Archives January 2019

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Inspiring books for Nature Lovers

Everyone loves a good book recommendation. Whether it comes from your local book club, the book store or a fellow reader, like me. Do you have a favourite genre? I certainly don’t.

It seems to me that I will give any genre a try as long as the first chapter doesn’t bore me to sleep and I fall in love with at least one of the characters. Gritty city novels are my go to for the weekdays but on the weekends when I really want to unwind and sit by the fire than a rivoting thriller that takes me into the wild is everything I want in a story.

I’ve been an explorer all of my life. Although I haven’t read every book for adventurers or the great list of top reads for all nature lovers I can give my opinion on a few. Here are my favourite books for nature lovers around the world:

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Walden was originally published in 1854. While he spent two years in a secluded cabin in the woods at Walden Cabin Thoreau created vivid stories, most of them paying homage to the outdoors and his love of nature.

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Leopold loved nature and people. 60 years after this book was first published his reflections on nature are as important as ever. This is a mesmerizing book that truly connects people and nature.

Phenomenal By Leigh Ann Henion

We follow journalist Henion as she discovers the wonders of the world. In this novel we learn why adventure brings us closer to our true selves and gives back everytime. The beauty of nature is in every section.

The Sea Runners by Ivan Doig

Four servants escape their Alaska work camp in a canoe and face a battle against the elements, hostile Indians and suffering from starvation. This is the ultimate fight for survival.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence

If you are an adventure seeker than this book is right up your street.

Elmet by Fiona Mozley

A vivid account of the life of one family’s struggle to remain close to nature in a modern world. This books explores the bonds between father and child like no other. They foraged, they hunted, they lived. This read will keep you engaged to the very last page.

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Set in the near-future, Into the Forest is a powerfully imagined novel that focuses on the relationship between two teenage sisters living alone in their Northern California forest home.

These books have helped to inspire my travels over the years and provided me with some motivation. What books inspire you?

We would love to hear some of your book recommendations that we can take with us on our next orchard adventure.

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4 Unforgettable Orchard Experiences

Make 2019 your year to travel with a purpose and get back to nature. With so many different orchard experiences, picking one is a hard task! Sip the sweet wines of the Douro Valley, marvel at the grape filled fields of Burgundy, take a romantic trip through the heart of Italy or sample the olive harvest in Greece.

The world is your oyster, all you need to do is take the first step.  Whatever orchard experience you choose make it one to remember. There are four amazing orchard experiences to inspire your next adventure:

JOIN THE OLIVE HARVEST IN GREECE – 6 NIGHTS

This year round sunny destination will leave you with life long memories. Spend your days picking olives, learning about the local culture and getting to grips with the harvest season. Spend your weekends on the sandy beaches diving into the turquiose waters. This incredible tour is a nature lovers dream. With whitewashed villages to stroll around and so many ancient ruins to discover, Greece is the perfect place to catch up on some well needed Vitamin D. Famous local dishes of moussaka and souvlaki will leave your mouth watering and don’t forget to try the tasty dessert of Baklava.

From the moment you arrive your host will teach you the tricks of the olive trade. You will learn how olives are harvested and turned into the most delicious oils. This farm to table orchard experience is one for the bucketlist.

More details: Olive Harvest Tours

DISCOVER THE DELIGHTS OF THE DOURO VALLEY – 2 NIGHTS

Renowned worldwide for it’s terraced vineyards, the Douro Valley is a delight for the senses. Find yourself in one of Europe’s most treasured regions. On this tour you will have the opportunity to sample the grapes, pick the grapes and learn about the unique Portuguese wines on offer.  

This is a land of fascinating wild landscapes and spectacular views from the mountain tops. This short tour packs every detail in so you get a true taste of life in the Douro. Our expert guides will take you on a delicious journey of discovery. From meeting with the olive oil producers to participating in the harvest you will have plenty to write home about after this unique orchard experience.

More details: Discover the Douro Valley

TASTE THE FAMOUS WINES OF BURGUNDY – 3 NIGHTS

If you are in the mood to taste some of Europe’s most delicious wines, you can head to Burgundy in France. This tour takes you to the heart of France’s most famous wine region. Now it is time to sit back, sip wine and watch the world go by. On this amazing orchard experience you will learn about the grapes, sample vintage wines and take some well deserved time out to enjoy the finer things in life. It is a truly stunning landscape that the locals are delighted to share with you. Ramble through rolling green countryside and get exclusive access to wine cellars of Burgundy as you discover all that this region has to offer. The Burgundy tour is truly special and not to be missed.

More details: Burgundy Truffles & Wine Tour

LUXURY TRUFFLES & WINE ADVENTURE IN ITALY – 5 NIGHTS

Famous for it’s white truffles, the region of Alba in Italy epitomizes all that Italy has to offer food and nature lovers. As you start this journey visit the church of San Giovanni Battista containing artworks from the 14th century. This unforgettable tour will enhance your taste buds every step along the way. It is no wonder that Ferrero Roche and Nutella come from this area as everywhere is bursting with sweetness. Enjoy the beautifully preserved medieval town while getting to know the local culture with our fantastic guides. You will get a hands on experience of farm life in Italy, meeting the local wine producers and learning about the different production processes. This is the land of truffles, so you are in for a real treat.

More details: Luxury Orchard Experience Italy

You can see all our orchard experiences here: Orchards Near you

Does not include: flights and insurance

For more details about these amazing Orchard Experience routes or to request a quote contact our travel specialists.

