Let’s be honest! Wine clubs are primarily judged by the quality of their wine release parties. Sure, the discounts and tasting amenities are fine, but what separates the best from the rest is the party. Different wineries approach this challenge different ways, but it is the best way to understand each winery’s approach to making their best fans happy. Eagle Ridge Vineyard builds their release parties around quality: quality wine, quality food and quality fun!
We have been club members at Eagle Ridge from the beginning of time. OK, from the beginning of our wine tasting time. All these years later, and Eagle Ridge is the only club that still counts us as a member from that initial spate of clubs. Whenever we want to add a new club membership we force ourselves to cancel an existing one. Eagle Ridge has survived the cut every time. That really says something.
Owner/winemaker Jim Perry has perfected his club party formula over time. He creates a private space behind the first row of barrels for tables and chairs for members. Yes! Members are seated at tables! No perching or balancing a plate on your knee. Very civilized!
Then Eagle Ridge raises the game again. Recent parties, including this one, have included Chef Jim Thurman and his wife Deborah providing food paired for each released wine. This party had a Cinco de Mayo theme, so Chef Jim prepared enchiladas, beans and rice. A nice pairing for the new wine.
Oh, yes, there WAS new wine. We first tasted their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Great fruit with a satisfying finish. Very drinkable now, but worthy of space in the wine cellar for a few years. The highlight for us, though, was their 2013 Zinfandel. Jim Perry really knows his way around a Zin! An explosion of fruit up front with enough pepper on the finish to stand up to food. It took on the enchiladas and said, “it that all you’ve got?”
The entire event was so perfectly staged! A room full of happy people, eating great food and drinking amazing new wines, in a relaxed and comfortable setting. There was plenty of space, so we had the luxury of time to savor the pairings and discuss the nuances of the new releases. Wine Jim and Food Jim both mingled and made sure everyone had everything they could want or need.
Through unfortunate planning, we had a second wine club release party to attend (a quintessentially first world problem), so we thanked the Jims and collected our release pack. Once again, our decision to be Eagle Ridge Vineyard club members was validated. They really know how to put on a 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?