I was invited to an 'End of Year' party held in a beautiful big home in the Berryessa Highlands last Sunday. Plenty of food, plenty of wine and plenty of unbelievable California, December weather...I spent most of the evening on the deck.
The highlight of the event for me though was meeting the maker of one of my very favourite Napa wines. I had spied a bottle of the 2005 Smith-Wooton Cabernet franc on the bar and had made a bee line for it. It is a wonderful wine, more in the tradition of a fine Chinon, but definitely a new world rendition of an old world classic. To my surprise the host informed me that Gary Wooton was also a guest and proceeded to introduce me to him. I followed him around the kitchen, behaving like a gushing teenage fan, or stalker (you decide), but I wasn't about to let him out of my sight. I told him that I always sent my brother home to England with a least one bottle of his fine wine and he seemed genuinely impressed. He shared some of his winemaking philosophies with me, including a very interesting barrel protocol and then I learned the source of his grapes...right next to the vineyard in the Oak Knoll District where Vinomaker gets ours. Small world.
As the party drew to a close, I was left reflecting on how great the wine was, how great the entire Northern California wine community is, how great is the talent of the winemakers that I know and how wonderful it will be in 2009 to meet more...and drink their wine of course.