Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

I should start by explaining that when we sell our wines within Spain then our sales tariff usually includes the cost of transport. However, for exporting goods to other countries then the story is the complete opposite – we never arrange transport for the orders of our export customers.

Unfortunately, this sometimes leaves us with a bit of a conundrum. When we are hit with a heatwave (as we have been for the last few days, with temperatures well into the 30’s C (90’s F)), then the question arises, who is responsible for making the decision whether to load the truck or not? Who will be liable if something goes wrong and the wine is damaged? The fact is that we have only a couple of long-haul customers who regularly take precautions when it comes to the temperature control of wine in transit, whereas the vast majority simply rely on normal road trailers or containers (and keep their fingers crossed!). However, if goods are crossing Europe on a two or three day odyssey when the temperatures are excessive, then this is clearly not the best way to keep our product fresh. (In our history there have been only a couple of occasions when pallets have been left exposed and corks have been pushed from the bottles – both beyond our control).

From our side the answer is simple – if we think that the weather’s too hot then we inform our customer, and allow them to take the decision – I think it’s called covering your ****!

(Today’s photo shows a container protected with a Vinliner – not the ultimate type of protection, which is full refrigeration, but certainly offering some degree of temperature control)

747You may already know that, owing to adverse weather conditions, the outward leg of our recent trip to the U.S.A. was re-routed via London, and also included a change of carriers, from Iberia to British Airways. Owing to the fact that our journey was so eventful, it didn’t occur to me until after the flight that it is possible we were sharing the flight with our own wines. The difference being that we were in the cheap seats at the back, whilst our wine could have been in the pointy bit at the front….. First Class.

We are proud to say that we have been working with British Airways for several years now. although our supply to them is not continuous. The explanation is that First Class passengers are naturally quite loyal to their preferred airline, and therefore there is a high degree of ‘repeat business’ – the same passengers flying the same routes on a regular basis. To counteract this, British Airways rotate their wine lists, not only over different time periods, but also on different routes. For one listing we might be on North America and the Caribbean, on another we might be on Asian, and so on, The point is that we simply send the wine out, and usually have little idea where it might end up, or how many air miles it will clock up! Therefore, it is possible that our wine was sharing the same flight as us, but we simply didn’t know it.

In 2016 British Airways’ First Class customers consumed more than 160,000 bottles of champagne, 133,000 bottles of red wine and 150,000 bottles of white wine on board flights, and in the same year were voted the best overall cellar at the Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky Awards. We would like to believe that Castro Martin might have played a very small part in achieving that recognition.

Posted in Odds & Sods, Travel

Tasting Florida styleFinally getting towards the end of our world tour of the USA (it just feels like a world tour after so many flights), it seems that, for once at least, we have just escaped some serious weather. Just before we left Tennessee there were already warnings of severe thunder storms, hail storms and even a 25% chance of tornadoes. Even thought there is something quite fascinating, even slightly hypnotic about tornadoes, I confess that I have no real desire to witness one first hand. Anyway, it is reported that since we left Tennessee, in areas around Nashville and Chattanooga, that some of these threatened storms have actually hit, with severe thunder and hail the size of baseballs! The good news for us therefore, that we now find ourselves cosseted in the warm comfort of the Sunshine State – Florida.

For selling albariño Florida is actually a little more complicated for us – although it is a wine perfectly suited to this climate, it appears that the Floridians are possibly not quite as receptive and will take a little more convincing. Our wine really is a ‘hand-sell’ here. The cities are spread out and quite diverse in their approach to buying wine, not to mention that there are already some other brands well established in the area. Maybe we will have to come back to this sunshine paradise on several more occasions, to see if we can get the job done! The upside is that at least one customer yesterday did describe our wine as “kick-ass”…. That’s a new descriptor to add to my tasting vocabulary – it speaks for itself and does not require any explanation!

