Readers: I have been very busy and I haven't had the opportunity to write since last week. I actually tried to write a little last night and fell asleep at my computer after typing half a sentence. I've noticed that I get about 5 people returning to check out the site everyday. If you're one of those people and you've been disappointed I want to apologize, thank you for reading, and let you know that I try my best to post at least every other day, so keep checking in! The good news is because I've been so busy I also have lots to share!
How about I start with a wine festival? On Saturday I travelled to my old stomping grounds to represent Deerfield at the annual San Rafael Wine Festival. It was a blast. The setting was what really made it a unique event. It took place on the grounds of this historic estate that has been turned into a museum. My aunt Sandra, head of sales, was my mentor. She's been to a great deal of these kind of events so it was wonderful to work with her and listen to how she talked about the wine and interacted with the patrons. It was really enjoyable talking with all of the people at the event and there wasn't too much of a crowd so I could have actual conversations. I surprised me how into wine everybody seemed to be. I thought people would want their taste and then get on to the next one. But nearly every person was extremely engaged and wanted to know as much about the wine as possible.
It was also a great event to cut my teeth on because there was no pressure to sell the wine. In fact, we weren't allowed to. The whole event is meant for the companies representing themselves to advertise. I thought the format of the event was genius: You pay for a wristband at the door and you're given a glass, then you can taste as much wine as you want and eat all of the food you want. That's right - free food. In addition to inviting wineries, the hosts of the event got all of the local gourmet restaurants to give away food. Nobody was stingy with their portions and there were more tasty tidbits around than I could hope for. A few delectibles: Quail with a orange demiglaze, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with almond, octopus ceviche, gourmet sweet potato french fries and the best gazpacho in this hemisphere. But my favorite food vendor was my neighbor! The first thing we did was have a food pairing. Our neighbor's delicious pulled pork nachos went excellently with our 2004 Shiraz Cuvee (although Sandra thought is went better with the Red Rex).
At any rate, I got to try some nice wines (I was careful not to try too many), meet some nice people, eat some good food, but the best part of the day by far was what I learned: It's great to work for a winery, but it's absolutely wonderful to work for a winery that makes wine that people love. Every person who tasted the wine had a little "wow" moment. More than once I was told that our wine was the best at the event. Even though I didn't make the it, I felt so proud that my family makes such outstanding wine. Lots and lots of people try to make wine. And they try their best. The fact that, after these people spent all day drinking wine, ours stood out to them is amazing to me. I think that it was well worth the wine invested. I expect that lots of those happy people will be returning for more!
Note: I know I've been promising more pictures for a long time but they're coming! I've already edited them all and they would be up right now but I'm having some technical issues. They WILL be there tomorrow. There's a lot of really great shots so check in tomorrow to see them!
On Sunday I attended another wine event with Sandra. Tasting 2009 was sponsored by the Family Wineries of California Association. It was a little different from the laid back event I attended the previous week: Upwards of three hundred wineries from across California showed up to pour their wine. Needless to say, I got to try lots and lots of good wines. I wasn't the only one though. The event drew an enormous, gregarious and eventually all-too-tipsy crowd of wine aficionados from all walks of life. To accommodate the crowd Sandra wisely thought it would be best if we had three people to work our booth. So we brought a friend of the winery and Kenwood local, Matt Quinones, who besides being incredibly helpful and knowledgeable, took the time to show me the ropes. He knew many of the wineries present and was nice enough to make me a little guide book of which wineries to check out, who to meet and which wines to try. That was great because I have to admit, I was a little lost in the sea of wine and the din of voices. Having three people was perfect because it allowed us to take turns walking around the event, mingling and expanding our palettes. The only catering was a cheese company who really stepped up to plate and delivered 650 pounds of out-of-this-world bleu cheese (and a really nice rosemary and olive oil asiago). It was fun until the very end when the only people left were leaning precariously and all too eager to engage in muddled conversation. All in all, I had a terrific time and it was a great learning experience and I made my first real friend in my new town and I found twenty dollars in my pocket!
As I lay in bed that night, exhausted, I realized that I was really looking forward to the next day of work. And that's something really special. I've had jobs that I've enjoyed in the past but I've never been excited to go to work. Especially when work involves getting up at 6:30 and doing hard physical labor. But I couldn't wait. I love what I'm doing and I couldn't rightfully ask for anything more then that.
