So there’s another annual “100 Top Wines” list on the block these days. It seems like this aspect of the wine industry gets blown out of proportion more and more every year (see the marketing ploy for the 100 from Wine Spectator this year??), but this new one is more interesting than any other, at least...
In honor of my beautiful mom's birthday, Beth and I traveled up to Napa to join my sister Shauna and my parents Donna and Ed, for a day spent on the Napa Valley Wine Train (NVWT). The Wine Train has had a long and sometimes contentious history in the Valley. The movement to start the NVWT was headed by Vincent DeDomenico of Rice-A-Roni fame, among many other food brands. The long legal battle was bitterly fought throughout the valley with many residents against the idea, including my own grandfather Bud Schroeder. Local protesters argued that the Valley was already fraught with enough tourists, a rather reasonable view, actually. Eventually the legal battle ended up in the California Supreme Court, where DeDomenico et al prevailed. The original dissension has dried up over the last 18 years of operation and, for the most part, the Wine Train is now an accepted part of Valley life.
I got quite the (early) 30th birthday weekend over Thanksgiving weekend, whew! My family and Beth, especially, truly went out of their way to make my 3rd decade start off with a wonderful wine-soaked bang. We had a very special start to the weekend with Thanksgiving night at my sister's condo in Napa, where she provided a cozy and well-appreciated dinner aided by my mom and Beth. The next day my family and I went tasting around the Napa Valley, starting at Cartlidge & Browne, one of the best value producers in the world of wine. My family first learned about C&B when they owned Ehlers Estate in St. Helena. I grew up going to many a tasty picnic at that winery. They've since sold off that label and winery and are now are based in their large warehouse in American Canyon. We tasted a few wines there, where I liked their Sauv Blanc and Stratford label Cab's. Please use the links below to read my reviews log notes for the wines I mention in this post!
I had the rather outstanding opportunity to go to my first Wine 2.0 event last Thursday, their "New Releases Only" wine-tasting at Varnish, a wine bar and art gallery in San Francisco. I've been to Varnish a lot over the years since it opened to grab a break from working at the Wednesday happy hour party Qoöl at 111 Minna Gallery around the corner. As a nice aside, it also doubled as a great way to spend the night of my 30th birthday. So, I grabbed my friend Alberto from Minna and we headed over to the party. Wine 2.0 is, essentially, a wine industry networking group that intends to push wine into the open source and social networking new world that is "Web 2.0." Really though, that's kind of a stuffy description for what is a really cool and vibrantly active group of young wine entrepreneurs and aficionados. I kind of think of them as the next generation of "Wine Brats," but taking a different sort of approach than that organization (though Wine Brats is still going strong!). Despite this younger crowd pushing this movement, I was happy to see a widely diverse group of 200+ patrons that at the event that were all over the age map.