Our guest today seems to be a superman of sorts: partner at a world-famous business consultancy, author, sommelier, adventure racer, and owner of both a rum company and a vineyard, he has his fingers and toes in many ventures. With an interest in the outdoors, wine, and Bhutan, he’ll share his passion for travel and business experience in one of Asia’s most exotic destinations. Get ready for some great tales about Bhutan from Michael Juergens!
Every other week, we have a special Patron-only episode or video. Recently we shared a video of Trevor’s Phnom Penh pub crawl and Scott’s ride past Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
According to Wikipedia, the Kingdom of Bhutan is a landlocked country in the Eastern Himalayas, located between China and India in the geographical subregion of Southern Asia. Known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”, Bhutan has a population of approximately 750,000 over a land area of roughly 40,000. The capital and largest city is Thimphu, which has a population of just over 100,000 and is located in the western central part of Bhutan. It replaced the ancient capital city of Punakha in 1955.
A few other facts about Bhutan: The Bhutanese Himalayas features mountain peaks higher than 7,000 meters (23,000 ft), including Gangkhar Puensum, which is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. The wildlife of Bhutan is notable for its diversity, including the Himalayan takin, a type of gnu goat. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with Vajrayana Buddhism as the state religion.
Scott: never been but have known lots of people to go, doing everything from the classic sites to mountain biking, mountaineering, and trekking. I’m intrigued – low population, very mono-ethnic, seemingly high regard for the natural environment, and putting a higher value on life than just chasing money.
Trevor: I’m aware of the gross national happiness index, the dreamy good looks of the king and queen, and the fact that it’s an exceptionally beautiful country. The name alone, the Land of the Thunder Dragon conjures up images of an exotic, fairytale land. Beyond that, I don’t know a lot about Bhutan except that it’s a Buddhist nation and that I’d love to visit someday.
Guest Intro: Our guest is the bestselling author of Drinking & Knowing Things, he’s a Certified Sommelier with the Guild of Master Sommeliers, and a Master of Wine Candidate with the Institute of Masters of Wine. He runs the wildly popular Drinking & Knowing Things wine blog which was adapted into a book that provides 52 specific wine recommendations. He’s also the founder of the Bhutan Wine Company and is leading the development of the wine industry in the magical Himalayan country. He owns the award-winning SoCal Rum company, which was recently awarded the highest point score in history for any Silver Rum, and is a professor at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of CA, Irvine. He lives in Los Angeles, where he spends his time blind tasting and doing extreme sports. Welcome to the show Michael Juergens.
Listen to Episode 156 to hear MJ’s answers to the following questions about Bhutan:
- Where are you currently and when were you last in Asia?
- What first brought you to Bhutan and for what purpose?
- Bhutan is a country many listeners may be unfamiliar with, can you give our listeners a rough overview of the country?
- What were your first impressions of Bhutan and what made you return?
- You’re really into wine and have started to grow grapes for wine in Bhutan. What makes Bhutanese soil, climate, etc. good for wine production?
- Are there any particular aspects of Bhutanese cuisine that pair particularly well with wine?
- Your own passion for wine put aside, what would you recommend are the top attractions for visitors to Bhutan?
- If people were to travel to Bhutan for a more wine-specific visit, what would such a trip look like: are there guest houses near the vineyards?
- What other attractions or activities are nearby that people could combine with a visit to the vineyards?
- Let’s change gears a bit and talk about adventure racing: how did that hobby begin?
- Tell us about the actual races you’ve run in Bhutan – where were they, what did you see, what are the people like?
- What different adventure races have you participated in here in Asia?
- How can people learn more about what Michael’s up to?
- Follow MJ on IG: @bhutanwine
- Drinking & Knowing Things wine blog
- SoCal Rum Company
- Follow Michael Juergens on Twitter
- Bhutan Wine Company
- #106 – Biking in Bhutan with Darren Berrecloth
- #113 – Mountain Biking in Asia with Brice Minnigh
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Theme Music by Jamie Ruben