A 100 Point Party Reveals Cultural Differences
You’ve got to give it to the Wine Spectator. These folks know how to throw a party.
Last night I went as Jeff Mayo’s date to the now annual Wine Spectator Party at the Hotel Healdsburg. Marvin Shanken and crew used to only throw a Napa "big bottle" party in conjunction with the auction. A few years ago they started holding a Sonoma version of the event.
I’ve been to the Napa party also, but it has been a few years. What was interesting was listening to one of the writers for the Spectator explain to me the difference between the Napa and the Sonoma events:
"Here in Sonoma there will will be a slow and steady in guests arriving. Then there will be a 45 minute crescendo when it’s hopping. Then, it will die down and the folks will go home to sleep. But in Napa, it reaches that crescendo and they just keep on going partying hard."
His description of the pace of the Sonoma party was dead on. After the peak of the party (which seemed to coincide with the passing of cigars and the band moving into a rendition of Sweet Home Alabama) the attendees started slow drift out, no doubt getting home to sleep because we all know that over here in Sonoma the vintners actually work for a living…….woops. That slipped out.
Nevertheless the food was spectacular (that ham that Charlie Palmer cooked up was outrageous!) and the many folks who contributed magnums to the party brought their best stuff, so there was ample opportunity to taste stuff I’d only read or heard about before. The Sonoma wine community came out in full force for Mr. Shanken’s party. And this was another of the very cool things. I got to meet a number of vintners and wine types who I knew of and whose wines I’ve drunk but never met face to face.
But this morning I keep thinking about the distinction the Wine Spectator writer made for me about the difference between the Sonoma and Napa parties. It is a truth that there is a real difference between the Napa culture/experience and the Sonoma culture/experience. It’s hard to sum up with a simple line. But a few things occur to me about the reality and perception between Napa and Sonoma:
Upper Class vs. Working Class
Developed vs. Developing
Cultured vs. Multicultural
World Class vs. Class
I’m hoping I can get my own invite to the Wine Spectator party next year or at least be Mayo’s date again. It wasn’t so bad. I didn’t have to dance with him.