Masters of Wine Spend 10 Days in California Wine

Masters of Wine on the coast of Sonoma

Two weeks ago, Masters of Wine from 16 countries arrived in Santa Barbara to begin a ten-day trip through California wine. The Institute of Masters of Wine and the California Wine Institute worked together to coordinate and plan the trip. All together the group tasted over 600 wines from throughout the state and met over 300 producers. I was invited to attend the trip and so was lucky enough to be part of the entire tour from Santa Barbara County, through the Central Coast, up into the North Coast, and then finally culminating in San Francisco. During the Sonoma portion I also presented a seminar on the history of California wine via the lens of Chardonnay. I’ll be writing up a few portions of the trip but in the meantime here’s a look at some of the trip highlights through what I shared along the way via Instagram.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Etienne de Montille explains that he now makes wine outside Burgundy in the Sta Rita Hills because the experience “contributes to [the team at] de Montille, to discover new ideas, how we can do better, how to understand better, and how to move forward in wine.” After searching multiple New World regions capable of making Pinot Noir with freshness, concentration, finesse and complexity, he came to believe that the Sta Rita Hills offered “the most potential, not the most established region, but the region with the most potential, for making high quality wine in that style.” #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @domainedelacote @thehiltestate @tylerwinery @sanfordwinery @california.wines @domainedemontille

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

He’s my best friend. I love him. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @peter_stolpman @jessica_stolpman @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Dear lord god this is good. Bien Nacido 2015 Syrah #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @bien_nacido_estate @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Beautiful Chardonnay – Bien Nacido 2016 #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @bien_nacido_estate @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

My darling dear #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @jimclendenen @aubonclimatwine @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Cowboys roping steer, Paso Robles #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Momo, the Moroccan Ridgeback Porcupine love of my life, eats a pumpkin #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

MWs ride the bull #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

So, this happened … #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

MWs in the pool #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours brilliant photo by @lizthach @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Love you, dear friend @madsmw #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Deeply grateful to see Paul Draper. In 2012, only a few months into the work I do now, before I even realized I had started an actual career in wine, Paul and I met for the first time at a tasting at the Lytton Springs Winery. We spoke for a while and he scheduled an hour to meet with me at Monte Bello two weeks later. On the drive south to the iconic Ridge winery I was utterly terrified, intimidated by the stature of one of California’s truly great, and most influential winemakers. During our meeting we began to discuss his perspective on and history in winemaking and the hour turned into the better part of a day. What I learned about California history, his relationship with vineyards and the cellar, from our conversations and tasting, as well as the role of wine in a person’s life were immeasurable. The next year he had my then pre-teen daughter and me to Monte Bello again where he had she and I taste and select with he and Eric the 2011 assemblage, making room even for Rachel to taste and give her feedback on our blind tasting. We have met several times since, shared meals and other tastings, but those first visits when he so generously shared his time, though I had no real accomplishments in wine and certainly no recognizable professional position yet, have always meant so much to me. It felt like him not only giving me his time and insight but also expressing his faith in my future, and friendship in those moments. I will always be grateful. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @ridgevineyards @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

And there in front of me is a Monte Bello so iconic it was made before Paul Draper had ever heard of the vineyard, let alone visited it. Iconic because since his arrival at the Ridge winery it has been a foundational part of the story of how he got here, one of two vintages he tasted in the midst of his original job interviews with the founding owners of the site. Iconic because it made possible what Ridge is, revealing the treasure of the site as so much stronger and more profound than the winemaking ever could be, that is, it is a site that shows itself beyond a chosen style. And the wine itself is beautiful. Certainly aged, but far more on the nose than on the palate. With air the perfume builds. The palate is stunning in its brightness and youth. It is certainly wise to drink it now, yet the acid and sapidity clench the jaw and hold on for minutes through an ultra long finish. It is impossible to express the gratitude and significance of drinking a wine like this for me – I feel almost like crying except what I feel is somehow deeper, fuller than that, as if tears would be misleading. Thank you to Paul Draper and the entire Ridge team for daring to share the Ridge 1965 Monte Bello with us. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @ridgevineyards @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Beautiful, beautiful perfectly aged wine – in a tasting looking across 53 years of Ridge Monte Bello through the 2017, 2015, 2012, 2005, 1995, 1985, 1975, 1965 vintages, this is the stand out. Ridge 1975 Monte Bello – by 1975 Paul Draper has been with the site, living just up the hill from it, since 1969, the wine was still made entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the world did not yet know the stature of Monte Bello. It was an impressively cool year in the vineyard and the winemaking team were unsure how the wine would progress as a result. But today it is impressively energetic and mouthwatering, with fine still firm and persistent tannin, full of sapidity and flavor, almost floral, and certainly spiced with mainly sandalwood, resinous herbs and tree barks. Now is a perfect time to drink this wine but it also has years ahead of it. Thank you to the Ridge team for sharing this wine with us. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @ridgevineyards @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

