Monday, April 19, 2010

Raising a Glass at the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival 2010

For three hours on Saturday, April 17, throngs of wine enthusiasts descended on River Park in Lompoc for the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival 2010.  Marking its 28th anniversary, the Festival welcomed visitors from across the Central Coast, California and the United States to experience the decadent wines of Santa Barbara County.  By all accounts, this year's Festival was attended by fewer people, yet the crowd was no less enthusiastic to taste wines and meet the winemakers or the attractive blonds or brunettes hired by wineries to pour wines (Wine Marketing 101).

All the members of the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Association were represented at the annual Festival, including approximately 112 wineries and 32 food vendors.  While throwing your glass between two warm bodies to the get the attention of those pouring wines seems like a worthwhile adventure, I decided to join my good friend and Santa Barbara County/Rhône wine promoter, Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines in helping fill the glasses of hundreds of wine enthusiasts.  Sure, I was tempted to sneak away for a taste at Margerum or Jaffurs, but the booth was packed with eager wine tasters and someone needed to help quench their thirst with the Tercero Wines '07 Cuvee Christie and the '09 Outlier.  If you are acquainted with Tercero Wines, you will not be surprised with the aromatics, complexity and texture of the 2007 and 2009 vintages.  Much to my surprise, people were gravitating to the '07 Petite Sirah and '07 Thompson Syrah.  I am glad there are people out there that share my palate for bold, elegant, jammy, and meaty red wines.

There's nothing like watching Larry Schaffer talk about wine.  His enthusiasm for his wines and Santa Barbara County is contagious. What set Tercero's booth apart from other wineries was the addition of the newly released iPad.  Everyone came by the booth to check out the iPad, and they were more than eager to add their names to the Tercero Wines email list.  It was a clever marketing tool and surely one that will help him and other wineries expand their reach into the crowded wine market.  You have to set yourself apart at these events, otherwise you're just another winery with a pretty label.

Not surprisingly, some folks came to the booth saying, "oh, I am not fan of that type of wine."  Sure enough, there were hooked after a pour.  Tastings like these are meant to expose you to new wines and winemaking styles, so take the chance of trying something that goes against your own palate and prejudices.

Hopefully the Vintners' Association will move the event to the Santa Ynez Valley next year rather than have people trek all the way to Lompoc.  I know the folks in the Sta. Rita Hills would disagree, but it's good to shake things up a bit.  Up next for the Vintners' Association: Santa Barbara County "Celebration of Harvest" on October 9, 2010 from 1-4 p.m. at Rancho Sisquoc Winery in the Santa Maria Valley.


Mark's Wine Clubs said...

His energy and passion is certainly contagious. Was he (or anyone else) pouring Thread? I've heard good things from both the Beckman people and Blair Fox.

Central Coast Uncorked said...

I didn't get a chance to walk around the tables much, but I'm sure they weren't pouring it. However, I got a sample of the '07 Thread this weekend after the Santa Barbara County Wine Futures Tasting. I needed to give it more time to open up because it was too tight, but I was picking up some lush dark fruit and cocoa and medium to full-bodied spicy finish.

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