Natural Wine Escapades

What does your perfect vacation look like?

Here’s mine - vineyards, cellars and natural wine bars - in the company of a special someone who can carry me home if need be.

Natural winery South of France
Natural wine in South of France
Natural vineyards on Mount Etna

Vintage shopping, hikes, music & art shows are also in the mix.

I do enjoy an occasional lazy "me" time - a yin yoga class and maybe a day or two on a beach.

But for the most part - I travel like a natural wine importer on a mission. Minus the perks. I don’t get free wine, dinners with winemakers and vertical wine tastings all the way down to the year of inception.

Maybe one day. But for now - I travel like a basic bitch. On a wagon, with friends and family in tow.

Monte da Casteleja wine tasting
Planeta winery
Natural vineyards - insect on hand

The undeniable truth is that wine is at the heart of our civilization.

If you want to dive deep into any culture - wine is your best access. Not the historic sites, and definitely not the museums.

Although modern art museums give a pretty good glimpse into the current state of cultural affairs.

Niagara on the lake
Niagara on the lake wine region - baskets for fruits
Talha jars in Portugal

natural wine travel

If you really want to get to know the people and what makes that part of the world special - you gotta hit the local wine bars and drink the wines made in somebody's garage.

So, there you go - I travel and drink in the name of socio-anthropological research.

That’s my excuse for having one of the most expensive hobbies ever. But hey - could have been worse. I could have picked space exploration or wreck-diving.

Ragusa stairs wine bar
taormina sicily at night
Champagne natural wine bar

There is something undeniably sexy about recognizing a bottle from your travels at your local natural wine shop or bar.

You were there! you met the winemaker! and you drank that wine with them!

It’s a special kind of high.

You reach out for that bottle, touch the label - and the memories flood in. Together with the smells, flavours and bits of conversation.

Suddenly you channel some ascended being from out of space and share wine knowledge you never knew you had. Everyone around you is impressed. And you get the badge of honour.

natural wine from les alpilles
Group dinner in south of France
St Emilio vines through the gates

When I studied in Bordeaux, I had a brilliant wine instructor who spoke about wine regions with extra spark and knowledge - because she’d visited them.

No wine encyclopaedia will afford you that kind of expertise. Not even the World Atlas of Wine - although it is nearly damn perfect.

When you pick up the soil with your hands, when you talk to a winemaker about the climate change, and feel the sun or the rain of that region on your skin - this is what wine is all about.

It’s the connection to something much bigger than all of us.

Lavender and snail from South of France
Picnic with natural wines
Bunch of grapes in Trapani, Sicily

natural wine

No other drink gives you that bit of magic. Not whiskey, not beer, not sake and not even artisanal kombucha. Sorry not sorry.

That’s why I mostly drink wines that fall under the elusive «natural wine» category. Wines made by smaller producers who show respect for basic natural principles.

You simply don’t get the same magic from mass-produced fermented grape juice that some people call wine.

Natural wine bar in nice France
Haru natural wine from Provence
La Buvette in Paris

Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room. Sometimes there is an aura of pretentiousness around the natural wine movement. 

It can get sticky and funky - in the derogatory sense of that word.

(That’s the only time you will see the word “funk” used negatively by ox. As far as ox is concerned, classic funk is a blessing - in music and in wine.)

I’ve learnt to avoid the «skank» by staying away from the hot, hip & high places. I visit the true and tested hangs - where wines are cheap and hearts are clean. Or is it the other way around?

Occasionally I open the trunks, dress up and hit those fancy wine venues - to air out the moths and give my converses a well-deserved break. But that’s not ox's natural habitat.

Wine resto bar in Lisbon Portugal
Natural wine bar in Lisbon
Sicily natural wine bar

natural wine bars

My favourite natural wine bars and shops lack any kind of prejudice.

You can show up naked, eyebrows shaved off, Trump tattoo across your chest - and nobody would even flinch.

