I caught up with Patrick Bernie, organiser of the European Gay Wine Weekend, to see if my palate was sophisticated enough to join the expedition.
What inspired you to create the EGWW?
Anthony, my co-organiser, and I had been invited to a wedding in California in September of 2017. We took a few days in wine country visiting vineyards. It was there that our idea for our wine business redevined wines and gay wine weekend began.
Anthony owns a vineyard in Bordeaux, but for me it was my first real experience of wine tours and I was blown away. I love a story, and just seeing the individuality of each wine maker and their passion, how they farm, produce, and sell wine was fascinating. We set up redevined wines as a result and then got to thinking how we could share that experience with others.
We’re both passionate about inclusivity, and have loved Gay Ski Week, so we decided to emulate a similar experience but with wine — tours, dinners with winemakers, châteaux visits, and social opportunities to meet others, and make new friends. We just wanted to offer something a little different for the LGBTQ community other than gay bars and clubs.
Why did you select Bordeaux as the destination for the first EGWW?
Bordeaux was a natural choice for us. Anthony has a vineyard there, Etalon Rouge, and has a huge network of people who we could work with. We’ve partnered with Bordeaux Village Blaye — the founder, Lara Sanan, is an expert in event organisation, so we knew in her we had a great facilitator of the whole weekend.
The town of Blaye, where the event is being held, is truly exceptional — an amazing UNESCO world heritage site with spectacular views across the river Gironde. Anyone who stays there is truly blown away. We’ve basically commandeered a gay street for the event, where the accommodation, wine bars, and restaurants are all within one block.
Is this a trip that’s just for guys?
This is an inclusive trip for all. It’s marketed at our LGBTQ network because that’s who we are. Everyone is welcome and will be treated with the utmost respect. We have lots of friends in Bordeaux who will be at plenty of events, so it’s going to be very diverse. It’s going to be a great weekend of socialising, networking, and wine.
How many people are you expecting to sign up for the EGWW?
This year is our first year, so we’ve targeted between 50–70 people. It’s a limited number, but this will make it very intimate. It’s harvest in Blaye at the time, so it’s an incredible opportunity to see the vineyards in full ripeness, see the wine being made, and taste directly from barrels. The winemakers are naturally very busy, so we needed to ensure their commitment would tie into our numbers.
How do you get to Bordeaux?
Bordeaux is an international airport, so it’s a great hub for flights from all major cities across Europe.
A hire car is the best solution for the 45 minute drive to Blaye, as the town has free parking. However, there are plenty of options — including public transport, and taxis. If you’re coming solo or in groups, we’ll do everything we can to coordinate flight times and hook you up with a travelling partner from the airport if that would be helpful. We can also arrange taxis for groups so that price burden is shared. Just email us on [email protected]
Would you have to know a lot about wine in order to enjoy this trip?
No, this is for everyone. It’s for the inexperienced right through to the wine guru. It’s an opportunity to see a wonderful part of Bordeaux, perhaps learn a little, or experience wines from Blaye and Bourg which are areas that aren’t as widely distributed in the UK but are hugely popular in France.
The great thing about wine is that it’s a constant educational experience for everyone. Blaye is one of the largest appellations in France, so just getting to experience some of the smaller producers of this region will be a great experience.
Will there be other EGWW events?
Our goal is to make this an annual experience. We have great connections in Bordeaux, but as we develop we’ll definitely look to expand our regions and offerings.
We want to hear your opinion
Travel Tuesday: Faro and Algarve
In today’s Travel Tuesday destination guide, we take a look at Faro and Algarve in Portugal.
When to go
The Algarve is one of the most beautiful regions in Portugal. Very friendly but also very gay friendly. The best time to go there is between April and November when you can have really nice temperatures. This region is known for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts. Discover fishing villages on low cliffs overlooking sandy coves, and the central coast between Lagos and Faro is lined with villas, hotels, bars and restaurants.
Faro and its surrounding area offers loads of possibilities to meet people. You have the choice of bars and dance clubs around Faro. After Lisbon and Porto, Faro is without a doubt the new gay destination to discover in Portugal.
- Zablucha, Cupido and Afrodite (sex shops)
- Prestige dance club
- Connection bar
- The loft gay bar
- Heaven club
If you enjoy being naked and enjoy an all-over tan, the following gay nudist beaches are the perfect places to also meet new friends and enjoy yourself!
Clothing-optional beaches around Faro:
- Praia Grande
- Praira do cavalota Preto
- Praia do Submarino
- Manta Rora
Unofficial nudist beaches:
- Praia Da Bordeira
- Praia do Beliche
- Praia Cabana Velhas
- Praia Das Furnas
- Praia Do Zavial
- Praia Dos Pinheiros and Meia Praia in Lagos
- Praia Do Trafal
- Praia Da Futeza
- Praia De Ancao reached by boat from Sitio da Fabrica in Vila Real de Santo
- Antonio just west from Monte Gordo
In terms of accommodation in Faro, I would strongly recommend the Pine Cliff Resort. I had the chance to stay there for a couple of days last year and I really enjoyed it. This amazing resort is very well situated in the Algarve. The resort is what I would call an affordable luxury resort. With your other half or a group of friends, the Pine Cliff offers standard rooms but also townhouses, standard villas, deluxe villas with private pool, suites and penthouses, and golf suites. Your private transfer and breakfast is included and you can also request a private cook. The resort also organises cooking classes. There’s also a private beach, and of course a swimming pool and spa. Experience the Pine Cliff you won’t regret it!
As an alternative, I would also suggest the Thermas Pride Guest House and Spa for men in Albufeira.
Traditional food in Algarve includes:
- Conquilhas a Algarvia (succulent clams fresh from the sea in a garlic sauce.
- Cataplana de Marisco (mixed sea food and vegetables)
- Petiscos de Taberna (Similar to Spanish tapas)
- Feijoada (bean stew with pork and beans)
- Dom Rodrigos (Tarts and pastries very popular in Potugal)
- Leitao (suckling pig smothered in herb and roasted)
- Caldo verde (succulent soup with potatoes, kale, bacon and sausages)
- Queijo (local cheese)
Don’t forget to try the Portuguese wine which is one of the best in the world!
Gay restaurants in Algarve:
- Aperitivo bar (Faro)
- Cocktail and wine bar Columbus (Faro)
What to do
- Bus tours
- Horse riding
- Kite Surf
- Yachts and private boats for parties
- Reef fishing
- Big game fishing
- 2-hour boat ride to see the coastline and caves
- Jeep safaris
- Theme parks
- Cooking classes
- Wine testing
- Yoga classes
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