Bottle Signing: A great way to meet and greet winemakers
By Dathan Kazsuk
If you know us, you know we like our wine. So it should come as no surprise that we have an extensive collection of wines that we've purchased from around the World. California Cabernets. German Rieslings. French bubbles. It's what we do. And part of that is, when we can, get a winemaker to put his or her John Hancock on the bottle. It's a great way to have a personal one-on-one with the winemaker, and it's actually now part of our decor throughout our kitchen.
With a trio of Sharpie pens in our travel bag (black, silver and white), they're always on hand when we're at a winery, event or wine tasting. And in the past couple of years, we've had some memorable meetings with winemakers and owners.
One of our first signed bottles comes courtesy of Robert Foley of Napa's Robert Foley Vineyards. Foley started his career back in 1977 working for wineries such as Pride Mountain Vineyards, until he started his own winery back in 1998. We met Bob during a Triangle Wine Experience Sip & Sign event at Wine 101 in Wake Forest. There we purchased a 2008 Charbono.
If you live in the Raleigh-area, like we do, we find that the TWE Sip & Sign events are the best. They're free to attend, and a handful of shops in the area bring in some big name West Coast winemakers pouring samples of their wine.
At these events we've met winemakers such asNile Zacherle from Zacherle Wine in Calistoga, California. At Raleigh Wine Shop he discussed with us why so many winemakers hop at the chance to fly to Raleigh for a week for this event.
One year we met Scot Covington of Trione Vineyards and Winery out of Geyserville, California. We knew a distributor at the time who told us about a couple Trione wine tastings in town that week, as well as hanging out with Scot at 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh to taste wines with the restaurant's wine manager. Scot's been the winemaker at Covington since 2005, where the Trione family basically gave him a blank piece of paper and said to him, "Design your winery."
Then comes one of our favorites - Steve Reynolds of Reynolds Family Winery. It's now been at least 4 to 5 years that we've seen Steve at a Sip & Sign event, at the Triangle Wine Experience Gala itself, or being fortunate enough to see him at Eliza's house during her infamous house parties.
A great, fun loving guy who brings a plethora of incredible wines with him – and a love for Tequila. If you don't know Steve or his wines – check out the documentary Decanted on Netflix.
If you ask either Jen or myself, we'll say living in Raleigh is one of the best places to meet a winemaker – and Taylor's Wine Shop tops the list.
The father and son team of Taylor and Ben Cash do an amazing job at bringing in top notch wines for tastings, and sometimes luring in the winemakers themselves. There we've met Laely Heron of Heron Wines, Hank McCrorie of Burly Wines and Carolina Hurricane greats Cam Ward and Tim Gleason, who are co-owners of Vineyard 36 in California.
It was great to spend time talking to Ward and Gleason about hockey, but also about their wine without a line of Canes fans trying to get an autograph. All we had to do was purchase a bottle of wine, which was the Crosscheck, and both signed our bottle and even posed for a photo.
Later this month,Taylor's Wine Shop will bring in another winery "superstar" in the form of Todd Anderson of Anderson's Conn Valley Wines. We met Todd back in 2013 and boy did he have some stories to tell. He even brought in a bottle of $2,000 Screaming Eagle for us to try. You can't beat that.
But don't just think of us a West Coast-area bottle collectors ... since we live here in North Carolina, and visit wine country a lot on our days off, we have bottles signed by places such as RagApple Lassie, South Creek, Jones von Drehle, Raffladini and Jolo Winery.
It's a fun hobby, and we know signed bottles aren't really worth any money – not unless we have a signed bottle of the 1975 Chateau Mouton Rothschild signed by label maker, Andy Worhol.
So grab a Sharpie the next time you head out to one of your favorite wineries and see if you can't get your favorite winemakers name on your favorite bottle.