MWs visit the Golden Gate Bridge #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Ridge 1971 Zinfandel Essence from Lodi – one of the world’s rare red sweet wines made by leaving the fruit to dry on the vine without botrytis, without palette-drying the fruit, without appassimento, without fortification, without arresting fermentation – made this way the wine retains naturally fresh acidity and the grapes own sugar content naturally arrests fermentation making a stable sweet wine without filtering. Beautifully aged with savory aromatics and a complex of herbs, earth, fruit and plenty of mouthwatering length. A treat beside pavlova. Enormous thanks to the entire Ridge team for such generosity and the chance to taste this history. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @ridgevineyards @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I found a belt … #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

So they gave me my HMW (Honorary Masters of Wine) … #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtours @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Really grateful for the opportunity to share with all of you. Thank you! #Repost @mastersofwine ・・・ The history and evolution of California Chardonnay in 9 wines. A spellbinding dash for Masters of Wine through decades of prestige winemaking with celebrated wine journalist Elaine Chukan Brown at La Crema in Russian River Valley . . . . . #hawkwakawaka #lacremawine #jacksonfamilywines #MWtour #mastersofwine #californiawines #wine #california #russianrivervalley #chardonnay #mountainchardonnay #wildferment #stonyhill #hanzellvineyards #grgichhills #ritchievineyard #kongsgaardwine #dumol #ceritas #matthiassonwine #napavalley #sonomavalley #carneros #sonomacoast #santacruzmountains #wildhorsevalley @stony_hill_wine @hanzellfarm @grgichhills @rameywinecellars @kongsgaarden @dumolwinery @jraytek @matthiasson_wine @enfieldwineco

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

So much fun to talk Chardonnay with such a venerable group #Repost @california.wines ・・・ Incredible History of California Wines through the lens of #Chardonnay by the incredible Elaine Chukan Brown ( @hawk_wakawaka ) to her fellow #MastersofWine ♥️ #californiawines #mwtour @stony_hill_wine @hanzellfarm @grgichhills @rameywinecellars @kongsgaarden @dumolwinery @jraytek @matthiasson_wine @enfieldwineco #californiawine #winenot #wines #winelover #wineoclock #winewinewine #winerylovers #cagrown #californialove #drinkwine #foodandwine #foodwinewomen #california #harvest #californialifestyle #californiadreaming #oenophile #whitewine #winetasting #winefacts #winestories #whitewines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

MWs on the Pacific beside the Peace Totem at Timber Cove #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

MWs at sunset #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Sunset at Timber Cove, the coast of Sonoma #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines #nofilter

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Presidential motorcade of MWs arriving at Hirsch Vineyard #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @jasminehirsch @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

(Almost) Full Moon setting through the fog in the Napa Valley #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Filling our balloon … #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Filling the balloon. View from the basket. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Flying over grape harvest in Napa Valley. View from the hot air balloon. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Hot air balloon ride over Oak Knoll, Napa Valley. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Total gratitude. Hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Just stunning. Sunrise looking north up Napa Valley. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Closing up the balloon. We’ve landed. #californiawines #mastersofwine #mwtour @california.wines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Deeply grateful to have had time getting to know all of you and for being part of this incredible trip. All my love to everyone as you return home and head out on further travels. #Repost @mastersofwine ・・・ As 47 Masters of Wine leave California, and make their way home to 16 different countries, they will reflecting on the 600+ wines they drank, from 60+ AVAs, and their meetings with 300+ vintners. They also met some of the 5,900 winegrape growers, and saw some of the 599,000 acres of winegrapes, many spotted from a balloon! Thank you to EVERYONE who made this a trip of a lifetime. (Photo by Alycia Moreno, @lovegrace_imagery) . . . #mwtour #winesofCalifornia #mastersofwine #california #santabarbara #sanluisobispo #pasorobles #Monterey #santacruz #sanfrancisco #sonoma #Sonoma county #napavalley #cabernetsauvignon #napa #lodi #alyciamoreno #merlot #chardonnay #pinotnoir #zinfandel #centralcoast #santaritahills #sustainablewinemaking #lovegraceimagery #californiadreamin #californiawines

A post shared by Elaine Chukan Brown (@hawk_wakawaka) on

Copyright 2018 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com.

Leave a Reply