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Snooth User: Hamishwm

Best winery visit/experience???

Original post by Hamishwm, Sep 6, 2010.


I have just joined Snooth and am exploring a bit. I have been buying, selling and tasting wine for over 20 years. Recently I started a new side to my business where we take people to some of the finest Chateaux in Bordeaux and taste some of the best wines. It is always great fun arriving at Chateau Lafite Rothschild or Chateau d'Yquem and acknowledging the hushed customers in complete awe of where we are and what we are about to taste.

But my question is what have been your best experiences at wineries? Has it been the best wines? The best people? Or just the best ambience?


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Reply by dmcker, Sep 8, 2010.

And, with absolutely no tongue in cheek, welcome to Snooth, Hamish. I still would very much like to hear what you can tell us about the wineries and related experiences in Bordeaux and Southwestern France. Where in the latter do you travel much?

Reply by outthere, Sep 8, 2010.

Thanks for understanding and not getting upset with us. We're really not mean people. Really! Welcome to Snooth.

Reply by Hamishwm, Sep 9, 2010.

Hi dmcker. I'll send you a message to explain what we do in Bordeaux and the South of France. Otherwise I could be accused of self promotion!! Cheers

Thanks for your welcome comments outthere and Girl Drink Drunk (where did you get that name from?).


Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Sep 9, 2010.

It's from an old Kids in the Hall skit.  Dave Foley basically becomes an alcoholic who only drinks frou frou blender drinks out of a pineapple.  It's pretty funny.

Reply by outthere, Sep 9, 2010.
Otherwise I could be accused of self promotion!!



Now, getting back to your original question, for me the winery experience is a combination of all 3 things.

  • People - Who I am on my excursion with and who presents the wine/facility to me make up a big part of the experience. Do something fun and I will remember it. Do it with fun people and I will cherish it.
  • Wine - This is the main reason I do this. For the wine experience. The opportunity to try something new from a new producer or one that I have a long history with. I love vertical tastings when I go to wineries. It allows me to see how the winemaker approaches each vintage differently.
  • Ambiance - It can be anything from full blown chateau to an industrial park roll up door facility for me. They both have their interesting points and those often bounce at me from the winemaker or winery representative as they do their presentation. This goes back to the people category. Nobody wants to deal with a pompous ass or an airhead.

The most memorable experiences for me have been the ones that combine all 3 of these things in equal parts.

Reply by Hamishwm, Sep 9, 2010.

Good comments. I agree about the ambiance. Sometimes the grandest Chateaux mean nothing if the people are unfriendly or pompous or the wine is not great. Sometimes an artisan small producer can still give a great ambiance for his small winery and his efforts to create the best wine he can. Sometimes the surprises and the unexpected 'discoveries' (in all 3 categories)are the fondest and longest memories.

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 9, 2010.

I have been to a certain winery in Napa twice... I gave it the second chance cause they make darn good wine, and are not widely distributed.  However, the tasting room staff there is ATROCIOUS.  The worst ever.  I even spaced my visits out by ~4yrs and they were still bad!  Now, I know Napa can be a pretentious area, especially SOME wineries.. but this was worse.  On both occasions, we were the only ones in the tasting room.  Just walked in.  The first time, 2 of the staff were talking to a wine business person of some sort, right in our presence.  We stood there like idiots for ~15min before being acknowledged.  We were begrudgingly given glasses and tastes.. and had to wait AGAIN.  I swear, it was like that soup nazi episode from Seinfeld!!   But oh so good wine.  Bought- I am ashamed to say.  Then back ~4yrs later.  Not AS horrible, but MAJOR inattentiveness- leaving you to stand there, etc. 

I now have quite a bit more great wines in my repertoire, and will not go there again.  So, to answer your question, the staff and how they conduct themselves is definitely something that is important to me. Definitely a data point.

BUT- the wine is paramount.  I can put up with a lot for a good bottle of wine :-)  No landscape, architecture, pampering, "deals", etc will make me come back.  But a great bottle of wine will.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 10, 2010.

One reason I like DCV so much is because the wineries themselves are almost never monuments to the owner/CEO's ego.  If I see a huge faux-chateau and lots of fancy artwork, expensive fixturing, and the like, I wonder how much of that is built into the wine's price.  Of course, being a winery owner and collecting art often go hand in hand, but if you start that way?  Cause for worry.  At Unti, the tasting area is not much more than a temperature controlled shed, and the (quite good) artwork on the walls is Linda Unti's own. I like visiting because the Untis are usually there--we bought a painting from Linda herself one year, and they also provide grapes to other wineries so you get a sense of the story of the valley.  Mauritson's tasting room is slightly fancier, but I always wind up walking through the winery area eventually, and Clay Mauritson is there for any major event.  At Teldeschi, you have to step around Dan's tractor to get in the shed, and Dan may be pouring.  The Mauritsons and Teldeschis have been there as long as the land has been worked.  At Talty, the owners have always been there when I tasted.  That's the advantage of "off the beaten path" wineries where they aren't overrun by tasters all the time.

