Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chateau Siaurac - An Enchanting Experience during "La Vendange"

A magical afternoon at Chateau Siaurac

If you are a regular reader, you know that I work part time as a regional tour guide for one of the River Cruises on the Garonne River.  This cruise takes it's passengers up and down the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers introducing them to our beautiful area, it's history, its culture and of course, it's wines.

One of the things I have come to appreciate about the Bordeaux area is the diversity of it's wines. Bordeaux is not just one kind of wine, there are many appellations or wine regions here and each one produces unique and different tasting blends.  Fall is a special time of year here. as we get ready for the harvest or "La Vendange".  Each region waits until just the right time to pick their grapes. "Les Vendanges", as it's referred to in plural for the region, is so much part of the culture here in the Bordeaux.  Everyone talks about the weather in September - hoping for more sun and little rain to help the grapes finish ripening. Everyone seems to know someone who is somehow involved in the harvest.  It's truly a way of life here.

Children even learn about it in school.  Last year, my daughter's CP (1st grade) class went to a local wine museum  in the Fall and they heard all about the process of picking grapes and making them into grape juice and wine.  They even got to stomp on some grapes, if they wished.  My youngest still refers to grape juice as the juice of wine! (le jus du vin)

As a guide, it's been a privilege this Fall to be able to share this special time with our clients. One of the properties that we visit is Chateau Siraurac, located in NĂ©ac, a small village near Saint Emilion. This beautiful family run property of 60 hectares is like taking a step back in time.  Since 1832 this family has been producing wine at this Chateau and has been constantly evolving itself and presently produces under 3 labels.  They are passionate about wine making and sharing their story and their wines with others.  This passion is evident as one walks around this property.  It's been a delight this Fall to visit and watch, as they waited for exactly the right time to harvest.
Chateau Siraurac gives a wonderful visit and lunch for our clients.  A member of the Chateau Sirauac team or sometimes even the owner himself, Paul Goldschmidt, walks our clients around their gardens, the vines, the wine production & cellar areas and even a tour of his home, the Chateau itself.    It's a stunningly beautiful property and one can not help but feel this family's love of wine making.  It's no wonder that they won the Best of Wine Tourism 2015- Gold Award for Architecture and landscape just a few weeks ago.
These photos were taken on two occasions about 2 weeks apart.  The first few are the grapes just about ready to pick in mid-September.

Before they harvest, they have to keep the leaves of the vines trimmed back, so the grapes can be easily picked.  The picking at this chateau is done by hand.
We were very lucky one week in early October, the owner asked our buses to drop the clients off next to the vineyard, so we could watch some of the harvesting happening, first hand.  It's was definitely a very special experience for all of us.  (Including myself - this was the first time I got to see La Vendange, first hand and up close)

It's a bit hard to see in the following photos but the tractor holds a flat trailer for all the workers to dump the grapes into after picking.
Picked grapes are carried down the aisles to the flatbeds with these plastic backpack baskets.  The carrier will then lean over to allow all the grapes to dump in.  He then walks back between the vines to allow the individual pickers to dump their smaller buckets into the backpack basket.  It's very precise as they know exactly where each truckload of grapes come from.  They grow different kinds of grapes - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Malbec.  Each variety is picked and processed separately in addition to knowing which parcel of the property it came from - as geologically the ground can vary from being limestone, sand &/or gravel.  Very scientific process from start to finish!

 It's very systematic to watch and it was a treat to see it up close.  Look at all those delicious (and yes, we got to taste them!) grapes!
At the production area for sorting, pressing and eventually the fermentation of the grapes.  That particular day, our clients were lucky enough to taste the juice of freshly picked grapes, juice that had been fermenting only a couple of days and then week-old fermented grape juice.  Very interesting to see the differences - first hand.  

After our tour of the vineyard, production area and cellar, the clients walked through the gardens which date back to the 19th Century.  Seeing the inside of the chateau, tasting their 3 different wine labels and a lovely lunch all finished off this magical experience! It was a beautiful day and such a treat!!! Thank you Chateau Sirauac for your gracious hospitality and wonderful tour!

Even though, this tour and day was specially designed for our clients.  Chateau Siaurac welcomes everyone. This chateau is high on my list of places to visit when we have guests!  From June to September, the Chateau is open to the public everyday from 9am to 7pm with visits and tastings in both English and French at 11am & 4 pm without a reservation.  Additional visits can be arranged by appointment.  If you call ahead, gourmet platters are also available served in the garden each day.  

