The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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Page 89 of 124

{ } 89 Stefen Soltysiak, CWE, CS; Fred Dame, MS; Harry Wetzel IV, Head of Operations at Alexander Valley Vineyards; Nate Weis, Director of Winemaking at Silver Oak Cellars; and Jake Hawkes of Hawkes Wine share a laugh during the panel on microclimates at Hawkes Pyramid Vineyard in Healdsburg, CA. Soltysiak served as the panel's moderator. A panorama of the Alexander Valley from the top of Rodney Strong's Rockaway Vineyard in Geyserville, CA. A toast to the good life at Trione Vineyards and Winery in Geyserville. Gorgeous though the landscape was, Laret was referring above all to the California region's overriding sense of agricultural stewardship, driven more so by familial legacy than corporate interest. He was hardly alone in that assessment: Again and again over the course of the two-day camp, it was echoed by guests like Josh Ardizzoni of Atlanta's Marcel, who mused, "It's cool to be welcomed in, rather than admitted in, by people who are connected to the land and their way of life rather than their economic standing." And what a down-to-earth welcome it was, from an alfresco feast of fried chicken at Trione Vineyards and Winery—where Denise Trione served rare cult beer Pliny the Elder to cleanse wine-worn palates— to a charming tour of Alexander Valley Vineyards by Head of Operations Harry Wetzel IV, who showed us the tiny cemetery where the property's original owner and the Valley's "founding father," Cyrus Alex - ander, was laid to rest. Granted, if we all agreed that such a tight-knit community helps the appellation thrive, we also needed to recognize it wouldn't be here in the first place if not for exceptional terroir. Fortunately, members of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers Association—with the invaluable help of Master Sommelier Fred Dame and Certified Wine Educa - tor Stefen Soltysiak—brought the group here to uncover that very concept in all its complexity.

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