Pantai Company – Sherry Sunglasses

Pantai Company LogoBefore my trip to Jerez, I saw a post on Facebook about sunglasses made from sherry barrels. When I learned they were manufactured in Jerez, I had to find them! I’m a native Oregonian, and Pantai Company resonates with my local cultural value for art, fashion and reclaimed wood!

duelaThe duela is the single slat from a sherry barrel. Because wine barrels are used for 80 years, it is customary to have a specialist fix the barrel rather than use a new one. Since a barrel isn’t filled to capacity, they can tip it on its side, remove the damaged slat and replace it with a fix. Pantai Company purchases these damaged duelas to make their sunglasses.

Pantai CompanyMy initial visit was with JesĂșs, the co-creator of Pantai, and Fran, their sales rep. We met over drinks to discuss Pantai’s backstory and to see prototypes. Pantai means beach, and their logo is the setting sun over the sea. In 2012, Pantai Company started in Jerez with JesĂșs and his brother David. Originally, they had the goal to make a clothing brand, but decided to take their ideas to new heights!

True, wooden frames are nothing new, but these are much more than any ordinary wooden sunglasses. This is a piece of utilitarian art! They hope to embody the essence of AndalucĂ­a – the beaches, the wine, the culture – respecting the environment with reclaimed, organic, and ecological materials. Their intent is to keep all the parts and products originating within AndalucĂ­a – the frames, hinges, lenses, even the chamois and the cases. They are against using anything less than top quality.

pantai prototypesJesĂșs, David and their cousin make up the three Pantai artists personalizing each frame from start to finish. They spent their first year working with optometrists learning about top quality lenses and how to perfect the bridge of the nose and the  shape for varying head sizes.  They are very selective and detailed oriented, and can finish a custom order within 15 days.

They start with a base pattern style, then sand it to meet their client’s needs. Not a single frame is the same. It’s YOUR pair unique to you, stamped with its own ID number and Pantai logo. You can’t get that from sunglasses cranked out by a machine! Each pair comes with a guarantee. Pantai Company values one-on-one personal contact with each client.  Should anything happen, they want to be the first to know, make the repairs and get your glasses back to you.

Pantai CompanyNaturally, after learning all this, I had to make a return visit to the workshop. The shop is located in a residential area. From the street, there’s nothing indicating Pantai Company was located inside, because it once was the abandoned house of JesĂșs’ grandfather.

JesĂșs gave me the grand tour. The main level is split into three areas: the main office, final production where they cut and apply the lenses, and the small stock supply of finished product. It was evident by the noise and layer of sawdust heading up the stairs that I was going into the production zone. At the top of the stairs is their computerized saw that makes the first rough-cut frames. One rough-cut can take twenty minutes! In the next room are the workstations for the artists to assemble and refine the frames before inserting the lenses.

This is also where they prepare the duela. The wood doesn’t look like much when they receive it. It’s a wood that’s been wet with wine for 30-40 years, and often times covered in a thick layer of sugar. They have to strip off the outer layer and inner layer to get to the main core. Not all duelas are the same size either. Sometimes, it’s a gamble that once cleaned the wood will be of any use. Pantai Company strives to always achieve a single high-quality piece with fresh personality and natural style.

The wood will be anywhere from a light blond, if it was a Fino or Manzanilla barrel, to dark coffee, if it came from an Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez barrel. They also make glasses from olive wood that is light in color and has a beautiful striped grain.

Pantai Company is always looking forward. Although there are challenges to do business outside of Spain, they’ve expanded their presence into France, and soon will be in Italy. I would love to see them in the U.S. as well!

I knew I would not be returning home empty-handed. I tried on several frames – but when I saw my pair – it was love at first sight – Pedro XimĂ©nez wood in the Besar style. A piece of art for an unbeatable price with a beautiful story – Es Mi Pantai!

GonzĂĄlez Byass – Part 2 The Private Tour

Gonzålez Byass Private TastingAfter my initial public tour at Gonzålez Byass, I was encouraged on Twitter to go back for a private tour with Alvaro Plata. After a few emails and texts on Whatsapp, the visit was set!

Seana + AlvaroAlvaro is young and very passionate about the sherry at Bodegas Tío Pepe. His green eyes shine even brighter when reciting all he’s learned from his mentor and wine expert, Antonio Flores. Alvaro is certainly a walking encyclopedia in rapid fire! Everything he knows was verbally regurgitated at me in the fastest Spanish – I was proud of myself for keeping up! (And relieved I recorded most of it before my phone died.)

