Complexity Group’s Grapes On A Train 2013 – My Maiden Voyage to Montreal

Interior of the vintage train with the attendees A.J. Ojeda-Pons, Sommelier of The Lambs Club and Carrie Lyn Strong, Sommelier of Ai Fiori
Wines tasted at Sauvignon Blanc seminar
The vintage train

Two weekends ago, I was asked by Complexity Group to shoot and video their annual event, Grapes On a Train. Complexity is a New Zealand-based group that would bring awareness of their home country’s delicious wines to the United States.

This particular event is very unique as a medium-sized group of wine industry people, like sommeliers, wine buyers, wine directors, and a few writers gather to meet at NYC’s Penn Station to ride a vintage train car and take the scenic route along the Hudson River to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. During that long ride north, we participated in four different wine seminars (we rotate in groups) and tasted the delicious New Zealand wines that the winemakers took along for the trip.

It’s a pretty exciting excursion for me since it’s my first trip to Montreal and it’s all romantically set in a train.

Lunch: Ora King Salmon with red quinoa, red onions and mustard with seared New Zealand venison
Afternoon tea of scones and blueberry mini pies Afternoon tea of meat pies
Cheese and crackers New Zealand candies - Red colored Smarties and Pineapple Lumps
Various foods served

But of course, man can’t live on wine alone. Food was served in intervals (or we won’t be able to make it through this 10-hour train ride!) of a light breakfast of blueberry pastries, lunch of New Zealand Ōra King Salmon and venison, which I learned the latter is a common meat and the largest exporter to the U.S. for venison, afternoon tea with scones, and a cheese and beer break after we went through Customs as we crossed the Canadian border.

The view from my room at Marriott Chateau Champlain in Montreal, Canada The space where the party will be happening with "North by Northwest" playing View from the (shaky) terrace outside of the loft
Ssam (Korean style wrap) of pork, endive, red onion, avocado sauce wrapped in shiso leaf Red snapper ceviche with green papaya salad

As a group, we ended the long day and evening with a satisfying, Asian-New Zealand accented dinner at a private loft near Mont Royal – and of course, there’s plenty of New Zealand wines to quaff or sip through until midnight or so. If you had the energy, you could join a couple of friends you made over this trip and experience the nightlife.

I didn’t have the energy in me to go out into the early hours of the morning but did indulge in the doughnuts by Trou de Beigne as my sweet sendoff to a deep sleep in my hotel room.

A view of  St. George's Anglican Church in Montreal, Canada Looking down Rue de la Montagne IMG_1806 La Maison OGILVY, a luxury department store on Rue de Sainte-Catherine and Rue de la Montagne
Inside Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde Inside Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde

The (questionably) good habit of mine is that I don’t need to sleep a lot to be fully functional. I ended up waking an hour before the crack of dawn and do my short photo walk around downtown Montreal, briefly stopping by Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral), La Maison OGILVY, and Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal before I met up with my group heading to Montréal-Trudeau airport for our flight back to NYC.

Admittedly, my maiden voyage to Montreal and since this industry event was booked until the late hours and I had to leave the next morning, I didn’t experience (and eat my way through) Montreal the way I’d like to. However, this charming city does make me want to come back and visit for a long weekend.

Also, I do hope to see the lush green, mountainous wine valleys of New Zealand. Someday…Someday.

Many thanks again to Complexity Group for the amazing opportunity to work with you, the great, fun winemakers! It was a total pleasure to meet (and record) some of the friendly NYC restaurant sommeliers that I don’t think I would have met until this event.

To view more photos of this event, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):

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