Wine press trips would like to be all things to all men and women. Wines of California tried something slightly different this October. Instead of attempting to take us up close and personal with vineyards and wineries, they set up five days of themed tastings, the wines selected not by the generic body but by journalists such as Jon Bonné, Alder Yarrow and Linda Murphy, those who live in the state and have a deep and broad knowledge and appreciation of its wines.
The idea was to give us a chance to taste without the producers hovering over us and then, separately, to meet a wide range of producers, not just those whose wines were in the focused tastings, during the intervening lunches and dinners. While I missed getting into the vineyards, seeing them mainly through the coach window as we travelled from San Francisco to Healdsburg and St Helena and back to San Francisco, it was an excellent opportunity to give serious attention to some of the very best wines.
On day one, we were spurred into action at a power breakfast by the upbeat message and style of the quintessentially casually well-groomed and personable politician Gavin Newsom (pictured), Lieutenant Governor of California, who started his working career by building the highly successful wine retail business Plumpjack before becoming a vigneron in Oakville in the Napa Valley, with the financial involvement of his well-funded friend by the name of Getty.
The following articles follow the sequence of the week's tastings. Those with links are already published; those without are coming soon.
Many splendid Chardonnays 28 October 2013
Zinfandel's elegant side 29 October 2013
Does California do value? 31 October 2013
Next generation California 1 November 2013
How California wines have changed 11 November 2013
California Pinot Noir - north to south 18 November 2013
California Mavericks - blended wines 25 November 2013
California Cabernet - a mixed pleasure 2 December 2013
California 2012 vintage preview 9 December 2013