Wine into Summer
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
- 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.
- July 17-19 Santa Barbara, California Wine Festival http://californiawinefestival.com/eventschedule.html
- July 19, Santa Cruz Mountain Vintners Passport Day
- August 1-3 Eat Drink SF http://eatdrink-sf.com/events/overview/
- August 2 Watsonville, Berries and Bottles Boutique Winery Showcase & Second Harvest Fundraiser
- August 9-10 Scotts Valley Art and Wine Festival http://www.scottsvalleychamber.com/scotts-valley-art-wine-festival/
- September is California Wine Month http://www.discovercaliforniawines.com/californiawinemonth/
- September 13-14 Capitola Art and Wine Festival, http://www.capitolachamber.com/art-and-wine-festival/
- September 14, 2014 Almaden http://almadenwine.org/
- September 25-28 Savor the Central Coast http://www.savorcentralcoast.com/
- October 17-19 Harvest Weekend Paso Robles http://www.pasowine.com/events/harvestactivities.php
Review of Wine Apps