Somebody get this guy a glass of wine!
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours love and respect our dads – and yours!
We think that if beer is the mother of civilization, then wine is the father of culture. Its history can be traced at least to 4100 BCE, but wine probably existed far earlier. It has always been around, kind of like your dad. Speaking of dads, did you know that the Founding Fathers of the United States were oenophiles? Thomas Jefferson had cellar after cellar of wine, and John Adams personally toured Bordeaux.
So, as you can see, fathers and wine (and beer!) all have mutual histories. We want to help you honor your father! That's why we're offering $5 off each ticket on our Fathers Celebration Tours during the month of June. We'll see you on a tour!
Here's to the fathers of the world!
Brooke B., Dad Appreciator
It's May Day!
Today is also a great day in southern California, because it's when the weather turns the corner from April Showers to May Gray. After that we have June Gloom and then our requisite six months of summer – so as you can see it's the perfect time for a feast!
This traditional spring holiday is a festival day in many cultures, often related to the ancient Celtic feast day of Beltane. In many pagan cultures, this was officially the first day of summer, and lest we be accused of getting off-topic, we would like to direct you to Sir James Frazer's epic historical book, The Golden Bough:
Thomas Pennant, who travelled in Perthshire in the year 1769, tells us that “on the first of May, the herdsmen of every village hold their Bel-tien, a rural sacrifice. They cut a square trench on the ground, leaving the turf in the middle; on that they make a fire of wood, on which they dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal and milk; and bring besides the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky; for each of the company must contribute something.
The Beltane sacrifice escaped with his life, however; he got fed beer and whisky and then pelted with eggs. We carry on that proud tradition, only without the eggs, in our beer tastings. Join us on a beer or wine and food tour and celebrate springtime with us during this wonderful time of year!
Brooke B., Walpurgis Wassailer
Posted in Beer, Breweries, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
Sure, the flowers are popping up and birds are singing and it's warming up, but the true sign of spring is nearly here: the San Diego Padres' home opener against the Dodgers at San Diego's Petco Park.
While we love baseball in all its permutations, and will support the Padres in the face of any evidence to the contrary, we feel as though the true story about Petco Park is being ignored – the existence of “Craft Beers of the Padres.” Yes, you can stop by Petco Park and choose from an amazing array of beers from local microbreweries while you take in a game.
No more watered-down stadium beers with inferior ingredients –San Diego local craft beer are the winning team for us. We’d say that alone is worth a stint at Petco Park, whether or not you're a baseball fan. Warm spring evenings, the crack of the bat against the ball, a cheering crowd, and a San Diego IPA in your hand… who could ask for more? Unless you want to take one of our wine or beer tours before or after the game. Now, you’re really living!
Brooke B., Beer Batter
We've already mentioned that this is one of our favorite times of year, from the Easter egg hunts to the buds on the trees. We're also pretty sure we've mentioned wine's particular role in the spring season's rites and rituals, but since Easter (and springtime in general) is all about beginnings, today we're going to talk about the integral role beer has played in human history: helping spark civilization.
That's right. Your humble glass of beer isn't just a delight, nor is it a brew reserved for sailors and ruffians (although, really, was it ever?) It's the reason everything, absolutely everything, exists as you know it. The theory goes thus: ancient Sumerians discovered that they could ferment barley, and were so happy with the results that they retired from their nomadic ways to cultivate it. There was enough enough food and beer to go around for thousands of years, and so they stuck around in one place for generations, focusing on other things – and that's how civilization was born.
It is not coincidental that the Sumerian goddess of fertility, Ninkasi, was also the goddess of beer and alcohol, whose hymn, once deciphered, also functions as a recipe for beer. But – stay with us – here's where it gets really interesting. Ninkasi was known by a few other names, including Astarte and Ishtar. That last name may sound familiar if you say it out loud, the way it was meant to be pronounced: “eesh-tar.” That name is, in fact, the goddess of fertility for which the Easter celebration is named.