Posted in Travel, Weather

All RoadsNow in Memphis and Nashville on the next stop of our American road trip, where not only has the taste of our wines gone down really well, but Angela and I have now also tasted something special for the very first time….. real Southern Hospitality. The people here are just so great, you could eat them with a spoon! But seriously, the most important thing of all is that they have really appreciated our wines and so converts to the new cult of Castro Martin albariño appear to be increasing….. we are thrilled.

So here in Memphis we find ourselves caught up in the middle of ‘March Madness’, where the elite teams of the NCAA (college basketball) compete for the National Championship. This weekend saw the start of the ‘Sweet 16’ games, where the final sixteen teams are whittled down to the final four – one from each regional tournament. The Southern games are being played at the FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis, and believe me, this is really serious stuff. National TV coverage and with a visit from the Vice President Mike Pence thrown in for good measure – he was disappointed to discover that MSU (Moscow State) had not made it through!! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one)

Just by way of information, Memphis is also the home to both FedEx and Graceland.

Posted in Odds & Sods, Travel

Freezer to oven!

March 22nd, 2017

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DenverOK, so I’m a bit obsessed about weather, but this is just plain wrong…. New York was too cold, and now Denver is too warm! After a couple of freezing days in New York we flew into warm, almost hot sunshine in Denver on the second leg of our US tour. Talking to the locals in Denver they would tell you that the temperature is probably as much 10-15°C (20-30°F) above the seasonal norm, albeit that this will certainly change in the coming days (snow is forecast, which is more customary at this time of year).

From the point of view of our wine, it was very interesting to discover that albariño is already quite well established as a grape variety in the Denver market. It can be found in the majority of wine (liquor) stores and also on many restaurant wine lists – the the local sommeliers all know it. F, the rom our own point of view the tastings that we made were all well received, almost without exception, and we are happy to say that we have found at least a few new Castro Martin ‘recruits’ in the Denver market. Of course any success does not come easily, and so we really need to acknowledge the help and support of our team ‘on the ground’ (our importer and their distributors) for their enthusiasm, professionalism and unerring belief in our wines.

Today’s photo was chosen quite simply to show the stark contrast in the weather (and also the fact that Angela looks a lot happier in the sunshine!)

Posted in Travel, Weather

Angela NYCIf you have been following our page you will know that our planned US tour got off to a rather shaky start – our Trans-Atlantic flight being cancelled the night before we were due to leave (thanks to winter storm ‘Stella’ blanketing New York in snow). We finally got off the ground on Wednesday night, for an overnight stay in Madrid before our re-routed journey through London and onward flight to New York. On Thursday morning we soon discovered that London was shrouded in fog, and that all flights going in were subject to delays, it really felt like the weather Gods were conspiring against us. Suffice to say that our leisurely connection was reduced to a quick sprint across the Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Luckily we just made it in time…. but unfortunately some of our luggage did not! Our last suitcase arrived several hours later and was delivered to our hotel room at 3am! Being disturbed at 3am and already suffering from a lack of sleep, it was just the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’ – the culmination of our on-off, nightmare journey.

Despite all the setbacks, our reduced time in New York (and New Jersey) was well spent, and we at least managed to achieve the most important goals of our foreshortened itinerary. Having said that, leaving the warm spring sunshine of Galicia (20+°C or 70°F) to arrive in the freezing temperatures and icy winds of New York, required quite an adjustment. As you can clearly see from today’s photo, standing on an icy street (in front of the Queensboro Bridge) was possibly not Angela’s idea of a fun time!

So, our next stop is the ‘Mile High’ City of Denver, to catch up with old (business) friends, where, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, temperatures are unseasonably warm at around 25/26°C (mid-70’s F). A dramatic change of wardrobe is required!

