“Talk Story–wine from a different perspective“–seeing wonderment on the audience’s faces in 2018, inspired this seminar. Headed by Wine Speak co-founder/Ancient Peaks VP Amanda Wittstrom Higgins, this incredible thought provoking, inspiring panel featured Meredith May (owner/publisher of The SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel & The Clever Root publications); Jordan Fiorentini (VP of Winemaking at Epoch, Paso Robles)’ Helen Keplinger (winemaking consultant & owner/winemaker of Keplinger wines, Napa Valley) & Shelley Lindgren (owner/wine director of A16 & SPQR restaurants in San Francisco). They received a standing ovation for their incredible words, thoughts & sharing of their experiences. Thank you ladies.
Grenache & Mourvedre Panels–this was actually two different sets of speakers, one set for each grape. Grenache-featured Richard Betts MS (Sucette wines from Vine Vale, Australia) & Justin Smith (Saxum, Paso Robles, California). The 2 Grenache based red wines served were the 2015 Sucette Grenache (produced from own rooted wines planted in 1860 & 1880 in the predominately sand soils of Vine Vale, Australia (an enclave of the Barossa Valley) & the 2013 Saxum “Rocket Block” (predominately Grenache from the Rocket Block of the iconic James Berry Vineyard of westside Paso Robles, which is produced in only certain vintages). The Mourvedre panel featured Cris Cherry (Villa Creek, Paso Robles, California) & Brandon Moss (Gramercy Cellars, Washington state). The 2 wines poured were the 2013 Villa Creek “Damas Noir” (100% Mourvedre from the revered Luna Matta vineyard, done with 100% whole clusters) & the 2014 Gramercy Cellars “L’Idiot du Village” (Mourvedre from the revered Olsen & Alder Vineyards of Washington state, done with 58% whole cluster). As Justin Smith asked me, after last year’s event, “when will we start delving into how the soil/climate/terroir affects a wine rather than just the grape variety?” Each pair of winemakers therefore offered very different perspectives accordingly, as we tasted through the wines. This certainly inspired all kinds of questions & thoughts. Thank you guys.
“Paso Wine Paired Lunch”–Amanda’s brainchild. She wanted to include some kind of wine & food pairing event for participants to experience, so she solicited the help of Chef Cheyne Jackson of The Range restaurant in the town of Santa Margarita. She then asked long time wine guru, Randy Caparoso to help flesh out interesting & thought provoking pairings with Chef Jackson. Randy had a long, illustrious career running the very progressive wine (& wine & food pairing) programs for the highly innovative Roy’s Restaurant group, when he was a founding managing partner. In addition, as a current Editor at Large for The SOMM Journal, his presence & awareness of what’s happening in the field keeps him still on the edge. Randy would drive down from his home in Lodi up further north & meet & taste with Amanda & Chef Jackson just to make sure they would hit the mark.
Second Course—Salad of Smoked Duck Breast, baby greens, fennel, toasted hazelnuts, Chioggia beets, pomegranate seeds, Farmgirl Creamery chevre & plum vinaigrette (2015 L’Aventure “Optimus”. Yes, you read that right!).
Entrée—Veal Stroganoff, Etto organic reginette, confit of wild mushroom & smoked grana parmesan (2017 Epoch “Estate” White–yes, you read that right!).
This proved to be another daring, adventurous, dynamic, completely “out of the box”, truly memorable, standing ovation experience. AND, done with expertise & substance by two real professionals. How can we affect change? Color commentating was done by the key note speaker & legendary wine guru Fred Dame MS. Such a great time!
“The State of Zinfandel” Panel–readily hailed as America’s grape, Zinfandel has really evolved over the years, which accounts for the many “takes” on what can be. We invited two standout Zin makers from 2 very different terroirs–Matt Trevisan (Linne Calodo, Paso Robles) & Fred Scherrer (Scherrer wines, Alexander Valley)–just to come share their insights, thoughts & experiences which would shed some light on what Zinfandel can be. The wines tasted–the lavish, bold, intriguing, sultry 2014 Linne Calodo “Problem Child” & the elegant, suave, classy 2007 Scherrer Zinfandel “Old & Mature Vines”–seemingly polar opposites stylistically, but BOTH really superb & wonderfully crafted in their own right. Thanks guys!
Casual BYOB Dinner–Yet another opportunity to hang out as a group, share wine, continue to talk story & get to know each other better. I was amazed at how many hundreds of wines there were to try on this night! In addition to the BYOB wines, we asked a few, select of our wine friends to come share their wines too–Tadeo Borchardt (Neyers/Camino); Jason Drew (Drew wines); Scott Evans (Henry Wine Group–Italian, grower Champagne & Provencal Rose); James Ontiveros (Native9); Eric Railsback (Lieu Dit wines); Matt Reilly (Diamond Wine Importer–Greek wines); Fred Scherrer (Scherrer wines); Adam Tolmach (Ojai). Just another fabulous night. Thank you all for sharing!
Hospitality Day–This was day dedicated to those in the wine/hospitality profession. The line up again featured speakers whose insights, wisdom & experiences could help others–2 legendary Master Sommeliers–Fred Dame & Nunzio Alioto & their thoughts/insights on tasting wines from 2 very different perspectives; Alisa Onishi (Brand Director, Hawaiian Airlines) & her thoughts/insights into their ALOHA style of service &
Cameron Ingalls (Acacia Productions) & Amber Karson (Karson Butler Events) for their talk on the importance of social media today & how it can make a difference in today’s world. How can we affect change? Thank you all.