martell uses fine grain woods to make finer and denser cognacs. To illustrate the point, we were taken to the company's cooperage for a fascinating barrel-making lesson.
Martell's Distillery had a tasting for us of VSOP, XO and Cordon Bleu. Then it was on to the Founder's House, former home of the company’s founder, John Martell. It is definitely worth a visit as the house, originally built in the 1700s, and is full of historic photos and documents.

We spent the evening at Martell's estate, Chateau Chanteloup where were treated to an incredible meal, a special tasting of their prized L'Or Cognac and one of my favorite wines, Jacob's Creek Riesling (also produced by the Pernod-Ricard group). After dinner and cognac, we were treated to a welcome by some of Chateau Chanteloup's residents -- a group of deer that enjoyed the attention as they ate out of our hands! Then it was off to bed to rest up for the next day’s distilleries.

Remy Martin
We began the day in the visitors' center and were given an introduction to Remy Martin . The company began in 1724 and produces 1.8 million cases per year. They only use the Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne vineyards in Remy products, using 500 different distillers.
We walked through the cellars, with the smells from the barrels permeating the room , before heading onto the Remy Martin tram. Then it was on to the blending room, where we got to make our own cognac. After blending came tasting of Remy Martin’s cognacs.

Lunch was at Remy Martin’s Chateau Saint Martial estate. The weather was just perfect and it led to an incredible scene as we sipped cognac and enjoyed the countryside before the afternoon’s activities.

Note: Remy Martin will customize your visit experience with "Les Rendez-vous Remy Martin," a collection of offerings that allow visitors to customize their cognac experience with tours, tastings and meals

Courvoisier was my final stop on the Cognac tour, just outside the town of Cognac. Courvoisier ‘s visitor's center is in Jarnac, displaying cognac and the brand’s historical connection to Napoleon. Courvoisier stresses the senses throughout our tour:

(Hear) Blending-Matured Grande and Petite Champagne, at their peak;
(See) Colour-Deep golden-amber;
(Smell) Aroma-Cigar box, liquorice, hazelnut, old port wine, ginger bread, orange blossom;
(Feel) Body-full bodied, mellow, round;
Taste-Very complex and elegant -- rich -- supple -- tender -- stylish.

The distillery tour brought us through the making of Courvoisier and tastings of their products. We spent the evening at Chateau Courvoisier, with a tour of the Privi (Paradise) Cellar, with bottles and barrels dating back centuries.

After our visits with the final four, we spent a day (and night) at
Hotel Napoleon Paris
before heading back home with a great experience – and a new subject to write about.

Another way to learn about cognac
I was lucky enough to have my cognac education hands on as I toured the region and tasted at the four distilleries. If you can't get there (or are planning a trip and would like to learn more first), the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) has a Cognac Training Tool Kit. It is available online with levels in different levels for professionals and amateur tasters. They are available in English, French and German, taking you through from an introduction to Cognac and the terms around it, to the best ways to drink it and information on the producers of this beverage.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Traveling through the Wine and Spirits

After many years as a (magazine, web and book) tennis writer, I found myself without full time work in that field in 2008.  I was lucky enough that I had the experience and opportunity to continue my work as a writer, but I needed an additional niche to fill my schedule (not to mention my pocketbook).  I stumbled upon the obvious one purely by accident.

Let me begin with the beginning. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, working for magazines even while I was a “kid” in school.  One of the things I did to push my career forward was to join the staff of the C.W. Post Pioneer.   It was a wonderful experience to be on the newspaper staff then (where I worked my way to Managing Editor), but it led to an even more exciting opportunity now.

In January of 2008, there was a reunion at C.W. Post of past editors of the newspaper and magazines.  I hadn’t seen anyone in years so I thought it might be fun.  It was by chance that I met former fellow Pioneer editor Frank Coleman, who was living in the D.C. area and just happened to be in New York that weekend.  Frank is now the Sr. Vice President of Marketing for Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).  He overhead me mention to someone that I was a freelance writer at a crossroads of looking for an additional writing subject to focus on. It just happened that he was for another journalist to go on an upcoming trip to Cognac, France.

When I obtained an assignment and agreed to go on the trip, I was focused on the travel – something that was always a part of my life.  My love of travel was born before I was as my father believed vacations were a necessity in life. In the early days, it was just car trips, but it later grew into adventures that led to the Caribbean, Europe and even Israel.  I would continue to travel as much as I could over the years. As a tennis writer there was always a tournament somewhere to go to and I did my best to build trips around them.

The interest in wine was another one of mine. It was on a tennis trip to Croatia that I stayed with a family who had their own vineyard.  I found it fascinating to take the tour through the grapes just outside the door of where I was staying.   I remember photographing it endlessly and thinking about all the places that were starting their own small vineyards.

I always loved visiting Napa and the wineries in my longtime Long Island home. I remember the smells as I strolled the Bacardi factory and the aromas at Busch Gardens.  It had never occurred to me that I could combine my love of travel with a desire to learn more about spirits -- until that college reunion.  There I was offered the opportunity to go to Cognac and learn about the drink and the town at the same time.   Even then I didn't imagine that I would step off that high speed train into a new career.

It took just a week of watching, drinking and photographing to know I found my new niche was as a Wine and Spirits Traveler.  I've been the Wine And Spirits Travel Examiner for six months now.  I've found myself writing for additional publications (Travels Golflink, Trails & EHow for Matador ) with more assignments added recently (GoNomad, GirlsGetaway, Gadling).  It seemed only appropriate that I have my own place for the personal experience of my recent travel and the many trips to come. So, welcome to Wine And Spirits Travel!