Having already been on the public tour, he took me into areas that seemed familiar, but revealed new corners unseen by most tourists. My favorite moment was being led into the room of untouched bottles from the 1800’s, encrusted in dust and dirt. I had previously seen this only in pictures, so I’m sure I looked ridiculous bouncing up and down like a giddy school girl.

I also got to see special barrels not on the public tour – the famous Cuatro Palma, THE barrel of 2015 Tío Pepe en Rama, a barrel of Cuatro Palo Cortado (I’d love to know what THAT tastes like), the cherry wood barrels of Del Duque, and got to go down into the cellar for an up close look of the private barrels of the real Tío Pepe.

Sadly, my phone died before my private cata. Alvaro led me into a room full of mini bottles of sherry from over the decades. To the general public, it just looked like a glassed in display. But on the other side, was a large conference room full of natural light. Rows of tables and chairs faced a stage area with each bottle for the tasting. I sat at the front with my place all laid out with a placemat, folder of tasting notes and my own Tío Pepe pen.

It was beautifully orchestrated. Alvaro poured my glasses and then poured a glass for himself. Naturally, he was a great teacher. He did not lecture at me about the wines, but made me feel included as part of a conversation.

I have extensive tasting notes from Gonzålez Byass if anyone wants to know specifics on these wines. Of course the first glass was the Tío Pepe Fino followed by the coveted 2015 Tío Pepe en Rama. I love the label and the new cap. It was so fresh and intense flor flavor, or as they say Pura Vida. For the Amontillados, I tasted Viña AB and Del Duque VORS. Both have a lovely dark golden color and that classic dry complexity. The Del Duque VORS has a nice lingering dried fruit finish.

natural light - love those colorsSimilar to my first visit, I was poured a lovely glass of Alfonso Oloroso and the Solera 1847 Cream. However, the rest of my tasting was a very special treat! Two Palo Cortados – the Leonor and a taste of the ApĂłstoles VORS. I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet sherry, but I clearly was won over by the Matusalem VORS Cream, the NĂ©ctar PX and the NoĂ© PX VORS.

If that didn’t make me feel spoiled already, Alvaro pulled out all the stops with a shot of the Nomad Outland Whiskey nearly impossible to find in stores! The label depicts the whiskey’s life story from Scotland to Jerez.

I am so unbelievably grateful for the two visits I had with Bodegas Tío Pepe. Two very different experiences, but both very informative. I certainly had my reservations about visiting such a largely commercialized bodega, but I’m glad I went with an open mind. Their pride in their history and excitement for their winemaking has not been lost.

Seana + Tio Pepe

GonzĂĄlez Byass – Part 1 The Public Tour

The Way to Gonzalez ByassWhen I travel, I try my best not to get caught up in tourist traps. So, I never had the intention of visiting Bodegas González Byass – or what most refer to as Tio Pepe. However, this was a research trip, and I had a friend encourage me to be a tourist for at least one day. I wanted to be able to give an honest recommendation for anyone who may ask about it. I am so glad I decided to go, because I soon discovered González Byass is exactly where you should go if you know nothing about sherry!

TicketFirst, they have guided tours available on Sunday afternoons when so many others are closed. I was even able to go online the night before to book my tour. It’s a very simple process. I could select to view the page in English, pick which tour I’d like to go on, including the time, date, language, and if I’d be trying two or four sherries with or without tapas. Once purchased online, I didn’t have to print anything. I just showed up at the recommended time on the confirmation email, gave the lady my name and she handed me my ticket. You only really need it at the end to verify which tasting you selected.

I was a little turned around trying to find the main entrance, but there are plenty of signs and arrows pointing guests in the right direction. Even though I understand Spanish, I chose the English tour. It actually had less people attend, making it easier to hear. I mostly saw couples and adults on the tour. However, my group had a small family. Their three-year-old son LOVED the “train” we took around the grounds.

Albariza & Palomino Fino VinesThe tour is fast paced, so there was not a lot of time to take all the pictures I would have liked. The bodega feels like a step back in time – cobblestone streets once accessible to the general public are now preserved inside the grounds. Some of the vines inside are over 100 years old.

