Sunday, July 27, 2014

Oh, The People You’ll Meet! (wanting help with winery visits in Italy)

For the last few months I have gotten a barrage of notes from folks who are heading to Italy for visits. Most of the time they are asking for places to visit. After all these years, I have begun to notice patterns. Without making too much fun of them, I’d like to share some of the distilled versions of these archetypes.

The “last minute” traveler

This usually comes on a Friday afternoon and goes like this:

Dear Italian wine guy,
I am going to Italy today; in fact I am emailing you from the airport, as I have been so busy getting ready for my Italy trip. Do you know of any wineries I can visit when I land there tomorrow? We want to get right into it. Sorry for the last minute, but you know, we aren’t looking for anything too special, just a visit and maybe a meal or two. Signed, Last Minute Traveler

My response:

Dear LMT,
Seeing as you land on a weekend and you have not told me where you are landing, and are most likely not going to get this note until you land, at which time I will be asleep (because we are 7-9 hours behind and you will land in Italy in the morning) I’m not sure I can help you. My recommendation is for you to get to your hotel and let me know where you are and when you will be finished with your sightseeing in whatever city (Rome, Venice, Mila, Florence, etc.) you are arriving in. Until then, toodle-oo.

The “desperately seeking entertainment” traveler

Dear Italian wine guy,
We got your name from a friend who said you are absolutely “in the know” about all things Italian. Please would you design us an itinerary to visit wineries. We are landing in Rome and then going to Florence, then Venice, then Lake Como and on to Cinque Terre and finishing up in the Amalfi Coast. We will be gone for ten days and know you are absolutely the best at getting us some entertaining visits.
Signed, Desperately Seeking Entertainment Traveler

My response:

Dear DSE,
I don’t know how you will find time to breathe with that travel plan. You can immediately knock off four of those days, as they are weekends and winery visits are pretty much out of the picture. But let me ask you this. Who are you? Do I know you? Give me a little background.

The “I know someone high up in the business and they told me to get in touch with you” traveler

Dear Italian wine guy,
I'm a friend of someone who is high up in the company, we were talking about our trip to Italy and he said you could arrange for us some terrific stays. We like to visit wineries by the water and are looking for places with guest rooms. It is our first time to Italy and we were told not to drive because the drivers in Italy are all crazy, so, preferably wineries that can pick us up at the airport. There are airports on the coast, we looked. Or if they have a helicopter, they could also pick us up in it too. We aren’t looking for anything too elegant, but we really love linen sheets. And of course we will need rooms (or a villa) with air conditioning (and maid service). There will be four couples and we cannot leave our friends out in the cold (or the warm), so hopefully you will have something for all of us. Our mutual “friend” told me you could take care of this, as the wineries in Italy are always happy to see visitors from America. Oh, and by the way, the four couples, one of the persons is gluten intolerant and another is a vegan. That shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

My response:

Dear “friend”,
That person you mentioned was fired several months ago and is no longer in the business. I don’t know who you are, but I am a bit mystified as to how to handle this request. Let me just leave it at this and ask you for more information, starting with everyone’s social security number, passport numbers, any credit card and/ or bank account numbers, including pin numbers and expiration dates. I’m sure we can work something out. I will await your reply.

The “this is my first time to Italy and I am so excited and I want to see everything” traveler

Dear Italian wine guy,
I read your blog, religiously. I feel like I have been to Italy many times from reading your blog, but in reality, I have never been. I am planning to go in February, to Venice, Milan and Florence, for one week. I’d really like your thoughts on where to go, what to see and how to get around. I am really in love with Italy and this will be the trip of a lifetime. I don’t want to miss anything. I especially want to visit Dal Forno in Verona, Gaja and Giacosa in Piedmont and Biondi-Santi and Sassicaia in Tuscany. I am so hoping you can help me secure visits. I anxiously await your reply with all the good ideas you have for my trip of a life time. By the way, I don’t speak a word of Italian. Will that be a problem?

My response:

Dear first timer,
I am so happy you asked me to help set you up with some of the most iconic wineries in Italy. As your time is valuable, I’m not sure I can help secure all appointments, as some of these folks speak only Italian. But let me get back to you at another time with ideas. Oh and if you don’t hear from me, please feel free to “remind” me.
(These ones never reply back)

And lastly…The “I’m in the business and was told you could hook me up” traveler.

Dear IWG,
We haven’t met, but a run a retail wine store in Kankakee, Illinois. Actually I am the assistant manager. And the store is really a convenience store but with a good Italian wine section. We have Ruffino Chianti and a lot of different Proseccos, even some rosé ones. And we have red and white Moscato wines, not just from Italy. But I saw your feed on Twitter and knew you were one of us. I’m going with a couple of buddies and we have an afternoon free in Rome. I know you know everybody and could hook us up with a killer winery visit in Rome. Let me know what you can do for us. We will buy the wine for our store here and it will be win-win for everyone. Call me!

My response:

Dear “I’m in the business”,
That’s great. If you would let me recommend a little winery inside the central train station. There will be a woman there, dressed in red, she will meet you at 4PM and take you to visit her winery. She might require a small donation, but it shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. Just make sure you have cash, preferable Euros. Her name is Miss Lola and she has a killer product. I’m sure this is just what you are looking for. Happy travels!

Yes there are more, but these are some of the ones that keep popping up. I love to be a travel agent for all these hungry, thirsty, excited people looking to learn more about Italian wine, food and culture. I don’t know how I got so lucky to be able to help people like this, but I guess it’s all in a day’s work, on the wine trail in Italy.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W


lisa | renovating italy said...

totally brilliant, we don't get winery questions instead lots of renovation, where to live, how did you do it, where should I live questions.....arghhhh x
ciao lisa

Wink Lorch said...

Dear Italian wine Guy aka Alfonso,
How come these exact same people want to visit the Jura too?
Yours puzzled,
Jura Wine Gal aka Wink

Wine Curmudgeon said...

I've never, ever gotten an email like this.

Unknown said...

Brilliant! I have had many similar requests myself. You should rename yourself "Miracle Worker on the Wine Trail in Italy"! Hee hee.

Sarah May Grunwals said...

I am not kidding when I say I receive at least 2 of these a day. I just want to say read the tours descriptions! And alsi I am not a trip planner.

Unknown said...

A fellow who is a really penny-pincher (knows the price of everything and the value of nothing) asked me to help make appointments at some Tuscan wineries. I suggested he explore a few Tuscan wines so he would be able to tell producers that, yes, his is a customer and does know their wine from tasting them back home in California.
He asked, then, for a really full-bodied California Pinot Noir for no more than ten bucks. "Sir, we call those Syrah here in California..."
I showed him a terrific Tuscan red from a winery he could easily visit and this was selling for all of $11.99.
"Nah, I'll just take a Pinot Noir for ten bucks," he said. "I can taste the Italian wine when I'm in Italy."
I put the little bottle of Pinot back on the floor-stack, placed the Sangiovese on the counter, rang up the bottle and collected his twelve-bucks and tax saying "Sir, you're going on vacation in Tuscany, not California's Central Coast."
I never did hear how his vacation went and, frankly, I'm hoping he didn't stop in at any of the wineries we feature for fear this guy may have visited...he is, in fact, the classic "Ugly American."

Karen, La RosaWorks Sicily Travel and Events said...

Just this past Monday I received a note, "Hi Karen, My boss is going to Sicily. I know you can help him. He leaves Wednesday."

You have to laugh.
I rolled my eyes and sent him what I had for the area he was planning to be in. I wonder what he's doing today?

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