When asked what will be one of the first things I will do when the shelter in place order is lifted, my answer is quick and to the point – hit up some wineries.
My wife and I use weekend escapes to one of the bountiful wine country areas in Northern California as a tremendous release from the work week. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, those trips have gone the way of a quarantine and in the house we sit.
In the same span I have gotten numerous e-mails from wineries about virtual tastings, but never acted on one until recently.
This past week we took Heather McGrail, from the highly regarded McGrail Vineyards in the Livermore Valley, up on the offer to join their Shelter-in-Place (SIP) Virtual Wine Tasting with Heather, winemaker Mark Clarin, tasting room manager Joy, as well as anyone from the public that wants to join the fun.
The format is simple and the deal incredible. For $50 you will have two bottles of McGrail wine delivered free to your porch on a Thursday, provided you live in the Tri-Valley, including San Ramon. The bottles each week will have up to a $120 value, so it makes it worth your while for the wine alone!
The tasting starts at 5:15 p.m. on every Friday. We joined in on the seventh event and by the time it ended, we could not believe it had taken us so long to become involved.
The event took place on Zoom, with 21 people that taking part. Heather served as the hostess for the event, getting Clarin involved be it playing a couple songs with his guitar, or explain in depth about the two wines we had for the event.
The Gracie Sparkling Brut and the 2015 McGrail Merlot from Picazo Vineyard were our wines for the night, and both were highly enjoyable.
Clarin went through both wines and what went into the production, then each was complimented with a food pairing shared by Joy.
After tasting both wines, Heather led the room through introductions, and had each guest share a story about something positive throughout the shelter in place. It kept the spirits up in the group.
It was also a patriotic theme given that we were heading into Memorial Day weekend, with everyone encouraged to wear patriotic gear and then show it when it was your turn on the introductions.
The evening closed with a couple more songs from Clarin, which brought to close a wonderful experience.
Hopefully, we will not be kept from enjoying visits to tasting rooms for much longer, but if we are, make sure to get involved with a virtual wine tasting from one of your favorite wineries.
If you are in the Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, or San Ramon area I strongly recommend giving the McGrail SIP Virtual Tasting experience a shot. It is a night of great wine mixed in with some much-needed social interaction.
It is a win-win for everyone! You can sign up for the next tasting on the McGrail website by Tuesday for Thursday delivery, or you can use the “curb-side pickup option at the winery itself any time if you miss the Tuesday deadline.
For more information on McGrail’s SIP Virtual Tasting, to sign up, or on McGrail overall, please visit www.mcgrailvineyards.com.
By Dennis Miller