Lake Arrowhead Art and Wine Festival

For 31 years, the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club has been running the Lake Arrowhead Art and Wine Festival. A few years ago, they expanded the wine selection, by including a VIP tent with higher quality wines, music, and food. I have been working that tent since the beginning, and always find it to be a great opportunity to talk with wine drinkers, and "newbies", and see where the public is on wine knowledge and tastes. This year was no different.

Last Saturday and Sunday, I poured wine, and spoke to hundreds of wine drinking patrons at the Lake Arrowhead Art and wine Festival. While I am not a member of the Rotary Club, they have been very generous with helping to expose people to this wine blog, and have taken a keen interest in learning more about the world of wine.

The VIP tent had unlimited (unless you had too much) pours of various wines from Paso Robles and Contra Costa County. Steve Bowie, the wine broker in charge, chose wines from Pomar Junction, Tamayo, Cass Winery and Thacher Winery. The Lake Arrowhead Resort (Bin 189 restaurant) was in charge of the appetizers, and music was provided by local musicians and singers, along the lakeside. The temperatures were perfect for a weekend of art, music and wine. Mid 70's and a slight breeze, which increased as the day progressed.

I only had a few opportunities to escape the VIP tent and wander around, but the artwork, ceramics, photography, woodworking, and jewelry are always exceptional. People from all over the mountain, and those just visiting for the day enjoyed the mountain air, and the wine.

I spent the time pouring wines from all four of the VIP wines. Most of the time was spent pouring Cass Winery and Thacher. Both of these wineries are located in Paso Robles. Cass is on the east side of the highway, and Thacher is on the west side. We had similar wines for each, and it was an opportunity for tasters to try wines from different climates in the same region. The Mourvedre, GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend) and Syrah went head to head. It seemed pretty evenly split on what style people liked. For me, the Cass seemed to beat Thacher on their Mourvedre and Grenache. Thacher was a clear winner with it's Zinfandel (the 2009 Triumvirate).

I am always interested in what people are looking for, when they are not overly familiar with wine. One of my observations is that many people asked for sweet wine. After some discussion , and having them try a few wines, what they are really looking for is a fruity wine. We did not have any sweet wines to serve, but the stainless steel fermented Cass Viognier, Cass Grenache, and Thacher Zinfandel were clear winners for those looking for something with fruit.

I also found that there is clear confusion about Rose and blended wines. In the case of the Rose, we only had one to serve, and the majority of people were not interested in trying it, thinking that is was a white zinfandel. Once I got them to try it, they were surprised, and usually came back for more. As for the blends, I probably poured less of these than the pure variety based wines. What I observed is that most people still go to wine varieties they understand. Even the Mourvedre and Grenache were foreign to most tasters.

As for questions people had, most had to do with food pairings, and what food would go best with the wines presented, but I did have long discussion with one woman who was having headaches after drinking red wine. We talked about sulfites, yeast, bacteria, tannins, additives, and finally histamines (which was most likely the issue).

I love talking about wine with people, particularly when they want to learn more. I love drinking wine with people, and hearing how they experience the wine. This weekend was full of both. So, next year, if you are looking for something to do on a nice June weekend, keep the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Art and Wine Festival in mind. And, maybe, we'll see you up here!

1 comment:

  1. I was there and it was great, but I couldn't afford the VIP tent. Maybe next year? This was my first year at the event and I had a great time.