HomeExchangers come from all walks of life with all sorts of interests. Finding an exchange partner with interests similar to yours can not only lead to great home exchanges but also lead to long-lasting friendships that reach far beyond just an exchange of homes.
My family has a wide range of interests, but one that truly brings people together is our love of wine. Notice I did not say “fine wine,” as you can find lovers of all manner of wine. (My own mother prefers a bottle of Riunite herself.) Great conversations and gatherings are often had over a bottle of your favorite.
Fittingly, since we happen to live in the wine-rich area of Northern California, we would like to share some of our ideas for other wine-loving HomeExchangers.
Whenever you do an exchange, it is always nice to leave a welcome basket for those who are arriving, or even to leave a gift behind when you depart. If you are arriving, you could bring a bottle that you feel best represents your personality, or the personality of where you’re from. This can help serve as an introduction to the area, or as a reminder of the exchanger partner. We have a very specific wine that we always love to have around; it’s a Gamay Rouge from the V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena California. It’s a very light, summery wine that can be enjoyed with most anything.
At harvest time, wine growing regions are often rife with festivals. In Germany, you have the largest wine festival in the world, called “Wurstmarkt,” which roughly translates to… Sausage Fair. Just disregard the moniker and trust me: It’s not just a big party with a bunch of men, nor is it just a bunch of literal sausages. If you’ve ever been to Oktoberfest, or even seen pictures, then you’ll know what to expect. Just replace giant mugs of beer with glasses of wine.
Or there are also smaller celebrations, including “crush” parties, during which you can not only try out new varietals, but you can roll up your pants, take off your shoes, climb into a half barrel and get to stompin’ some grapes! Don’t worry, no one actually drinks your foot juice; it’s all for fun and experience. Crush parties and harvest festivals usually take place around Northern California in September/October.
Perhaps you’ve started your own wine cellar and are looking for new ideas. Why not find another cellar dweller? Who knows — start a wine exchange! Even if you can’t find another person with the wide-ranging eclectic tastes that you have, you can always travel to places that have restaurants known for their cellars. One of my favorite places — maybe a bit unexpected — is Bern’s steak house in Tampa, Florida, which, believe it or not, boasts the “World’s Largest Wine Cellar” with over 600,000 bottles, including one from 1792!
If you are up for hosting a guest, find that kindred spirit and show them the ropes of your local wine region. Serving as an educator and a guide can help you enjoy the same ol’ in brand new ways. Then, when the time comes, hopefully your exchange partners can do a hospitality home exchange with you, giving them the opportunity to play guide while you play wine tourist.
You could plan an around-the-world wine tour of the most famous wine growing regions in the world! France, Italy, California, Argentina… wherever you want to try! HomeExchange has homes in 150 countries!
There are tons of ideas for home exchanges and wine, and we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface. Don’t forget that wine is everywhere there is a home exchange. Like life and travel, you never know what gems you might uncover. Don’t be afraid to get out there and try something new and unique. It could lead to great new experiences and adventures!
Christopher and Cecile Matthews are wine lovers, HomeExchangers and the writers behind the wine blog Filivino.com and the travel blog Flyinglad.com, where they share their travel and wine tasting experiences from around the globe. Check out their home exchange home in Richmond, Northern California.