The second annual Wine Speak event was held on January 7th thru the 10th, 2019. On behalf of all of the attendees & participants, I want to thank co-founder Amanda Wittstrom Higgins. She (& her team) is the engine, mojo & the soul of Wine Speak.
As was the case with the 2018 event, Wine Speak was an opportunity to gather New World wine professionals to come share their insights, wisdom & experiences so all participants could learn & better create camaraderie & collaboration moving forward. “How can we affect change?”
The 2019 list of panelists included (in alphabetical order by last name)–Nunzio Alioto MS; Richard Betts MS (owner/winemaker Scucette wines); Stewart Cameron (winemaker, Ancient Peaks); Randy Caparoso (editor at large, SOMM Journal); Cris Cherry (owner/winemaker Villa Creek); Fred Dame MS (Global Ambassador for Daou); Jason Drew (owner/winemaker Drew Wines); Jordan Fiorentini (winemaker, Epoch); Cameron Ingalls (superstar photographer, Acacia Productions); Eric Jensen (owner/winemaker Booker/My Favorite Neighbor); Amber Karson (Karson Butler Events); Helen Keplinger (owner/winemaker Keplinger); Matt Kettmann (noted wine writer); Shelley Lindgren (co-owner/wine director A16/SPQR restaurants); Bob Lindquist (winemaker Qupe wines); Pax Mahle (owner/winemaker Pax Wines); Meredith May (owner/publisher of The SOMM Journal/The Tasting Panel/Clever Root); Brandon Moss (co-winemaker Gramercy Cellars); Peter Neptune MS; Alisa Onishi (Brand Director, Hawaiian Airlines) Fred Scherrer (owner/winemaker Scherrer wines); Justin Smith (owner/winemaker Saxum wines); Matt Trevisan (owner/winemaker Linne Calodo).
Also participating for 2019 were–Tadeo Borchardt (winemaker Neyers/Camino); Scott Evans (Henry Wine Group); James Ontiveros (Native9); Eric Railsback MS (Lieu Dit wines); Matt Reilly (Diamond Wine Importers–Greek wines); Tyler Thomas (winemaker Star Lane/Dierberg–2018 panelist); Adam Tolmach (owner/winemaker Ojai) & a whole slew–36 strong–from the Paso Robles appellation (the list will be shown below). Yes, it takes an army to make this event happen.
VENUES–The various seminars, luncheons & gatherings were held at the Carlton Hotel, The Pavillon & the Atascadero City Hall, as the community again welcomed all in their gracious, embracing way.
VINEYARDS–There were vineyard tours on the first day to give participants a chance to see various sites up close & first hand. The list of vineyards included–Bordeaux varietals (left to right–Austin Hope Vineyard, Niner Wine Estate & Daou Mountain);
I also ran around separately the day before just to touch bases with some of the 2019 panelists/speakers before the wine seminars began. (from left to right–James Berry Vineyard, Daou Mountain, Denner Vineyard & Booker Vineyard).
Inside, Outside–“Different Perspectives on Cabernet Sauvignon” Panel–Wine Speak 2018 featured TWO different panels discussing this noble grape variety–“New World Cabernet Sauvignon”–Serge Carlei (Carlei wines, Australia); Matt Dees (Jonata, Ballard Canyon); Guillaume Fabre (Clos Solène, Paso Robles); Greg Harrington MS, Gramercy Cellars, Washington state); Bruce Neyers (Neyers wines, Napa Valley); Michael Sinor (Ancient Peaks, Paso Robles) & Tyler Thomas (Star Lane, Happy Canyon). We continue the discussions & add more insight into what Cabernet can be in the New World at Wine Speak 2019 with 4 different perspectives–Fred Dame MS (Daou, Paso Robles); Eric Jensen (Booker/My Favorite Neighbor, Paso Robles); Helen Keplinger (Keplinger/Carte Blanche, Napa Valley) & Fred Scherrer (Scherrer wines, Alexander Valley). The wines served–2016 Daou “Soul of a Lion”; 2016 My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon; 2014 Carte Blanche Cabernet Sauvignon “Napa Valley” & 2003 Scherrer Cabernet Sauvignon “Scherrer Vineyard”. What a panel! Thank you all for sharing!
Dream Big Darling–Dream Big Darling was created by founder Amanda Wittstrom Higgins (VP Ancient Peaks), who serves as its President. The mission statement is to “foster the success of women in the wine and spirits industry through mentorship, education, life enhancement and professional retreats.” Empowered Women, empower women. It follows along with the Wine Speak thought–“How can we affect change? For 2019, Dream Big Darling sponsored scholarships to Wine Speak to 8 deserving young women wine professionals from different parts of the country! Besides attending events, they had their own luncheon, along side top wine professionals , took vineyard tours & alternately worked as event sommeliers. What a real inspiration, to say the least! BIG kudos!
Wine Blending Seminar–Another of Amanda’s brain childs. She & her Ancient Peaks team put together wine samples of different Bordelais grape varieties, each from their Santa Margarita Ranch vineyard. The panel included Amanda, Matt Kettmann (noted wine writer); Peter Neptune MS & Stewart Cameron (winemaker, Ancient Peaks). Unfortunately, Michael Sinor (Director of Winemaking Ancient Peaks) had a medical emergency & could not attend. The seminar was divided into tables of 10, each table included at least 1 winemaker/Master Sommelier. Their task was to come up with their own blend, which was then bottled, corked & wax dipped for each to take home with them. It was so wonderfully interactive, inclusive, fun AND was a learning experience from a whole ‘nother slant.
KAWASAKI VINEYARD TOUR of Santa Margarita Ranch–the Santa Margarita Ranch is a remote, 900 acre estate vineyard located at roughly 1000 feet in elevation in southern Paso Robles. It was great to witness all of the undulations, different soils, nooks & crannies, as the Kawasaki team drove us throughout the site. Thank you Amanda & Kawasaki for creating yet another magical, memorable experience!
“What Syrah Can Be “The Next Chapter”–At Wine Speak 2018, we featured TWO different panels on New World Syrah. The discussions & tastings were quite insightful, especially since there were 7 championing winemakers of this, up till now, elusive grape variety–Serge Carlei, Australia); Matt Dees (Jonata, Ballard Canyon); Greg Harrington MS (Gramercy Cellars, Washington state); Bruce Neyers (Neyers wines, Napa Valley); Any Peay (Peay, western Sonoma Coast); Justin Smith (Saxum, Paso Robles); Adam Tolmach (Ojai wines, Santa Barbara). Yes, Wine Speak 2018 was quite a gathering of winemaking talent & knowledge, each who had something profound to share. For the 2019 Wine Speak event, we continue the discussions & tastings with 3 different speakers/winemakers–Bob Lindquist (Qupe, Santa Maria Valley); Pax Mahle (Pax wines, Sonoma County) & Jason Drew (Drew wines, Mendocino Ridge)–each who also have something profound to share. The wines tasted–2008 Qupe Syrah “Bien Nacido Estate”; 2017 Pax Syrah “Sonoma Hillsides” & the 2015 Drew Syrah “Valenti Vineyard”. What a learning opportunity this really turned out to be! Top quality Syrah from 3 different appellations in California & 3 Syrah maestros. Thanks guys.
A TASTE OF PASO ROBLES–The 36 top Paso Robles wineries came out to showcase their wines, local restaurants their food….AND Adam & Jeremy of “The Krush” radio doing live interviews throughout the event. What a night!