Well, after three-and-a-half years of (mostly) hard slog, I have officially completed my Masters of Wine Business. I can’t say it hasn’t been a challenge undertaking this degree as an external student, even though it was by coursework. It took me back to when I was in Japan as an exchange student (way back in 1999) and I was taking Year 11 subjects by distance education. It was hard to get feedback or bounce ideas off other students, and naturally there was an element of parochialism as I was expected to ignore any wine, winery or region that wasn’t South Australian. Writing a five-year comprehensive business plan for a Barossa Valley winery was both eye-opening and difficult.
If my studies and experience has taught me anything, it’s that you can never know enough about wine, and people are always keen to learn more. Rather than take the logical step of moving directly into either sales or marketing in the industry, I thought I would take the opportunity of a strong Aussie dollar coupled with no commitments keeping me in Australia, to travel around the wine world to learn more. So with apprehension and excitement I am now in the midst of planning my trip, and am always open to suggestions. I have allocated a certain amount of time in each country in North America, South America and Europe, but beyond general periods of time in each region, I am fairly open.
The first part of my journey will consist of travelling up the west coast of the United States through California, Oregon and Washington. Having seen Sideways many times, and being familiar with the Judgement of Paris, California intrigues me as a wine producer, as it is one-third larger than the entire Australian wine industry, yet produces some amazing Cabernet, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. As a rabid pinot fanatic it is only natural that I look forward to my time in Oregon, and I am also keen to see what Washington has to offer. My time in Canada will partly be for wine, but also to visit a place I have been interested in for many years. With a detour via the New York state wineries, Boston and NYC I will head down to South America.
Using Santiago as a base the regions of Chile will be my next stop, and I can’t wait for the Chilean hospitality. Having looked into the Chilean industry in my studies I will be interested to see what direction they are taking for the future. After a short stop in Mendoza and Salta, I am looking forward to spending Christmas and New Years in Brazil with my friends. If I have time I might even try some wines there. Then it’s onto the big one: Europe.
Once I have caught up with friends in Paris, Belgium, Amsterdam and Dusseldorf (with a stop in Champagne), the European Grand Tour begins. Working in a clockwise direction, the countries will be as follows: Germany (4 weeks), Austria (2 weeks), Italy (8 weeks), South of France (1-2 weeks), Spain & Portugal (6 weeks), rest of France (3 weeks). During August whilst mainland Europe is on holidays I’ll enjoy the sunshine in UK for the Olympics and Edinburgh Festival. With luck I’ll then return to France to work vintage, before heading home via South Korea.
I’m pretty excited and am looking forward to making plans over the next 7 weeks, time is going to be pretty tight. I’ll make some periodic posts about stuff I am tasting in the shop or at trade events, but I look forward to starting the blog properly once I get to the States.