I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Catavino’s 1 year old!

Gabriella and Ryan in Bilbao

One year ago, I was bored. I wanted a Bodega to tell me that they needed me and wanted to pay me obscene amounts of money to do something, anything. Due to my lack of knowledge as to what it was they were to pay me for; I fear I may have beckoned my own jobless state. So I started this little blog, to keep me fresh and up to date on the wines of Iberia, my new home. Having come from a place where I had access to wines from every corner of the earth, it was quite the shock to find myself here with what at first seemed a limited assortment of wines to choose from. Fortunately I was wrong.

So to celebrate you might wonder what I plan to drink as I write my thoughts down. Well the bottle before me is special, it’s a beverage that I love and that I miss. Since being in Spain I have had very few chances to savor it in its finest forms. As they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the wine world there is a saying, that any winemaker can attest to as true, “It takes a lot of beer to make a little wine!” The truth is after a long day of picking grapes and or tending ones vines, wine may be on the mind but beer is what cools the soul. Before me is a beer brought to me from Minnesota from a best friend of mine, Rogue’s Brutal Bitter. 22oz’s of pure hops and malt. Hops is one thing I miss greatly and finding them in Spain is about as easy as finding a [Chinese Chardonnay->http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6897e/x6897e05.htm] at my local wine shop. I used to carry over 1200 different brands of beer back in my store in Minnesota, so it will come as no shock to you that going cold turkey from it was not the easiest thing I’ve done.

But this is a wine blog and I want to recap some of my adventures from the past year exploring this noble beverage. The beer will help me like the vineyard worker to reflect from a distance on everything that happened. First I’ll highlight some of what I think were the better articles and stories posted here on Catavino. So in no particular order, here I go!

  • Interpreting this and Interpreting that! It was about 6 months ago that my wife Gabriella started to make an appearance here in any significant way that was not related to editing my terrible writing. She wanted to learn about wine and she wanted to write about wine, and so she did. On my suggestion she tackled some of the most read and most important articles on this site so far. [Interpreting the Spanish Wine Label->http://catavino.net/archives/76/2005/08/20/], [Interpreting the Port wine Label->http://catavino.net/archives/395/2006/05/27/], and [Interpreting the Portuguese Wine Label->http://catavino.net/archives/428/2006/04/17/]. In truth without the editing, most of you would have never even looked at this site, and I need to say thanks for that. Also I need to say thanks for being the most loving and beautiful person I know! We’ve made it a year and a half so far in Spain and I know I couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks
  • Interviews with Roy Hersh. First a written tale about his [life in the Port wine world->http://catavino.epilot.net/archives/48/2005/07/20/] and then an [Interview in Podcast format->http://catavino.net/archives/399/2006/05/28/]. Roy was kind enough to accept a novice wine writer’s invitation to talk and became my first interviewee twice in one year. Thanks Roy and everyone who hasn’t heard it before, CHECK OUT [www.FortheLoveofPort.com->http://www.fortheloveofport.com], a site that has grown and has helped others learn about this noble wine.
  • [Ribera del Duero->http://catavino.net/archives/277/2006/01/22/]. I never thought I would connect with region in the way I have. I was invited up there by a new travel company back before Christmas to see what they were doing. Since then I’ve been up there 3 times, and it’s becoming one of the most visited regions I’ve been too. During those trips I visited many a bodega and had the chance to taste many [different wines->http://catavino.net/index.php?s=ribera_del_Duero&cat=3]. I’ve even made a few friends. Sadly I probably won’t make it up there a lot in the near future, but I want to say thanks to Catherine and Jeni for helping me out while I was there
  • Manzanilla! I love sherry, if you read this blog you already know that, but what I loved even more was being able to visit one of this great beverages most hallowed homes. [Sanlucar de Barremeda->http://catavino.net/archives/117/2005/09/24/] is the only place on the planet that this style of sherry can be produced. Not because of law, but rather climate, or as the French say: Terroir. In a place that could fit inside my home town a few times over, you have a climate that allows the flor of sherry to grow thicker and denser, thus producing a wine of unparalleled complexity and finesse. Visiting there and having a glass of wine on the beach as the sun went down was pure magic, if only Gabriella had been there, then it would have been perfect!
  • Port glorious Port! Not only was I able to get to Oporto a few months before I started this site, but I also was given the chance to taste about [15 different 2003 ports->http://catavino.net/archives/231/2005/12/06/] fromm what is expected to be a marvelous vintage. Lavinia, a mammoth of a wine shop here in Madrid, hosted the event and while it was an informal setting it was none the less enlightening. For the first time I had the chance to taste many great ports all at one sitting and have the chance to compare and contrast. It was an eye-opener and made me realize that even under the beastly exteriors of these young wines, there is still subtle finesse and nuance.
  • Haro I’m home! While doing some research on our family ancestry my [grandfather->http://www.rathfamily.net/rrr/] stumbled across the fact that I might have blood that can be traced back to this historic wine town in La Rioja. Needless to say it was a dream come true to walk down the streets that some of my most distance relatives might have called home, and eat of the [foods that are most traditional to this region->http://catavino.epilot.net/archives/245/2005/12/13/]. Not only that but I’ve been there twice now and both times have been a lot of fun, and I will say, a bit biased, that this is one town not to miss when you come to Spain.
  • The hard part is picking my favorite moments from the past year, others would include, my trip to [Vinoble->http://catavino.net/archives/412/2006/06/02/], our trip to the [Priorat->http://catavino.net/archives/314/2006/03/15/], the [Alentejo->http://catavino.net/archives/296/2006/02/16/] in Portugal and many more. In the end I hope that next year is as good to us and that we can continue to provide interesting and good information about Iberia and its wines for all of you. We’re having fun doing it that’s for sure. Special thanks to our parents for supporting us, and to all the readers out there that make this fun! Please continue to let us know what we can do to make this site better.
    Now I’m going to finish my beer, and take a short breather, before I start on the next year of Catavino. Too bad Gabriella is off leading a bike trip through the Pyrenees, it would have been better to celebrate together. Either way I know she wishes to thank everyone also and I look forward to a new year where we hear a lot more from her here at Catavino.
    Till soon,
    Ryan Opaz

    • Steven Tolliver

      Hi Ryan, Congratulations on the first year! As a former home beer brewer (gave that up when I moved to Barcelona 10 years ago) I can relate about the lack of hops in Iberia. Best regards, Steve

    • Ryan

      Thanks for the empathy Steven. I love it when friends come here and bring a bottle or two, makes life good. Some day we'll have to meet up here in Spain and share a bottle or two of imported hops! Ryan

    • http://www.catavino.net Ryan

      Thanks for the empathy Steven. I love it when friends come here and bring a bottle or two, makes life good. Some day we’ll have to meet up here in Spain and share a bottle or two of imported hops!


    • Steven Tolliver

      Hi Ryan,

      Congratulations on the first year!

      As a former home beer brewer (gave that up when I moved to Barcelona 10 years ago) I can relate about the lack of hops in Iberia.

      Best regards,