If you’re not entirely familiar with the responsibilities of a certified sommelier, a sommelier is a highly skilled and talented professional who has an exceptional understanding of wines, their composition, how they’re made and their palatable contribution to your menu selections. Sommeliers are expected to have a fundamental and expounded knowledge of primarily wine but also spirits, beer and cocktails as well as service. They work in conjunction with restaurant chefs and the waitstaff to determine what drinks pair best with featured menu options.

This role is especially helpful when the menu offerings change often based on seasonality and daily specials, like it does at Travaasa. Enter: Edward Morgan, Travaasa Austin’s accomplished sommelier. Edward has been in the wine industry for more than ten years and received his official sommelier certification in 2011 and is slated to sit for his Advanced Sommelier certification (Level 3) within the next year. Not only is Edward accomplished in the art of beverage pairing, he is also a serious marathon runner who rarely misses a day of training.

Recently, Edward was given the opportunity to travel to Northern Italy to rub elbows with some of the world’s most notable wine makers, sit at their dinner tables, meet their families, learn the intricacies of Italian winemaking and become fully immersed in Italian culture. His trip was sponsored by the Guild of Sommeliers and supported by the Banfi Vintners Foundation who chose Edward as one of six sommeliers to cross the pond and take his knowledge to a whole new level. Not only did he gain valuable insight to the world of Italian wine, he also made a conscious effort throughout his travels to pause, reflect, absorb and appreciate the unique moments that often only present themselves a few times in our lives.

Throughout the month of July, we will feature some highlights from Edward’s trip, noting some of his favorite moments, key learnings and insightful perspectives on how to get the most out of any travel experience. Our goal at Travaasa is to embrace the best of what happens when you travel: the journey, the discovery of a place, of people, of yourself, of the stories that define your life.  We invite you to follow Edward on his journey through Italian wine country, which started in Milan, then ventured to Piedmont, Veneto (including Soave, Valpolicella, Verona), Reggio Emilia, Abruzzo, Montalcino and finally ending in Rome. After arriving in Milan, the traveling sommeliers met one another at a local cafe for an espresso shot before embarking on their journey to Veneto, where they would spend their first night.

Edward described his initial impression of traveling through Italian wine country as such: “We arrived late last night and had a powerhouse dinner with the winemaker and enologist of the Bolla Family Winery. I woke up just after sunrise to get a run in. The glazed laterite stone floor was still cold from the night before as I got out of bed and made my way to the large shuttered window. I took in the landscape for a moment as it isn’t every day you have the opportunity to bed down in a 15th century estate with the undulating hills of central Italy as the back drop. I have to remind myself now and again where I am on these adventures. Not because I have some sort of retro grade amnesia or too much strong drink but because I need to remember to hold on to something this special.” Stay tuned for more highlights of Edward’s wine wanderings around Italy.

Follow his journey in chronologic order here: Piedmont, Veneto, VeronaEmilia Romagna Reggio Emilia, Abruzzo Part 1, Abruzzo Part 2, Montalcino and Banfi.