The day began so peacefully, that I knew it was going to be ~ pretty much ~ smooth sailing.

My crew and I had spent the night in Jack London Square after an exhausting day the day before, as we began the annual setup for (what was now) the Sixth Annual Dark & Delicious wine and food extravaganza.

I took some time to photograph the tranquil waterfront, taking it all in as a sign of what was going to come for the rest of the day.

That evening, nearly 1,000 people gathered in the old Naval airplane hanger, converted to Rock Wall Wine Company, to get it on with Petite Sirah.

This party is as grass roots as it gets. Based in Alameda (who else bases an annual varietal wine and food event there?) looking outward to the San Francisco skyline, someone told me on Friday night, “It reminds me of the the early beginnings of ZAP.” I wasn’t there, so I don’t know and can’t compare… I do believe, though, that we’re on a different path with a much slower growth, because not everyone and his father’s planting a lot of Petite Sirah the way Zinfandel plantings have exploded over the years. We might never grow to that proportion, either… given the depth, complexity, and mysteriousness of Petite Sirah. It’s not a mainstream variety. That’s just fine by me. I’ve never been mainstream, so it makes sense that the universe delivered Petite Sirah to me as an off-beat banner to carry. For now, it’s a perfect fit.

From what I’m also seeing from behind the scenes, it seems to have an intriguing following… engineers, a nuclear physicist, a VP of Microsoft, a biochemist, doctors, lawyers, and a few reverends, when I think of the communications that came in with this one. And then, there was the seemingly new generation of hippies now calling themselves WineWoot millennials… piercings, tattoos, and outrageously colored hair.

What a delightful mix of people, as I watched it all unfold over the two days of setting up, having the event, and tearing it all down in  a few hours like it never happened.

Put on with a skeleton crew… A staff of four people,  (Jose, Katie Kelley, Lyla Moore and me)…. the Rock Wall Wine Company crew expertly lead by Jason Landis, my friend Sondra Barrett, and our group of eager, able, and trustworthy volunteers lead by Laurin Beckhusen… we all came together to put on a party that included 56 Petite Sirah wineries, 34 specialty foodies, our media friends, a few trade people, and a whole lot of avid Petite Sirah fans.

There are a lot of cult people out there quietly enjoying Petite Sirah, but they weren’t so very quiet about it this last Friday night. It was a lively buzz, everyone was talking about how much fun they were having with so many delicious wines, and the quality of the food was knocking people’s socks off. We’re so fortunate to have so many foodies who tell me that this event is their favorite above all others… And they all say that it’s the fun factor (vintners, foodies, consumers, and our volunteers). I appreciate having fun, and that’s all I want for this event… for people to really enjoy it. I love that people fly in from other countries, and that they come from all parts of the United States… I gave away some tickets, and then we had some of those winners fly in from New Jersey and Washington state. The tickets are only $63 a piece… It’s not like they won the lottery, but they’re willing to come from both near and far.

PS I Love It.

Thanks, Dan Berger of Vintage Experiences, for a great name for a group of Petite Sirah wine lovers. I wish my mother was around to see this one. She so loved to party.

Now, to unpack the truck…