Spanish Priorat wine tasting, wild swarm of honey bees, and motorcycling through Morocco

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery.

April 13, 2023


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Blind tasting modern Spanish Priorat

Another fascinating tasting with preeminent host Don Sebastiani at the Swiss Hotel on Sonoma Plaza.

Priorat is in Catalona (Catalunya), a region immediately south west of Barcelona, and directly west of Tarragona. It is rough and rugged in the extreme. For most of its wine history, it was a scenic but otherwise nondescript place with dull brownish wines.  Then, big Spanish wine money started pouring into Priorat in the 1990’s. And now the wines are uniformly modern and new world with swanky stylish labels. Most are made with blends of Garnacha (Grenache) and Cariñena (Carignane). This tasting was a real shocker to all of us as the wines were quite fresh and vibrant, with some evident terroir, and somewhat reasonably priced as well. And all available now at the Bottle Barn in Santa Rose.

We started the tasting blind; this is an image after the tasting of the 8-bottle lineup, as it turned out organized by age of vines and vintage.

You can see these wine are all deeply colored, on the core and rim as well. No flaws, no VA, all clean and fresh.

Part of the team of winemakers and media chatting about how to approach this tasting.

Installing a wild swarm of bees into a new hive box at the Hydeout

Good friend and beekeeper Nic Freedman from Bees Rock Ranch in Petaluma passed this wild swarm on to us for one of our new hive boxes.

This swarm was caught in a swarm trap using lemon grass oil as bait. These bees may have been wild. Or, they could have been a hive splitting from one of Nic’s overwintering hives (which itself started as a swarm last year).

How do you transfer bees? Just carefully lift each “frame’ from the swarm box and place it in the new hive box. There are some rules about how fast to move, alignment of boxes, location of the hive, and so forth. Like most things, easy on the surface but complicated when confronting the number of decisions and various opinions on just about everything from various beekeepers.

About 15 minutes after transfer into the new hive box; the bees are flying out, around, and back into the new hive to figure out where they are, developing navigation cues, and so forth.

Myself, Nic, and friend and neighbor John Boich, all in our suits and observing the newly installed swarm at the Hydeout.

Motorcycling through Morocco

Just before bud break in our Sonocaia Sagrantino vineyard at the Hydeout, we had a chance to ride our BMW R1200RT through Morocco. We started in Malaga Spain, took the ferry south across the strait Gibralter, and then road through Chefchouan, Fez, the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara Desert, Dades, Marrakech, and Rabat. Lots to report about the geography, food, music, religion, politics, and so forth.

Older posts you shouldn’t miss:

Sagrantino tasting – our Sonocaia vs Italy

Italian Barolos blind tasting report

50-year old California Cabernet blind tasting

Back in the Sonocaia winery after a long journey home from Morocco.

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  1. Nick Freedman

    What fun, can’t wait to see how that colony develops.

  2. Bob Berg

    Great Moroccan photos! What an interesting place. Hope the swarm takes to, looking forward to some Sonocaia honey.


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