About 4 years ago, we planned our wedding, and as the bride, I took the traditional role of taking the helm and taking care of all the details. It was easy. Choosing a venue, booking a photographer, ordering flowers from the florist, choosing the menu, buying a dress, altering said dress, altering said dress again with new dressmaker for further corrections, buying matching shoes, choosing the wines, getting a hairdresser and make-up artist, ordering the invites, sending them out, getting the RSVPs.... you get the picture.
It was a piece of cake.
A year later, I hosted my first wine dinner - this was when I was still working at The Wine Country. The dinner was at my favorite Long Beach sushi restaurant, Yen in Belmont Shore, and the wines were from Rudi Wiest. Rudi and my then rep, Allie, were present at the dinner, and I was so nervous, that I felt like it was more nerve-wracking than our wedding.
The wedding was a piece of cake, easy peasy. It felt like me spending money in my budget and having to please no one really... it was throwing a big party with no agenda.
The wine dinner, on the other hand, needed to be a success for the restaurant, The Wine Country, and Rudi Wiest Selections. Oh yes, and the guests, the participants of the wine dinner.
And, it was a success. I was relieved. Everything turned out great and everyone was happy with the food and the wine, and wine was sold, so the industry side was happy too.
Since then, I've done a bunch of wine dinners, and now I'm much less nervous about them. But they are still a production.
Just like wine tastings - they can be a big production.
And there is no bigger production than Rudipalooza, the annual German wine tasting event that Rudi Wiest Selections puts on as their new vintage tasting, an extravaganza of events meant to entice those in the trade to the charms and beauties of German wine.
But this year, the extravaganza has gotten a face lift. Instead of just doing trade tastings through the big cities, the winemakers, who have flown in from Germany today (today Sunday - the day Germany got 4 points vs Australia in the World Cup - I hope the winemakers got to catch some of the game, but I suspect, many had to miss it due to the flight), will spend an entire week in California, doing not only tastings for the trade, but also for consumers.
The idea is that the consumer, the end users of these lovely wines, want a chance to meet the rock stars they have heard the trade ramble on about... the legendary Hanno Zilliken of the Saar - what does he look like anyway? Is he nice? Our wineloving public will find out for themselves, not just hear me ramble about what a cool guy he is, how he makes some of the most pristine and gorgeous Rieslings I've ever had the pleasure of drinking, but is so down-to-earth and friendly and speaks perfect English to boot. Our wineloving public will see just how tall is Jan Eymael, nephew of Robert Eymael and winemaker and owner (along with his mother Doris Eymael) and how friendly is his smile, a smile of modesty even as his Grosses Gewachs (Grand Cru) wines make media splashes and most recently, 2 of them got 95 points in Wine Spectator (the Weilberg GG and the Herrenberg "M" GG)....and how the charming Karina Stuhler of Wurzberg in the Franken region has transitioned so smoothly from the Robert Weil Estate in the Rheingau to her current post as export manager at Hans Wirsching.
All this past month I was in a nervous tizzy.... planning this event-filled week which is more difficult even to plan than a wedding, in my mind - juggling where each event will be and who will be there - can we get people there? what wines? when? what food? how to get everyone there? will they order the wines? will people attend the wine dinner? how many will show up at the tasting? But today, Sunday, as I sit here catching up with last minute things, I'm actually not so stressed as I am excited - for the week of fun, wine-filled events is why I'm in this business, and those delicious 2009s.... I can't wait to revisit them and see if I love them as much as I did in Germany this February.
Hope to see you at the events (if you are in California!)