This Saturday, February 27th, 2021 will be my 129th (well actually 131st if you count 2 virtual pourings) time pouring Wine at Flagler Avenue’s Wine Walk. An event that started out as a one-off event back in 2009 and has run continuously for over 11 years now, excluding an 8 month hiatus during COVID last year. Prior to Wine Walk, I poured every Sunday at my own wine tasting for 2 years. That equates to almost 14 years pouring, talking about, evangelizing and yes, drinking wine!
Just to break that down, in the past 14 years on Flagler Avenue alone I’ve poured over 3,000 wines, which equates to no less that 30,000 bottles and over 500,000 pours! And that is just a drop in the virtual wine bucket compared to the man I had the pleasure of lunching with this week, Frog’s Leap Winery’s Vice President Jonah Beer (yes as in in the other delightful beverage). So what does all this have to do with magic?
Real Magic in a Glass
Well, I’ve always believed that the real magic of wine, and food for that matter, is the way it connects you to a sense memory. And for me, I’ve always had a deep and passionate connection to Frog’s Leap wines. And lunch with Jonah brought memories from long ago to the forefront of my mind. As I listened to his sense memories of joining Frog’s Leap Winery back in 2003 and laughed with him as he shared stories about each wine we tasted; it reminded me of the first time I was presented with a bottle of Frog’s Leap Merlot as a gift on a first date, to my first visit to the Winery, to the very first Wine Walk where I poured a 2007 Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc.
Sadly, I haven’t been able to visit home often since moving to Florida and I miss my soil terribly. The connection Napa Valley wines give me to the home of my birth (besides their obvious deliciousness) has made them my favorite. Which is obvious to everyone who visits my Wine Walk table. And one area in particular has always captured my heart and my taste buds; the elusive “Rutherford Dust” from whence Frog’s Leap sprang. Never heard of Rutherford Dust? Take a read here, it’s some pretty cool stuff.
And just like Frog’s Leap Winery and her wines, Jonah Beer represents to me the very best that Napa Valley has to offer. That certain intangible spark of passion for wine that is infectious.
His ability to explain complex wine making techniques in simple language, to paint a picture, describe flavor profiles, all while laughing and making you laugh. To connect each wine to a memory and to you, without pomp or pretention that so many associate with wine. His ability to explain the naming of their latest Shale and Stone Chardonnay that can make you actually taste what he is describing in one breath. Then exclaiming “Look at this shit in your glass people!” in the next.
These qualities are what Napa Valley is all about. Brilliant and talented men and women, who at the end of the day are farmers first. Everyday people that work hard each day, just like you and I. Wine in the end needs no special quality to make it amazing, other than you love it. And for me, the wines I love are all tied to people and places, experiences, trips, good times and bad. The aroma, the taste of just one sip can transport me instantly back in time to experience them all over again.
That my friends, is MAGIC!
Food for Thought
PS – If you have never tried Frog’s Leap Wines (really never???) then come visit me at Flagler Tavern this month. I will be pouring the 2018 Frog’s Leap Chardonnay, Shale and Stone. And perhaps I’ll tell you a story.