Family Winemakers, a new event for me to attend, held their 11th annual So. Cal tasting for trade (and media so I am disclosing to you right now that I didn’t pay to attend) in Pasadena last Tuesday 3/16. Our staff writer Michael Perlis had attended in the past and had prepped me about the event. When I looked at the website myself, and found the 68 PAGE PROGRAM that I would have to cover in FOUR HOURS it kind of FREAKED ME OUT A LITTLE.
I decided that I wouldn’t taste at any table I was familiar with. I also figured, with no time to waste, I would visit the tables that were the least crowded, not taste every wine offered at every table, pour out all I didn’t care for (and some that I did) and give the reps the opportunity to talk a little. Yes, I was on a mission.
It was held in one of the larger rooms at the Pasadena Convention Center. Upon entering there were about 5-6 long rows of banquet tables set up alphabetically. Wine glasses, pour out cups, water, cheese and crackers set up where needed.
As most of the guests went straight into the center aisles, I headed over to the far left tables, the wineries that names started around the J’s to begin my tasting.
Here I liked: Heart O’ The Mountain 06 and 07 Pinot Noir (pictured above are the owners and new friend/wine educator James King), Inspiration Vineyards, Santa Rosa, 08 Zin, Jalama Wines, Lompoc 06 El Capitan blend and their 06 Syrah, Jocelun Lonen, Napa, 06 Cab, Krupp Brothers, Napa, 05 Veraison Synchrony Meritage blend and Langetwins Winery, Acampo, Midnight reserve 06.
Backtracking, now that everyone else had given up on doing anything alphabetically, I got over to the C’s: Calstar Cellars, Santa Rosa, Za Zu and Alta named 07 Zins, Cima Collina (pictured above) 07 Tondre Pinot Noir, D’Anbino Vineyards, Paso, Orchestration Non Vintage Blend (and a new Facebook pal), Edward Sellars (the first friend I did gave in to say hi to) 07 red blend Vertigo and 07 Le Thief Syrah, Endiku Wine, Sonoma, Zinfandel and Coppola (as Facebook friend Shawn made me though I know their wines well) 06 Cab Franc and Cab.
Lasty, getting tired, I kind of got sidetracked by the people at Trek Winery (above). They had been fighting for use of their name and were very happy to have won. Nice people but I wanted the wine…
Mauritson Family Winery, 07 Dry Creek Zin, Pena Ridge, 06 Tempranillo and 07 Petite Syrah, Rutherford Ranch Winery had a tasty Round Hill 09 Merlot that I only stopped to try as we served Round Hill large bottle format Chard at my wedding 24 years ago, San Joaquin Wine Co., Madera, 07 Cab, Summerland, 07 single vineyard Zin, Summit Lake Vineyards, 06 Cabernet, Swanson Vineyards, 05 Merlot, Titus Winery, Novato, 07 Sangiovese, Trione Vineyards, Geyersville, 05 Cab and their 05 Meritage blend, X Winery, Napa, 07 Cab and, finally, Yates Family Vineyard 06 Cab Franc.
When I first got there, the reps were talking fast, about their wines and asking me questions about my writing. As the day wore on, and the reps poured for each other, we all slowed down on our different missions. I got a chance to say hello to Tanya Green and Tony Wire from Wine 661, and local friends Jennifer, Xochitl, Shawn and Karen. Chatted it up wine 101 style with reps and winemakers. I even met Allen Rivers, a rep for Vinturi, the wine aerator company that swears new white wine Venturi makes a difference…but that’s for another column.
The only thing I regret is that the event couldn’t be spread over an entire weekend so that all of the wineries could have been given their due respect, time and tasting. I made a small wine 101ers dent in the program, but felt that all of the wineries should have been visited – and, by all.
Writing this all out today is almost like reliving the excitement….sans wine of course.