More information about Chateau Siaurac can be found on their website - HERE.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Global Families - MKB Instagram Blog Hop and GIVEAWAY!

Families Around the World: MKB Instagram Blog Hop! 
Families from Around the World

Good morning everyone!

When I was a child, I had a doll collection.  Dolls representing cultures around the world!  I think it started when my father brought me back dolls from Japan when I was only a toddler.  Then it seemed whenever my parents traveled to a place where unique dolls were found, they continued to add to my collection - American Indians,  and Mexican dolls were some of my earlier ones.  I was always fascinated looking at them and would ask for more - I think I was most fascinated by some of the traditional costumes representing a new and different culture! Even though at the time, I hadn't traveled to these places, I was given Spanish dancer dolls  and Dutch dolls in traditional dress and wooden shoes. Many were stereotypical for those cultures but it provided a window to a new and different world.  I would often think about what it was like to live in those countries.

As an adult, it's been wonderful to travel and now to be a part of an extended global family as an expat. It is indeed a tremendous and beautiful opportunity for our family. These days, so many families like my own, are living all over the world and embracing their diverse and blended heritage.  I have had the privilege and luxury to  join and get to know members of the Multicultural Kids Blog group.  We are all families who live all over the world - some of us in our "home" countries, other in foreign countries as expats.  Where ever we are living, all of us are choosing to raise our children with a more diverse and global views of the world.  Sometimes its helping our kids understand their own blended cultures, sometimes its learning about the current culture we live in, sometimes it's learning about other cultures, beliefs and celebrations.  We come from around the world and are currently living all over this world.  For me it's like watching my doll collection come to life!

I feel so blessed and grateful about these connections and it's also been fun to travel and meet so many of these families in person!!  It's funny, I was just talking with my own mother the other night and we realized that over the past 3 years, when we have traveled to different European cities, we have been able to meet up with someone that I have gotten to know through blogging!   We will be continuing this pattern this January when we travel to Marrakech, Morocco!  It's so fun to meet other parents, like myself and to also get a "local"view of the area.  Feeling so grateful!!

So, to give you a sense of our Multicultural Kids family - I encourage you to check out our blogs and instagram feeds.  It's a beautiful world of diversity and I know for myself it's so fun each day to get that "snapshot" from around the world of every one's daily lives!

We also want to see your family, and the beauty of diversity... help us showcase families from all over the world! Join us for an Instagram Blog Hop honoring MKB's second anniversary and families around the world! How to Join In Be sure to visit our wonderful co-hosts, plus enter our giveaway and link up your Instagram profile!

Blog Hop Co-Hosts

Our Prize Package - Enter for a chance to win!

One winner will receive this fabulous prize package! It includes: Green Kid Crafts
A 3 month subscription to Green Kid Crafts, valued at $60. For three months, you'll receive a different-themed Discovery Box packed with 3-4 unique and engaging activity kits designed to foster a child’s creativity and confidence while helping to raise the nation's next generation of creative leaders. For kids ages 3-10. US Shipping Only Little Humans
Little Humans by Brandon Stanton, donated by Smart Tinker. From the author of Humans of New York, this new work from photograph Brandon Stanton focuses on "littlest humans of New York - the ones who get back up when they fall, who have an impeccable taste in fashion, and who love with all their hearts. With spare text and a mix of all-new exclusive photos and fan favourites, Little Humans is sure to appeal to fans of HONY and those who have yet to discover it." Birds of Love | Elika Mahony
Digital download of the album "Birds of Love" by Elika Mahony. "Birds of Love" is a treasury of uplifting words and inspiring songs on the theme of love and marriage. It includes a diverse five song album from varied sources with five additional instrumental tracks for live performances and background at special events. Please note: The subscription for Green Kid Crafts is for US shipping only. In the event our winner is located outside the US, s/he will receive the remaining items, and we will draw another winner from the US for the Green Kid Crafts subscription.   a Rafflecopter giveaway


An InLinkz Link-up

Have a great end of the week!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2015 - Bordeaux - A magical Night!

Place de la Bourse - Chamber of Commerce of  Bordeaux
 Great Wine Capitals - Best of Tourism Awards 2015

This week has been a busy one, well to be honest this whole month has been busy. But I love it and I love this time of year!

