Sunday, March 28, 2010
I’m posting this, head spinning and jet-lagged in Athens with my family on spring break, just back from the Napa Valley Vintners Taste Southern California blitz. We poured wine for folks in the wine trade, consumers and journalists. We paired our wines with delicious food at wine dinners. We shared our passion, knowledge and enthusiasm at seminars. It was an opportunity to share a little bit of ourselves.
My trip started Sunday afternoon with a consumer tasting at Wally’s, a long-time Napa Valley supporter. I arrived a bit late and slightly frazzled after wading through snarled traffic dodging the Los Angeles Marathon. We were slammed with knowledgeable, engaged consumers eager to taste the amazing diversity that is Napa Valley wines. Up the street for a an early dinner of marvelous sushi at Sushi Masu, 1911 Westwood Blvd., whipped up by the chef/owner himself.
The trade tasting on Monday was held at the Napa Valley Grille in Westwood and I had the great fortune to be pouring outside on a perfect spring day; the sun came in and out of the clouds and there was a refreshing breeze. I connected with many old friends in the trade and made several new ones. It was also a chance to meet several of the reps for my new broker, Monterey Bay Wine Company. After the tasting I attended a press reception at the W Hotel where a few wineries had a chance to show their wines and chat with several journalists. Among them was a correspondent for Le Monde in Paris who is researching an article on women winemakers. She was surprised to learn that there are so many women involved in the wine business in Napa. Next a mad dash to Julie Brosterman’s house for dinner with an engaging group of women in the wine and food business, including retailers, sommeliers, journalists and bloggers. A testament to social media, I met Julie (Women and Wine, womenwine.com and Wine Valet, a wine shop) on twitter (!).
I had most of Tuesday free of Vintner events so I worked all day with reps from Monterey Bay Wine Company, calling on accounts that had not been able to make it to the trade tasting. Then down to El Segundo that evening to pour with several vintner friends at an event at Flemings for their Magnum Club.
Wednesday started with the long drive down the 405 to Orange County for another trade tasting, this time at the Fairmont in Newport Beach. The tasting was well attended and a great chance to see old friends and meet new potential accounts. Before the tasting I was on a seminar panel with Shari Staglin, Janet Viader and Gary Lipp of Coho. We presented an abridged version of Napa Valley Rocks, a very informative PowerPoint presentation covering climate, the geology of our soils and history, followed by a tasting of each winery's current wine paired with a library selection. It’s always edifying to do a vertical tasting as it gives us so much to talk about including style, terroir and the evolution of wine in the bottle. The trade tasting was followed by another tasting for the Fairmont Presidents Club. Luckily the Fairmont is virtually across the street from the airport as I had an evening flight home. Sad to miss the San Diego leg of the Vintner tour but excited to rendezvous with my family for a long-anticipated spring-break visit to Crete over orthodox Easter.
Phew! Just writing this makes me tired. Looking back, the most remarkable and rewarding thing about the trip was the genuine cooperation and camaraderie among vintners. We get so much more done together.