Posted in Travel, Weather

Carry on cruising

November 14th, 2016

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Rhapsody of the SeasA couple of months ago that I made a post about our new cruise ship customer – ‘The World – a residence at sea’, at the same time mentioning that we already sail on many a P&O/Cunard ship. It would now appear that this has become something of a trend, as we find ourselves listed with yet another new customer of the high seas – Royal Caribbean International Cruises. Quite naturally we are delighted to be pouring our wines for such prestigious customers, and in so many distant and celebrated locations around the world.

It does however, throw up an interesting question. In the annual export statistics that we supply to the office of our denomination, they require details of where our wines are being sold/distributed. If our albariños are now being poured on airlines and ships that are constantly changing location, what can we submit on the forms – how can we specify the country?…. Moving markets? World markets? I will have to think of some witty answer, but am open to suggestions!

A life at sea

August 1st, 2016

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The WorldCastro Martin already proudly sells wine to cruise ships, including the famous Cunard ‘Queens’, and the new P&O flagship Britannia. In addition to this our wines are now sailing on board a completely unique type of ‘cruise’ ship – The World – a Residence at Sea.

To explain this format in simple terms ‘The World’, at 644ft, is the largest private residential ship on the planet, providing floating luxury accommodation for those who can afford it (and want it). Guests, or should I say residents, of this huge floating home simply spend their whole time sailing around the world, again, and again, and again! The accommodation for each resident is not so much a cabin, but is actually a self contained apartment , with pretty much all the amenities of home – except perhaps the underground parking.

As you might imagine, the ship is loaded from top to bottom with different forms of entertainment – fitness, yoga, swimming, diving, kayaks, golf (the water hazards are quite impressive), and even a full-sized tennis court. Apart from numerous bars and restaurants it also caters for a wide multitude of hobbies (including wine tasting), boasts a cinema and theatre, and also has it’s own library. I am sure that this lifestyle will appeal to some, if not many, enjoying a different view from your window every day, but I’m afraid to admit that it certainly wouldn’t work for me.

On the plus side they do stock a great albariño!

Posted in Business, Travel

San FranciscoIt’s one thing taking the time and effort to make a great albariño, but it’s another thing entirely to get out on the road and sell it. I can also tell you that, as a former wine buyer, it’s a good deal easier to buy wine that it is to find new customers!

For the last ten days Angela have been on a whistle stop tour of the United States, taking in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Of course this all sounds very romantic, a great holiday some might say, but I can tell you, hand on heart, that our schedule has been relentless, taking late night flights in order to be in the next city ready to start working the following morning. There were moments when I really couldn’t remember what day of the week it was (or maybe that’s just old age!).

Anyway, the upside is that restaurants, shops and American consumers appear to really like our wine, confirmed by many new orders and some great new listings. The trip included several presentations to the sales team of our importer in New York, and their teams in North and South of California – as I always say these sessions are worth their weight in gold, as we spread the word not only about albariño in general, but more importantly the history and wines of our own Family Estate, Castro Martin.

The highlight of our trip was definitely the beach locations – Laguna beach and Venice beach in Southern California, visiting customers in some great (and very fashionable) restaurant and hotels. Having said that, in the North of California, we also tasted our wines with customers in Sonoma County and the Napa Valley. Selling wine in the very heart of the wine country!

Posted in Travel

JackYou may have gathered that Angela and I are on the road – several days in New York and New Jersey, and today in Los Angeles – a grueling business schedule that eventually will continue on to San Francisco and Seattle. There’s hardly even time to take a photograph! These, long hard trip are, however, very worthwhile, as we get to meet our customers and the sales teams of our importer around the U.S.A. In this way we can continue to spread the word, and preach the gospel of Castro Martin. Of course one thing that makes our job a little easier is that people really love our wine, and especially the fact that we are a ‘Family Estate’ business, still owned and managed by the family. It seems that this point alone goes down very well and consequently we have made a lot of new friends and customers…… Long may it continue (well, at least for another week on this trip). Clearly I will write and post more when we get back, but I thought I should at least include Angela’s photo taken in a huge liquor store in New Jersey. When Angela met Jack (Daniels)!

Posted in Travel