This year the North American seminars were split into stage 1 and stage 2. As the person who coordinated the joint sessions in San Francisco, I can say with great confidence that splitting stages 1 and 2 led to more cohesive and more organised seminars.
Stage 2 was held at the Archer Hotel in the Napa Valley. Practical only students also participated in this course. The new venue was incredibly well appointed, with lots of natural light and smaller, more intimate groups compared to previous years. The participating MWs were Dilek Caner MW, Christy Canterbury MW, Amy Christine MW, Olga Karapanou Crawford MW, Matt Deller MW, Mark de Vere MW, Patrick Farrell MW, D C Flynt MW, Doug Frost MW, Lisa Granik MW, Eric Hemer MW, Peter Koff MW, Adam Lapierre MW, Tim Marson MW, Mary Margaret McCamic MW and Nigel Sneyd MW. The highlight of the seminar for the students was the interaction and feedback from MWs, who were very enthusiastic and giving of their time. Thanks to all who participated!
The course was diverse in its content. Theory session highlights included ‘US market trends’ with Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank and Dale Stratton of Constellation Brands and ‘quality control for small, medium and large wineries’ with Bob Betz MW, Jeanette Schandelmier of Cline Cellars and Bill Mortola of Gallo, moderated by Patrick Farrell MW. Two spectacular practical plenary sessions were presented; ‘Rhône varieties’ led by Mary Margaret McCamic MW and Adam Lapierre MW and ‘bubbles, bubbles toils and troubles’ led by Doug Frost MW and Eric Hemer MW, both exhilarating and exhaustive tastings of over 20 Rhône variety and sparkling wines, respectively, from all over the world. The wine sourcing for the plenary and PO sessions, led by Adam Lapierre MW, was truly outstanding this year.
Evening events included the Robert Mondavi dinner at Robert Mondavi Winery, the Jackson Family Wines walk-around tasting, the Napa Valley Vintners tasting at Black Stallion Winery and a viewing of the ‘red moon’ during the MW dinner. The penultimate closing event was, as is traditional, the annual Bordeaux tasting on Tuesday evening. It was a challenging and fun week. Some laughed, some cried and some did both, but a good time and an educational week was enjoyed by all!