As a micro winery, one of the benefits of not having a tasting room is being able to travel the states and bring the wine to you. We call it Guerrilla Tastings. Think of it as a Tupperware party, with wine. A group of folks gathered together with a chance to try the vino, enjoy some snacks, and have a personal interaction with the winemaker. No pushing or shoving like other tasting rooms, just a relaxed situation with Idle as the host. A tasting room in your own home.
The latest trip brought us to Minnesota, mainly the big city of Minneapolis and the quaint town of Glen Coe. The middle of the country in the middle of the summer. We found a beautiful, clean city where everyone is helpful, it is easy to get around, and elements of nature are scattered about. Coming from Sonoma where the days are hot, the nights are cool, and humidity is non-existent, to a place where the heat is present day and night and the humidity is wicked, led us to enjoy a few more cold beers than expected.
Driving out to Glen Coe, about an hour west of Minneapolis, had many of the same elements as Sonoma. Deep blue skies that you want to swim in, old victorian homes with equipment used for their agriculture; instead of vines there was corn and soybeans. Talking with the Minnesota farmers, we realized we have a lot in common. We both work a business ruled by mother nature, harvest is the most brutal and exciting time of year, discussion of weather and it’s effect on the crops is the norm, and we both attempt to live in the moment because change can happen fast and there is no need to stress.
The house for the Guerrilla Tasting was set up when I arrived. One room had chairs and couches set up in a curve and positioned to face the kitchen where the bottles would be proudly displayed. Pads of paper were placed on the seats with pens for all to take notes on the wine, if desired. Another room was filled with snacks… cheeses, meats, olives, tomatoes, breads. A delicious display, perfect for nibbling.
The guests started to arrive, trinkling in at a steady pace. They were friend’s of the gracious hosts, Tara and Brian, all from different backgrounds, different parts of life, yet all with the same passion for wine. Introductions were made, snacks were grabbed, seats were taken. There were about 20 people, all curious about the wine, the winery and the dude in the middle of the living room.
After introducing myself and the winery, it was time to start tasting.
We started with the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, the lightest of the bunch. I went around the room pouring a generous taste in everyone’s glass while discussing how the wine was made. For those who wanted another splash, they were gladly filled. When all finished, we headed towards the 2009 Chardonnay. Again, a talk of the creation of the wine was given. During this time, guests were able to ask questions as well as more stories of the winery world. Before we knew it, the room was filled with laughter, discussion, and a vibe of relaxed joy. With a teaching background, whenever it got out of hand, I would use special techniques to bring ‘em all in. Who knew that adults that drink and kids are so similar? From the whites, we moved onto the ‘09 Syrah, followed by the ‘09 Merlot, and finished with the ‘09 Cabernet Sauvignon.
What started as a group of strangers, ended as an intimate group of friends. After all the wines were tasted, orders were filled, more discussions about wine and life were had, and as it happens, more wine was opened and consumed (everyone had a different favorite), a lightening and thunder storm appeared out of nowhere. Or at least, so it seemed for me, all who lived in Glen Coe knew it was coming, but it was thrilling for the Cali boy who doesn’t get to experience that kind of weather too often.
It was a humbling feeling to be able to hear and see my new friends’ responses to the wine. Wine really does bring people together. We met with handshakes, and said goodbye with hugs.