The first part of the tour was in the large arena-like event area called La Concha for the style of the glass roof. It was built for the Queen’s visit in 1862 where the royal dinner was served. It continues to be a great event space to showcase not only the wines of Jerez, but flamenco and the prized horses all under one roof. It has over 100 barrels marked with the flags of all the countries where they export. The train took us to where they used to distill brandy. The walls are completely blackened from the many years of angel’s share evaporation. On average, 5% of alcohol evaporates each year from the barrels. Just outside in the courtyard is a huge, iconic Tio Pepe bottle as well as the acquired Croft bodega on one side, and the area where they restore the casks on the other side. New barrels are never used, so it is an art to keep these old barrels maintained. They try to maintain barrels for 80 years – after that, they’re shipped to Ireland and Scotland for whiskey.

me and JesusWe were ushered into a large room that houses the casks of Jesus and the twelve Apostles. The backstory is in 1862, Queen Isabel II came for the pressing of the grapes, but the vendimia was already over. Traditionally, the townspeople would buy grapes in September to preserve until New Year’s Eve to eat one grape at each stroke of midnight. So, Sr. GonzĂĄlez went to each house to collect these grapes to make a press for the queen. It created 16,500 liters of wine. Since it was standard to only fill each 600 liter barrel with 500 liters of wine, this came to out to 33 barrels. Christ was crucified when he was 33 years old. The large cask created for the wine was named the Christ barrel – of course it’s currently filled with Palo Cortado. They didn’t want it to be lonely, so the twelve Apostles are positioned on each side according to the famous painting of the Last Supper. However, there is not a Judas Iscariot barrel for superstitious fear that the wine would turn to vinegar. That barrel was replaced with Mathias.

The next several rooms housed barrels signed by the rich and famous. Of course the Royal Family have their own barrels beautifully displayed. Picasso’s barrel was sent to him in France to sign while he was in exile. What made me chuckle was their excitement that Chelsea Clinton has a signed barrel. Personally, I was more impressed by Steven Spielberg’s barrel.

Before coming, I had a friend say to me to tell the mice hello. I had no idea what she meant until nearly the end of my tour. Long ago, José Gålvez would train the mice of the bodega to climb up and drink Cream sherry out of a copa. To this day, they still keep a filled glass on the floor with a little ladder to the top as an offering.

At some point on the tour, we watched a video subtitled in English telling the history of the bodega and the making of sherry. Despite the made-for-TV acting, it was really informative for someone who may not know anything about sherry.

At the end of the tour, we were led into a giant modern tasting room filled with the other tour groups. The general tasting is a glass of Tio Pepe Fino and a glass of Croft Pale Cream. I requested four glasses on my ticket. I was poured a glass of Alfonso Oloroso and the Solera 1847 Cream (the wine the mice drink) in addition to the Fino and Pale Cream. Had I known how generous the pours would be, I would have ordered the tapas. Not because the wines upset my stomach, but because I became, shall we say, quite happy.

souvenirsThe only way to exit out of the facility is through the store. This was a strategic move on their part! Get the guests to drink two to four sherries, and then don’t let them leave Tio Pepeland without going shopping first! I had enough wits not to buy large bottles I couldn’t take home. But the mini bottles and all the cute Tio Pepe memorabilia were irresistible! I managed to leave without buyer’s remorse. I sighed with relief as I exited the store, only to realize the final challenge was the rotating metal-bar gate leading to the street – a buzzed girl’s worst nightmare.

I am glad I took my friend’s advice to at least gain an honest opinion, and my honest opinion is everyone should visit Gonzalez Byass at least once. You’ll soon discover that I went twice!

He lost his sight – Not his skills

Practice Makes PerfectWhen Diego arrived in Bar El Porron, I wasn’t sure how to initiate introductions. The owner of the bar is a mutual friend, and arranged for us to meet on a Saturday morning for coffee. Once introduced, we had a lovely conversation about sherry, life in the vineyard, working in the bodega and the art of using the venencia.

DiegoThe venencia is a small cylinder cup attached to a long rod used to extract sherry from the barrel without disturbing the flor yeast layer protecting the wine. Diego is a venenciador – a person who has mastered this technique as an art form. It takes a lot of skill to arch the venencia overhead and pour the wine into the tightlipped copa from a considerable height without spilling a drop! (There are plenty of examples online.)