So, the next time you're hoisting a beer, especially on one of our annual spring tours ushering in the season, pause for a moment and reflect on what you're sipping: not just a humble beer but the origins of civilization itself. To say nothing of Easter.
Brooke B., Spring Sumerian
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
The weather's warming up, the sun's out, birds are chirping, and the sunburned tourists are arriving. It's springtime, one of our favorite times of year around here! Everything is new again, the cold and damp of winter has passed, and we can't get enough of the daffodils, johnny-jump-ups, and nasturtiums that are making our gardens burst with color.
Spring is also a very important time in the wine world. It's when the vines start to wake up and start popping out buds, so we need to either store or drink last year's vintage to clear away room for the new, whether it's a cool flowery riesling, a delicate rosé, or a thick, sweet icewine. It's a very nice ritual, and dare we say, it's far preferable to spring cleaning.
Springtime also means green – green leaves, green buds, and green living. We're happy to say that our tours remain the greenest around, because by taking the train we reduce our collective carbon footprint. That keeps our gardens and grapes – and all the rest of us – very happy.
Stay gold (as in the LEED certification), and here's to spring!
Brooke B., Daffodil Sniffer
Green beer is okay, but "going green" on one of our train tours is much better!
We have barely recovered from Valentine's Day, but St. Patrick's Day is nearly upon us. As we adore Ireland with every fiber of our being (that's where our lovely Shira Bliss is from!) we are happy to share some insider love with you.
Now, you could celebrate the old-fashioned way – by pinching people and drinking green beer until you can't look at anything green for the next month – but why go that route? Celebrate in style. Here are our suggestions.
Don't let its reputation fool you. Ireland is not just a country of craic and Guinness. It is also a land of epicures and microbreweries, which in recent years have started springing up like mushrooms after a rain.
Unfortunately, not many Irish microbrews are available in the United States. We can only find two brands, but they're well worth hoisting.
Carlow Brewing Company, out of Carlow, Ireland, puts out beers like O'Hara's Irish Red and O'Hara's Celtic Stout. Its Irish Stout will have you singing – it's legendary! Pair with a good, thick Irish stew (that's where you'll be using all extra Guinness you bought last week) or boxty for maximum authenticity.
Porterhouse is arguably Ireland's most famous microbrew. They offer the notorious, and extraordinarily well received, Oyster Stout. But you don't need to stop there. We highly recommend their creamy-headed Porterhouse Red or their Templebrau Lager if you can find it, especially with a piping-hot bacon and cabbage dish.
For those of you whose culinary tastes run closer to home, try Karl Strauss's Red Trolley Ale, a McHale's Irish Stout or a Seaside Stout from Pizza Port Brewery, or a Scrapper's Irish Red from Coronado Brewing Company.
Enjoy, drink responsibly (drink, don’t drive, on our St. Patrick's tours), and avoid drinking too much green beer. You'll thank us for that last bit of advice later!
Erin Go Bragh!
Brooke B., Cerveza Colleen
Happy Mardi Gras!
Today is Fat Tuesday, a tradition that hails at least back to medieval Europe, when revelers would slaughter a fatted calf and party the night away before the next day, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of Lent. That meant an enormous party as people consumed their best food, beer, and wine to steel themselves for the Lenten fasting season.
In some cultures, this time of year is also known as Carnival or Carnaval, which comes from the Latin root "carne," meaning "meat" (there's that fatted calf again.) It also marks the end of winter as it turns the corner into springtime.
In New Orleans, which arguably has the best-known festival, people dance in the streets all week long, wearing elaborate masks, beads, or (in some cases) nothing at all, while sipping Hand Grenades or Hurricanes and watching the musical parades.
Here in San Diego, we carry on the tradition by throwing our own big party in downtown's historic Gaslamp District. And we do mean big. Up to 40 thousand people will be participating in tonight's party, which will include floats, dancing, and wonderful food and drink!
Come on out and dance with us, or if you’d like to party with a little less ruckus, join us for one of our beer or wine tours and learn about San Diego's history while tasting San Diego’s finest wine, beer and food. In the spirit of Mardi Gras, we'll give you $5 off the tour of your choice through the end of the week.
