You know how we keep saying this is the best time of the year for beer and wine lovers? We do, because it is!
It's not only a gorgeous time to experience all of southern California's unique and unforgettable beauty without contending with too much crowding and traffic, but it's also harvest time, when the grapes are squeezed and the hops are threshed.
This is also when great events take place for those who love their wine and beer. One such happening is Oktoberfest, a loosely-knit series of beer festivals. There's the huge one in Munich, which draws at least 6 million visitors a year (!) and then the various local Oktoberfests that showcase local brews all over the world. We like those better, because not only do you save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars in airfare, we think you might even be getting better beer. Don't tell anybody we said that.
But seriously, you can imagine that in a place like San Diego, where the beer is so divine that we are actually exporting breweries to Germany at this point, you're going to be in hops heaven. Don't just take our word for it, though! Go see for yourself how amazing San Diego's brews can be. Here are a few upcoming events to get you started.
San Diego's first Oktoberfest celebration of the year is in Encinitas today: September 21st. It's fudging the definition of Oktober ever so slightly, but they more than make up for it with their great beers and wonderful music with which they fill the streets of their beautiful coastal city.
If you like the beach and can't make it to Encinitas, Ocean Beach's Oktoberfest will take place Oktober – pardon, October- 10th and 11th, and it's the only such celebration right on the waterfront.
If staying dry is more your thing (or you just don't want to wait!) go east to La Mesa's venerable Oktoberfest, which gets more fun every year. It boasts vendors, live music, and a HUGE beer garden (trust us, it's HUGE!) and will be filling the streets of downtown La Mesa on October 3rd, 4th, and 5th. It's even right on a trolley line so you can roll on in and not have to worry about either parking or driving, which is a huge bonus.
There are so many more that we just can't name them all, but here's a list of some of the rest of Oktoberfests around San Diego to get you started.
Go have fun, and we'll see you there!
Brooke B., Oktoberfestaria
It's Labor Day!
If we lived anywhere but this absolutely beautiful part of the world, this would be the unofficial end of summer and beginning of fall. But since we're in southern California, the march of the seasons are a good deal more subtle.
However, this is a great time to start planning outdoor barbecues and backyard parties with friends, and we're all for that!
Labor Day is actually a day to celebrate the rights and achievements of workers, long pressed tightly under the thumb of the manufacturing industry. After the Industrial Revolution, the average American worked more than 80 hours a week, with no days off, simply to put food on the table, and children as young as 5 were already working in the mines.
Labor unionized and revolted, organizing strikes and rallies. On September 5th, 1882, thousands of workers marched from New York City Hall to Union Square, agitating for change. And the change came. 40-hour weeks became the standard, and child labor was criminalized.
Twelve years after that historic march, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a national holiday. Thus was Labor Day born. Over time, this day became a way to celebrate community through parties and parades. That's our favorite part!
So, whatever you end up doing, tilt a glass for the history of Labor Day and the courageous people who made life better for the rest of us… and remember, it's perfectly acceptable to drink white after Labor Day.
Brooke B., Proletariat
Happy Independence Day!
Today's the day the United States formally declared its independence from Great Britain, way back in 1776. Fourth of July celebrations include displaying the American flag, parades, and fireworks, not to mention the all-important barbecues.
All of those are wonderful, but we’d like to suggest a slightly different way of celebrating this great day. If you are thinking, “Hmmm, we bet this involves beer,” you’d be absolutely right. Here’s our idea for a patriotic afternoon of leisurely local craft beer sippin’:
Green Flash Hop Head Red (1 bottle)
Avery Brewing Company’s White Rascal (1 bottle)
Repeat as necessary. The red ale and white beer represent, of course, the red and white stripes of our great nation’s flag.
But what about the blue? we can hear you asking now. That took some special legwork, and you have to go outside the United States to find it – all the way to Hokkaido, Japan, where Abashiri Brewery has begun selling beer that is made with melted icebergs and colored with seaweed dyes.
We’re not too sure about this one, so we’ll leave the final decision about how far to take your patriotism up to you. We’ll be over here, celebrating the Stars and Bars with our favorite local reds and whites (beer, that is.)
Here’s to US!
Brooke B., Patriotette
We're not gonna lie – Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year around here. Since our inception, we've been all about saving the planet. Just check out some of the information on our carbon-footprint-reducing train tours and our emphasis on buying local!