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VINHO VERDE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

WHAT IS THE VINHO VERDE

Often sparkling and always crisp and fresh, the Vinho Verde is one of the most famous wine regions of Portugal. The Vinho Verde wine region starts just below the Portuguese-Spanish border, and extends all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, where it meets with the city of Porto. Dominated by the white grapes, these wines are indigenous to the Northern Portuguese area. These conditions keep the region cool and breezy. The weather and granite soils account for the bracing freshness of the wines.

The region is also fairly wet and rainy, as two rivers run through it, the Douro and Minho. A common misconception is that the “verde” part of the name (meaning “green” and pronounced vaird) refers to the color of the wine or the idea that the wine should be drank young. The name for Vinho Verde comes from Portugals lush green landscapes.

In the northwest corner of Portugal, Vinho Verde is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, mountain ranges to the east and south, and the Minho River to the north. The Douro River runs through the southern tip. These conditions keep the region cool and breezy. The weather and granite soils account for the bracing freshness of the wines.

Most Vinho Verde is a blend of white grapes, all indigenous to Portugal, but there are two predominant grapes that winemakers are starting to see as more interesting than the others: Alvarinho and Loureiro. You may be familiar with Albarinho, a different spelling but essentially still the same grape, from northern Spain. In Spain, Albarinho tends to be somewhat rounder and softer than its Portuguese counterpart. Alvarinho displays tropical aromas and an overall lemony character and is high in acidity; Loureiro is more floral, and also acidic.

THE HISTORY

When the Romans arrived in Portugal around 2000 years ago, people were already making fermented drinks. Wine in Portugal is part of daily life, and many families have a small plot of land where they grow grapes alongside vegetables and citrus trees. All over the Vinho Verde region, you’ll see grapevines hung in the beautiful Pergola style, draped high above where the cool breeze protects them from moisture and mold, arranged in a square around a family or neighborhood garden. In the lush, green, rolling hills of northern Portugal, dotted with the orange rooftops of family households, is the region where Vinho Verde wine is produced. Although there are several origin stories behind its name, including the idea that it is harvested early and should be drunk young, many people in the region suggest that the name comes from the verdant natural setting.

THE WHITE GRAPE VARIETIES

  • Alvarinho
  • Avesso
  • Arinto
  • Azal
  • Batoca
  • Loureiro

VINHO VERDE WITH FOOD

All over Portugal, seafood is the dominant cuisine, particularly the meaty white fish bacalao (cod). One of the most typical regional dishes is creamy rice with hunks of cod or monkfish, or shrimp. White Vinho Verde is high in acidity, which makes it ideal for pairing with all forms of seafood, particularly when complimented by a rich sauce or a coating of fried breadcrumbs; pork and potato dishes are also quite common. The fact is, Vinho Verde is great by itself, but if you are looking for an affordable white wine that’s delicious with light foods and all manners of sea creatures, you’ll definitely have a perfect pairing with this crisp, bright juice.

TASTE TRAILS AND VINHO VERDE EXPERIENCE

Join one of our orchard adventures in the Douro Valley region to learn more about the Vinho Verde. Here are our most popular experiences in Northern Portugal:

Comprised of nine sub-regions in the Douro Valley, each with unique micro-climates but generally dominated by granitic soils, the Vinho Verde wine region starts just below the Portuguese-Spanish border, and extends all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, where it meets with the city of Port (where most Port wine is made). The region is also fairly wet and rainy, as two rivers run through it, the Douro and Minho. In fact, the white wines are generally a pale straw color, and some can age beautifully. Reds and rosés are also produced. But the name for Vinho Verde comes from the region’s environment, which is lush and green.

You may be familiar with Albarinho. In Spain, Albarinho tends to be somewhat rounder and softer than its Portuguese counterpart. Alvarinho displays tropical aromas and an overall lemony character and is high in acidity; Loureiro is more floral, and also acidic.

For more information about this delicious wine known as the Vinho Verde and where we can take you try some please contact one of our travel team.

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4 UNIQUE EUROPEAN TOURS FOR WINE LOVERS

You have seen the decorative labels in your local wine store, you have tasted the goodness of wines straight from the shelves but would you like to know more about where these delicious grapes come from? Our tasting tours are designed for wine lovers who love to get to know the grapes and meet the famous wine producers of Europe. Here are a selection of our top picks for wine enthusiasts:

Douro Valley Adventure

The grapes of Northern Portugal avail of a special climate where the valleys of the Douro bask in the sunlight and the winds from the Atlantic ocean sweep through the vineyards. The soil is rich in nutrients providing flavoursome wines for you to try out year round. From the sweetest ports to dry whites that pair well with the fresh fish from the nearby coast, this is an epic wine tasting experience for all to enjoy.

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Burgundy Food and Wine Experience

A world class wine destination Burgundy wines can be found in most reputatable wine stores throughout the world. However, visiting the region is an extra educational journey through the heart of France.

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Alba Wine and Truffle Tour

Luxurious, sensual and memorable are three words to describe a tour through this stunning region of Italy. Our wine and truffle experience in Alba is simply unforgettable. Along the way you will have the chance to meet the wine producers, taste the land and sip of bold vintage wines.  

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Travel through the Vineyards of Tuscany on Two Wheels

Cycling through the Italian countryside is an unforgettable experience. Join the locals to learn about the best wine on offer in the region of Tuscany. On this wine filled adventure you will discover the beautiful landscapes of Italy, taste famous Italian produce and sip the most delicious Italian wines.

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For more information about any of these handpicked tours for wine lovers please contact one of our travel specialists.

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