I know this title is cheesy but from me that’s to be expected. I wouldn’t want it any other way. And I didn’t realize until later, but how fitting to do this specific post on National Wine Day. I love when something unplanned comes to fruition and fits together perfectly. This is destiny.
For the first time or in the longest time I can remember, I volunteered at a wine festival. And the setting was meant to be. The location, Merriweather Post Pavilion this past Sunday for Wine in the Woods. And it’s only fitting that my indoctrination into the other side of the tent would be the namesake of where I live, Harford Vineyard & Winery.
Now I contacted a multitude of wineries, they were one of only a few to get back to me. And they were the first.
My one and only visit to this fiesta prior to this past Sunday was back in 2009. I didn’t fully appreciate it. I wanted to sample and drink everything in sight. The tastings are unlimited so I treated this like a race (or a buffet) and not a marathon. I did not fully appreciate what I was a part of. Oh and the hangover the next day was a tragedy. I did seem to have fun, from what I remember.
Time flies and with time we hope to grow, and grow up. This is not some full circle dramatic message here. I just got to see it from the other side and loved every second of it.
I said hello to the owners and staff, and after a couple minutes of slip ups and nervousness, I was left on my own.
What was available for sampling were these dry whites: Chardonnay, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc.
The semi-sweets were the Blush and Sweet Harmony.
The sweets were the Peach Kissed and Piedmont Pleasure. The Pain The Town Red was sold out before I even started my volunteer shift. And somewhere along the way the Piedmont Pleasure was sold out as well.
The only dry red was the Malbec, and that was an extra $1.00 for a premium pour. For obvious reasons that was my favorite. As much as I’ve had a sweet tooth lately, the sweet wines are not for me. However, an exception, and a close second would be the Traminette, as I gave this to a dear relative as a birthday present a couple of years back. This is purely based on sentimental reasons.
All the wines I mentioned are listed here.
Now that’s out of the way, I want to get to the essence of why this event was so fun.
Most of the people in attendance have very little care about the type of grapes, the region where they’re from, whether it’s aged in steel or oak, the notes, the hints, or even the vintage. They just wanted a wine that that tasted good, made them feel good, and something they could identify with.
If you see some of the names of the wines, you’ll understand why so many folks were drawn and sold on certain bottles. This was a down-to-earth and vino friendly crowd. These wines were user-friendly as many of the wineries intended to be.
The weather was appalling but that didn’t deter people from passing through in mass quantities to taste. I can only imagine how busy it would be if the rain held off. Sunday has always been known as the more laid back day, with more families than the frenetically paced Saturday. I chose Sunday to volunteer for that reason alone. But now I’m comfortable.
Approximately 100% of the attendees I poured for were grateful and happy to sample. The reviews for the most part seemed positive. Even if they didn’t care for certain wines, they were appreciative to get to try. Many of these visitors were trying something new for the first time. And that’s what makes this event so awesome. You get a cheat sheet or CliffsNotes (remember those?) version of some of the best that Maryland has to offer.
I think in the two hours I poured wine, my knowledge grew and memories of some of the wines I’ve had myself, returned. For the few attendees that asked more specific questions about the wine itself, I either asked one of the winemakers or has the base knowledge to help them. This is not a fake it till you make it scenario. I want to make it and then make it some more.
It’s ok not to know everything. If I do, then I’ve done something wrong. The wine experience is one where I’ll forever be thirsty for knowledge. To me this will be everlasting, eternal, and enduring. Here I go with my notorious alliteration again.
Most importantly, I’m happy I got to do to this. I felt shaky at first but gained confidence by the minute. I like to think I’m good to people. I’m more of a listener than a talker. So I enjoyed meeting some great folks, some friendships might have been formed, and even if there’s some people I’ll never see again, I may see them in the next life, or the next wine festival.
This is a great community. The majority of us are here for the same reason, to share our passion and joy for wine. It’s really that simple. It’s a genuine comradery you just don’t find anywhere. I was on my own but did run into a few friends. But for the most part it was easy to engage with anyone because the setting and energy was authentic.
And Columbia, MD has always given me the warm and fuzzies. I have some idea but can’t point my finger exactly as to why.
Finally, I want to give a huge thank you to the Mooney family. I would be honored to do this again. The whole point of this was to have fun and met and exceeded all my expectations.
I did have time to enjoy the festival before and after, so more is coming….