By the way, if you're a beer and wine nut, one of the best things you can do is buy locally. It's not just that you'll get better beer and wine, even though you will, or feel more connected to the local environment while you sip, even though you are.
No, the best reasons to drink locally is twofold: first, you're supporting our vibrant Californian wine and beer culture and keeping local jobs coming, and second – and this is a biggie – by directly supporting all the local brews, you're reducing the enormous, gigantic fuel consumption that comes when global mass producers of beer and wine ship it to your neighborhood.
Plus, there are all the benefits that come from getting out and getting to know your beers and wines and the communities and neighborhoods around you that passionately love and support them.
So remember: Think globally, drink, locally!
To your health and the health of the planet,
Brooke B., Recyclist
Easter has a very special place in our hearts around here. For one thing, we love making the usual jokes about how beer lovers always have a “hoppy Easter,” but for another thing, the history of Easter is in many ways the history of beer.
It all started during the ancient pre-Christian times, when Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess who represented the dawn and the springtime. Say her name out loud, and you'll hear how easily it became the word Easter. During the spring festivals, worshipers said, the sun would hop for joy as it rose in the sky. Water drawn during this time was said to be especially healing, too.
And the goddesses of spring and fertility in nearly every culture eventually became goddesses of the fields and agriculture; as beer is the reason for agriculture (and actually for all of civilization as we know it) it makes sense that they would become the goddesses of beer, too.
Later, with the spread of Christianity, monks would fast to observe Lent. Since Lent is 40 days long, the monks would have to get some kind of nourishment without actually eating to break the fast. This presented an obvious conundrum. Finally, the monks of Neudeck ob der Au outside Munich, Germany, hit on a solution in the 17th century: they brewed up a particularly rich, malty beer to keep them from passing out during prayer. That beer was called doppelbock, and has sustained many people, religious and not, since.
So drink up this Easter and remember that not only are you having a cold beer on a warm springtime day, but you are also participating in a tradition that is so important that it was actually how civilization came to be. And don't forget to join us on one of our Easter or springtime tours!
Brooke B., Spring Chicken
There's no such thing as a perfect child. Admit it – you were a brat growing up just like all the rest of us. Do you see those grey hairs on your mom? Those are your fault, every single last one of them. That time you came home three hours late without calling? The time you got under the sink and tried to eat Drano? How about the time you brought home that really inappropriate “friend” in high school? Oh, we know. We've all been there.
At this point, the only appropriate question is, “How can I make this up to my mom?” The answer is simple: with wine. That's why we at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours have put together a wonderful Mother's Day gift to help you apologize for all those months as a kid you spent refusing to eat anything but Oreos and mayonnaise sandwiches. We offer special packages for this time of year that include a wine (or beer) and food tour, plus a deep discount on a spa day for her! We're offering it now through the end of May.
Trust us on this one: your mom will love it. And if you're a mom, you know what we're talking about.
Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms out there. We salute you!
Brooke B., Mamacita
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, Food and Vine, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Today is April Fool's Day, also called “The Worst Day on the Internet.” In an age where just about anything can go viral, and gullibility is compounded by clickbait, it's best not to trust anything for the next 24 hours or so.
We promise to not be part of this trend. We, instead, embrace an original rite of spring, the "renewal festival," which occurred in many cultures throughout the world and were characterized by lighthearted pranks and a temporary reversal of the accepted social order. (Yes, we know that the whole mockery mess supposedly began when France shifted from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one somewhere in the 16th century, thereby switching the New Year to January 1st instead of April, but we prefer the friendlier origin story.)
So, we are taking this opportunity to announce that we are expanding from beer, food, and wine tours into beer, food, wine, and koi pond tours. We're looking forward to three hours of showing you the best koi ponds that San Diego County has to offer after every beer and wine tour!
Okay, that was a joke. Sorry. We caught the April Fool's spirit for a moment. Or should we say, April Fish? But this is no joke – mention “springtime" to us and you'll get $5 off a tour through the month of April.*
Brooke B., Poisson d'Avril
*Call (858) 551-5115 for discount. Not to be combined with past purchases or other offers. Discount good now through April 30th.
The vernal equinox is the first day of spring. That's when the day and night are roughly equal in length. Now nighttime is just going to keep getting shorter, until we're at summer's glorious peak!
