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Event,Wine,Winery

Wine Enthusiast’s San Francisco 2009 Toast of the Town

When at an event, I usually run around with my camera and take copious images with wings on my feet and no real agenda.

At this year’s Toast of the Town (which is always a really well organized wine and restaurant) event, I was pouring wine for the members of PS I Love You. We were pouring at Table #14, and all we (Jose and I) had to pour were Petite Sirahs. The wine companies listed below entrusted us with their wine, and we poured their current releases. The only one that wasn’t current was Trentadue’s 2000 Petite Sirah, because I hadn’t received their wine in time, so I pulled from my own stash. This older wine allowed some new Petite Sirah fans and some loyal fanatics to try a Petite that was nine years old. It was worth having an older wine, in order to show how color, texture, and tannins – as well as flavors – stay through Petite Sirah’s aging process.

The trick for me this time was that I was committed to helping my brands to be showcased at this very posh event. I didn’t feel right leaving the table to run around the Opera House taking loads of pictures. It would have been too easy to be out there for a huge amount of time, and therefore not be doing what I was supposed to be doing… Like Cinderella not watching for midnight before it was too late. So, I got really creative.

When I line bottles up on my table, whatever is the first row for people to be seeing, I replicate in a back row;  so I, too, am able to see what they’re seeing. It’s a lot easier for me to market a front label (what everyone’s seeing) than it is to market to a back label (that doesn’t say which wine it is in an easy to read way).  As I looked at my gorgeous line-up, after the table was ready for wine tasters, I thought to myself, “I can just take pictures of people from this side of the table, instead of doing it the other way around.” [This would be different, because now I’d have to direct, rather then being incognito!]

I usually end up with lots of other brands and the people pouring their wines, but this time I have lots of interesting people who were at the event and who took the time to stop at the PS I Love You table to either learn about Petite, or just enjoy their “favorite” cultivar.

[I recently saw “cultivar” explained by John Winthrop Haeger’s North American Pinot Noir, in the following way; and, it’s really a great way to remember this one… “Cult” as in cultivation, and “var” as in variety.]

The dozen PS member wines that were being poured are the following:

  1. Cleavage Creek 2005 Reserve PS (Pope Valley)
  2. Langtry Estates 2005 Reserve PS (Guenoc Valley)
  3. Marr Cellars – Cuvee Patrick – 2006 (Tehama Foothills)
  4. Marr Cellars – Shannon Ridge Vineyard – 2005 (Lake County)
  5. Mettler Wines 2005 Reserve Petite Sirah (Lodi)
  6. Michael~David – Earthquake – 2005 Estate Petite Sirah (Lodi)
  7. Michael~David – Petite-Petit – 2005 Estate Petite Sirah (Lodi)
  8. Michael~David – Windmill – 2005 Estate Petite Sirah (Lodi)
  9. Parducci 2005 – True Grit – PS (Mendocino)
  10. Pedroncelli 2005 Estate PS (Dry Creek Valley)
  11. Trenatdue 2000 Estate PS (Alexander Valley)
  12. Vina Robles 2005 Jardine Vineyard PS (Paso Robles)

It was delightful to be photographing from my side of the table. One gentleman told me that I was the only person photographing from my side of the table… I wasn’t surprised. The same man asked me about the origin of Petite Sirah, and by the time I was through explaining it to him he said, “I’m willing to bet that you’re the one person in this building tonight that knows the most about Petite Sirah.” I told him that there were wine makers present who would most likely know more than I do, because I don’t know how to make wine, but he shook his head back-and-forth in the “no” motion. He wasn’t convinced.

I believe that had more to do with the facts, figures, history, and knowledge of who’s who for producing petite Sirah that most wine makers couldn’t recite in their sleep the way that I can… From the crossing of Syrah and Peloursin by Francois Durif in 1880, to its crossing to the US with Charles McIver, to Jim Concannon being the first wine maker to varietally labeling it in 1964 with a 1961 vintage, to the BTT declaring it a synonym in most recent years, and to Dr. Carole Meredith finally establishing the DNA fingerprinting as it being the offspring of Syrah and Peloursin. I guess it’s a lot of trivia, but it still won’t win me any prize money on Jeopardy.

That was the fascination of staying in one place, enjoying those who were tasting the wine in a hard questions kind of way, to then asking everyone if I could photograph them for this wine blog entry. This is my most unusual photographic session, and perhaps one of the most fun ones in a long time, because everyone was so engaging. It was more about people than about an event… But, isn’t that who makes up an event, when it’s all said and done…and the memories linger in tiny red wine stains? Please enjoy the following images that give you a bird’s eye view of the great people that made up that evening and this blog posting, before it got too busy and too dark to control the quality of the images. This first image says it all, and – of course – was the last one taken that evening.

There are still tickets for Atlanta, New York, and Chicago. Click here for more details.

  • Atlanta ~ Georgia Aquarium ~ Thursday • April 16, 2009
  • Chicago ~ Field Museum ~ Thursday • April 30, 2009
  • New York ~ Lincoln Center ~ Monday • June 15, 2009

2 Responses to “Wine Enthusiast’s San Francisco 2009 Toast of the Town”

  1. What a great report! All of it very interesting–I really appreciated the depth of your comments, as well as the many photos. (Love the very first one, of the girl in the turquoise sweater getting a hug.) It’s a great perspective from behind the table, and one not often seen. Am most grateful that you took the time to write all of this up, since it captured both specific wines as well as a general mood of the event. Should make everyone race off to Atlanta, Chicago and New York.

  2. Jo says:

    Aileen,

    Thank you for your comments.

    If I were going to be in these cities during the event, I’d be purchasing my tickets sooner than later!

    PS: This loving couple gave me an entire series of images from which to choose. They’re madly in love, and were great fun to talk with at the very end of the event.

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