American Wine Society

Recent Events in Review: Gold is Discovered

John Marshall Chapter, March 2003

February 22-23 ~ 4th Annual DC International Wine & Food Festival ~ DC Convention Center.

More wineries and wines, less food, almost no tschotchkes, but higher prices: admission this year was $50 advance, $61 at the door. Attendance seemed to be lower than previous years, and it did not appear that many folks were placing orders. Perhaps all of that endless rain and snow, plus confusion over the recent Virginia and New York Federal Court rulings regarding interstate shipment, left potential buyers grumpy and bewildered. On the brighter side, there were a few very impressive wines to be sampled.

The most impressive new winery was Hunt Cellars of Paso Robles CA. Owner-president and winemaker David Hunt may have been a musician and inventor before turning to winemaking, but obviously he has the golden touch. (Even David’s lovely wife Deborah added to the experience by demonstrating extensive knowledge and a refined palate.) Hunt Cellars red wines are huge and gorgeous. David likes to think of them as “in your face,” but clearly in a pleasant sort of way. None of the Winecounsel writers who were lucky enough to taste them would disagree. Wine Enthusiast has awarded 90+ points to earlier Hunt vintages, so certainly it was not dumb luck that had Bob Dierker (Director, VA Wine Institute) turning cartwheels.

Bob noted that Hunt is making “quality wines rather than vanity wines,” so if he needs grapes from vineyards other than his own, “he will find the right grapes to make the right wine.” When is the last time you met a grower who said that, instead of using a Procrustean bed approach to produce an “estate” wine at the expense of taste? Rumor has it that Dierker is going to try to get that other lawyer Robert guy who is a wine Advocate, if you catch our drift, to give David the credit that he is due. If so, Hunt Cellars, with it’s limited production, is likely to gain cult status. Let’s hope Hunt Cellars gets distribution in this area before that happens.

If you want to do some gold mining in the meanwhile, AWS / Winecounsel writer Bruce Schaefer can tell you how to get in touch with Hunt Cellars. When you do, just say Rhapsody!