What’s unique about Diego is seven years ago he went blind from diabetes, yet he hasn’t lost his skills. He comes to this bar on Saturday afternoons to teach those in the area wanting to learn to be a venenciador(a). He said to me it doesn’t matter how young or old you are when you start, the key is to practice, practice, practice.

Calle EmpedradaOn the small patio out front on Calle Empedrada, he sets up a bucket of water, a couple venencias and glasses for anyone to learn. See how he does it here. (The older gentleman watching is the bar owner’s father – he tried using the venencia for the first time that day!)

One student was a young lady named Paula. She practiced over and over. She told me her goal was to be good enough to be hired for weddings, birthdays and first communion celebrations. This is usually the goal for most students.

Anyone with venencia skills who works in a bodega are typically the enologos – or wine experts. The enologos have to repeatedly go through anywhere from 80 up to 800 barrels a day using the same technique, but they choke up on the handle and don’t pour from great heights. It still aerates the wine, but doesn’t burn out their shoulder in the process!

Venencia skillPaula encouraged me to try and not be afraid. The perfectionist inside of me was totally intimidated to try, knowing I’d fail the first time. So like Paula, I tried, then tried again, each time improving a bit as I became familiar with the venencia. I gained a little more confidence when a car drove by with the passengers giving me a thumbs up. That’s the theme in this city – be brave, give it a try and don’t give up. Diego sure didn’t let the loss of his sight keep him from doing what he loves.

A Sherry Adventure Starts in the Vineyard

Cuestión de CulturaPrior to heading to Jerez, a fellow sherry blogger highly recommended I visit Spirit Sherry to get out in the vineyard. After a few emails and even a Skype conversation, I was very excited for my visit Friday April 17th. Spirit SherrySpirit Sherry is a small wine tourism business teaching the world about the birthplace of sherry. Their tour packages explain the link between man, vine and soil, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in culture, tradition and the customs behind sherry wines. I planned my entire trip to learn about sherry from grape to glass. So, I went all out and paid for a private tour to spend most of the day with them. My experience was worth way more than the 50 euro I paid. Continue reading and you’ll see why!

Photo courtesy of Abel Valdenebro Gutiérrez

Photo courtesy of Abel Valdenebro Gutiérrez

Eduardo Valderas Otero picked me up near my apartment in Barrio San Miguel. Because of our previous Facebook and email interactions, he felt like an old friend and our conversation picked up where we left off. The same applies to Cecilia Rodriguez Roa. She was very good at staying in touch while setting up the logistics for my visit. They both work very well together and make their guests feel at home! Viña la ZarzuelaThe vineyard La Viña Zarzuela is just outside the city of Jerez. JosĂ© Manuel Bustillo has owned it for the past seven years. He and I met in passing, but my education was in the hands of Eduardo and Cecilia. This was the true test to see if my B.A., in Spanish was up to snuff, because those two talk fast with little pause for breath. But who doesn’t talk excitedly when they’re living out their passion?! I was handed a picture book to help me follow along so I wasn’t completely lost, especially since most of this vocabulary was brand new to me. sherry in a nutshellNaturally, we started our discussion with the Sherry Triangle (the three cities of the protected sherry region: Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and SanlĂșcar de Barrameda), the types of grapes grown (we mostly discussed Palomino Fino), and the soils needed (we focused our discussion on Albariza Superior). I was surprised when they told me that vineyards are not watered. What moisture is absorbed and maintained by the albariza soil is it! I was surprised by how spongy the soil becomes when it’s wet. Watch this clip to see it! It is also white when dry, which is both reflective and protective during the hot summer months. roots + soilThe roots of Palomino Fino are also a key player. They are very fine, about the width of a hair. They reach down about seven meters, but they can stretch almost 16 to 17 meters across! As we walked along, I didn’t realize we were also drinking our way through a sherry flight. At the soil, we had a lovely cold glass of Fino from El Maestro Sierra where Eduardo also works. As we talked about the vines, I was handed a glass of Bustillo’s home batch of Amontillado. Bustillo also grows varieties of grapes for eating – some I’ve never even heard of. The soil does really well for his vegetables, olives, even roses. As we sipped on a glass of Bustillo’s Oloroso, Cecilia told me that thorny rose bushes are planted at the end of each row to help keep a very tired donkey from trampling the vines when plowing the rows.