In fact, they’ve probably seen worse.

Remember the bar in the original Star Wars movies - filled with wacky patrons and entertained by an even wackier jazz band. That was a natural wine bar - I’m sure of it.

Intergalactic Natural Wine barThursday night at a natural wine bar. My kind of scene.

The most exciting feeling for a natural wine lover is when you find your alien family half-way across the world - in some barely lit natural wine bar - drinking Slobodne Eggstasy.

Eggstasy by Slobodne at natural wine barYou don't know funk until you've tried this wild beauty.

how natty can you go?

If you’re still with me at this point - looks like you are one of us.

There is an extra spot in our natural wine travel wagon - and it’s reserved for you.

The ride will be shaky, often ridiculous, sometimes questionable and over the top - but definitely worth it.

Ox in the Vines - wagonOur mode of transportation. Hop on and hold on to your panties. Hey - who brought a kid on the wine touring wagon? This must be in Europe somewhere.

where do you want to go?

Champagne wine region

Champagne is a gorgeous wine region. Unexpectedly so. Rolling hills, wild forests and perfectly manicured villages. 

Champagne wine is as expensive on its home turf as it is on the LCBO shelves. But if you stay away from the large Champagne houses and explore the Grower Champagne - a new world opens up and at much lower prices.

Natural wine movement is still in its infancy compared to other French regions - but there are some exceptional natural producers who push the mark even in this cold and humid region. Hats off to them!

We visited a few, and obviously dropped by some cool natural wine bars in Reims and Epernay.

dive deeper into Champagne >>>

South of France wine regions

Rosé all day? F**k no.

But when in Rome, do as Romans do. When you're in Provence - suck it up and chug pink wine.

And let me tell you - we know nothing about the real rosé from Provence.

There are some awesome natural wine producers in the region that turned my world upside down.

Outside of rosé, South of France is as gorgeous as you can imagine - but better. Everything looks as if viewed through Clarendon filter.

It's the magical light of the Southern France that inspired Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh and Jay-Z to create their masterpieces. 

click here for more on Provence and the French Riviera >>>

Paris Natural Wine Scene

Paris is the centre of the natural wine universe. And that's all I have to say about that.

If you disagree, leave your address - I’ll send you a pair of dirty socks.

I’m sure everyone who reads my ramblings has been to Paris. If not - what are you waiting for - the apocalypse?

The 11th arrondissement in Paris is where it is at. The best food, the best natural wine bars, some awesome shopping as well.

Most importantly - that’s where you can get a feel for what it is like being a Parisian. La Buvette in the 11th is one of my top 3 natural wine places in the entire world.

more about Paris here >>>

South of portugal wine regions

Tuscany who? South of Portugal is where it’s at - at about third of the price. I'll take cork oak trees over cypresses any time.

The best beaches in the Mediterranean - and that’s quite a statement, isn’t it?

The food scene is exploding with new talent that create masterpieces from seasonal fruits and veggies - of which their is abundance.

As a vegan, I had the time of my life.

Nobody talks about wines from Southern Portugal. And yet - we discovered incredible natural wine producers.

Talha wines - made in traditional earthenware jars - are all the rage.

And Lisbon is such a hoot! Wouldn’t mind spending a lifetime or two living there.

Sicily wine regions

There is more to Sicily than gelato, mafia and Frank Cornelissen.

Apparently Sicily received its first vine cutting from Dionysus himself. Who can mess with that kind of pedigree?

Sicily used to be a producer of lots of meh wine. Still kinda is.

But now there is an incredible influx of natural wine producers who experiment with everything from biodynamics to ageing in clay pots buried in the ground.

Travelling through Sicily is like going through 10 circles of heaven: food is out of this world - you can survive on dessert alone. Wines are sensational and quite cheap.

Beaches are everywhere - Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island after all.

If it sounds like heaven, looks like heaven - must be heaven!

a deeper look at Sicily and its natural wines >>>

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