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Sep 10, 2010.

And Mauritson is producing the best Zins out of CA, for my money.

Reply by napagirl68, Sep 10, 2010.

OMG!! GDD- we agree for a second time!  This is cool.  Perhaps we should raise a toast one day :-)

Here is an excerpt from my notes in a snooth posting on the Labor day weekend Taste of Sonoma Grand Tasting at MacMurray Ranch:

Number one for me was Mauritson Family Winery.. I like their 2009 Dry Creek Sauv blan the best of all sauv blancs that I tasted.  Their Rockpile 2008 Cemetary Vineyard Zin was awesome, as was their 2007 Buck pasture Bordeaux blend.  The family members were there, and WONDERFUL to talk with.. samples of the soil.. we discussed the composition and impact.  A great experience meeting these folks.  I wanna go visit in the fall..

Clay Mauritson was there, and did we talk dirt!!!   We got really into the chemistry of the soil, which really got me going.  What a passion that man has for his soil!  That was after having my very first taste, and LOVING it.  What a sweetheart, and talented winemaker as well.  I cannot wait to visit.  I am thinking late OCT or early Nov..  I would recommend this winery to anyone...

Reply by Coloradosioux, Sep 13, 2010.

Our wine rep arranged a trip to Napa.  It was enormously fun because there were 8 of us ranging from top front-of-house sales cats, cooks to group sales.  Our team grew from the most memorable experiences.  The entire group was impressed by how the small town feel of Napa has somehow stood steadfast in the face of expansion and corporate management.  Nobody from our group was a native to Colorado but we all ended up living in the Rocky Mountains where avalanches close the mountain passes and we ski and ride Mary Jane with others we know by name or at least knick-name.  Love the locals.  We were so lucky to stay at the Franciscan Guest House where we honed our bocce ball skills and took them to new limits as we vinyard hopped.  RH and SK dominated!  We visited Heitz, Natanzas, Mondavi, even made our way up to what was my favorite experience overall, Charbay.  We critiqued our servers and bartenders and were somewhat disallusioned by presentation.  The servers were knowkedgeable about their products but after several dinners in renouned establishments, the group was unimpressed by knowledge imparted by the server.  For example, as we ordered, not a single server suggested a pairing.  We found great stuff on our own and I ended up usually ordering a good whiskey and a beer but I tried.  I am learning to forego my whiskey and a beer lovlies to try new tastes so I can be a better server and take my customer's joyfulness level to new Heitz? a hahaha  Thanks, love you guys.

Reply by Zesty1, Sep 14, 2010.

I have visited many of the older well known wineries in Europe and while mighty impressive as many are I find the "snob factor" a bit off putting. My best experiences have been in small wineries in South Africa, NZ and Australia spending time with the owners and wine makers getting to see their passion and dedication first hand. 

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 14, 2010.

I lost this thread early but it kinda got interesting.

If any of you are coming to Australia, particularly Adelaide I am happy to give you some guidance on wineries and if around town happy to be your guide, and I am free, well no cost, non commercial type guide.

Barossa is ~70km North, Clare ~140km North, McLaren Vale ~45km South, Adelaide Hills suburban basically, Langhorne Creek 60km South East and Coonwarra 400km South East. Plus others

Everything from the Jacobs Creek Visitors Centre to an old brick barn.

By the way Hamish when I was in Bordeaux I used Taxis Touristiques Bordelais and our driver was this quite amazing Spanish French woman Maryse, she was great fun and boy did she hate Parisians, bit like most people hate the Dallas Cowboys and Gallo Jug Wine.


Reply by Richard Foxall, Sep 14, 2010.

SH: A lot of Cowboys merchandise gets sold, as does (or did, I really don't follow it now) Gallo jug wine.  Somebody likes it.  There's something to talk about between wineries if I ever make it down your way. 

Zesty1 has had experiences that most of us probably share.  That's a big reason I suggest newcomers to California go to Sonoma County--much less snobby, more earthy, family run.  And the wines (GDD and NG, here I go again on the Maurtison kick) are among the very best.

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