There are good problems and bad problems. My favorite good problem is having so many wine club release parties coming up that I lose track of who’s up next. This is prime season for wine release parties, so we happily bounce from party to party, tasting the new releases and snacking on some tasty treats. One of our favorite parties was just a week ago: the Darcie Kent Vineyards Fall Release Party. Here’s how it went!
The Darcie Kent wine club has grown rapidly. That’s understandable, given the fine wine, friendly staff and amazing art in the tasting room. The release parties also deserve some credit, too. Each party has an exuberant feel, with more than enough happy staff to keep every wine glass filled. There’s always nicely paired food to accompany the wine and a live band playing songs I recognize. Who wouldn’t want to be a club member?
A side effect of the club popularity is the natural growth in attendance at the release parties. We have developed some strategies to cope with this and maximize our enjoyment.
First, don’t forget to order tickets as soon as possible. We aren’t actually very good at following our own advice, and that has put us in some awkward situations. The tickets are free for each member and one guest, with additional guest tickets available for a small fee. The tickets are not an inexhaustible resource, however, so don’t wait until the last minute.
Our second success strategy is to arrive at the start of the event. Each party is a bit more fun than the last, so we always end up staying longer than we planned. Everyone else is like that, too, so the crowd tends to build as the afternoon progresses. The facility and the staffing are more than adequate to handle the crowd, but we like the extra mingling space and the opportunity to talk wine with the pourers and genres of music with the band members, so we try to arrive right at the opening bell.
Third, we check out EVERYTHING. There are wine surprises in every release, and some snacks that taste a lot better than back when I was a kid, so we check out every table, nook and cranny. Darcie tucks some of her art around the area, too, so that leads to nice surprises. Don’t limit yourself, look around!
So we breezed in at 10 past the hour, ready for another fun food and wine tasting. The weather could not have been better for November; The band (ChaZ with Frankie Bones & Mark Waterford) was just getting started and the merry sound of wine corks popping filled the air.
We followed our time-tested strategy: survey the entire scene, grab a quick tasting all the new releases, then settle in at a table and savor the food pairings. This party reprised a fall favorite: chili pairings! There were four different chilis presented by Cabana Dave’s, ranging from the sublime to the dangerous. Our favorite was the beef chili, with special mention going out to the amazing heat of the vegetarian offering. Smoothing everything out was their Port-infused brownie dessert.
With the active phase of the party behind us, we relaxed and roamed around a bit. The party was filling up, with happy people everywhere. We took in the new art (young horses seemed to be a theme) and scoped out the barrel labels to speculate about upcoming releases. We revisited some of the wines, with our group awarding high honors to the new 2013 Monterey Pinot Noir.
We finally had to admit that we had tasted everything and seen everything and it was time to make some room for other club members. We collected our release packs and headed out, already looking forward to our next Darcie Kent Vineyards release party!
About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?