In May when Margot and I were at the WineMaker Magazine Conference we met so many wonderful people. Talking to them about similar interests made the days overwhelming. I even offered my award winning strawberry wine recipe
to anyone who was interested in it. Hopefully folks are having good luck with their own batches.
We also met some local amateur winemakers that were there learning, networking and enjoying some wine for a few days.
As I alluded to in my conference recap
Noel Powell (photo to the right) and I had exchanged a few e-mails before leaving for the conference and hoped to meet each other during it. We actually did, while standing in line. We hadn’t seen each other yet and both of us happened to turn in the right direction at the right time and were staring at each other. We enjoyed some meals and wine together, talked shop and had some good laughs. Noel, Margot and I sat together at dinner where we met Kelly & Robbie Rogers from NC. What a blast that night. As a table we took home 13 medals. Not bad for some folks from the East Coast!
Immediately after the awards dinner Joanne and Barry Crawford (in the picture below) found us and introduced themselves indicating they were from Georgetown, MA and were excited to meet some other local winemakers. Lucky for her Noel was there, and from Westford, MA, so she was even more excited that we WERE finding each other and lived close enough that we would be able to meet again. Joanne was also award winning from the same night, something we all thought the folks from CA should keep in mind. Joanne proposed a group tasting of our wines and we all agreed it should happen.
We all got home and e-mailed a bit with Margot and I offering up the first location and plans to kick it off. Each winemaker was encouraged to invite family and friends, we all have our fans who we love to serve our wine too! Margot and I invited a bunch of our wine tasting friends and a whole group of new faces from the Manchester Area Wine Lovers Meetup.com
group. This was my second event with the group and was meeting all but one of them for the first time. I knew this was going to be good.
Noel brought a wonderful selection of wines including Revenge of the Zin, Malbec, two styles of Chardonnay, Syrah, Cranberry, Cranberry Banana and Seyval Blanc.
Joanne brought her Marilyn Merlot, Lambrusco and Pinot Noir.
Margot and I selected Amarone #1 from 2008, a Pinot Noir 2009 and the Plum/Riesling also from 2009.
The wines were received with considerable comment, some surprise and plenty of refills! All of the wines were worthy of drinking, personal tastes aside. The reds were the big winners on the day and were only matched by Noel's Chardonnays that split the group between a dry Chablis style and fuller bodied lightly oaked version.
We also collaborated with guests on snacks and ended up with a fantastic spread of cheese, crackers, spreads, cured meats, olives, filo cups, bread & oil and desserts. So many things that went well with the selection of wines. No wonder there was a period of time I was bringing the wine to the dining room where the food was. That was before I spilled some of my own wine onto me whilst pouring a fresh glass. Too funny, and I did have a buzz.
I asked my friend Josh Mazgelis if he would like to come and take pictures for the afternoon. Josh has a 365 Photoblog
going and loves the opportunity to shoot so this worked great. The pictures throughout this blog are works of his and I think they go a long way to elevate the story surrounding the event. Hopefully Josh will help me learn more about working the camera with food so I can do more at home with my smaller projects.
As guests arrived we had lots of mutual introductions and joyous conversations were going on everywhere. The wine was flowing and each winemaker was serving their own, others and guests were comfortable enough to grab more as needed. It was a very relaxed and conversation filled afternoon.
(Gabriel, Geno & Noel talking wine)
(Geno telling a good story)
(I love serving wine to the ladies...)
(Joanne, Barry, Wayne, Meredith & Margot)
(nice arial shot of the busy tasting)
(drink up everyone!)
Chris & Nancy Obert, authors of the book The Next Harvest about New England Wineries, were able to attend something that was fully expected to be a lot of fun. We have spent time with them at NH winery events in the past, and I have attended several of their New England winery wine tastings at their home. We were excited to finally be able to invite them to our place. They hit it off with guests right away with copies of their book making the rounds and we got ours signed finally. In the picture (below and left) I have no idea what I was saying to them, but I sure look serious about it.
I had conversations about food and wine pairing, swapped winemaking tips, talked a little bit about travel and of course had fun smelling, tasting and discussing all of the wines. There were conversations about who liked what better and the various attributes of the wines and the styles they represented. One of the topics I have thrown out a couple times to test the idea is that of having a sensory evaluation party that uses foods from the market to help associate aromas and flavors with wines. Huge roars of support for something like this. Expect that to be coming later this year hopefully.
As the day wound down we grabbed some group pictures and bid farewell to new friends who we hope to see again soon.
(that is a pretty happy group of winos!)
(Me, Joanne, Noel and Geno)
The core winemaker group and some long time fans sat down to talk through the day’s fun and enjoy some more of the wines. The topic switched to that of starting a winemaking club. We all knew this was going to come up from earlier conversations, but no substance had yet been put to it. We don’t have an official name yet, but the Central New England Amateur Winemakers is descriptive enough in the short term. We do have a president. Thank you Noel! We also have a growing list of ideas of what kind of group we want to build. I am so proud to be in this place at this time to be able to get involved in this. I am hopeful that my hosting, cooking, food & wine pairing, mixology and technical skills can be applied to help our new club to great heights. You’ll hear more about us for sure!
The party cleanup was going on throughout the later part of the event and ended up being pretty manageable. But I have to thank my Mom for that; something I would have normally done but was justifiably engrossed in other things. Much thanks.
We have had a number of wine tastings and wine dinners at our house over the last few years, a trend that will continue for sure. On this day we heard returning guests talking about how much fun this event was and our new friends sure made us feel like they enjoyed themselves as well. This event was a wonderful example of how hosting can be done and why you set out to do it in the first place.
Thank you to Barry, Bob, Donna, Joanne, Josh, Margot, Noel, family, friends and the gang from meetup.com. We had a lot of fun. We’ll see you soon at the next event!
There are more photos below from the aftenoon.
(Bill on the left and Chris & Nancy on the right)
(Noel carefully serving Karen some wine. Chardonnay perhaps?)
(Wayne & I)
(Amy & Brian)
(Margot and I sure had fun!)
(My Dad trying to be funny!)
(Brian, Vincent, George and Lynn)