Family Winemakers and the Tasting Machine


The Annual Family Winemakers of California San Francisco Tasting is set for Sunday August 20 (public tasting) and Monday August 21 (trade tasting). I’m going (for what must be the 10th year or so) but I have no idea how I’m going to navigate the more than 400 wineries that will be showing their wares.

I have this discussion with myself every year. "Should I just wander down the rows?"  "Should I seek out certain vintners?" I mean, we are talking 400 wineries.

I know one thing I want to do. I want track down Alder Yarrow from Vinography and just follow him around and see what he sees as he tastes through hundreds of wines and scores each one. The man is a machine and I’d love to see how the cogs turn. Alder is renown for delivering his impression of the tastings he goes to with list upon list of wines and scores for each.

Most of the wineries at this tasting are looking for exposure with the trade, the wholesalers, restaurants and retailers who often attend looking for something new and special. There is an interesting dance that occurs between those pouring and those tasting. You walk up to a table and the pourer tries to look you in the face while also looking at your badge to see who you are and who you are with. They want to know if you are important. If you are possibly a buyer, or a member of the media, you tend to get more attention. If you are unaccounted for, well, you get less attention. I’ve taken this spin when I’ve poured at the tasting. It’s hard not to. You want to make the most of your time behind the table.

This year I’ll be going as a member of the media. This will be the first time under that heading for me. It seems odd. Almost like cheating. While I suppose in a blogger sort of way I am a member of the media I consider myself more appropriately a member of the trade.

I recommend anyone who can attend this tasting attend. It is by far the most extensive tasting of California wines anywhere. It is also the place where you will find a number of very small, family-owned wineries that you may not find anywhere else.

Posted In: Events, Wine Blogs


One Response

  1. Alder - August 16, 2006

    Looks like it’s time for me to break out my disguise. Hmm, I think the one most appropriate for this event is the Hawaiian shirt wearing, non-spitting obnoxious tewnty-something. Now, where can I get a crew cut and a tan on short notice?
    Tom, you’re welcome to tail me around (if you can keep up ;-). “Machine” isn’t far from the truth — I’m pretty militant about what I do there, which doesn’t make for much fun or sociability, but you’re certainly welcome to watch!

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