Meet Aitken’s Folly Winery in Wanaka, Central Otago

From one end of the world to the other for the love of wine

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Ian, owner of Aitken’s Folly winery.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to visit Wanaka, a little town in the Central Otago wine growing region. Wanaka is mostly known for its lake, its spectacular mountain scenery and all the activities that you can do on a lake and in the mountains. Walking, hiking, all sorts of water sports… You might know me that well now to know that I was not too keen on those activities.

No, my mission was to find some wine, some good wine.  So I went into Wanaka’s wineshop and aksed John, the owner, to recommend some places to go to. Unfortunately, on the one hand, there were not too many wineries  I could visit from Wanaka. I was a little dissappointed, I thought Wanaka would be a wine paradise. But fortunately, on the other hand, there are a few small producers that the owner of the wineshop encouraged me to visit. He was even so nice to give me the phone number of the owners of Aitken’s Folly winery. And that’s how I got to meet Ian and Fiona. Continue reading

Wine and bike in the Colchagua Valley – third stop

Estampa winery

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The third winery on our  wine and bike in the Colchagua Valley tour was Estampa, a short ride away from MontGras. It was a quick stop on our way to the next winery but nevertheless quite worth that stop.

Why did we stop there? For the white wine. The Sauvignon Blanc. After all the reds I was dying for a refreshing, light, fruity, acid white wine that gives me the much-needed Spritz on a hot afternoon. And this is exactly what I got. Continue reading

Wine and bike in the Colchagua Valley – Second Stop

MontGras Winery

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MontGras is a Chilean success story. Founded in 1992, it now exports its wines to roughly 35 countries and is among the big players in the Chilean wine industry, still owned by its Chilean founding partners. It is a big company, no doubt about that, but when you enter their premises you get a very personal welcome and people take their time to explain things to you. Above all, their tastings are very generous and carried out by knowledgeable and also entertaining staff. Continue reading

Wine and bike in the Colchagua Valley – four wineries in a day!

OUr fist Stop: Laura Hartwig Winery

Bike and wine in the Colchagua Valley

That wind! I know it’s super good for the grapes, cooling them down at night and all that, but that day, cycling around the Colchagua Valley to visit some wineries, the wind really wasn’t my best friend.

Wine and bike in the Colchagua Valley! What the hell did I think when I agreed to it? I probably just heard the “wine” bit of the sentence and thought the bike part will somehow happen miraculously without any need of my involvement. I WAS WRONG! I STRUGGLED!  However, that’s just the out-of-shape me. The in-shape me tells you one thing: When in the Colchagua Valley, grab a bike and go and see those lovely wineries! There is no better way to explore Colchagua Valley than on a saddle of a bike. And yes, it is also super managable when you’re not fit. I was exeggarating a bit to get an exciting entry to the post. Sorry.

Here is a map of the region that we covered in a day:

Wineries visited in the Colchagua Valley

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Laura Hartwig Winery: -34.631230, -71.374569
MontGras Winery: -34.566514, -71.403580
Estampa Winery: -34.582344, -71.375427
Montes Wines: -34.620777, -71.264191
Continue reading

My first visit to Istanbul

Getting lost, finding back and plastic birds

(this text is a translation of the German entry)

I arrive at the Otogar, Turkey’s biggest bus station. It is my first visit to Istanbul. I have never seen anything like that and think to myself: „This must be the biggest bus station in the whole world!“ It stretches over several floors, every floor is home to many little shops, where you can by pretty much anything you need. For example, you can get shoes (because that’s what you buy when you change buses, right?). Or medicine in one of the many pharmacies. Or food in supermarkets or restaurants. Or you can buy tools or whatever you need to build your house. Or you can buy car parts. This I do understand looking at all the buses. Every floor is like a city in itself. The basement, several floors in the middle, the upper floor. Many little cities on top of one another. The only thing that makes them different is the degree of light that reaches down to them.


The Otogar bus station in Istanbul. Photo:

Let’s go and find Kadiköy

My bus struggles through the narrow and winding roads to reach the top floor which greets us with warm sunshine. I get in a small shuttle bus, it brings me to the ferry in the middle of the city, to the ferry terminal which will bring me to the Asian side of the city, to Kadiköy. It is supposed to be more quiet, a little more relaxed, a little more gemütlich, as we Germans like to say. Continue reading