#RidgeSomms: It Was The Best Of Times …

It was the best of times, it was the best of times.

Not unlike a broodingly alive, spiritually roller-coasted emo-drama teenager the morning after graduation ceremonies, I am currently a certifiable mash-up of emotions.

When the music’s over, how to turn off the lights?

And so the up-and down-loading begins; the sifting, the filtering, the processing …

But while the event itself may now be complete, I carry yet within me a true-gold cache of memories both intangible and collected, and as I sit now poring over the photos, videos, and notes I’ve accrued, I am conscious of my privilege as a repository of significance.


I find myself turning inwards, again and again, to these fields of remembrance; this landscape upon which walks a most marvelous and effulgent confederacy of personages whom I now call friends.

A toast to you all …



To Vanessa Bazzani, for telling the story of the restaurant that puts eggs on everything, for enacting a living proof that Portland truly is one of the living foodie heavens, for finding a quick few minutes on an otherwise laughably crowded itinerary to get a swim in, and for always taking notes …

Fred C. (with Heidi Nigen)

To Fred Cabrera, for sharing the “How many ounces in a port pour” story, for traveling all the way from Miami, for enlivening the dinner table with your passionately improvisational dissertation on the merits of good béarnaise sauce, and for giving one of the truly great “Let’s go around and introduce ourselves” morning speeches …

Fred D.

Fred D.

To Fred Dame, for giving the longest Julia Child impersonation I’ve ever witnessed, for mentoring so many generations of passionate gatekeepers of the true-wine flame, and for your rhapsodic words on behalf of the 1990 Geyserville …

Ryan, center

Ryan (center), with Bruno (left) and Frank (right)

To Ryan Stotz, for knowing what Sam Bond’s Garage is, for knowing what “Hot Freaks” is, for opening 3 new restaurants and getting married all in the same quarter, for giving some of the best spontaneous over-dinner tasting notes I’ve ever heard, and for having a truly great alter-ego twitter handle …


Philip (right), with John Olney

To Philip Hirrel, for offering to make up a fictitious bio if the true one didn’t suffice, for maintaining quiet dignity at all times, for bringing a little California to New Mexico, and for so effortlessly embodying the “Never let someone talk you out of a wine you love and enjoy the moment, Amen” ethos so perfectly …


Bruno (far right)

To Bruno Marini, for every hysterical thing you said over the second night’s dinner table, for so devotedly contributing to the oeno-culinary culture of one of the great cities of the world for so long, for traveling so far to be with us, and for always using a turn signal when you drive …


Augustus (center)

To Augustus Miller, for being both young and wise, for contributing to the pre-event activity in such astonishingly excellent fashion (via your collaboration with RedWineLovers), for publicly acknowledging that you look like an 18-year old, for working into your departure plans a trip to Absinthe, and for providing such obvious hope for the oeno-cultural future …



To Dave Poore, for referring to your hair cut as being unruly, for being such a great first night dinner conversationalist, for so humbly overseeing one of the truly classic restaurants on the American food landscape, and for being probably the only guest in attendance who had to get right home, and right to work, because of the Indy 500 …



To Charles Puglia, for so obviously being a living symbol of the next generation of wise, passionate, savvy, devoted, serious, committed, and influential wine authorities, for tweeting so cleverly and consistently, for really and truly loving Essences, for always putting philosophy first, and for changing your flash card to Tribidrag …


Steve, with Paul Draper

To Steve Steese, for celebrating your birthday with us, and for being older than we thought you were, for asking so many great questions, for being the bravest of tasters, for so cleverly acknowledging the inheritance of your wine list, and for seeing the Old Patch Geyserville’s vines with a sculptor’s eyes …



To Frank Stitt, for being every bit the gentleman I’d hoped you’d be and then some, for being so incredibly kind to me, for being just as willing to talk Casablanca as to talk Social Media, for so graciously engaging Paul with such elegant consistency, for having a stunningly refined palate, and for embodying all that is beautiful about The South …

To you all, a toast! I have been blessed to know you, and I shan’t forget you. Safe travels, deep bows, respect.

(p.s. To June Rodil, we are so sorry you could not join us after all! You were missed, but there will be a next time, for sure!)


There is so much still to come in the way of post-event material, but for now, I wish to offer these brief, chronological slideshows of Days I & II of what has proven to be two very, very important and special days to me.

For those who’ve been following along and watching our event from afar, I thank you, and I hope these small movies will make for an enjoyable visual contribution to the virtual wine-stream, and to those who will see themselves in these images, I tell you this is a mirror that will reflect back to you a beatific assemblage of the best and the brightest …







Ridge Vineyards Sommelier Symposium, 2013



May 20th & 21st, 2013



4488: A Ridge Blog

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Just filter for #RidgeSomms, and you’re IN!


To read additional #RidgeSomms posts,
please check out the selections below!

#RidgeSomms: What We Talk About When We Talk About Wine: Part III, The Vineyards (6.5.13)


#RidgeSomms: In A Portland State Of Mind (6.3.13)

#RidgeSomms: What We Talk About When We Talk About Wine: Part II, The Radoux Cooperage (6.1.13)

#RidgeSomms: What We Talk About When We Talk About Wine (5.29.13)

#RidgeSomms: To Dine In The Valleys: Part II (5.24.13)

#RidgeSomms: It Was The Best Of Times (5.22.13)

#RidgeSomms: Where The Ridge Meets The Hill (5.20.13)

#RidgeSomms: A Gentleman And An Expert (5.19.13)

#RidgeSomms: I Cover The Waterfront (5.18.13)

#RidgeSomms: To Dine In The Valleys (5.17.13)

#RidgeSomms: Jackets Are Preferred (5.17.13)

#RidgeSomms: One Mile High And Rising! (5.16.13)

#RidgeSomms: The Powers of Austin! (5.15.13)

#RidgeSomms: Christina Donley, Moth To St. Elmo’s Flame! (5.15.13)

#RidgeSomms: Michael Torino Sees “Red!” (5.14.13)

Categories: Business of Wine, Events, Food & Wine Pairing, Geyserville, History, Lytton Springs, Monte Bello, Offerings, Paul Draper, Press Reviews, Ridge Memorabilia, RIDGE Staff, Social Media, Tasting Events/Opportunities, Video, Vineyards, Virtual Verticals, Wine & Food Pairing, Wine Quotes, Wine Tales

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