I don’t like to make myself known. Well I prefer to be anonymous. But let me back up. You see, usually I end up visiting a winery on a press junket. While always pleasant, I sometimes feel as if we’re being carted around on a cloud. Things are too perfect. The best, most informed staff are placed in front of us.
We’re presented the twice cleaned glasses, while someone slowly massages our feet … that last bit might be a bit of a stretch but you get where I am going. Things are too primped up. So in order to get a truer sense of what the average wine lover is looking for, I decide to visit wine country incognito, at least once every two years. I stop just short of donning a moustache and a fake accent. I simply walk into a number of tasting rooms over one or two days and taste away.
I listen intently to what the staff have to say. They talk brix and wind machines while I ask about philosophy in the vineyard and beyond. It’s great fun. And what I’ve come to realize over the years is that things aren’t that different if I’m driven on a junket or if I come in on my own steam. Staff is knowledgeable. The vineyards impart a feeling of calm and beauty. Those who visit are like explorers, eager to learn more about these lands. Now there may be a glass or two out of place and not every grape varietal in the blend is remembered but that imperfection is what makes it even better — and human. And it’s that human element we sometimes forget about when we think of wine country.
So as you visit some wineries close to you this summer — and you know there are several — think about this: The bottle isn’t the only thing you’ve come to see.