baby’s first case of wine

13 Jul

Six years ago I moved to Sonoma County and soon after, I attended the Harvest Fair. A friend worked for Iron Horse Vineyards at the time and was invited or told to go represent or something to that nature.

It was a luscious and festive event with amazing bites and wines to try at every turn. In retrospect, I was totally and thoroughly undeserving of such an experience; an utter wine nincompoop.

At the event winery called Acorn had won best of show. At the time I was a caretaker on a piece of vineyard property near Lake Sonoma. My boss and his wife were winemakers. She and I crossed paths at the show and I recall her making a point for me to taste Acorn’s wine. I did and  regretfully don’t remember my impressions at the time. Again, a nincompoop.

Time passes …

Just over a month ago my boyfriend and I stopped by Willi’s Wine Bar on Old Redwood Highway for a quick bite and glass. (They have uhhmazing mac ‘n cheese by the way) and I saw a 2006 Acorn Heritage Zinfandel on the menu. I decided to give it a whirl, remembering Acorn’s great success at the Harvest Fair. The vintage I had at Willi’s was so lovely that made a point to take out a pen from my purse and scribble down the details so I wouldn’t forget.

About a month later, Michael and I went to a summer event downtown Santa Rosa and low and behold Acorn was one of the wine dozen or so wine vendors. I was able to once again indulge in the lovely 2006 Heritage Zinfandel. The owners, Bill and Betsy. are kind people and passionate about what they do.

Last week I went to their website and found the ’06. I sent an email inquiring if they still had it in stock. Betsy got back to me right away – but only 25 cases left and they had a great deal going for this specific wine for Acorn club members and industry folk like me!

The thoughts raced through my head: Twenty five cases … eegad! But I don’t need a case of wine. What am I going to do with a case of wine? What am I some kind of alcoholic? I don’t make enough money to buy cases of wine …

Then I started thinking? Tick tock tick tock ..this is bottled poetry that I already know I like. I like it a lot. Why wouldn’t I take hold of such a beautiful composition and keep it for my own, especially if I knew it would only get better with age?

Think about it … errr, ladies (since at this point I may only be talking to women) … you finally find a shirt that looks just stunning on you. The color is right. Sos the fit. The price is perfect. Just strike while the iron is hot and buy 2 or more. How about one in each color? Sure it’s a chunk to swallow all at once but .. then it’s yours and you don’t have to go out shopping again. It’s there in your closet .. or in this case … in your wine rack.

The next day I called on my lunch break and bought a case over the phone. Although Betsy assured me their inventory wouldn’t disappear over night but I couldn’t bear the thought of losing out.

I ask you – am I alone or has anyone else in my readership been there before?

And no .. I won’t share with you … unless you buy me a brick of stinky cheese and tell me jokes. Then and only then will I share my Zinfandel with you.


spit or swallow

10 Jul

Welcome to the first post on my blog Oenophyte
(eeh no fight).

I recently started in marketing at a Napa Valley winery. Previously I worked at a motorcycle dealership in Sonoma County in marketing and sales.

The position at the motorcycle shop challenged me professionally and as a human. Somehow I managed to stick with selling bikes from my mid twenties through my early thirties. I’m 31 years old now. I could literally go on for days about the chicanery that came along with a commission-based sales involving the general public – but I’ll save that for another day and another blog.

My goal with Oenophyte is to post weekly sharing my experiences as an “oeno-neophyte.” If you you are still confused about the name, I made it up to mean mean – one who is new to wine.

So yes, I am new to wine.

Mom and Dad were and are not drinkers. My mother’s entire involvement with wine consisted of buying one box of Franzia’s White Zinfandel annually for a party she threw for colleagues.

At the experimental age of fifteen, my closest friend and I stole into the hall closet of my house where Mom stored the Franzia (does it ever go bad? does it improve with age?). We each poured it into coffee mugs, disguising our underage drinking as cocoa or tea.

That was the first night wine had ever touched my lips – and I thought it was plum awful! Granted, that was also the first time alcohol had touched my lips and to be honest, I don’t think I “liked” it until I was in my twenties. We thought all booze tasted something awful; and if it wasn’t for the peer pressure and “buzz” we were after, we would have surely opted for a cold and frothy milkshake or a glass of cold apple juice.

We were curious knuckleheads. What can I say?

For all the wine drinkers that may be reading this … don’t blacklist me yet!  I can assure you that I DID graduate to bottled wine soon after the box wine experience. In fact, the first time I copped a true honest to goodness buzz was off of Boone’s Strawberry Hill.

Uhh … anyone still listening? Well, Boone’s was the next step, but I wouldn’t truly call it graduating.

Wine didn’t become a part of my drinking repertoire until I was in my early twenties, and even still I was a beer drinker at heart. In 2004 I moved to Sonoma County. My best friend worked at Roshambo Winery at the time and her boyfriend worked at Sante’s restaurant in Geyserville as a chef.

When I was new in town, I remember attending parties primarily attended by Sonoma County winemakers and others involved in the wine industry. It was  a smorgasbord of wine people. It was only until I moved to Sonoma County that I started to look wine in the legs – I mean, eyes.

Many of my customers at the motorcycle dealership were involved in the wine industry either as winemakers, cellar masters, vintners, wine marketing professionals, etc. Just lovely and gorgeous bottles of wine often and graciously found their way to my desk throughout the years; one of the perks I hadn’t intended on working in the industry.

Paradigm, Grgich Hills, Paro, Clos Du Val, Mer Soleil, Boheme and on and on.

Landing my current winery position had nothing to do with my wine knowledge. I can assure you of that. The winery (let’s refer to them as BCD) that had extended the offer recognized how my greenness might bring a breath of fresh air, exciting new ideas and trainability to custom tailor me to BDC; their business culture and way of doing things.

Anxious to depart from the motorcycle industry, I was proactive about seeking jobs in other industries and if anyone knows anything about Sonoma and Napa Counties – they know there’s a LOT to do with wine!

I thrust my greenness into my interview and apparently it worked. Either that, or nobody else experienced and qualified enough would accept the pay which for all practical purposes is average considering my skill and experience level. No complaints here.

In any event, I wanted to give a background sketch on my wine experience before launching into the body of my blog. I ENCOURAGE feedback, followers and questions. I am up for any challenge. I an reaching out and hoping to learn as much as I can about this beautiful industry and hope you join me.