JosĂ© Manuel Bustillo B., Seana Yee, Eduardo Valderas O., Cecilia Rodriguez R. My favorite moment was sitting at the lunch table with Eduardo, Cecilia, Bustillo, and another friend. I loved listening to them all share about their families, education, travel and of course life on the vineyard. We watched the African swallows fly in and out of their nests above our heads as we ate meats, cheese, bread, and stew all the while drinking more sherry from Bustillo’s barrels. My favorite was a bottle of Amontillado Fino. It’s hard to describe – it’s was essentially like a light-bodied Amontillado. The final dish was strawberry shortcake with cream and drizzled with Amoroso. It was delicious! (Amoroso is essentially a Medium, but it’s an Oloroso with just a drop of PX. The tale is that when husbands were coming home late from the bar, they’d bring a bottle of sweetened Oloroso to appease their wives.) Needless to say, I helped myself to three pieces.

I really did not want to leave these new friends. Yet, our meal and education was over, and university students studying viticulture began to arrive. My heart and stomach were full and I blissfully kissed my goodbyes with the hopes I’ll return very soon. presentsSide note: On my last day in Jerez, I was able to meet very briefly with Eduardo and Cecilia to say farewell. They surprised me with some lovely little “recuerdo” gifts and a bottle of Bustillo’s Amontillado Fino. My visit far exceeded my expectations! They are passionate about what they are teaching. It is unlike any other sherry experience. If you come to Jerez wanting to learn about sherry – be sure to start with Spirit Sherry in the vineyard! Cecilia + Seana

Coffee and Donuts and Writers, Oh My!

Third Wave Coffee ToursToday, I took a small break from sherry to get coffee and donuts.

Back in January 2014, when I was starting to realize my obsession for sherry, I met Lora Woodruff on one of her Third Wave Coffee Tours. Naturally, I wanted to know more about Portland’s artisan coffee scene, but I mostly wanted to pick her brain about how to lead local food/drink tours. That day I came away with more than an interview and a caffeine rush; I made a new friend. That’s why I was so excited and honored when she invited me to join other lifestyle writers for her launch of her Artisanal Donut & Specialty Coffee Tour!

In the late 1990’s, Portland’s coffee and donut scene was put on the map with the help of Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Voodoo Doughnut. Several years later, other third-wave coffee roasters and artisanal donut makers came on board. In a city that prides itself on the artistry of food and drink, it was quickly apparent that Lora’s tour is not just about grabbing a traditional donut with a fancy cup of joe – it is about meeting the coffee and donut artists perfectly pairing the two to bring out the best flavor profiles in each other.

Coco DonutsToday’s launch began at 10 a.m. inside Coco Donuts on SW 17th near Providence Park. Lora joked that her daughter claims they are a “Coco-family” when it comes to donuts. We had the pleasure of meeting Ian and Marissa to hear about their home-roasted coffee paired to a variety of donuts.

Coco Donut CoffeeThe Peruvian coffee went best with their buttermilk bar, and the Rwanda was paired with their old fashioned glaze. What I enjoyed most was not only the lightness of their donuts, but they weren’t overly sweet! The Rwandan coffee was not too sour or fruity when paired with the glaze. My favorite was their lavender glazed donut, a very fluffy traditional glazed donut with just a hint of lavender. Even after several bites of each, I did not feel weighed down or sugar-high. Coco Donuts currently has three locations in the metro area. With the quality they provide, it wouldn’t surprise me if they keep expanding.

chocolate and espressoThe tour continued onto Sterling Coffee Roasters on NW 21st between Flanders and Glisan. If you ever take Third Wave Coffee Tour in NW Portland, this will be a favorite stop! They have the best drinking chocolate around! Of course, we also had a shot of their espresso served in beautiful sniffer glasses. We were fortunate for good weather. It was a nice break to sit outside in the sun and get to know my fellow tour-guests.

Local Roasting CoWe took the scenic route around northwest Portland to arrive at Local Roasting Co. on 19th and NW Lovejoy. They actually pull their shots! Today we tried their homemade hazelnut milk latte. They did make substitutes for anyone with nut or milk allergies. It was a perfect balance of creamy texture without losing the coffee flavor.

