Beard and Barrel went to Spain!

I was lucky enough to to be asked to tour the various vineyard and wineries of the Juan Gil Family in Spain this past June. Because I am a novice traveler, especially world traveler, it has taken me a little more time than I thought to get readjusted to life back home in Shreveport. I do often refer to myself as a hustler and a get it done now kind of guy but I’ll say it was tough getting back to not having dinner from 10:30pm-1:00am. So here it goes.

First of all, it’s worth noting that I before this trip I had never been to a vineyard. This was the first time that I have set foot into a winery. I do think it’s pretty badass that my first trip to a functioning, highly functioning I might add, winery was in Spain. Not California or Washington or even Texas. But friggin Rais Baixas(they grow and produce Albariño there).  

The first vineyards my beard has ever grace in Rais Baxias

It was complete sensory overload to me. The smell of a winery almost smells like a bakery but someone dropped a case of wine on the floor. The huge stainless steel tanks towered over me and sat quietly next to a sorting table and stacks of grape baskets. I felt like I was on an episode of how it’s made when they showed us the intricately mechanized bottling line. The intensity of those moments were so significant because these are things I’ve read about for five years but have never seen in person. The look on my face was complete childlike wonder. 

The towering stainless steel tanks that Juan Gil has custom made for all their wineries. There were about 12 of these at Bodegas Juan Gil.

I was amazed at the scenery on the drives, there were a lot, and the actual vineyards where the grapes grow. At the time I was there, bud break had happened 3 weeks prior. That’s when the grapes actually start to flower. Most won’t we ready to harvest till around September. The soils that these beautiful wines group out of was so crazy. In Rais Baixas and Rueda, the vines grew out of sand. Like on a beach sand. In Jumilla, the Monastrell, grows in direct sunlight out of basically rocks. 

I was showing some southern hospitality to the 100 year old Monastrell vines.

We visited 9 wineries across the country in 5 days. If I wanted breakfast, I had to be up and out of my hotel room usually by 7am and the vans were loaded and left by 7:30. Most of the drives in the morning were about 4-5 hours and the drives in the afternoon were about 1-2 hours. I stayed in a different hotel each night except for the last 2 nights in Barcelona. It sounds much more intense than it was. I was traveling with some amazing people from all over North America that are just as passionate about wine as I am. The whole time I was there, I was in great company and excited for the next stop.

Insert trip photos:

 

The Spanish countryside

  

These aquaducts ran through the entire town of Segovia which was one of my favorite places we stayed.

    

Part of the tour at Shaya in Reuda.

    

The barrel room at Bodegas Juan Gil

  

Lunch time at Bodegas Juan Gil

  

You had me at Jamón. Most restaurants had this set up with pig legs curing behind the bar. Amazing.

  

Look at those vines growing out of rocks!

  

Baby Garnacha grapes

Jordi(the GM of the entire Juan Gil Estate), me, and Migel Gil after an amazing dinner

  

Night life in Spain at a Safari themed bar with Andy from Arizona and Bill(possibly the realest guy around) from Hawaii

  

Beautifully presented in a giant cast iron pan. Potatoes, eggs, wild mushrooms, and sausage.

  

My road warriors and I.

  

After lunch at Bodegas Can Blau

  
  

Super talented yet super awkward street preformer in Barcelona

  

Amazing open market in Barcelona. More fresh fish, just butchered meat and cured meats than you could ever image.

  

Yep. Giant pig head at a food and wine festival on my last day in Spain in Barcelona.

  

 From the trip, my favorite winery to visit was Juan Gil in Jumilla. That’s their flagship winery and the largest. They produce Juan Gil Monastrell out of there and I’d put that wine for $18 up against any Cali red for $20-29 all day, everyday. It has rich dark fruit and spice with curves like a woman out of a Foxxy Shazam video. The alcohol is high at 15% but you don’t taste it. That being said, my favorite wine I had while there, which I have had before, was the Kentia Albariño from the winery Lagarde Condesa in Rais Baixas. There is something romantic about having a glimmering glass of white wine that is crisp and refreshing while the chef is shucking oysters the came from probably no more than 15 miles from the vineyard. Kentia has the incredible tropical flavor of Sauv Blanc without the grapefruit bite and weightiness. 
Now, I’d love to breakdown each vineyard I went to but that post would be insanely long. I’ll say that if you’re interested in hearing about it, shoot me an email at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and we can meet up, I’ll bring a bottle or 3 of Spanish wine and we can clear our schedules and talk it out. H

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