This week the PHWM staff attended 2 tastings hosted by the Family Winemakers of California organization. Each event featured 150 different California wineries and was a great opportunity for us all to taste some of our favorite wineries and find a few new ones.
Last Sunday part of the PHWM crew headed down to Del Mar for the first tasting event. Sal, Ev, Evan and Brittany closed down the wine shop Saturday night and woke up bright and painfully early (due to daylight savings time change) to carpool down to Fullerton to catch the train down to Del Mar. Nick was supposed to ride along as well but he missed the train and blames the time change :).
Bleary eyed and ravenous, when the train arrived in Del Mar we fueled up on some burgers, preparing for the marathon tasting we were about to experience. Arriving at Del Mar Fair Grounds we found a long line for trade tasters out the door – this was going to be a busy day! The event allowed two hours of trade-only tasting so we knew we would have to taste through the wineries we knew were going to be popular before the doors opened to the public.
And hustle we did! We divided and conquered: Brittany tailed Sal to learn from his palate as he zipped around the venue checking out new releases and new vintages and negotiating the best prices possible while Ev and Evan set out on a mission to find some new hidden wines. Nick joined the crew when he arrived in town and it was a great experience for the “new guy” to meet the faces behind some of our most popular labels. Along with the good wines, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with our friends from wineries like Frank Family, Saxon Brown, Edward Sellers, Tablas Creek and Sojourn. We also tasted some fabulous finds from Pride Mountain, Merry Edwards, Melville, Littorai, Farella-Park, Guarachi, Hitching Post, Hall, Larkmead, Landmark, L’Aventure, Lucia, and Siduri. Just to name a few. There were so many wineries to choose from – tasting as much as we did was an accomplishment in and of itself!
Once the public arrived the buzz in the room settled on to a steady roar but we did our best to fight the mayhem and keep trucking on to taste as many quality wines as possible. Sal feeling that the staff was well trained he let them roam the room to taste and enjoy the rest of the tasting event.
Exhausted and ready for some bubbles we headed over to Market in Del Mar for an exception dinner. Their blue cheese soufflé starter was decadent and their specials were sublime. This was perfectly paired with the NV Pierre Morlet Champagne. To round out the experience, Sal picked out a bottle of ’07 Arietta Quartet for the table – a perfect complement to our entrées. Relaxed and savoring the experience, we barely noticed time passing until we realized our train departed in only 20 minutes! So we booked it to the train (It wouldn’t be a PHWM event if we weren’t rushing, right?) and were treated with a glass of wine once we departed (yay for business class!) and kept the festivities rolling right along. And that was just the Del Mar tasting.
Tuesday, a slightly different crew consisting of Sal, Ev, Nick, and Alice headed over to the Pasadena Auditorium for the second tasting event of the week. Even though this event was only open to wine industry folks it was another packed house.
While the staff members who attended the Del Mar event were still recovering from Sunday’s tasting, they bravely continued the trek for more amazing wines to add to the PHWM’s collection. We revisited some of our favorites from Del Mar, and even found a brand new winery that we absolutely loved, Zotovich Cellars. Their Pinot Noir and Syrah, from former Assistant Winemaker of Sea Smoke, were a great new find.
All in all it was a tremendous experience – a ton of work but an invaluable experience for the staff to taste at an industry event, meet the producers behind some of the wines in our store, and all the work that goes into getting the best prices for quality wines for our customers.