Not that springtime in San Diego is anything to sneeze at, unless you're allergic to pollen, of course. In fact, it's one of the most gloriously beautiful times of the year here, with rare flowers popping out of the desert and cherry blossoms adorning Balboa Park.
It's also a great time of year to sit outside and sip some light springtime wines. We recommend light-bodied wines. Here are a few to try:
Prosecco is a light and sparkly wine, and at its best it's fruity without being oversweet. It's also quite wallet-friendly, running about $10 a bottle. Perfect for sipping with or without peach juice as you sit on the porch in the springtime sun. Try something from Nino Franco to start.
California has a serious rosé issue — it's serious about rosés. And so are we! Dry, balanced rosés make life worth living, and Napa Valley produces some of the best you'll find anywhere. Trefethen Family Vineyards produces a wonderful fruity rosé that's made with Pinot Noir grapes and has hints of cherries and strawberries. Perfect.
Red wine that carries just a touch of sweetness will be welcome on any sunny day, too. Modesto's Tisdale Vineyard carries a wine called Sweet Red of California that's a springtime favorite. It's great for summer, too! Pair it with your favorite barbecued food.
Enjoy the sparkling days and clear nights of springtime in San Diego. Here's to the equinox!
Brooke B., Spring Blossom
Statue of Dionysius, the Roman god of wine and the harvest. Also the most fun god. True story.
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
March 15th supposed to be a day that bad things are bound to happen. The phrase "beware the ides of March" comes, like so many other things in the English language, from Shakespeare.
There's actual history behind the saying. As you may have guessed, March 15th is the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated, setting the stage for the Roman Republic to become the Roman Empire. But the middle of March wasn't always considered an unlucky day, and we agree that it shouldn't be. Back in the Roman days, it was also the feast of Anna Parenna, which was supposed to complete the cycle of the year.
This was a day of festivities, which included drinking as much wine as your belly could hold. It was thought that each cup of wine you drank meant you'd live yet another happy and healthy year. We can't say that's something you shouldn't do, but just keep in mind that wine back then was not as potent as it is now, since they mixed it with seawater (a thought which frankly horrifies us.)
Be that as it may, don't beware the ides of March… enjoy them, and have a glass of wine. Or two. Or three. One way or another, it'll make you happier!
To your health!
Brooke B., Haruspex
It's almost that wild and wonderful day, Fat Tuesday, where you're expected – no, commanded – to wear feathery hats, colorful clothes, and beads. It's also the last hurrah before the start of Lent, which is a time of fasting and repentance for those who observe the Catholic faith.
The origins of Mardi Gras as it's known today are traced back to medieval Europe, where farmers would slaughter and eat a fatted calf and drink enormous quantities of red wine. In fact, Carnival or Carnaval, as the week leading up to Mardi Gras is called in some regions, comes from "carna vale": farewell to the flesh.
However, the story of these traditions go back even further than that, to ancient Roman or possibly pre-Roman pastoral times, to Lupercalia, the festival of Lupercus, the god of shepherds, and Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. According to Plutarch, during this festival young people would guzzle red wine and run up and down the streets naked and smacking people they met with "shaggy thongs." It was supposed to ensure fertility in the new year. They also wore fine clothes and feathered masks as they do today, presumably when they weren't running around in their altogethers.
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because this festival also serves as a basis for what is now known as Valentine's Day. (Our Valentine's Day was a little more subdued than that this year, but at least we had red wine!)
If you're looking for something to drink to get into the true spirit of Fat Tuesday and don't feel like slaughtering a fatted calf, here are a few suggestions:
If you're doing it up New Orleans style and eating spicy gumbo, consider a low-tannin pinot noir like Point Concepcion's Salsipuedes Pinot Noir. Its fruitiness plays well off the spicy richness of a gumbo. If you've decided on an oyster po-boy or a shrimp etouffe, pair it with a light, sweet white like ZD Chardonnay. And if you're having King Cake (and why wouldn't you?) any sweet sparkling wine is a must!
There are plenty of beers to pair with your Mardi Gras celebration, but our favorite one comes from San Diego's Modern Times Brewery. It's called Neverwhere. Why do we love it for this celebration? Because its pineappley, mangoey flavor is perfect for the subtropical party atmospheres of Carnaval and Fat Tuesday. It's a perfect pairing with your purple and green beads.
We're off to start baking our King Cake. After all, Fat Tuesday only comes round once a year.
Laissez les bon temps continuer a rouler toujours!
Brooke B., Bead-Tosser