Two Bees Wine

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Searching for gold

Early October brings the annual Sonoma County showcase event at the fairgrounds – Harvest Fair. It’s a gathering of the best made-right-here stuff – or at least that’s what everyone’s trying to prove. We make a pilgrimage to witness the most morbidly obese pumpkin, the spongiest lamb, the spikiest dahlia, and the supremely delicious jar of apple butter. People shine, too, for their prowess at spitting a watermelon seed farthest, crushing the most grape juice with their bare feet, or painting an area vista masterfully. The ribbons prove it: blue, white, pink, bronze, silver, gold.

A highlight is the wine competition. Held in a colossal Quonset hut, each appellation’s wineries pour their newest vintages for a rabid public. We surrender perforated tickets to taste the best, according the booklet with the judging results.

Navigating the room can be tricky, if seeking particular winners from the hundreds. It’s as though someone shook up and dumped out each dot on a winery map like Yahtzee dice. Every year, there’s a new, unannounced system to locate a table featuring a coveted label: a serpentine alphabetical arrangement this time, or clusters by appellation, by medal color, or by varietal. It keeps us sober.

But the more tastes, the less critical medal holding seems, and we veer off our carefully plotted course. Underdogs become secret treasures, and we sneer at the sprawl fronting stations with gold medal pours.
This year, we factor in time to scrutinize the amateur wines exhibit. A glass case displays bottles from dozens of would-be vintners. They compete for taste, and only a handful get singled out for best in show. Almost all the rest still wear Olympian-style medals around their bottle necks, we assume for encouragement. Only a heartbreaking few, along the floor, go unadorned, scorned for having the audacity to show up.

The entire lot of novice bottlings undergoes judging for label design. These range from handwritten white file folder stickers slapped on for identification not artistry, to high-tech graphics printed professionally. For our Two Bees wine, we’ll shoot for something in between. We take a few photos of ones that catch our fancy, for inspiration. Posted by Picasa


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