Wine into Summer

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Robin Wine Tasting

I like wine tasting, I do. And there is a time and place for those meandering rides through the vineyards, sumptuous picnics amongst the grapes; and the long and leisurely sips at the bar discussing legs, brix, nose and terrior. But nothing matches the energy and excitement of a good wine festival. The levity of the festival atmosphere shakes off the seriousness and potentially intimidating tasting room experience where the taste is a precursor to the sale. At a festival, a taste is a taste.

We are blessed living in California wine country. From spring to summer we have many well-organized annual events up and down the state, some are expensive — if not extreme extravaganzas like the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, and yet there are many hometown festivities that are easier on the wallet and less crowded. These local events often combine food, art, and music to go with your wines, just grab a few friends and enjoy the afternoon.

Picture taking ladies

As you wander in and out of the booths sampling great food, the day’s laughter and music sets the pace as you compare different offerings of pinot, zinfandel or chardonnay.

food tasting collage

For me, having a strategy before I set off just makes it more fun. Otherwise, I end up sampling everything and the experience, shall we say, gets muddled. If you are looking to learn a bit more about the wines you’ll be drinking, you could actually create your own vertical tastings — to look at the regions main production and taste different vintages. This gives you an idea about how a dry or overly wet season impacted the flavor of the final bottling. Or try focusing on one type of wine that is new to you; this summer is all about rosés – what fun are they!
Woman looking at sign

If you get a chance to chat with the winemakers, their expertise and passion about the grapes, growing season and winery history will help you discover a bit more about the alchemy and art that is wine making. My experience has been that these little conversations enrich the experience and puts a human face behind the label.

People talking

Getting to know winemakers Sabrine M. Rodems of Wrath and Robert M. Cook of Chalone Vineyards

All Photo Credits to David E. Ove. Images are from this year’s Twenty-Second Annual Winemakers’ Celebration, hosted by the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association. Held on Delores Street in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea. A small venue, yet pouring over 100 Monterey County wines. While the beauty of the local is appealing enough, the event is hosted by the vintners and growers themselves and includes their educational mission and not just promotion and sales and Wow, do they put on a great event!

Woman tasting red wine

Festival Tips

  • Eat a good breakfast before you set off. No tasting on an empty stomach!
  • Wear comfortable shoes, you will be on your feet for hours.
  • Apps for tracking what you are drinking made easy. My current favorite is Delectable, just take a picture of the label with your smartphone and add rating and comments.
  • Participate responsibly, have a designated driver in your party, or a cab on speed dial to usher you back to your lodgings.
  • Look for bottled water and regularly fill your glass with this magical liquid to keep hydrated throughout the event.
  • Know you don’t have to taste every wine being poured; it’s not a contest.
  • And, it’s ok to spit.

Upcoming Festivals

Review of Wine Apps

Review of wine apps for smartphones by Jancis Robinson


Robin holding wine bottle.

Summer Rosé of Pinot 2012 from Holman Ranch Vineyard and Winery.


Holman Ranch Vineyards and Winery


Chalone Vineyard

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2 Responses to Wine into Summer

  1. June Jacobs says:

    What a great perk of living in wine country! 😀

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