Well it’s been a couple weeks since my return from Yountville, California, but I think my spirit is still back there sipping some awesome wine in the Jessup Cellars tasting room. Haha
That weekend was also Father’s Day as some of you might recall. So being that my father was my biggest influence in wine, Jessup was kind enough to allow both my parents to join us for the weekend! This meant the world to me and I know that my folks had a great time as well! But then again, who wouldn’t love drinking Jessup all weekend!?
When we arrived on Friday we started out with a spectacular vineyard tour by Jessup’s very own VP of Sales, Grant Long Sr. The tour was awesome! We learned some of the different techniques that are used in growing grapes. Some of those techniques have been around for hundreds of years, whereas some were even invented right there on the Napa Valley floor.
Grant claims that he’s not an expert, but he definitely fooled me! Coming from a math/science background, my mind started racing with all of the different variables that come into play when creating wine. The possibilities are endless! But Grant reminded us that the bottom line for wine making is good grapes. If you don’t have good grapes you can try whatever you want, but you most likely won’t have good wine. Simple as that.
Next, we went back to the Jessup tasting room and had an AMAZING tasting with Grant. I swear I’ll never get tired of Jessup wine. For those folks who are reading this and have yet to try Jessup, one thing that Ian Blue said, and I completely agree with, is that you’ll never find a bad wine in the Jessup lineup. Every wine doesn’t have to be your favorite, but as you taste through the list I guarantee your face will never pucker!
The second day was power packed with events but the highlights of the day were definitely blending my own wine and tasting from the barrel with Jessup’s Executive Winemaker, Rob Lloyd. Morgan and I had the opportunity to try out Jessup’s new program where you can blend your own wine! It was by far the most awesome wine activity I’ve ever done.
Above is the setup for the wine blending process; it seems like a lot, but it’s actually pretty simple. To sum it all up, you’re given four different 100% wines and you blend the four in whatever variety you choose until you’ve got one you like. The process is rather simple and the rewards are spectacular! I must admit that the wine I made is definitely one of my favorites now. The best part too is that Jessup can blend as much of the wine as I want! After the event is over, they keep the formula and will manufacture as much as I order so long as they still have the grapes. Whether you’re a newbie or an oldie, you gotta give this a shot!
To put those words into action, I recently proposed to my girlfriend! I had planned to do so down in San Diego the weekend after Napa and it went off without a hitch! Most importantantly though, she said Yes! After the proposal, we went to Firehouse American Eatery & Lounge where, to my surprise, was a bottle of my own blend on each table! My parents, being the awesome people they are, worked with Grant to have a case of my own creation shipped directly to the restaurant. It was quite the surprise and the wine tasted just as good as it did back in the tasting room when I blended it! Thank you Mom, Dad, and Jessup!
Back to Napa though, the next ‘blow your mind’ activity was tasting from the barrel. We got to tour Jessup’s holding rooms and try out some of the unreleased wines!
My favorite was probably what is going to be Jessup’s next Chardonnay. Rob has done some fantastic work! He’s a really laid back guy and by looking at him you wouldn’t guess that he has 3 masters degrees on the subject! But despite the education, his passion for putting his best foot forward and providing the highest quality of hand crafted wine is really what shines through. He is constantly thinking of ways to improve the fermentation process by making it cleaner, richer, and smoother. And not to mention greener too!
That night, we all had dinner with some of the owners. Who are some of the most down to Earth people I’ve met! We went to Farmstead Restaurant for dinner and basically closed the restaurant as we chatted the night away. The story of how they came to be owners is quite amazing but the bottom line is that these people are not in it for profit. They are passionate about their wine and winery for the sole reason of sharing the best wine they can produce with other people. Period.
On the last day we went tasting at a couple different wineries with Ian and Morgan. My favorite pick of the day was Pride Mountain Vineyards. The vineyard does something a little special by taking you on a tasting tour of the vineyard and the caves where they store their wines. It was really awesome! Our tour guide was Jason Skelly, who come to find out, is studying to become a Master Sommelier. Which I knew nothing about the process of becoming one before talking to him and let me tell you that becoming one is not just having a good nose and taking a test, it’s literally a way of life. Mad props Jason and good luck!
So what is the single most essential thing I learned that weekend? At it’s core, wine is about people. From the people who make it to the people who drink it, the best wine on Earth was created to be enjoyed. Wine is not a collectible, it’s not for profit, and it’s not for show, it is quite simply made to be an enjoyable experience. Personally, I think this mentality must be a pre-requisite for working at Jessup Cellars. Every person we met has this pouring out of them and it truly shows that the core value and philosophy at Jessup is to give the best experience to the people it serves. Thank you Jessup!!
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