I wanted to get you some thoughts from my most recent trip to California and thought this internal memo I sent to my staff upon touching down back in New York this weekend summed it up well:
The reason I just took this brief trip to Napa/Sonoma was for a few reasons…
- It has been a few years since we actively showed up to taste in Napa/Sonoma (Jeremy was there briefly in March) and it is so important to the Zachys brand that we be present in the important wine regions of the world so they can hear what our clients are looking for and what is currently working best at Zachys.
- I had been told that both 2010 and 2011 were difficult vintages due to rain and excessive heat. It is never more important to be there than with vintages like this. At the end of the day, the truly gifted vineyard managers and winemakers made the necessary decisions/choices to produce good wines in these vintages. It was my job to get a feel for who was successful and who was not.
- There is always unique purchasing opportunities for us that only come from spending some time out there, knocking on some doors and shaking a few trees to see what falls out
A few highlights of the trip for me where….
• Meeting a rockstar winemaker (Thomas Brown) who was a totally grounded guy and LOVES to drink old Barolo. Thomas is making the wines at Outpost and Schrader just to name a few.
• How do you avoid the issue of drinking and driving in Calistoga? Ride bikes of course!! It was a hoot riding beach crusers to and from dinner on Monday night with the wine bag over our shoulder. No crashes.
• Formerly connected with Aubert and Peter Michael…L’Angevin is making some sensational wines including their 2009 Chardonnays
• The ORIN SWIFT wine making team are INCREDIBLE entrepreneurs who have some big news about to hit the wine market in a new value brand they think is going to set the wine world on their ear.
• There will be a new BOOKSTER Cabernet in the market by Fall that we will be selling for $29.99 and it will totally over deliver.
• BOOKSTER Pinot Noir will be coming back this fall along with the new release (2010) of BOOKSTER Chardonnay
• I met a group of new-generation winemakers in West Sonoma that are truly passionate about making wines with European finesse and in many cases with European varietals. It was a BIG eye opener for me and there will be much to come on this in the next month or two. This group included Pax Mahle of WIND GAP and Duncan Meyers & Nate Roberts of ARNOT-ROBERTS who were both making GREAT wines!!!
• I was shocked at how much the winemaking generation out there today loves drinking old Barolo….maybe those California guys are not so bad after all!!
• While dining out I have found 4 or 5 very exciting new Italian wines that for one reason or another are only being imported on the West Coast….not for long….I am in the process of hunting them down.
• Finally, the 2012 growing season has gotten off to an INSANE start with many of the vineyards already 2+ weeks ahead of an average growing season and lots of smiles all around at the prospects for the vintage.
Stay tuned for a lot of exciting offers to come.
All my best,