A Bordeaux Opportunity

Chateau Kirwan 1996 labelEven if you don’t happen to be going on the cruise to Bordeaux with us this November, I hope you don’t mind hearing a bit more about it all. The fact is, I get quite a few questions about the tour while in the tasting room. Ironically, one of the questions I get directed to me as the winemaker is, “What is your responsibility on cruise?”

OK, so here’s the deal. I wouldn’t really call it a “responsibility,” but instead an “opportunity.” When we signed up to host the cruise to Bordeaux, we chose this region (rather than The Danube or Paris or…) partly because we make so many different Bordeaux varieties. But the other reason was that this is a region we wanted to learn a lot more about.

So here comes the “opportunity” as I see it. With the hosting of the cruise, we have been asked to conduct three seminars and host a wine dinner. This is one of those unique opportunities where we get to learn, teach, experience and have fun all at the time. Continue reading

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“Seriously, why are you farming organically?”

I thought this would be a question we’d be getting all the time. Yes, it’s more expensive. Yes, the vineyards have more weeds. Yes, we have to worry about weather patterns a bit more. No, I can’t tell anyone that you can taste the difference.  So naturally, from a purely American business point of view of maximizing profits, I thought we’d be constantly answering why we chose to jump off the cliff and choose a natural way of farming.

Ironically, all we really hear is, “Good for you!”

DSC_8751As I’ve mentioned before, spring is the time of year when I, myself, question the whole organic notion in our vineyards. Our farming life has enough stresses and strains to worry about that adding in just one more thing, farming naturally, really can put me over the edge. The biggest concern this time of the year is weeds!

Recently as I drove down the road, heading into some of the most beautiful wine regions of California, I truly envied the pristine aspects of their vineyards. The vines were immaculately pruned, mustard flowering in the rows, and not a single weed under the vines. It’s a picture-perfect scene. Continue reading

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A Bordeaux Cruise Update

Madroña Vineyards 2018 River Cruise
Cruise Only: November 15-22, 2018
Paris Pre-Cruise Tour + Loire Valley Post Cruise Tour: November 13-25, 2018

Maggie & Paul

Have you made your plans to join us for this outstanding River Cruise yet?  Our Madroña is now 32 people strong!  NOTE: November is off-season, usually with mild weather in southwest France. There is now a $1,000 per cabin ($500 per person) discount for our Madroña group.  You must book through our tour operator Expanding Horizons to be part of the Madroña Vineyards Group.

Are there any singles out there wanting to go?  We have had a lovely club member inquire if there were others who might want to share a room?  Let us know and we will introduce you!

Here are some highlights that the tour company has provided us.  I wish I could write about these places intimately, but there are places we have yet to explore in our personal travels.  But we are certainly excited by what it planned!


Day 3 of our Madrona Bordeaux Rivers Cruise visits Pauillac, in the heart of the Medoc region, home to 60 Grand Cru vineyards. Continue reading

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Celebrating 45 Years Passport 2018

Create Passport at Home!  Here are our receipes

Riesling – Coq au Vin (Riesling) Recipe
Cab Franc – Deconstructed Reconstructed Pasta recipe
New-World Port – Walnut Cake

El Tinto Lot 37—Reality is Sustainability

45 Years 1If you’ve been by the winery lately and talked to me about my favorite El Tinto blends, you’d know that I feel the dark chocolate spice and brooding berry fruit of the Lot 37 makes it one (if not the one) of my favorite El Tintos from the last 30 years. But to be honest, it isn’t the wonderful characters that sets the wine to the top. It is instead the overall balance of the Lot 37 that truly strikes me.

Why is this all important? Really, it’s not, especially for the point of this narrative. But there is one connection with how much I enjoy this wine. The El Tinto is pretty much the only wine we get credit for making. All of the other varieties (like Zinfandel, Riesling, Malbec, etc.) are meant to be expressions of the vineyard and vintage, and keeping our winemaking hands out of the mix makes are purer expression. Continue reading

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45 Years and a Bit of Passport

It really is hard to believe that the whole Madroña Vineyards story started just a mere 45 years or so ago. For me, as a kid growing up in it and then tackling wine as a career, it seems like an eternity. Better said, perhaps, is to point out I can’t really remember a time when the vineyards and the winery weren’t part of my life. And I’m 51 years old!

