Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sedona WineFest Day 1

  Yesterday was the first day of the much anticipated Sedona WineFest. This post will be fairly short as I'm behind in my chores out in the pasture and gotta get out there pretty soon. I've been to quite a few of these to-do's as a customer but this was my first opportunity to work one. If today's crowd at the 'Fest is HALF what yesterday's was the whole thing is going to be proclaimed an enormous success. It was slated to begin at 11 a.m. I met my boss, Lisa Pender from the Pillsbury Wine Co.'s tasting room at 10 to unload many cases of wine. There were already customers lined up at the ticket desk to get in!! Imagine, grown up, normal, successful looking people who couldn't WAIT to drink wine at 10 in the morning! By the time we got to the last hand truck full of wine cases I looked down the hill and could see what looked like a line of cars backed up half way down Airport Road.
  For those who've never been to one of these deals,  here's how it works. You pay your entry fee, and you get a spiffy wine glass and usually 6 tickets, which will get you some tastes at the various winemaker's booths. Some winemakers charge a flat rate: one ticket for one one ounce taste, while others tier their charges depending on their per bottle costs. A less expensive wine may be one ticket whereas a 65 dollar bottle may be 3 or 4 tickets. Six tickets won't get you a lot of tastes, and so you can go to the ticket table and buy more for a buck apiece. Individual winemakers get paid back a half dollar for each ticket by the show organizers, which in most cases doesn't even cover the wholesale price of the wines they're sampling.
So the show is really all about selling bottles, cases and the PR that comes with being there.

  The crowd was easy to handle. In recent years I've become really wary of crowds and being in places where there are more than a few people I don't know really well. I'm a bit agoraphobic and was concerned about having one of my famous panic attacks and so took an extra pocketfull of Xanax just in case. I'm happy to report I didn't need any. A wine tasting crowd is a HAPPY crowd! I was hoping to meet at least a few snooty snobs who I could goof on and have writing material for this blog, but to my chagrin didn't meet a single one. While about 90 percent white, this was otherwise a crowd of regular folks, regular folks surprisingly knowledgeable about wine. Uniformly inquisitive, polite and happy as can be.
  I'll report more tomorrow and post some pics, but now have to get going with chores before getting the "buck perfume" washed off myself and heading out.

  One wine I want to mention now before I forget. Javelina Leap Winery in Page Springs has a fortified, Port-like Zinfandel in pretty short supply. If you're a Port or Sherry drinker ( I know, most Port drinkers have long since shed their satin smoking jackets, put out their cigars and quietly crumbled to dust) you really ought to see if you can get ahold of a bottle of this stuff. A bit too much alcohol on the finish but it's very interesting otherwise. 30 bucks for a split sized bottle. Personally, I think it would have been even more successful if they had a brandy to fortify it with rather than the grain alcohol they used, but I guess you can't do that unless you've got your own brandy to use, and distilling is a whole other deal. It went a long way towards getting rid of the made-yesterday-and-stored-in-the-reach-in-uncovered taste of the Three Flatbread offering from the Hilton Sedona that I had for lunch. Awesome wines at this fest. Food? Not so much.
  More tomorrow, thanks for reading!