So here’s the thing about wine tasting, it’s a little bit different for everyone. Some prefer to go hog wild, taste every wine available, pay the tasting fee (if any) and move on. Some would prefer to taste one or two wines, figure out if they like whats offered and relax with a glass. Another might taste a flight of a particular varietal, choose a bottle they enjoy and share it with friends. Our small group fits pretty much all these scenarios.
Today, I ask a question that sits outside those debates. Do you prefer to taste at small or large wineries? I mean sure, I enjoyed the hour long tour at King Estates but not the half hour between pours in the tasting room with 712 of my closest friends (yes, you can just feel the sarcasm can’t you?). I love the wine club pickup parties at Firesteed but again, with so many people about on those particular days, it’s hard to build relationships with anyone, to really get to know the people behind some of the wines you love.
My preference, visit the small, family-run, non-corporate, down to earth people who run many a GREAT winery. Visit the vineyard who sells 90% of it’s grapes to some big corporate outfit but keeps back that 10% to make their own, often superior, wines. Get to know the people, the dogs, the views. Take some time to slow down and really enjoy where you are, who you are with and what you’re out doing.
Go out and visit with Tom and Elliott at Emerson Vineyards, with Mike at Springhill Cellars, with Dennis at Lewman Vineyards. Learn about the people who produce the product, they will take the time to answer your questions, they are interested in getting to know you as PEOPLE, not just a customer.
The best part of all of this, you’re likely to experience some truly amazing wines, the quality of which you’re not going to find on the 6th shelf over at Safeway, you’re going to appreciate the passion that was put in to it, you’ll learn about the process and people, you’ll make friends that you’ll want to visit over and over again.
I’m not saying let’s boycott the big producers, but let’s be realistic. We’re out wine tasting as much for the experience and camaraderie as much as we are for the wine. Let’s at least give ourselves the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of the people and process as we can.