Going Strong Bi-Coastal: The Country Vintner Road Show

tcv_gpLAroseAsk any good restaurateur in DC, Baltimore, Richmond, Raleigh-Durham, or Charlotte who they buy most of their wine from and they’re bound to tell you Country Vintner. That’s because the Vintner Group has a gigantic international portfolio of family-owned wineries with virtually no big-brand bullshit.
tcv.jessattableIn late March, I graciously accepted the invitation to go on the Vintner Group roadshow, taking a Tour Coach with Italian, French, Argentinian, Portuguese, German, and South African producers from North Carolina all the way to Maryland. Juan and Julia Zuccardi, who took me around their layered vineyards in Valle de Ucco, Argentina four years ago, greeted me upon arrival the first night in the hotel lobby. Downtown Charlotte in the middle of a gigantic St. Patrick’s Day bar-crawl was quite a juxtaposition from the serene vineyards underneath the Andes where I saw them last.
Many of the foreign producers inquired if the youth of America dawned green and got drunk en masse every weekend. We did our best to explain the holiday over a late dinner seated on a street-side patio. During the course of our meal, we watched college-age kids alternate between berating sidewalk evangelical preachers and tearfully hugging them. Welcome to the South!
tcv_pete1Also on the road show was Paolo de Marchi, who is arguably the most influential Sangiovese producer in the world. Based on his property in Chianti Classico, he has devoted much of his life to breeding beautiful Sangiovese vines. It is rumored that much of the Sangiovese planted on Stolpman Vineyards actually comes from his vineyards in Chianti Classico. I was honored to chat with him and try his beautiful Isole e Olena wines once again.
The famed Lebanese Winery Chateau Musar
also poured alongside Stolpman Vineyards. Through its 80 year history, Chateau Musar weathered both World War II and a 15 year civil war and continued to produce world famous wines.
tcv_chadmelvilleThese prestigious wineries put things in perspective for us SOUTH CENTRAL COAST boys (Chad Melville of Melville, Eric Johnson of Talley, and me). While our wines showed great in this esteemed company, we’re a young region with hopefully our best years in front of us as we further perfect our craft.
tcv_pinbackOnce the trip kicked off, we producers spent every afternoon pouring wine at walk-around tastings and then evenings at retail shops and restaurants to meet consumers. Highlights included blasting vinyl Pinback at Wine Authorities in Durham and an amazing pairing dinner at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia.
By day, I proudly debuted the new releases: 2012 Rose, 2011 Golden Point, and the Re-Designed 2011 La Cuadrilla, for wholesale buyers in each city. These wines will now be at your favorite restaurants and fine wine shops all over the mid-Atlantic! My fellow producers and Country Vintner Colleagues enjoyed the new wines alongside me as well (and on the bus).
tcv_roseWith a crazy week of flights, bus rides, pourings, and events, all while managing operations from afar (Julia Zuccardi and Juan have the advantage of the tag-team!) we were all excited to get home.
Upon arrival to the vineyard Friday, I immediately noticed a couple of the oaks in bloom, as well as some of the Sangiovese vines.
tcv_LCHoeCuadrilla was hard at work, hoeing the weeds away from the new Syrah vines in Block 6 to make sure the babies don’t have too much competition upon budding.
Concluding an intense week of travel, I always enjoy my arrival back to the vineyard. I take a deep tcv_sangibudbreath, feel the ocean wind, and I remember that the reason I go out and pound the pavement around the county is to sustain this beautiful vineyard. It’s also a great reminder that no matter the frantic pace that I keep up, La Cuadrilla goes even harder! With everybody working on all 8 cylinders, including Mother Nature busy budding for 2013, we’re going to have another great, busy Vintage!