Wine Crawls seem to pop up periodically in different communities. The concept is that it is a great way to introduce the community to potentially new visitors and to bring new customers to the business area. What a delightful concept, where a restaurant can offer a specially priced dish that they are very proud of, or a business can offer some special promotion to entice the people into the shop. I have been to some different Wine Crawls over the years, and some were better than others, as can be imagined. I guess it depends on the quality of the wines being poured, and the image of the community and the businesses that they want to project. It also requires some constraints, so that it doesn’t end up like some bacchanalia.
The concept seems to be similar at the different Wine Crawls that I have attended. One pays for the right to enter into the program, one receives a specially designated commemorative glass, and some sort of system to ensure that one only receives a certain amount of different wines. I have been where there is some sort of card that is either punched or checked off for each drink, or there is a set amount of drink tickets, similar to raffle style tickets that one uses to redeem for every glass of wine that one wishes to have. Now comes the tricky part. Who selects the wine and what price wines shall it be? Will the downtown business community do the picking, so that every business that wants to be part of the event will be offering similar priced wines, or can or should the participating business opt to buy something better, as a way to introduce themselves to the potential new customers? The businesses can use the occasion to showcase themselves, or just go with the flow, because buying wine to give away can be expensive.
The other concept that I would think would be a natural for the community would be to feature wines of their state, as a great message to “shop local.” I recently had the chance to help an establishment, but only as an employee, meaning that I would assist potential shoppers if they came into the store to shop or to make a purchase, as opposed to helping select the wine for the event or even as an appointed wine pourer. I was anticipating seeing perhaps some Michigan wines for the evening, as there are plenty of wineries in the state. That was what I was led to believe, but alas the wine that was issued for the store was from California, and there are plenty of great affordable wines being made there. I have no idea what the criteria was for the selection, but the two wines that we were pouring were from Redtree Winery of California, and the two wines carried the California designation. The first wine was Redtree Moscato 2013 and the fruit came from the Central San Joaquin Valley and from Clarksburg. Now Moscato is a sweeter wine that needs to be chilled and this wine was fermented and aged in Stainless Steel, with no oak aging. The other wine was Redtree Pinot Noir 2014 and the fruit came from Lodi and Monterey. This wine was fermented in Stainless Steel and had some oak aging. Towards the end of the evening, someone brought me a taste of the Pinot Noir and to be quite honest I did not even recognize the color of the wine, it was kind of a rusty red, not the deep color that I associate with Pinot Noir, and there was a distinctive lack of nose. This may have been the least Pinot Noir wine that I have ever encountered in all of my years; in hindsight I imagine that the Moscato may have been more tolerable. My secondary thoughts is perhaps the wine either was not shipped properly or stored properly, so I will always leave room for a second opinion. There will be more wines to try, and I will not stop trying new ones.