Blue Star DonutsThe tour followed back up to NW 23rd to the newest location of Blue Star Donuts. This is a donut-for-grownups shop putting the spotlight on creative flavor profiles. What sets Blue Star apart is their brioche dough that takes 15 hours to proof, and the use of top quality ingredients when it comes to butter, whole milk and cage-free eggs. Our visit wasn’t long – we just grabbed a box for the road.

Kuma Colombian Cold-brewThe fifth stop on the walk was also on NW 23rd at Barista. This was the perfect place to grab a glass of iced cold-brew! Barista serves highlighted coffee from some of the best roasters around the country and Canada. They have three different espressos on the bar at anytime. This is their fourth location in the Portland area that opened about 18 months ago. Our cold-brew was the Columbian roast from Kuma. It was the smoothest coffee to drink on its own! Very refreshing after walking around on a warm day smothered in my wool base-layers, because the morning looked like rain…Portland spring – go figure.

Seattle Coffee Gear - JOEOur sixth and final stop on the tour was at the Portland location for Seattle Coffee Gear. Joe was captivating as he told us the history of the company and the art of making a really good cup of coffee. (Side note: I personally bought my Jura espresso maker months ago because Joe gave me an honest review of the best product to meet my expectations for a home espresso maker. He’s on YouTube – check him out!)

He prepared for us two pour-over chemex coffee to pair with our Blue Star Donuts. Joe is a classically trained pastry chef. His love of raspberry and cinnamon came to mind when pairing the lighter, fruitier Black Cat Classic blend from Intelligentsia to go with our sugar and cinnamon donuts. The other was a richer, earthier Mathildes blend from Nossa Familia to go with our chocolate and custard donut. Both coffees complemented the donut and vice versa. Oddly enough, drinking the lighter coffee with the heavier donut made the coffee almost taste like weak black tea. So – trust Joe, he knows.

Living Big - Mary Cecchini & Sherry Sips - Seana Yee together again!

Living Big – Mary Cecchini & Sherry Sips – Seana Yee together again!

Each of Lora’s Third Wave Coffee Tours has a unique experience based on which roasters and areas of Portland she visits. This combination of artisanal donuts and coffee was a wonderful way to see the city with fresh eyes and a satisfied stomach!

Planning for a Sherry Adventure

Feria de JerezBeing connected to bodegas and other sherry bloggers via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram makes me forget the physical distance that keeps me from just hopping on a plane for a visit. Seeing current pictures of the Feria in Jerez makes me a bit envious that I didn’t extend my trip just a bit longer.

Air BerlinSadly, flying from Portland, Oregon to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain is a calculated and very long journey. There’s no direct way to get there that won’t take less than four flights and suck 24 hours of my life away. So, visiting the Sherry Triangle takes some good planning. I was able to use reward miles, but it was still quite challenging to work with a representative to actually redeem them! My first day of travel left at 5:00am on a Tuesday, arriving at 5:00 pm on Wednesday with five different flights using three different airline partners. This meant no one would allow me to check-in online – I had to get a boarding pass printed on each leg at each airport!

Airbnb Manolo & CarmenSince I never traveled on my own with no pre-planned agenda, I decided to visit Spain when I knew friends from my flamenco circle in Portland would be in Jerez. I knew roughly where they would be staying and found this adorable Airbnb apartment close by. (PS – highly recommend staying with this adorable couple – Manolo and Carmen will take you in like family!) This apartment was perfectly located near the center of town as well as the train station.

The month prior to leaving, I contacted several bodegas and sherry connections made on Twitter or Facebook to arrange a time to meet once in Jerez. I purposefully left my days relatively flexible. Most bodegas have their visitation hours all at the same times, so I rarely visited more than two a day. This allowed me space for processing my visits, as well as accept last minute invitations or schedule changes.

RubĂ©nThe other blessing in disguise I had was adding global roaming to my mobile plan. I never realized how much I would rely on WhatsApp and Google Maps once I was walking around town! Texting via WhatsApp was essential to confirming if I was running late because GPS got me lost. I even used it with a friendly taxi driver who practically became my private driver for when I really needed one. (If you ever want RubĂ©n’s number, let me know! He’s the best!)

I knew from the beginning I wanted to learn about sherry from grape to glass. I selected bodegas based on what I read or what labels I was familiar with. I also took any recommendations from fellow sherry bloggers. There’s only so much you can do to plan – the rest just falls into place in the day-to-day living.

THAT is what adventure is all about!

Live the Dream