A kid’s view is always skewed just a bit, but back in 1973 I have memories of playing in stacks of hardwood grape posts that still line our rows today. It was a “family” outing planting those first vines, with friends coming to help. At just six years old, I have a feeling the vines that I planted probably didn’t survive, but I remember it was hot, dusty and tiring. (By the way, I still feel vineyard work is hot, dusty and tiring!) Continue reading

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Lost and Found—It’s a Win-Win Situation

Tim pic 2Have you ever seen a Madroña wine with a crooked label or a wrinkled foil? Chances are that you have. But understand that it’s not part of a drunken pirate employment program or using a troop of deranged baboons at the helm of our equipment. Instead, our foiling and labeling machines sometimes have a mind of their own by spitting out extra labels or chewing up foils. The machines can be a little temperamental.

So, while bottling, we diligently set aside all these marred bottles to be used as tasting wines in the tasting room. Although the label is a little askew, the wine inside tastes perfect. Smart, eh!?! Continue reading

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Join us in Bordeaux!

Cruise Only: November 15-22, 2018
Paris Pre-Cruise Tour + Loire Valley Post Cruise Tour: November 13-25, 2018

Chateau Kirwan 1996 labelBORDEAUX CITY

Our Madroña Bordeaux Cruise travels next November and still has some space.  The ship is about 50% full right now (filling faster than expected).  This voyage aboard the good ship AmaDolce begins and ends in Bordeaux city, a wonderful town that has been reinvented and shaped in a positive way by tourism.

If you haven’t visited France yet, or this is your 12th time, there is no better way than to experience the history while enjoying the fruit of vine!

Chateau Lynch Bages vineyardBordeaux is second only to Paris in the number of buildings that have historical monument status in France.  Most of the historical buildings here were constructed in the 18th century. Once black and sooty, these architectural buildings are now clean and gleaming. Resplendent arches, towers and facades are interspersed with carefully designed open spaces.

The Place de la Bourse, a magnificent square framed by graceful 18th-century buildings, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Across the road and bordering the river is the vast, shimmering Mirror d’Eau, a thin sheet of reflecting water built in 2006. On a calm day with no wind, the mirror perfectly reflects the buildings. The area around the square is delightful, with cafes, shops, bridges and open river vistas. For shopping, don’t miss Rue Sainte Catherine, a long street of busy shops that was once a Roman road.

The fame of Bordeaux as wine center began two millennia ago. In the time of Julius Caesar, Bordeaux wines were shipped all over the Roman Empire. Commencing during the English rule of Aquitaine, Bordeaux subsequently enjoyed 300 years of prosperity, primarily by shipping wine to England. Bordeaux wines are still considered some of the finest in the world. The University of Bordeaux is rightfully one of the world’s great viticulture and enology learning centers.

BORDEAUX - Jean d'Alos cheesesWith wine, cheese naturally comes to mind.  Bordeaux is home to one of France’s foremost cheese purveyors, Monsieur Jean d’Alos. His caves and shop are located at 4 Rue Montesquieu.  M. d’Alos buys his raw milk farmstead cheeses, directly from the makers. He then stores and ripens them in his caves underneath the city to peak perfection before sale.

Restaurants in Bordeaux are abundant.  The narrow streets of the old St. Pierre district, located behind the must-see Place de la Bourse, are packed with bistros and fine-dining options. Specialties include duck, foie gras, oysters from Arcachon Bay and crispy-fried baby eels.  Canneles, a famous Bordeaux treat, are little ridged cakes with a distinctive caramelized exterior and a creamy soft interior.

BORDEAUX - LaTupina kitchenLa Tupina is one of the top restaurants for authentic Southwestern France country fare, where lamb and beef roasts are cooked and turned on spits.  This restaurant’s extraordinarily delicious potatoes are cooked in duck fat.

Recommend this special holiday to any friends or relations who would appreciate a vacation focused on culture, fine cuisine and world class wine.  Book and deposit by December 31st

NOTE: November is off-season, usually with mild weather in southwest France. There is a $1,500 per cabin ($750 per person) discount for our group.  A $500 per person deposit will hold your cabin.  You must book through our tour operator Expanding Horizons to be part of the Madroña Vineyards Group. 

To see complete information and register online visit:  www.toursandwine.com/madrona

With questions contact Marie Cradle at our tour operator Expanding Horizons of Tustin, CA: Marie@Expanding-Horizons.com  Tel: 1-714-975-9943

So come along and absorb the history, savor the foods, taste the wines, and enjoy the company with a hint of California (Madroña) wines splashed in (just in case you’re homesick!). Learn, Live and Laugh!

See you in France mes amis!

Paul & Maggie Bush  

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