The Gibson tonight was a hive pleasantly abuzz with wine lovers and musician-winemakers for this first annual, Wine Rocks Seattle. The showroom glowed with the redwood ambiance of hard wood floors and walls covered with the most beautiful guitars you’ve ever laid eyes on; wine stands standing seductively in every corner like high-class call girls promising intoxicating kisses. Live music played in a rotating cast as the winemaker-musicians took turns playing, or watching, or pouring us glasses of wine…
The crowd was a mix of wine aficionados, wine writers, wine lovers, musicians, winemakers, and red-cheeked wine drinkers, along with Blush Photo photographer Kristen Truax and me. Dancing from foot to foot, we’d narrowly not been able to get into this thing at $35 a ticket and some last minute strings not getting pulled. Kristen’s inside connection at the Gibson saved the day! She introduces me to Jenny, the Gibson showroom correspondent who, by her graces, got us in to the sold out event and we started tasting immediately! Distefano Winery, courtesy of Bill Herzog, makes a fine Syrah though others were more ecstatic about the Merlot. We were all a fan of his heavy pours and terrific smile! Jamie Brown’s Waters Winery stand was near the guitar room and was completely surrounded by women. I have a feeling it was less because of the wine and more because of his good looks! I chose the Syrah while Kristen chose the Viognier, “Meyer lemons, green bananas and passion fruit. A note of fragrant white blossoms is also present and typical of this varietal. The suggestion of sweet spice—due to a light-handed use of French oak—is also enticing.” -Waters Winery in Walla Walla Valley. Delicious!!!
Before too long, we wound our way into a back room, which had a pool table covered in chocolate along with a table of brandy in the corner. Theo Chocolates’ organic, fair-trade artisan chocolates had a spread of magnificent treats! Kristen and I zeroed in and flitted from one dark complex piece to a lighter milk chocolate. Across from the pool table, cum chocolate feast, representing the illustrious Leonetti family, was Rusty Figgins. His look and demeanor screamed Italian mafia, however, he and his Clos Sainte Rose make fucking exquisite brandy. We mixed it with a little mineral water until it was cloudy and then it came- the royal golden burn, so sweet and hot!! We were spinning around the room in no time! Kristen and I were already laughing hysterically when Jenny introduced us to a graffiti hat clad Thomas Erak. He was here to pick up a new guitar because Gibson sponsors his local band, Fall of Troy. He grimaced while laughing as Kristen downed another glass of brandy.
Oh, my god! That hurts me just watching you!” Thomas laughed while holding his hands to his stomach.
“Oh, but it’s soooooo good!” Kristen’s smiling face was glowing.
Jenny chimed in, “Thomas just came here to pick up a guitar but, we’re gonna try to get him to stay and drink some wine with us!”
“Now that shouldn’t be too hard, should it?” I purred, already warm from a lack of food and a glass and a half of wine, not to mention the Clos Sainte Rose brandy. Now a trio, we became a camera flashing wheel of fun, continuing to taste wines while getting to know each other.
Well-situated between Beecher’s Handmade Cheese and the Salumi gourmet cured meat tables, Kristen and I chatted over Chatter Creek wine and fell in love with winemaker Gordy Rawson’s rep, Jason Ramos. Smiling big under giant black square glasses, we sampled his wares and were told that Gordy was actually playing guitar at the moment. Everyone’s liveliness was reaching a peak! With glistening eyes and wide smiles, we talked and laughed the night away! Kristen was with another glass of Chatter Creek’s delightful Pinot Gris, and I was having a romance with their Lonesome Spring Ranch, Syrah. Back in the main guitar room and sitting on speakers, Thomas played Spanish guitar while I sat next to him, sipping wine. Kristen and Jenny were in animated conversation with Kurt Bloch, founder of first wave punk band The Fastbacks, as Thomas’ friend Jonah entered our merry scene with a hug. Jonah and his band, School Yard Heroes have in-concert portraits hanging down the long wall of the showroom, along with The Lashes guitarist, Eric Howk and others. We invited Jonah aboard the wine train!
Apparently, we jumped the tracks without even knowing it, because the first wave of people had already left and we were still having a ball! Now a five-some, and the only people left in the gallery, Thomas, Jonah, Kristen, Jenny, Kurt, and I got to ride the SECOND wave of wine and song at the Gibson that night! Apparently, they had sold so many tickets they decided to split up the night into two parties, the early set and the late set!!! Wine does Rock Seattle. Can’t wait for the next one! Did I mention all the proceeds go to the Vera Project? They do!
Jamie Brown, Waters Winery (Guitar, Syrah)
Rob Newsom, Boudreaux Cellars (Guitar, Cab Sauv and Merlot)
Rusty Figgins, Clos Sainte Rose (Drums, Brandy)
Doug McCrea, McCrea Cellars (Saxophone, Syrah and Syrocco Blend)
Bill Herzog, DiStefano Winery (Bass, Syrah)
Gordy Rawson, Chatter Creek (Bass, Viognet, Grenache)
Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times Columnist/Author of Washington Wines & Wineries, The Essential Guide (Guitar)