At the inaugural Design Bloggers Conference in 2011, I served grower Champagne to 200 designers and design bloggers. Intended as a gesture of celebration and gratitude for making our industry’s blogger confab a reality, it mostly ignited an appreciation that two distinct worlds of passion, design and wine, were not nearly as decoupled as I suspected.
Luxury wine and design are lifestyle celebrations. The joys of connecting them have culminated in Esteem Media’s recent announcement of Design & Wine Italy 2016, a luxury design and wine travel experience from April 30-May 6 2016 (with an optional add on weekend on the pastoral Friulian/Slovenian border), brought to you by the Design Bloggers Conference. It is the first in an annual series of global design and wine immersion trips for design trade professionals, their friends, spouses, and partners.
When it came to picking a destination for this inaugural trip, Italy stood at the top of the list. Still deeply in touch with its Epicurean roots, Italy has engaged in a two thousand year love affair with the arts, gastronomy, and good living. Italy is steeped in traditions of beauty and pleasures that shape and influence every moment you spend there. In which case, it is no surprise that Italy has consistently contributed to the fields of design and wine in world-class fashion.
Nowhere have I been struck more by Italy’s cultural majesty than in northeast Italy. Several years ago traveling along the A4, a highway path connecting the dramatic canals of Venice with Verona and its bedroom Valpolicella wineland, I traversed some of the nation’s most breathtaking scenery, inspiring design destinations, exciting wineries, and met the most compelling people and personalities. The countryside is cloaked in farmland and vineyards, spotted with medieval villages and villas, and all is presided over by the snow-covered Austrian Alps. With each passing day, I became more enamored with a place that is still relatively unknown and untainted by external influence. Sharing this special place with others became a nagging dream in the same ways I wanted to launch the Design Bloggers Conference so I could pour grower Champagnes for designers and writers.
In that spirit, I set out to assemble the most capable organizing and guide team available for delivering an unparalleled visit to the region. Toma Clark Haines, Founder and CEO of Antiques Diva, has been running design and antique related buying tours in this region, and elsewhere in Europe, for years. She continues to blaze to new trails connecting Europe’s design and antique treasures with the rest of the world. Her involvement has afforded access to Venice’s most exclusive warehouses and factories. Jeremy Parzen, founder of Do Bianchi and my personal favorite Italian wine writer and historian on Italian wine, food, and culture has dedicated his entire life to unraveling the mysteries of Italy for non-Italians, befriending countless interesting winemakers along the way. My collaboration with these two special people, our Lead Guides in Italy, has convinced me that our inaugural 2016 Italy Design & Wine excursion will provide an experience that is otherwise unavailable to design professionals or anyone with an interest in luxury design and wine.
Possibly more pronounced in Italy than elsewhere, as usual it is about knowing the right people. The investment in time, reputation, and connections made by our three organizers over the years has produced an agenda that will consistently take us places that are simply unavailable to the public. Whether it is dinner on a private Venetian island or guests of Italy’s finest stone merchants, this will be a once in a lifetime trip that we are as excited to participate in as we are to organize.
Knowing how special this trip will be, we are now spreading the word quickly. Participation is limited and the deadline for signing on is December 2, 2015 or when the trip fills up, whichever is first. We truly believe that those who have a passion for design, wine, and professional and personal networking with like minded people should contact us sooner than later. Here is the itinerary, cost and reservation instructions. Jeremy, Toma, and I hope to see you in Italy this spring!