Traveling With Friends and the Wine They Drink To Reminisce

Peggy and Perry Teillon, residents of The Hill at Whitemarsh

If you walked into one of the dining venues at The Hill on any given night, there’s a good chance you’d find Jim and Nini Wolitarsky and Perry and Peggy Teillon sitting together sharing a meal, often with other Hill residents.

There’s also a good chance they’d be sharing an exquisite bottle of wine.

For both the Wolitarskys and the Teillons, a shared bottle of wine is so much more than just a lovely drink to pair with dinner; those bottles are often filled with memories of their travels together throughout Europe.

For many years, the two couples have traveled to a host of breathtaking places–including Alsace-Lorraine, the Loire Valley, and Burgundy in France and countries along the Danube–and have been known to send wine home from their adventures abroad.

“All of our trips, while not solely focused on wine, usually incorporate a visit to a vineyard or two,” said Jim. “It adds to the fun and provides additional education, and you don’t have to be a wine expert in order to enjoy it.”

“I love the memories that come along with every winery visit–the people we meet and the things we experience,” added Nini. “The grapes don’t interest me as much as the culture and the people who make it.”

The couples have gone on two barge canal trips together and one river cruise, which gives them the ability to move seamlessly from place to place along the water, taking in more culture and sights than they could on foot.

“We were on a river cruise on the Danube and stopped to visit a nearby town,” said Peggy. “Perry and I separated from Jim and Nini and ended up walking into a wine store–where Jim and Nini were also picking up wine! This is why we travel together!”

“One of my favorite trips with the Teillons was on a canal in Alsace-Lorraine,” recalled Jim. “Prior to getting on the boat, we spent time in Strasbourg, which is a wonderful small city right on the Rhine. It’s medieval and has a storied history; the culture is simply fantastic.”

“The city is right on the border of France and Germany, so we took a car to the German side to visit the Black Forest,” added Perry. “We spent another day traveling along the ‘Route des Vins’ in the valley south of Strasbourg, visiting little medieval villages, and of course stopping at a vineyard or two. You can see and feel the history there.”

“On those vineyard visits, we met with winemakers whose families have been making wine in that region going back 8, 9, sometimes 10 generations,” said Jim. “Visiting those vineyards and towns gave us a close-up look at the regional history and in a much broader context, confirmed again the value of travel as part of a world learning experience.”

Of course, it helps that both Nini and Peggy speak French, given how much they’ve traveled to France and French-speaking parts of the world. As a child, Nini lived in Belgium and learned the language there. Peggy learned how to speak French while living in Geneva as a teenager.

When the Teillons first visited The Hill from their home in Devon, Pennsylvania, during the pandemic, they fell in love with the bucolic landscape and put their name on a waiting list for a cottage. While they waited, they suggested that the Wolitarskys, who lived in Villanova, Pennsylvania, take a look at the community as well. Jim and Nini loved the location, beautiful views, and miles of walking paths. They were also impressed with the facilities, resident activities, and varied residential options. Both couples moved to The Hill in 2023.

A byproduct of the move has been downsizing their wine collections. Far from a disappointment, both couples admit that it was time to pare down their collections.

“I had almost 1,000 bottles before we moved,” Jim said. “I gave much of it away to family and friends, and now my collection is around 300 bottles that I keep in our cellar here at The Hill.”

Jim joked that he is “an equal opportunist” when it comes to wine, and he doesn’t have a favorite. But he enjoys a mix of Italian, French, and Spanish reds along with whites from Burgundy, the Loire Valley, and California–where Nini’s cousin owns a vineyard near Healdsburg.

Perry and Peggy have also downsized their wine collection but still have around 150 bottles in their new home at The Hill.

“I really love a good red Bordeaux or a white Burgundy,” said Perry. “Wine really enhances a dinner experience, and Jim always loves to share from his collection!”

Although the couples don’t have a group trip planned yet for 2024, they have individual travel on the books.

“We are planning a trip to Ireland this summer,” said Jim. “Although we don’t plan to visit any of the small local vineyards on this trip, we’re excited to soak up the sights and learn about the history. And perhaps we’ll visit a pub or two for lunch along the way.”

“We have a trip to Provence coming up in late May,” said Perry. “It’s an inn-to-inn hiking trip with maps and written instructions as our only guide. One of the joys of this type of adventure is making mistakes and getting lost. Locals are always eager to assist with directions and to share stories.”

“It is part of the delight of slow travel,” added Peggy.

Jim and Nini Wolitarsky, residents of The Hill at Whitemarsh

“I love the memories that come along with every winery visit–the people we meet and the things we experience. The grapes don’t interest me as much as the culture and the people who make it.”
– Nini Wolitarsky