Alice In Wineland… falling through the rabbit hole of 20th Annual Family Winemakers of CA Wine Tasting
Have some wine, the March Hare said in an encouraging tone. -A Mad Tea-Party Chapter from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
It was that time again… the mad wine party otherwise known as Family Winemakers Tasting. It is not actually a party at all, and is certainly most sane… for most of us, but not me.
I am completely and utterly maddened by all of it… the beehive environment, the energy of the room, the wonder of what is to be found a mere table length away… the lure of the treasure hiding in plain sight.
I am an addict. Obviously of wine in general and CA wine in particular, but also of wine events somehow. Why? It is a separate entity with life and rhythm of its very own. Adrenalin infused palate Olympics, this teeth-staining adventure is akin to white-water rafting without a paddle.
Honestly, one never knows what to expect… you may fall instantly and madly in love or be left wondering why this particular producer makes wine as oppose to and want to run and hide (and secretly wish the grapes would as well).
Those amongst us in the writing arena frequently represent ourselves as some sort of supermen/women with super palates and stamina of Bacchus himself, fit for tasting hundreds of wines. Having visited hundreds of evens for a decade+ I am here to tell you, that all this posturing is just that… bravado. Spit or swallow sparingly or ardently, your palate gets tired and cranky. Those who congratulate themselves on braving table after table and glass after glass to compile vinsightful and precise tasting notes are ether kidding themselves or you, probably both. Anyway, we all try to brace ourselves, but all the preparation in the world wasn’t going to matter once you walk through those doors with your little paper bracelet and get handed a logo glass. You feel like the wine version of the poster “the few, the proud, the Marines” and the theater of wine that is unfolded before you. The battleground isn’t about stamina, it is about defining foe vs ally, it is a CIA kind of war fought behind the scenes, a battle of intellect, perceptions and evaluations.
I am not a warrior, kids, (although I did assemble an AK-47 once in less than 3 min), so rather than going for a decent battle-cry, I channeled a Mad Rabbit that got Alice into this mess in the first place.
I proceeded to dart across the room with my “must sample before palate shutout” list. I could deploy some set decorum and rules of engagement… but since I happen to be a straight shooter, here is the skinny…
We all have preferences, we all have loyalties, we all like our own versions of blondes and brunettes. If you think people in wine professions or critics don’t have those you are wrong. So I wanted to taste what I wanted to taste. First.
I will not however list them as such, if you wish to guess which wines stole my heart, be my guest. I will list them alphabetically.
First let me say it is a phenomenal event and it humbles me to have been a tiny part of it. Family is such a special notion and these folks are truly that… they value family and what it means to be an artisan producer… a sincere thank you to them all.
To be continued…