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Occidental Vacation Club Lauds Founders Club Members

” Our Founders Club members are the key to our success. These are the people who have trusted us to take care of their vacations for more than a decade. They keep coming back to the Caribbean to relax and enjoy that special easy-going hospitality OVC is known for. These are the members who tell their friends and family about us and help us to continue growing.”

Luis Namnum, President of Occidental Vacation Club

Click here to read the full article!

Meet the Staff: Adriana Delgado, Guest Service at Grand Xcaret

One of the smiling faces you’ll find at the First Club in Grand Xcaret is Adriana’s. She was born in San Luis Potosí, one of the colonial cities in Mexico, and for the last 5 years has been living in Playa del Carmen.

Click below to read more about her.

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Turning Grape Juice into Wine!

We’re gearing up for our April “Route of Wine” tour and in a recent blog we talked about the steps of the wine harvest.   Fermentation is the next important process along the route of producing a great wine for your table.  Before fermentation begins though, the wine grapes are put through a process which crushes the grapes to release the juice for fermenting which understandably is called, “The Crush”.

Turning grape juice into wine is a very important part of the whole process! Photo by: Akira Dawson

Turning grape juice into wine is a very important part of the whole process!
Photo by: Akira Dawson

The Crush

Though foot-stomping used to be the way to crush the grapes (Remember the hilarious “I Love Lucy” episode, where Lucille Ball hops into a wine vat and tries to out-stomp her Italian competitor!), now it’s much more likely that the grapes used for the wine you drink were crushed by a machine. Automated crusher-destemmers break open the grape skins to expose the juice and pulp. The stems and seeds contain compounds in them called tannins that give structure and texture to wines. The tannins are also responsible for the amount of astringency or bitterness in the wine.

The Fermentation Process

During fermentation the grapes work their magic when the addition of yeast converts sugar-laden grape juice into wine. The addition of yeast turns the grape’s sugars into alcohol. This chemical conversion produces thousands of chemical compounds that give the wine its bouquet (aroma) such as floral or fruity. Winemakers use it in their description of the wine found on the bottle label.  A Pinot Gris might be described as, “crisp and juicy with green apple, peach, and lemon lime notes, and a zippy finish of honeysuckle and citrus.”

There are many types of fermentation techniques used to achieve an award-winning red wine or the perfect white wine. Typically stainless steel tanks or neutral oak barrels are used for wine fermentation. Chardonnay is usually barrel fermented and goes through malolactic fermentation, a process that converts the harsher malic acid in a wine to a softer lactic acid to achieve creamy, complex notes.  Other light white varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, are fermented in stainless steel tanks at cool temperatures to bring out the primary fruit aromas and a crisp acidity. High tannin reds like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon will spend time on their skins after fermentation to allow the tannins to soften, create a deeper color, and bring a denser mouth feel to the wine. The resulting liquid during fermentation is called the must…another word to add to your wine vocabulary list!

Whatever the fermentation process, this year’s Napa Valley and Sonoma Country wines are expected to be outstanding. 2012 and 2013 have been banner years in wine production in the area. You’ll have many opportunities to experience all the tantalizing bouquets and luscious tastes of the great diversity of wines of this area, when you join Occidental Vacation Club for April’s “Route of Wine” tour.

It’s February, share your love story and win a stay for two!

It’s February and here at the Club we are spreading the love. And to us, love is vacationing in the Caribbean!

We all have a love story to share, and yours can make you a winner of a 7-night stay for two at one of our incredible destinations.

Your love story can make you a winner

Your love story can make you a winner

Here’s how to participate!

First, make sure you Like us on Facebook (If not, click here and go do it now!). Leave a comment on this post telling us your love story: when did it start, what is so special about it… Then, come back up here and register your entry in the box below. You have a week to participate! After the contest is closed, we will choose among the eligible entries the one who will be sharing a wonderful vacation in Grand Cozumel, Grand Nuevo Vallarta or Grand Papagayo.

