Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, is a federal holiday with somber roots. It's a day that was specifically created after the Civil War to honor the memory of the men and women in uniform who died fighting wars. Over time, it has evolved into a day to acknowledge all those who are departed, not just those in uniform, and to spend time with loved ones.
We at San Diego Beer and Wine Tours honor our women and men in uniform and hold them in the highest esteem. That's why we are offering a special military discount and $5 off all tours throughout the month of May. And you better believe that we'll be drinking a toast to you!
Brooke B., Hero Worshiper
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 |
It's Cinco de Mayo. Did you know that in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo isn't widely celebrated? It's true. However, that shouldn't stop you from enjoying the day by experimenting with Mexican libations!
If you're feeling like making a day trip, you can visit the legendary BCB Tasting Room near downtown Tijuana where they have hundreds of beers on tap, or range a little farther afield and head off to Mexico's wine country. The Guadalupe Valley is renowned for its wines, which don't get a lot of airtime in the United States because of steep tariffs.
If leaving the country isn't your thing, it's possible to find excellent Baja California beers and wines in the United States, although not as easily for the aforementioned tariffs, but since Mexico's getting into the craft beer brewing business just as enthusiastically as the United States has, there are plenty to choose from, including this beauty from Cucapa, a barleywine aged in tequila barrels.
As you can see, there is no reason not to get out there and celebrate Cinco de Mayo in a tasty way. But if you want to have an over-the-top San Diego celebration, join us north of the border on a Cinco de Mayo Tasty Adventure!
Brooke B., Vinoense
Oh, Tax Day. Is there any date more dreaded or breathlessly awaited in this country than April 15th?
Doing taxes is a chore, even when you know you're going to get a big return at the end. It's even worse when you know you're going to have to pay, and the bugbear of being audited lurks around the corner of every impenetrable phrase.
Luckily, you have us. We can't do your taxes for you (although I'm sure we can suggest some of our favorite accountants) but we can take the edge off by offering you a good deal on a beer or a wine tour to reward yourself after you've done your yearly duty with the IRS!
Come on out and enjoy yourself with us on Tax Day. You deserve it!
Brooke "Putting the 'fun' back in 'tax refund'" B.
*Not valid with any other offers or past purchases. Good through end of April 2013.
From left to right: son Ben, daughter RaeAnne, daughter Jade, grandson Coleton, Shira's mother Malka, daughter Shayna, daughter Leeyah
Mother's Day is a very special time around here. Our very own Shira Bliss is an extraordinary mum, raising five beautiful children of her own, so she understands what mothers go through very well. That's why we go out of our way to make our Mother's Day tours very special ones for hardworking moms and their grateful kids.
Jean "Shep" Shepherd, the humorist best known for penning and narrating "A Christmas Story," once famously proclaimed that "beer is the mother of us all." We agree that beer is a wonderful invention, and one that's even been credited with helping create civilization.
So, what better way to treat your mother on Mother's Day than to introduce her to the delights of the mother of civilization as we know it? This year, we're offering $5 off each ticket for our special Mother’s Day tours, offered from now through the end of May so that you can celebrate motherhood everywhere! (Mention “MothersDay2013” to get your special discount.)
Happy Mother's Day, all you hardworking moms! We salute you. To Motherhood!
Mum's the word,
Posted in Beer, Breweries, bus tours, holiday, Local Business, San Diego Wine Country, San Diego Winery Tour, Theme Tours, Tours, Uncategorized, Walking Tours, Wine, Wine Train, Winemaking, Wineries |
Earth Day is one of our favorite days of the year, but not for the reason you might think. While we love that there's a day dedicated to the planet we all share, we think that every day should be Earth Day. That's why we do the tours we do – it's the only fully “green” winery and beer tour you can find in San Diego.
Our chauffeured tours are no different. While we're driving you so you can fully enjoy San Diego's great beer and wine, rest assured knowing that our low-emission vehicles help you participate in our environmentally friendly practices.
We're also reducing our carbon footprints in another, more subtle way. By showing San Diego the delights of its own vibrant wine, craft beer, and local food scenes, we are helping them buy locally – which cuts down on the amount of fuel that we use and by extension, cleans up the atmosphere.
Here's to clean air!
Brooke B., Gaia Goddess
Read more about Earth Day by Shira Bliss, owner SD Beer and Wine Tours.
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 |