One of the many things to love about the wine industry is the people who work for wineries are generally a lot of fun. The next time you visit a tasting room, be sure to bring your good humor, ask a lot of questions, and maintain a spirit of adventure. If you do, you'll be sure to have a great time!
Here are three quick stories from our recent winery adventures.
Andrew Murray is our Cheers!
Sally and I were eating lunch in Los Olivos at Panino, which is across the street from Andrew Murray's tasting room. We were planning to meet my parents in an hour at another winery and then work our way back to Andrew Murray later in the day, so we decided to play a little trick after finishing our meal. The two of us went into Andrew Murray's tasting room and introduced ourselves to Tracy and Stephanie who were pouring wine that day. We told them we'd be back later that afternoon with my parents and asked them to greet us like long lost friends. Of course, they agreed.
We returned an hour or so later with my parents and strolled into the tasting room. Right on cue, Tracy and Stephanie greeted us like we were Norm walking into Cheers. "Jeff! Sally!" At the same time, we were surprised to see our friends Alisa and Ken at the counter tasting wine. They turned around, saw us, and exclaimed, "Jeff! Sally!" My parents were a little speechless, but so were we. Alisa and Ken were there at our recommendation, but we had no idea they would be there on that day and time.
Needless to say, we all had a great time! My parents are also now convinced Andrew Murray is our Cheers.
Why Cuvaison is our favorite winery
Our trip to Napa earlier this month focused on our ten favorite wineries, so naturally Cuvaison was on the list. Not only do they make outstanding wine, but everyone who works there always makes us feel like an old friend.
When we arrived we were greeted by Gabe, the Tasting Room Manager. Gabe is a very outgoing guy who also knows his wines. He's also the reason we joined the wine club and now buy entirely too much of their wine. Damn him.
Patty was our host that day, and she kept our glasses full of many outstanding current releases. Bob, another favorite, also made sure we didn't go empty when Patty was busy serving other guests. At one point, Suzanna (their marketing guru) came out to say "Hi" and snap our picture for their Facebook page.
We joked that other guests might be wondering who we were why we were getting our picture taken. The explanation is actually pretty simple. We keep in touch with the many awesome people who take care of us when we visit Cuvaison. If you visit a winery more than once, I highly recommend you get their business card and drop them a note from time to time. There's a good chance they will keep in touch and treat you to a special time on your next visit.
Connecting with locals always pays off
Skip the tour guides - talk to the locals. We've lived by that advice ever since we started visiting wine country and it's consistently led to outstanding experiences.
Our latest adventure started in the tasting room at Miner Family Vineyards. We were enjoying many of the great wines poured by our host, Steve, while we chatted about wine with Steve and another guest. It turned out that the other guest, Bob, worked at Rombauer Vineyards and was visiting Miner Family on his day off. We were all clearly enjoying the wine and had similar tastes, so Bob gave us his card and invited us to stop by if we had a chance.
That Saturday, we were in the neighborhood, so we decided to pay Bob a visit. The tasting room was packed, but Bob immediately recognized us. We hung back to wait for the crowd to clear, but Bob soon approached us with a couple of glasses of wine. "I figured you'd enjoy our reserve wines," he said. "Let's start you with the Merlot."
The Merlot was amazing, as were many of the other wines we tasted. And, we had a terrific time with Bob as our host. Despite the large crowd, he made time to answer our questions and kept us engaged. We even met another couple from San Diego, proving it is a very small world indeed.
Rombauer wasn't originally on our list, but thanks to a chance encounter at another winery we ended up having an amazing time there! (And we bought some awesome wine, but that's another story.)