Well wine fans, after over 4 months of work, the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition has officially come to a close. The final portion of the annual competition ended with the Public Tasting event held at Fort Mason in San Francisco, California, on the 18th of February. It was a beautiful day, great weather and a sold out venue housing over 5,000 consumers. Combine that with over 300 wineries serving up their best from across the United States, 29 food producing businesses and let’s not forget Stella Artois serving up beers for a palate change of pace. Obviously a combination that made for an excellent day of wine tasting next to the San Francisco Bay.
Even though is was a great event, there may be some of you that avoid events like the Public Tasting, ZAP, Rhone Rangers or others because of the crowds. But, for me this is a great opportunity to sample a variety of wines. Additionally, it was a time to meet and talk with owners and winemakers, some that you had never met or tasted their wines before. It is a relaxing way to experience so many different wines from across the country without driving and incurring the expense of lengthy trips.
This day’s tasting was no exception, as I was able to connect with old friends and meet new ones. I reconnected with friends from Mendocino County wineries like Husch and Simaine, Central Coast producer Odonata and others from Lodi, Sonoma, Napa, Amador County and El Dorado County. Additionally, the time I spent talking with some of the award winning wineries like the McGrail Vineyards (McGrail was the red wine sweepstakes winner), Barnard Griffin’s staff (Blush wine sweepstakes winner) and Bent Creek Winery’s team (Best of Class for Cabernet Sauvignon $25-$30) was well worth it.
The best part of the day though was finding new, small wine producers that are making delicious wine from around the country. Experiencing wines from these folks was enlightening and fun, especially the small family wineries. Some of the jewels I ran across were Two Brothers Vineyards (Petite Sirah from Paso Robles), Peltier Station (Teraldigo from Lodi), Paoletti Vineyards (Bordeaux wines from Calistoga). Each of these small producers were pouring some very intriguing, delicious wines. They also were represented by the family members that own the winery or made the wines, which allowed us some personal touch. All in all, it was a fun event and given two thumbs up by me and my friends.
This year I brought some good friends along to share in the food, wine and fun. Honestly, I thought the event had the best flow and feel to it of the last three that I have participated in. It just seemed less congested, with the public moving and tasting in a very courteous manner. Maybe one of the factors that helped was the presence of this year’s current TV dream boat, “The Bachelor” Ben Flajnik. Yes, he was in attendance with his wine making friends from the Envolve Winery and they drew a huge crowd all day long (mostly of the female persuasion). Ben’s presence benefitted the other wineries, as he drew constant traffic to see him, allowing the other wineries nearby to have access to the more serious vinophiles throughout the day. The only disadvantage I saw was it was so loud and congested they didn’t appear to be able to talk about their wines and wineries very easily.
Now, you may be aware that I am from the Sonoma County area, which may make you wonder if I drove home after 3 1/2 hours of wine tasting. The answer…….No Way!!! I definitely believe in responsible tasting and drinking, with this weekend being no exception. This was a weekend event for my friends and me to enjoy. We handled it responsibly by booking rooms, staying in San Francisco and either walking or using taxis to get to our destinations. I had made it a two night trip, staying Friday evening as well after attending the “Dark and Delicious” (psiloveyou.org for info and read my blog at gatewaytowine.com for my take on the function) wine event on the 17th, an event that features Petite Sirah just like ZAP does with Zinfandel. Both events were great fun and I definitely recommend them to people for future attendance.
The Bottom Line
The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is a great event from beginning to end! It provides wineries from all over the USA to have their wines evaluated by a diverse panel of wine judges that represent all facets of the industry. It also makes public its results so that wine consumers can read about the highest awarded wines, the Best of Class wines and see who received medals in the various categories. This information can act as a guide for the purchase of wine or for potential wineries to visit. Lastly, the Public Tasting portion of the competition allows the consumer to have the opportunity to meet the producers and taste their award winning and occasionally other wine that they produce all in one stop.
It is important to remember that this is not the only wine competition. There are others that have similar formats that provide the same information and ability to become familiar with new and award winning wines. Next time you hear or read about a competition like the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, give it some consideration and maybe even participate if you can. Who knows, maybe you can make it a weekend of fun like my friends and I did. Try it……….you may like it.
Until next time, remember…….Life is Too Short to Drink Bad Wine!!!!