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Peay Vineyards: A North Country Love Fest

I'm just back from the annual Peay Vineyards Sommelier Love Fest. For the wine trade only, it's an event that I am fortunate enough to insinuate myself into. I bring you pictures for two reasons. One is to show you that your Bay Area wine buyers and sommeliers, some 45 or so of whom attended (from places like Coi, Nopa, Bacar, Michael Mina, Slanted Door, etc), are constantly learning about and experiencing wine in order to gain the knowledge to do their jobs better. The other is to show how wonderful the Peay sense of style is, as all four of them--Vanessa, Nick, Andy and Ami--throw a great tour, tasting and dinner. While there was ample Peay wine around all evening, it was by no means any sort of sales rally. Rather, the sommeliers themselves brought tons of great wines to share and the Peays provided plenty of Champagne to go with the copious amounts of raw oysters.

The afternoon commenced with a barrel tasting led by winemaker Vanessa Wong (below) at the Peay winery in Cloverdale.



Here, the somms got to check out barrel samples of the 2007 wines and pepper Vanessa with questions about that upcoming vintage.

After this, everyone drove for an hour on intensely winding roads out to the Sonoma Coast vineyard site, where guests pitched their own tents on whatever level ground they could find.



Soon, Nick Peay rounded up the group for a brief vineyard tour, during which he could back up his famously strong convictions about viticulture. As a couple of lean musicians played old-timey music (below), Ami slaved away in the kitchen, while Andy shucked oysters and kept wine flowing.



(While there was lots of amazing wine to taste, the 2004 Peay Chardonnay had blossomed more beautifully than I could have ever imagined after I first tasted it years ago--truly one of the memorable wines of the night, as was the 1995 Chave Hermitage Reserve brought by Debbie Z.) Dinner out under the sky--beet soup with fried goat cheese, wood-oven lamb with spätzle--happened amidst a great deal of bottle opening and sharing, which lasted until well after the last star appeared.



Everyone awoke to a good deal of morning fog, both interior and atmospheric. Those swerving, curving roads were not as fun to drive back on as they had been a mere 15 hours earlier.