When many people think of “wine travel” they think of fancy chateaus, sprawling terraces, and other things high-end and glamorous. To some, if a wine region isn’t “top notch” or highly rated then it isn’t worth visiting. Some of these people will complain how some place isn’t Bordeaux or Napa or whatever other place when they visit a winery. Well of course it’s not! And it’s not meant to be. To me, wine travel is so much more. It’s finding a little-known hidden gem that you’ve never heard of or an enthusiastic person that is just eager to tell their story. I have visited many wineries in many parts of the world. I’ve done tastings on beautiful terraces overlooking the most stunning vineyards and I’ve done tastings inside mobile homes. Although the experiences can vary, there are some constant commonalities – the love of wine and an interesting story to tell. So when I’m writing about my wine adventures and experiences, don’t be surprised that I take you to some obscure place where the winemaker is a little strange and has extremely dark purple teeth. Don’t be surprised that you had no idea wine was even made in that place. Don’t be surprised that there are wines and grapes you’ve never heard of. Don’t be surprised that the winemaker isn’t who you expect. That’s the point. Lots of people write about well-known wine regions that are known the world over. And while I certainly will talk about those places too, I really want to tell the rest of stories that most people never write about. I want to write about the unpolished, “rough around the edges” places that anyone would be comfortable walking into and not feel intimidated. I want to write about places that don’t have wines that are given high point totals, but that can still appeal to the “regular” wine drinker. I want to give people a place to start and then show them that a great wine experience can be had in many places if you just open your mind to it. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve zipped into a place by the side of the road with a small wooden “winery” sign and found some wines that I wasn’t crazy about. But the experience I had and the story that the person had to tell, more than made up for it and made it a memorable experience. To me, that is what wine travel is. Oh, and because I still work for a living and can’t be on the road all the time, I’ll also highlight some local Houston wine spots.