Wine County events… It began on June 16 at J

Jose and I had been invited to J winery’s Pinot and Pizza party by our friend George Rose. This was one deliciously “hot” event:

  • Not only was it literally 100+ degrees in the shade… but also…
  • Wine & food events at J are so popular that there had to be two different time slots for which guest would choose to attend…

This one had J teaming up with Healdsburg-based chef and author Andrea Mugnaini, for a Pinot & Pizza wine celebration. Mugnaini brought her large pizza oven, and J’s executive chef Mark E. Caldwell joined her. They created a variety of pizzas featuring farm-fresh organic vegetables, Bellwether Farms artisanal cheeses, and Merchants & Millers olive oils. It was a very tasty event, between the well-crafted wines and the delicious foods.

Wine Country Hot Air Balloons

It was also the weekend for Windsor’s Hot Air Balloon Classic, as I began the morning by photographing balloons falling from the sky in my back yard, over my garden and totally overhead. The day was promising to be lighthearted.

We opted for the later time in the afternoon. Amazingly, not even 100+ degree weather in the shade had anyone lilting from this party. Of course, I had to be the dumb one who said to one of the chefs, “Boy, you must be so hot,” as he was pulling another pizza from the scorching oven. He simply replied, “No, not really, I’ve  been thinking about getting my sweater from the car, when I have a minute.

I deserved that one. I’m not good with small talk and this was a lesson to not even try anymore.

I also told Jose, based on the stations they had, we should start our tasting at one of their food locations outside, then alternate with the ones inside. We began where J was pouring Chardonnay, which was also where the pizza was being cooked. What floored me, as the line for pizza inched forward ever so slowly…  People were walking away with an entire pizza. It was that good and the staff was that generous. This was not an appetizer party or crowd. We alternated being in and outside, because of the heat, and it worked beautifully.

At one point, Jose pointed out, “There’s Judy Jordan.” He was right, and I was amazed. There she was, outside in 107 degree weather talking with her guest. Frankly, I didn’t expect her to be there. In the days when I worked for wineries (in the 1990s), the families were nowhere to be seen for most functions. The staff was expected to “handle it,” and we did. This tells me a lot about the new landscape of direct marketing today. To have a successful winery, the family’s role as ambassadors cannot be underestimated.

Wine Country Winery Events

Next, onto DeLoach on June 23

  • Not only are the wines now being produced by DeLoach organic and biodynamic… but also …
  • The winery now has animals right on the property by their guest house, fringed by a massively organic flower and vegetable garden… with bees working busily just outside the fence at a close (but safe) distance.

[One of my secret desires is to be a beekeeper, following in my Uncle Joe’s footsteps.]

I’ve lived in wine county… in Windsor, CA for 19+ years now, and have never (ashamed to admit it) been to DeLoach. We’ve passed it more times than I can even remember, but it’s always been on the way to somewhere else. Last I had heard, it had been sold to someone; but I couldn’t even remember who had bought it, until my friend in wine Taylor Eason had been recently hired.

Fast forward to Saturday evening’s event…

The food and wine pairings were divine. The gathering was a night of celebration, because since 2004, everyone at DeLoach has been working tirelessly toward Organic and Biodynamic certification. Their estate wines were ready to enjoy, and their food and wine pairings were impeccable. I’m going to write about the wine tasting in another blog story. What I want to focus on with this story is what my title touched upon… “great hosts and an important marketing lesson.”

I spotted Taylor and moved toward her. She asked, “Do you want to meet Jean-Charles?” I gasped and thought, “Are you kidding me? Is here here?”

Again… another proprietor at his event… not just “leaving it to the staff to manage.”

DeLoach is currently owned by Jean-Charles Boisset. Jean-Charles is part of a very important Burgundy family and is also a wine importer with the Boisset Family Estate. I remember when he teamed up with Gina Gallo in matrimony, and I thought… how sweet for her. I knew of her as a single, very hard working woman. She so deserved some love along the way… Gina Gallo is a member of America’s most famous, wine industry dynasty. Picture Jean-Charles having his own wine prominence and then also becoming part of the world’s largest wine family. (It’s just mind boggling.)

There he was… right in the middle of the lawn surrounded by guests. He was totally engaged as his sheep were noisily bleating their displeasure at having their quiet evening routine disrupted by bluegrass-type music and guests standing and staring at them. Other guests were walking past the sheep and chicken’s pen on their way to the organic gardens. It was a lot of traffic for them and a lot of joyous noise. But, it was also a night to celebrate what a grand life they (the farm animals) otherwise have on this working farm. And, Jean-Charles was a most generous host… with his time and with his assets. It was quite the party.

Before we left, the crowd had finally moved away from Jean-Charles, as he and Rod Berglund (winemaking proprietor of Joseph Swan Vineyards), were chatting. I walked up to Jean-Claude and Rod, extended my hand and said, “Hello, I’m Jo Diaz.” To which Jean-Charles excitedly exclaimed, “I’m ecstatic!”

My eye widened like they hadn’t in a while, because it was such an overwhelming response. I never expected someone like him to be… searching for the right words here…. openly exuberant. All I could think was, “This is a man who is no small talker. We won’t be insulting each other with nothing to say, so we try to work in the weather.”

No, this is a man who just exudes warmth and genuine feelings.

[I’m so happy for Gina… she found her prince among princes.]

And here’s the repeat lesson from the week before…

No matter who you are, if you own a winery, your wine can be the most fabulous in all of the world; but if you don’t get out and prove that great men and women make great wine, you’ll not be able to build your brand and make a real go of it in the wine business. We need to all take a lesson from the great, late Robert Mondavi… Judy Jordan and Jean-Charles both have got the “it” factor.