One of the fun things that I got to do this week, thanks to this blog, was to attend the Best of Wine Tourism 2015 Awards for the Bordeaux region.  This event was magical fun and it was also one of those serendipitous moments where my two worlds (blogger of American Mom in Bordeaux)  and regional tour guide collided!  Something, I didn't really expect to happen!

I'll back up to that wonderful-Tuesday.  I worked that day and was in charge of a day tour of Libourne Market, a visit & lunch at Chateau Siraurac and a tour of Saint Emilion in the afternoon.  Chateau Siraurac in Neac was right in the middle of harvesting and our clients were able to see first hand how grapes are picked and the harvest process.  (Look for a separate post on the Wine harvest later this week), We then enjoyed a beautiful tour of the chateau and gardens, finishing with lunch in the Orangerie room.  Paul Goldschmidt, the owner of the chateau, and his team are very dedicated and so passionate about their work and it shows! They take so much pride in what they have created there.  It's such a lovely place to visit!
The MC for the night
At the end of my day, I headed back into Bordeaux to attend the Best of Wine Tourism 2015 Awards ceremony.  This Awards ceremony honors regional wineries/vineyards (Chateaux in French) for their dedicated work in 6 Tourism categories.  These awards are part of the Great Wine Capitals - a network of ten major global cities which all have internationally- renowned wine regions.  This is the 12th Annual Best of Wine Tourism Awards where the 10 member cities present nominees in each region for most original, innovative wine and wine sites for visitors.  These are Bordeaux's nominees and winners (**-bolded).  The Winners of each category receive Best of d'Or (Gold) recognition for the region and will go on to compete against the other regional Best of d'Or (Gold) winners for Best of Wine Tourism -International Competition 2015 held in early November in Mendoza, Argentina.  

The Current President of the Chamber of Commerce

The six categories with nominees and winners for 2015 are:

Paul Goldschmidt of Chateau Siraurac & his team
Architecture et Paysages (Architecture & Landscape)

**Chateau Siaurac
Chateau de Ferrand
Chateau de Reignac
Chateau Siran

Art et Culture (Art & Culture)
**Chateau Chasse-Spleen
Chateau Guadet
Union de Producteurs de Saint-Emilion
Decouverte et Innovation (Innovative wine tourism experiences)
** Chateau du Payre
Chateau Boutinet
Chateau La Tour de By

Hebergement (Accommodations)
The videos virtually transported us to all the Chateaux

**Chateau de Leognan
Chateau Giscours
Chateau de la Perriere

Services Oenotouristiques (Wine Tourism Services)
**Chateau La Croizille
Chateau d'Agassac
Chateau de Candale
Agence des Grands Crus
Vitrine du Pays Foyen

Valorisation Oenotouristiques des practiques environnementales (Sustainable wine tourism practices)
**Chateau Couhins

The whole ceremony was super professional and felt like you were attending a "Hollywood" Awards show! As they announced each nominee, they ran a short video on the giant screens highlighting the Chateau including a short spoken vignette about what tourism means for them.  We were virtually transported around the region with this production!!  Kudos to the video production company - la maison du bonheur located here in Bordeaux - Well Done! In my opinion, these videos made the evening!!

I was honored to be invited and attend such a beautiful event.  It was a privilege to be included among journalists and bloggers to share this special occasion. I was fascinated to learn about how all of these Chateaux are embracing tourism in such wonderful ways - making all the the nominees top places to visit!  I have linked each Chateau's website with their name - so feel free to explore some very beautiful and unique vineyards in the Bordeaux region!! If you are planning a trip to this area - these are wonderful places to check out and feel free to share with anyone else you may know who will be traveling to the Bordeaux region.

We were further spoiled by delicious oysters, charcuterie, cheeses & caneles & macaroons!  All served with the wines from the nominated vineyards!  Quite a night!! - Well done - Great Wine Capitals - Bordeaux!

If you haven't figured how my worlds collided -Take a glance at who won Best of d'Or (Gold) in the Architecture and Paysage category - Chateau Siraurac! I had no idea who the nominees were for each category prior to attending the evening.  It was a total coincidence that I had spent the morning and lunch there!  I can honestly say that their chateau and gardens are indeed something very special!! It was delightful to be there and watch the whole team be honored!

All the nominees & Gold winners for the Bordeaux Region
Congratulations to all the Winners!!  I look forward to exploring many of these places myself!!

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