California MW trip
In true Californian spirit, and with tremendous help and support from the California Wine Institute, the Institute of Masters of Wine undertook perhaps the most vast and ambitious Masters of Wine trip yet in late October 2018.
Over 10 days, 50 MWs from 16 countries participated in this once-in-a-lifetime tour of California wine, which showcased 600 wines from 300 vintners and 60 American Viticultural Areas throughout the state.
Starting with a rooftop tasting at the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara we travelled about 1000 miles, up through Sta Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Santa Maria Valley, Paso Robles, Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma County, Fort Ross Seaview, then hooked up and around into the Napa Valley, finishing in San Francisco for the final dinner.
In a trip that overwhelmed with highlights, some of the many peaks were:
In the Central Coast: one of the last lunches ever cooked by Jim Clendenen and Bob Lindquist at Au Bon Climat/Qupe, accompanied by Santa Barbara wine pioneer Richard Sanford and a vertical tasting with Paul Draper at Ridge of select vintages of Monte Bello, Geyserville and Lytton Springs dating back to 1965.
In Sonoma County: a fascinating tasting-seminar on California Chardonnay history with Elaine Chukan Brown that has since been published on Jancisrobinson.com and a literally blindfolded wine tasting with sensory specialist Dr. Hoby Wedler who has been blind since birth.
In the Napa Valley: Five Decades of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Mondavi, Dunn, Colgin, Heitz, Schrader and TOR at Robert Mondavi Winery; an insightful mountain Napa Cabernet at Ovid with Kelli White, a dinner at Stags Leap Wine Cellars with Napa legends and a first-ever Screaming Eagle masterclass with Mary Margaret McCamic and winemaker Nick Gislason looking at 2016 vintage components and final blends.
A true trip-of-a-lifetime for most, thanks to the generosity and efforts of California Wine Institute (who have since become Major Supporters of the IMW), particularly Justin Knock MW, and all of the MWs that came to revel in all that California wine has to offer, and have gone on to teach, write and talk about what they learnt and experienced.