Triangle Wine Experience: Gala, Wine & Money Flowing
By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk
Imagine if you will – one room filled with over 70 winemakers and distributors pouring wine from California and around the World. And imagine if, on top of that, 19 local restaurants and chefs serving up unique and tasty morsels. Then imagine thousands upon thousands of dollars of auction items waiting for the highest bidder. Top that off with Triangle’s elite, knowing that at the end of the night, all the money raised is going to help the children of the Frankie Lemmon School.
All that was to be found at the 25th anniversary of the Triangle Wine Experience and its all-star gala. We were fortunate to attend this year, and had a great time seeing some good friends as well as acquaintances we only see once a year during the gala.
This year, we decided to keep the flashes emitting from our cameras to a minimum, and like our friend Jeffrey Fieldman told us that night, “Enjoy the evening. You deserve it.” And we did just that.
First, we went and said hello to Italics Winegrowers Managing Partner, Taylor Martin. We ran into him earlier that week during a wine tasting in Wake Forest, where he was pouring some of his wines. He ran us through the list of his wines again and introduced us to a couple that we didn’t try earlier that week, including a rare bottle of red wine that Steve Reynolds of Reynolds Family Vineyards made just for this event’s live auction.
Next to Italics were the wines from Hirsch Winery. There we talked to Jasmine Hirsch, general manager of the Sonoma County winery. We went through a line of Pinot Noir, which again seemed to be the theme of the evening. From an almost fruity Pinot to some more complex wines, Jasmine talked us through each one during our tasting.
In between all this great wine, attendees made their way to the center of the room to sample unique morsels from 19 of the Triangle’s popular restaurants. Restaurants included Brewery Bhavana, Garland, M Sushi, Player’s Retreat and much more. The standouts were chefs Ashley Christensen, Scott Crawford and Vivian Howard, who are just as much rocks stars as the winemakers.
That evening we also sampled wines from Lando, Husic, Ram’s Gate, Keplinger, ZD and Pax Cellars to name just a few. Another one of our standout wineries came courtesy of our friend Jay Holland, who suggested we try Davis Family Vineyards. Guy and his wife Judy poured us a very intriguing Chardonnay – which led into a lengthy discussion on the pendulum swing of Chardonnay’s buttery or non-buttery likes and dislikes. Besides the Chardonnay we tried a sparkling wine, a Cab Sauv and two different Pinot Noirs before heading to our table for the live auction – and where the big bucks are raised.
At our table, we were seated next to Lisa Jefferies of Raleighwood Media and Charis Painter with Midtown Magazine. While at our table we enjoyed the live auction as thousands and thousands of dollars were being spent like it was Monopoly money. At one point a lot of 5 different years of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon sold for $30,000. To top that off, right after they offered another 5 bottles of Pappy that also went for $30,000.
The night was winding down – for us – so it was time to head on home. We always enjoy this weekend, from the winemaker dinners, the tastings and the gala. We always look forward to this weekend and as always a heartfelt thanks goes out to the people that make this event happen and especially Lenora Evans, Ken Place, Mary Carey and Eliza Kraft Olander.