Continuing to build on the successes of their group tasting events, Calistoga Winegrowers Association is kicking it up a notch for their second annual Calistoga Wine Experience this year, organization officials said.
“Last year was our first year and we really weren’t sure what to expect for the turnout, but it was great, and the feedback we got from people who came was fabulous, too, so we decided to beef up our programming a bit and we’ve also got a killer jazz and blues band coming,” said Carolyn Czapleski, event organizer, owner of Canard Vineyards, and board member of Calistoga Winegrowers.
Czapleski refers to the internationally known Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, who have performed extensively in Bay Area clubs such as Yoshi’s, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Café du Nord and Moe’s Alley, as well as around the world in clubs and festivals such as the Toronto Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival and many more.
Smith and her all-star band will perform in the new gazebo in Pioneer Park on Saturday, Sept. 9 – the day before Harvest Table – from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. There’s room for dancing in front of the gazebo, and locally prepared food will be served.
The additional programming is intended to give folks attending Sunday’s Harvest Table an excuse, so-to-speak, to spend the entire weekend in Calistoga, Czapleski said. Last year it worked so well for visitors to come to town on Saturday, attend Calistoga Wine Experience, then spend the night and go to Harvest Table the next day that it is kind of what spurred the Calistoga Winegrowers (CWG) to add on an educational and fun element to the weekend.
On Friday, Sept. 8 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Leslie Sbrocco, wine expert and TV host of KQED’s “Check Please Bay Area” will present a panel of winemakers in a tasting where they will discuss the wines as guests enjoy them and learn about the winery’s philosophy, terroir and personal history.
The Winemaker Roundtable includes winemakers Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, Brian Graham of Canard Vineyard featuring their Zinfandel made from over 100 year old heritage vines, Bertus Van Zyl from T-Vine, Jac Cole from Hindsight, Tom Eddy of eponymous winery Tom Eddy, and Rob Hunter of Bennett Lane.
Guests attending the Friday afternoon event, which will be held at T-Vine, will be greeted with a glass of wine and light bites during a reception before the winemakers delve into the unique characteristics of their wines and the Calistoga AVA. Sbrocco will then lead an entertaining and educational Q&A session. The winemakers will stick around, each pouring a special wine for this mix and mingle time.
Saturday’s tasting includes 41 wineries from CWG, many of which are boutique wineries with wine available for purchase only through their wineries or wine clubs. Often the owner and the winemaker are one-and-the-same giving guests a rare chance to have a face-to-face conversation with the person who crafted the wines.
There will be nibbles to nosh on made by local chefs that “will largely come from a very large grilling station handing out grilled skewers of veggies such as a caprese, Tuscan chicken and steak. Mini cones of unique wine country ice cream, including lavender, olive oil and mint, will be passed as well as local chocolatier, Regina’s Heavenly Treats, will be passing out sweets, said Kate Stanley, event planner.
Regina’s Heavenly Treats is owned by longtime Calistogan Gina Carlin, who makes a family-based recipe of toffees and other treats.
Participating wineries in Saturday’s event include 2880 Wines, Amici Cellars, Baldacci Family Vineyards, Barlow Vineyards, Bragg Vineyards, Bennett Lane Winery, Canard Vineyard, Chateau de Vie, Chateau Montelena, Clos Pegase, Coquerel Wines, Fairwinds Estate Winery, Harris Estate Vineyards, Hindsight Wines, Jack Brooks Vineyard, Jax Vineyards, Jericho Canyon, Jones Family Vineyards, Joseph Cellars Winery, Huge Bear Wines, Kennefick Ranch Winery, La Sirena, Laura Michael Wines, Next Door Winery, Paoletti Winery, Phifer Pavitt Wine, Poggi Wines, Romeo Vineyards and Cellars, Sebright Cellars, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, Summers Estate Winery, T-Vine, Tamber Bey Vineyards, Tofanelli Family Wines, Tom Eddy Winery, Twomey Cellars, Vincent Arroyo Winery, Von Strasser/Lava Vines, Voros Cellars, Weppler Vineyards, and Ziata Wines.