I have been to a lot of wine tastings. Almost without exception, the focus of events described as “wine tastings” has been either the wine, or the drunken state of attendees. Before last Saturday’s Noble Rot event, I had never been to a wine tasting where the people behind the wine actually came first and foremost.
Not that the wine poured on Saturday was in any way undeserving of center stage—but the opportunity to chat with Hardy Wallace (of Murphy-Goode social media contest fame), Heather Munden (creator of St. Francis Winery’s single vineyard projects, as well as her own new label), and Christina Turley (former somm at Momofuku, and scion of Napa’s Turley family) about whatever came up in the casual, house party atmosphere certainly was a breath of fresh air.
I’m not really talking about any of the wines here, because the conversation was really the focus and purpose of the evening. Chatting in the kitchen about Heather's new outdoor wood burning oven and homemade charcuterie, commiserating with Christina about the culture shock of sleepy St. Helena after years in the city, and laughing about the distribution system Hardy “the Milkman” uses to get his canteens of wine to restaurants—he delivers them himself, packed into milkcrates in the back of his car—really made the night what it was. Tasting the fantastic and interesting wines was really more of a bonus... and yet, like the cheeses from Raymond Cheesemongers, the array of tasty crostini and passed appetizers, and the beautiful St. Helena home that hosted it all, completely essential to the experience.
This event on January 29 was the first west-coast foray for Noble Rot, but Jonny and Brian definitely have plans for more California mayhem... including a possible City of Napa event I could walk home from. You can follow their rollicking adventures and teasers on their website, via Twitter, or through their blog, Winetology.com.