If you ask nicely, we'll toss you some beads as well! Fasting tomorrow is optional.
Brooke B., Masqueradrix
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Tours, Travel, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
It's Groundhog Day! This is the day, so the story goes, that Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his hibernation to check the weather. If he sees his shadow and skitters back into his burrow, we'll have six more weeks of winter, but if the famous groundhog doesn't get startled, it will be an early spring. (This year, according to Phil, we'll have an early spring.)
San Diegans don't have much to worry about, no matter what the groundhog does. We're lucky to live somewhere that has beautiful weather, no matter what. We are, however, fans of the movie "Groundhog Day," in which an increasingly hapless Bill Murray is subjected to the same day again and again until he finally gets it right.
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours want to help you get it right every day. That's why taking one of our tours is so important. Not only do you learn about pairing gourmet foods with fine wines and craft beers, you're also having fun. We think that's a recipe to a successful day — one that you get right the first time, and don't have to repeat like Bill Murray's character.
It's only because we care!
Brooke B., Woodchucker
The holiday season is almost over, and 2012 is about to go out with a bang!
At San Diego Beer and Wine Tours, we don't really believe in the standard New Year's resolutions. What's the point of a year filled with thirst and deprivation? Plus, nobody ever sticks with them. That's why we have decided to make 2013 the year of the Resolution Revolution. Instead of taking things we love away, we've decided make changes by adding more good things into our lives. We've decided to take better care of ourselves by eating more good food and drinking as much rich wine and tasty craft beer as we can handle.
If your New Year's promises run in the same vein (and why wouldn't they?) we have any number of delightful tours for you to enjoy to kick next year off in style. Join us for a walking exploration of San Diego's best restaurants and microbreweries, or a chauffered tour of our little-known Wine Country. After all, we're only going to get one 2013. You might as well make the most of it!
Cheers, prosit, and Happy New Year!
Brooke B., Resolutionary
Posted in Beer, Breweries, Company News, Food and Vine, Happy Hour, Health, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Wineries |
This time of year has become equal parts frenzied shopping and calls to reject consumerism and simply spend time enjoying family and all it has to offer. We are torn, because we do love a good deal and sometimes those holiday family dinners can get a little long, especially when Uncle Ed has had a little too much Christmas cheer.
However, we feel that we can learn a lot from tradition. One of our favorites is Yule, a midwinter celebration that was originally celebrated by Germanic and Northern European people and incorporated into the Christmastime celebrations. The festival came from "Yolnir" or "Yulnir," both alternate names for Odin, the Norse god of death, rebirth, ecstasy… and intoxication.
Families would bring in evergreen branches on the iciest nights, to symbolize the return of spring. They would then heap sticks on the "Yule log," which was decorated with ribbons and doused with wine before it was lit, and tell stories and toast the oncoming new year with ealu (ale), björr (beer), and mead. They probably got into drunken arguments about politics and whether Skjorhund should have brought over his new girlfriend to meet the rest of the clan as well — no sense letting good traditions go to waste.
So that's the origin of Yule logs and Christmas trees. The tradition of gift-giving comes from a warmer region: ancient Rome, a tradition also liberally steeped in wine. The peaceful Roman deity of Saturn ruled agriculture, fertility, and time, and his week-long celebrations, known as Saturnalia, began December 17th.
Saturnalia was a homage to Saturn, but was administered by Bacchus, god of wine and merriment. Wine flowed freely to honor the god of agriculture, while people held dances and feasts and gave each other gifts to honor both gods. The traditional greeting during this festive time was "Io, Saturnalia!" That gradually was shortened to the cry, "Io, io, io," which you may recognize today as "Ho ho ho!"
So we raise a glass to you, knowing that by drinking holiday brews and blends, we're not only having a great time but also partaking in ancient traditions that bring together all of human history.
So happy holidays, and, as always, cheers!
Brooke B., Fairest Yuler