This past Saturday Ghirardelli Square in the city was flooded with hundreds of wine enthusiasts, some just enjoying good tunes and company but some were questing for an undiscovered treasure. Of course Ryan and I were there pouring wine and spreading the word for Deerfield. I’ve represented Deerfield at about a half-dozen wine events and competitions now and we always get a good reception. People love our wine and always let us know, but this event was different. There was some electricity in the air and the crowd was buzzing. Those who know Deerfield always make it a point to seek us out at events but we are always working to introduce more wine drinkers to the quality of our wine. Normally we work very hard to attract people but this time something special happened. It was like a chain reaction: a few people stopped by, tasted, savored and next thing you know came back with a group of friends. People saw the commotion at our table and checked out what was going on. Next thing you know we had attracted a would like to think they were there to talk to us but know that the wines speak for themselves so and we all know they have an eloquent tale to tell. People really appreciated the difference in what we are doing. Our blends made us stand out. Our Merlot Cuvée is the soft approachable wine that everybody can enjoy. Our Old Vine Zin is the intense style that zin lovers gravitate towards. What really made this event different was getting to show Deerfield to so many people who appreciated fine wine. There were people there from all walks of life and people at very different stages of developing their palate for wine and everyone seemed to really care what they were drinking and realized what a good value they had found. One young gentleman who many would expect to see with a pint glass as opposed to a wine glass took out his homemade list he had typed up on Excel with all of the wineries present at the event and a grading rubric and pointed to it and said our 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County got an 8 which he explained was “reeeeeally good.” I for one am excited. I feel like this is a renaissance where enjoying quality wine is no longer viewed by as a bourgeoisie indulgence. It’s somewhat surprising that this increased interest in quality wine is taking place during an economic downturn but I think what people are really looking at is the value of wine, dependent on the price. People will buy wine at a price point they can afford – what’s important is that they care what it is they’re drinking and are cognizant about what’s out there. They are actively seeking a great value. I’m part of this new generation of wine drinkers so I’m very pleased with the current trend. Just pick up a copy of Wine Enthusiast’s may issue and count many times they talk about Millennials, the wine drinkers from age 21 to 35. Here in Sonoma there’s an upcoming wine competition where all of the judges will be members of the Millenial generation. It will be very interesting to see the results. Until next time, Salut!
Wine has been around for a long time. There is evidence of winemaking dating back 6500 years ago, so it’s not exactly a new facet of civilization. Yet the role that wine plays in our modern culture is definitely enjoying a rapid expansion. That’s what the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is taking a look at in its new installation “How Wine Became Modern: Design and Wine, 1976 to Now”. It opened this weekend so I cruised down to the City to check it out,
If you’re not familiar with the historic “Judgement of Paris”, in which two California wines trumped the first growth French counterparts in a blind tasting on their home turf, you can watch the film Bottleshock to get up to speed (plus Bill Pullman hasn’t been this good since Independence Day). If you do remember that day that reshaped the notion that quality wine is exclusively synonymous with Bordeaux, than you may enjoy the large mural depicting the judges in a style reminiscent of The Last Supper. The actual bottle of 1973 Chateau Montelena and 1973 Stag’s Leap, with the issue of Time chronicling the event might impress you even more.
One of my personal favorites was a series of bottles of Chardonnay in which the artist added oak chips to each bottle according to the Fibonacci sequence, in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, producing a perfect gradient of color.
Wine was even dripping from the ceiling into a case of eclectic stemware. Some of the pieces emphasized function while others emphasized…erm…well…the stem. Still I enjoyed the novelty and the decanters definitely belonged in a museum (although they were also available in the gift store).
The most educational exhibit was definitely the look at the concept of terroir. Their approach was to take soil samples from all over the world and display them along with live weather reports, a quote from the grower about their view on terroir, and the raw statistics of the vineyard such as annual rainfall and average root depth. I noticed that most of the Old World growers espoused the exemplary qualities of their vineyard’s location while growers from New World countries highlighted the impact of the human element on terroir.
An entire wall was dedicated to label art, with overlapping categories separating themes like “Good Vs. Evil” and “Femme”. We see the label art whenever we go shopping but seeing it broken down like this really makes you think twice about the label and the message it tries to convey.
Usually smell isn’t on display at MOMA but it was in “How Wine Became Modern”. A wall highlighting the more unusual smells wine critics identify such as Cat’s Pee and Hamster Cage were present for all to sniff.
On the way out was a screen rapidly flashing videos related to the consumption of wine taken from television and film over the decades. For me, this piece best illustrated how wine has stained the fabric of our lives.
One great thing about living in the Sonoma Valley is that you get to enjoy the country life style but you’re only an hour away from the multitude of fine dining options to be found in the City By The Bay. Deerfield has made a commitment to only sourcing fruit locally, from within a 20 mile radius of the winery. We always like to do business with like-minded companies, which is why we’re excited that our wines are on the menu at the new San Francisco eatery Locavore. The restaurant was founded on principles of nourishing people with foods and beverages that are organic and produced locally. All the ingredients used by Locavore were produced in a 100 mile radius of their Mission District location.
They’ve been open for about two months now and San Francisco residents resonate with these ideas and have flocked to the spot. Next week they’re celebrating the successful opening with their first event. Ryan Rugg and I are heading down to pour some wines and help them kick it off.
Tuesday, January 18th from 5pm to 7pm we’ll be hanging out at Locavore located at 3215 Mission St. San Francisco. More info.
Our 2006 Merlot Cuveé was selected by executive chef Jason Moniz for their locally crafted wine list because of its versatility and ability to pair with a diverse course selection. In order to offer guest more for the evening we’ll be bringing with us the newly released 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and everyone’s favorite, Red Rex.
See you there!