WBC 09: visiting Ridge & other adventures before the conference

In this post “Art PredaBaby Beluga VW Westy at Ridgetor/Wine Predator  Off to the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma” I describe how I found a way to get into the already full Wine Blogger’s Conference.

From my post “Some winery inspired poetry from Ridge’s blog”.

On my way up to the  Wine Bloggers Conference 2009 in Santa Rosa Sonoma County CA, I stopped at Ridge Winery. Even though Ridge is probably my favorite winery in Caliornia, partly because I got my start there and partly because they make GREAT wine, I haven’t been back since my last day working in the tasting room a million years ago.

It’s changed quite a bit. For one, there is a tasting room, not just a picnic table set up outside. And there are lots more picnic tabl up on the Ridge at Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains es, many of them under a shade structure.

The views are the same–spectacular–and so is the wine. Honestly, I’d forgotten how wonderful it feels up there close to the sky, looking out over the fog fingers to the mountains ringing the SF Bay. And the wine, everything I tasted was lovely, full of perfect impressions of pleasure onto my palate.

I was spurred to visit for several reasons, one being that I discovered Ridge’s blog recently–it was started only a few months ago–and I really liked the writing there.

So I was overjoyed when, even though the tasting room is officially only open on weekends, they let me in–and I spent some time tasting wine and talking wine, writing, and blogging with tasting room manager and chief Ridge blogger, Christopher Watkins, who has an MFA in poetry.Ridge tasting area

For his one year anniversary at Ridge, he posted a series of poems about life about there. So, in honor of the Wine Blogger’s Conference, and for this week’s edition of the poetry train, instead of offering some of my poetry, I give you Christopher Watkins, who I will be nominating for a wine blogger award next year. Enjoy.

Crisp autumn morning;
a deer heart’s worth of inno-
cence stirs my soul.

In a clearing, the
new wind reminds me, you can
fall off a mountain.

At the insistence
of the wind, thin mountain brush
fidgets, pointing east.

Birdless, the wind-swept
air; snakeless, the cold, dry soil;
empty, my mouth, of words.

As might a painter’s
palette imitate the sky,
I try the mountain.

The wind, stripping our
revisions away, reveals
the first masterpiece.

Stone greets vine-root, brush
greets breeze, sun greets fog  — Grateful,
I take autumn’s hand.

If terroir is a
sense of place, then my soul is
a moveable wine.

From my post “On the way to WBC 2009″:

Following my nostalgic tasting adventure at Ridge on Thursday–a minerally, bright, balanced food friendly 07 S Cruz Mountains chard, a lively young Dry Creek 07 zin full of black fruit, a 07 Paso Robles zin from 85 year old vines smoother and full of red fruits like cranberry and raspberry, followed by two zin splits: a lively, minty 07 Geyserville zin, and ending with a 06 rich, thick, creamy and yet puckery Lytton  Springs–”Baby Beluga” (that’s the name of my 90 white Westy VW van you see in the Ridge lot) and I continued up 101 to Santa Rosa to help conference organizer Reno Walsh and a few other volunteers stuff 265 True-ly nifty natural fiber wine bags with goodies. I can’t wait to try the Kachina Port with the chocolates from the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission or the Pinot Noir Chocolate cherries from Bouchaine using one of several openers we received while reviewing info on one of several removable drives!)

I was going to have a quiet evening reviewing the materials in my bag and munching on chocolates. But then Joel Vincent, one of the organizers and the man behind the Open Wine Consortium, invited me to join a group for dinner at a restaurant he found using Yelp and Twitter.

Ten of us walked down from the Flamingo Hotel to Monti’s restaurant where, as soon as we were seated, everyone turned over their menus to look at the wine list! Now that’s a first for me, and very fun to hear everyone’s comments. To celebrate the occasion, blogger and twitterer “Wine Bard” aka Karen Gurley wanted a bubbly, the Gloria Ferrer, but for a few more dollars, I suggested we go for the Roederer, which we did. With 8 of us splitting the cost and the bottle, it was easy to go for it at $40, and we were all pleased. It fit the festive giddy feeling we all had, and the sense of excitement about what we have to look forward to in the coming days. Since I seemed to be doing the ordering, I was the one presented with the bottle!

For our second wine, we went for something more pricey on the list, again knowing we’d be splitting the pain: a Flowers pinot noir for $85 which I’d remembered from last years conference and which Joel recommended as well. Everyone was wowed by this lovely example of a pinot noir.

For our third wine, I was torn between the Turley zin and the Bella zin. I had fond memories of the Bella from last year’s Dry Creek Valley zin tasting but at $65, we decided to go for the Turley at $40, and again, the crowd was pleased. All told, we contributed between $22 and $25 each for the wines and we were all very happy.

Oh, of course we ate. But the meal was secondary to the wine with this group of wine bloggers! My meal was unremarkable; overall everyone was happy with their meals with the winner of the night the duck salad which several people enjoyed and found matched really well with the Flowers pinot noir.

Follow me and my new and not so new friends from dinner on twitter! They include: @KathleenRake @luluhorn @winebard @larrythewineguy @robbralow @oenoblog @LarryTheWineGuy @joelvincent @winequester @dmhoro @mamandestilless plus me @artpredator.

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