It’s a love fest here at Occidental Vacation Club.

Participate NOW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

  • Participants must complete the above form in order to be eligible to win
  • The prize is for and 8 days – 7 nights stay for two in Grand Nuevo Vallarta, Grand Cozumel or Grand Papagayo between April 20th – June 27th and August 23rd – December 22nd.
  • The prize is not transferable and cannot be exchanged for money.
  • The prize must be redeemed within 12 months after the winner is announced.
  • The prize does not include the airfare or any other transportation costs.
  • Booking must be made via Occidental Vacation Club Customer Service and Reservations Center
  • Occidental Vacation Club may delete any comment that is considered inappropriate, violent or that includes foul language.
  • Occidental Vacation Club employees, their family, friends or acquaintances are not eligible to participate in this promotion.

Wine Harvest…Make or Break Time for the Wine Industry

The harvest is one of the most important times of the entire wine grape growing season. In vineyards located in Napa and Sonoma that means picking the grapes between the months of August and November. All the efforts of the year lead up to this event when growers will find out just how successful they have been in growing the perfect grapes to make the perfect wine.

The harvest, one of the most important times of the entire wine grape growing season

The harvest, one of the most important times of the entire wine grape growing season

Veraison…the Ripening of the Grapes

After all the careful planning and cultivating of the grape harvest with the many steps of the growing cycle (winter pruning, bud break, flowering, fruit set, canopy management and crop thinning) the grape growers finally arrive mid-summer to the ripening of the grapes, veraison. Veraison is the time when the grapes (which all begin green in color) change color to reveal their true variety. As they ripen, the grapes take on new hues of red, purple, and near black for the red varieties, and greenish yellow for white varieties. This period of grape pigment development doesn’t happen at the same moment throughout a vineyard, and can take a long period of time. It all depends on the grape variety and the micro-environment (temperature, soil, sun exposure) of the vineyard site to ripen, plump and soften the fruit, and begin sugar development.  So the grapes of that Tempranillo (a Spanish word for early) wine you like so much stays true to its meaning, and will ripen much earlier than a port wine grape which can be the last to be harvested.

Keep Your Fingers Crossed for the Harvest

The harvest begins when the vintner decides the time is right. Traditionally, as in Napa Valley, the grapes are picked by hand and mostly at night. (The coolness of the night is better for transporting the grapes because if it’s too warm, the grapes may start to ferment too early.) Shears are sharpened and workers head for the fields with a bin or basket. Filled baskets are emptied into a truck or tractor and taken to the winery. Though some mass produced wines are harvested mechanically, hand-picking is the preferred method to obtain high quality production. At the winery the grapes are sorted for quality, sugar levels are measured, and the maturity of phenolic compounds which add layers of flavor, color and texture are tested. It all leads to the crush and fermentation which we’ll cover in our next blog.

Attention “Route of Wine” Tour Participants!

Reviews of the 2013 California Wine Grape Harvest are Glowing!

Vintners and grape growers throughout California are giving glowing reviews of the 2013 wine grape harvest. According to the Wine Institute report it’s another high quality and generous vintage for 2013. Nearly ideal weather conditions for maturation of grapes made the harvest smooth, and wineries were at capacity with very high quality wine grapes. “For Sonoma County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the 2013 growing season essentially offered conditions that were various degrees of wonderful,” said James Hall, Co-founder and Winemaker at Patz & Hall.”

And, from the President of Trefethen family Vineyards and President of the Napa Valley Grape growers, Jon Ruel, “The whites, already dry, taste fantastic and yields were above average. Cabernet Sauvignon is showing strong tannins and color early in fermentation leading to some earlier pressing. We feel very fortunate to have had such a great harvest on the heels of the excellent 2012.”

All this points to some great wine tastings in 2014 and just more reasons to join OVC’s “Route of Wine” tour. Contact OVC now for your special package tour of the world-famous Napa and Sonoma wine country.