The Magical Media Tour: Part 1

Day One: We pick grapes at TerraNoble ~
a great way to get a taste of the terroir in Casablanca Valley, Chile

The magical media tour is coming to take you away,
Coming to take you away.

The magical media tour is dying to take you away,
Dying to take you away, take you to Chil-ay.

With apologies to the Beatles, and hats off to that first-class wine importing company WineBow, I am the very happy participant in my very first (hopefully not last) MediaFam tour. For those of you who are uninformed… as I was, until very recently… a MediaFam tour is short for “Media Familiarization”. If you are a wine writer, travel writer, lifestyle writer, or a photographer or editor who works in those areas, or a certified Wine Expert (like a Master of Wine) or well-along the WSET path, you may, if you are very very lucky, be invited to let somebody like WineBow take you away.

I am a very very small potatoes wine writer, although it seems that my WineTime column in The Tahoe Weekly has a following of sorts. I am a fairly dedicated blogger however, and when WineBow ran an essay contest at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2010 about how to make American consumers more aware of Malbec, my essay was selected and I was invited to a week at Malbec camp in Mendoza. Rebecca Rader of WineBow got in touch with me and said, ahem, perhaps you should rethink being in a barracks with field hands for a week, and would you consider waiting for a MediaFam tour in a year or so, we’d go to both Chile and Argentina?

You bet your sweet arse I would! (that’s not quite what I said, but you get the gist).

So here I am in the Sheraton (Club Floor) in Santiago, Chile, pulling the drapes against the strong sunshine so I don’t have the glare on my laptop screen, and fighting late-night-dinner-fatigue and chunking down Prilosec before yet another fantastic wine tasting. The Prilosec is winning the battle, thank goodness, as in the past 48 hours I have tasted no fewer than 50 wines from 4 wineries, and that doesn’t include the bottles that WineBow Brand Ambassador Alfredo S. Bartholomaus orders at dinners.

So if you will kindly stay tuned over the next 8 days, I’ll try to give you a feel for the Magical Media tour, the wineries, the countryside, the people and mention a few of the wines that I like.

So far I’ve discovered that my palate is most similar to that of Tim Teichgraeber, who writes about wine and spirits for the San Francisco Chronicle, Decanter, Tasting Panel, Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine, Cooking Club and City Pages. That could change; we disagree on Sauvignon Blanc from the Ledya Valley. We do agree on pisco sours. We agree a lot.

Everyday I try to sit next to someone new on the bus and learn from them. Most people are patient. Leela Cyd Ross (you must see her portfolio at
) is an absolutely brilliant photographer. Her perceptions blow me away. She is doing a dreamlike series with her trusty Diana camera that I hope some lucky magazine will commission. And Leela is kind too. I have a Canon Elph that I bought for the trip but didn’t take time to read the instruction book, and she gave me some hints about how to use it.

So far the group dynamics are great. A little bit of sniping here and there. But hey – this is the wine business, right?


  1. This is the next best thing to being there. Keep your cards and letters coming! --Nicole

  2. thanks so much barbara! pleasure to be here with you.