“And you do dinners at French Laundry in Napa Valley,
Scallops and glasses of Dolce, that shit’s right up your alley
You see a girl and you ask about her
Women smiling at you, it must be happy hour”
-Drake, The Ride
So I’m fresh off a trip to Napa Valley thanks to an invitation from the team at Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyard. It was sparked by a video review I randomly made of one of their Chardonnays. Then I get a notification that Vineyard owner and winemaker, Todd Anderson happened to see and shared the video . I reached out to him, and we spent the next hour texting about wine. Within a few hours, I had a promise of a plane ticket and hotel accommodations if I was willing to come talk to Todd in person. The rest is history.
Well we will definitely speak on Todd in another piece, that’s a topic all its own. This piece will speak of the day I spent with the team at ACVV. As I pull I was greeted with an all out sprint from their 40 pound dog, Jane. He was on full bark mode charging right at me. I kept my cool and stuck out my hand to pet him. He hit the brakes, smelled my hand, saw it was cool, and brought it in for a friendly petting. I always heard a dog takes on the personality of its owner and I saw this to be true. I noticed a similarity in personality amongst the team themselves, but especially with winemaker and Jane-owner Rob. Not saying at any point did I feel as if I was being charged at. However, the information I was curious to receive was very protected until I proved my intentions were true.
They poured me a coffee as I gave up some information about myself. As I explained my interest and passion in wine, and the roll I see myself playing in the culture as a journalist and social media influencer, I felt some unease in the room. Almost as if every word I spoke was being dissected in a very charming fashion, of course. I worked the room the best way I knew how and boxed my way out of the corner and earned my way into their tasting room. I was being shown around by Jim Silver, the vineyards GM, and the winemaker, Rob Hunt. Their tasting room was a cave filled with maybe 100 plus barrels of delicious red wine. And then it began. They start off by pouring me each of their wines from the bottle and giving me the stories of each wine and info they felt I was capable of remembering, which I wasn’t. It’s wasn’t because they were boring either! My memory just doesn’t work in such fashion. Especially while consuming bottles of wine. All that really came through is their passion for the wine industry and what it means to them. They aired concerns of changes to the culture like a sports fan would talk about new rules to their favorite sport, or a musician’s concerns about new trends or sounds in music. With that in mind, I was able to empathize with their concerns. I tried my best to make it clear, my intentions are not to dilute the culture but to enrich it. My intentions are to create a lane in this culture where people can be comfortable enjoying wine in a way they can become romantic with. Not to interrupt or change what it means to others.
We started to gain some comfort with each other, which good wine can always has a hand in doing. And then, I witnessed one of the most incredible artistic performances I’ve ever seen in my life. So once upon a time, I stumbled into a bar in Asbury Park, NJ, and Bruce Springsteen happened to be there. He randomly hops on stage and jams for three hours with the band performing that night and performs all covers, purely for the love. I would compare the three plus hours I spent with winemaker Rob to that moment in time. Rob just starts blending wines from all these different barrells. He has us taste this blend, and taste that grape. My taste buds were riding a roller coaster of flavors. I was doing my best to keep up, but to be honest, my pallet isn’t trained for this many flavors. I sucked it up and kept my head in the game. But he danced from barrel to barrel to a song he was playing in his own head. When a wine was suggested, without missing stride, he made it known that wine would go towards the end of the line. His masterpiece was not to be a collaboration.
The picture he painted was similar to most works of art. At first, it’s hard to see, then a brush here, a stroke there, and before you know it, you’re looking at one of the most incredible sights you’ve ever seen. It was clear, this came very natural to him, and maybe he can’t understand how I interpreted this tasting he was offering. Rob, went beyond the call of duty and would not finish until he was content. He was a performer and came out for an encore and jammed for another hour as if he realized he’s got another set of hits that didn’t make the list.
We allow the actions of few to establish an opinion of an entire group. My day with Jim and Rob really opened my eyes. There’s a community of working class people that are truly passionate about wine, while also humble about it. They build their business around the interest of the company. They do not sell many inexpensive wines at this vineyard. However, they go out of their way to provide quality wine, education, and a unique experience. I never visited a vineyard that makes themselves so transparent to their customers. It’s clearly a model established by owner Todd Anderson. And as mentioned a piece will soon portray that.
Once again, thank you Anderson Conn Valley Vineyards to opening your doors and wine barrels to myself, Social Magazine, and our readers. This was experience that will never be forgotten.