Life’s Pleasures in a Nutshell: Travel, Gourmet Food and a Glass of Wine

Vinho Verde, great food and traditional dancing at Paço de Calheiros

Ruth Hernandez, owner and president of Aaeros Travel, founded the company in 1995 with the vision of providing her clients with a personal touch and superior service based on her continued commitment to traveling. Ms. Hernandez seeks to give clients new experiences whilst enhancing their knowledge of wine producing regions. 

As one of the attendees of the International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop 2011, we had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Hernandez about how travel and wine go so well together. Here is her interview: 

1) As the 2011 Wine Conference takes place in Porto, Portugal this year, how do you view Porto as a wine destination? 

I have traveled through Portugal in the past and what I remember most is the wonderful seafood, especially the variety of shellfish and the red and green wines. Remembering such a wonderful experience I often look for the Green wines here and until recently I found them in the stores. Most people here do not seem to be familiar with this particular wine and I do spread my preferences at the counters where others in line can hear my comments. 

Once the word is circulated I am sure it will become an exciting new destination for wine lovers, especially for those who are looking for something new other than Italian, and French wines. 

2) As a travel agent based in Texas, what could you tell us of your typical clients tastes in wine? Which destinations do you currently offer to your clients? 

As you may or might not know, Texas has about 52 plus wineries throughout the Lone Star State and with all of the varieties of red and white wines being produced it has become a haven for old and new world wine lovers. I am not that familiar with the wines of Portugal other than the green and some reds. Therefore I am excited about learning and tasting its wines. Most of my clients are familiar with Italian and Chilean wines.

3) As you work with a number of different industries, such as food, wine and hospitality, what do you find to be the strengths and weaknesses of each? Which industry do you find yourself dealing with most when you organize a trip? 

It is my intent for my clients to experience the regional and gourmet foods that are accompanied by its wines.  I myself love to cook and to be able to experience it while there my educational experience is enhanced and becomes an added dimension for my clients. 

4) With wine tourism growing across the globe, how would you describe the differences between the old world and new world wine cultures? What do you view as the strengths and weaknesses of each?  

The majority of my clients seem to be familiar with the wines of France, Italy and Chile and while there is a variety of flavours floating throughout the globe that are not known, there needs to be further exposure to these areas.   

Last year I was in Apulia, Italy and was introduced to the wines from Salento. The wines made from Primitivo were outstanding. Returning back home no one had even heard of the wine much less to be found in stores until I recently found one store, which carried a variety of brands. Ever since, this is what I am buying as it pairs with certain dishes.

5) What wine destination would you suggest as the site for the 2012 wine conference?

It’s difficult to choose where to go next year but I do have some preferences. One are the Malbec wines from Argentina which are slowly gaining in popularity and Apulia, which is almost unheard of, and the Shiraz and combinations of Australia and New Zealand. Although I have mentioned specific wines I also include any wines being produced in the area. 

6) As Portugal is of interest to you, what other countries do you take/would you like to take wine lovers to? 

My interest in wines is in those produced in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

If you are a wine tourism experience provider looking to reach out to new clients then you should really be attending the 2011 International Wine Tourism Conference and Workshop and make a date to meet Harold, and some 40 – 45 other travel organisers at the Workshop