Cultivating a Palate

San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival

From hip clubs to sleek lounges, wine raves are all the buzz; serving a unique and nontraditional wine tasting experience, 30-something professionals are taking note. This new concept of sampling various varietals in a more modern, urban setting is a way to get young wine enthusiasts versed in an array of wines from various regions while simultaneously acquainting them to the sophisticated palates of winemakers. Fast Forward Events, the organization responsible for producing the annual San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival and the San Diego Gourmet Experience, have catered to this genre of Generation X wine lovers by hosting several wine raves throughout San Diego.

Wine rave Barenjager 2012 FINE magazine February 2012

According to Jessica Gago of Fast Forward Events, “The millennial generation has been making significant moves towards the more serious wine enthusiasts for several years now. Wine consumption in the United States is one of the highest in the world, and [those in their] 20s and 30s are more on board than ever. Wineries and distributors are intentionally marketing to this new group of wine drinkers, which makes WineRaves a perfect match when it comes to building content that both exhibitors and attendees can benefit from.”

Samantha Matthews with Magners  San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival

At one such event, the delicate and robust aromas representing the flavorful tastes of California’s wine country were featured at the 6th Annual Wine Rave last summer and premiered at one of San Diego’s stylishly chic nightclubs in the Gaslamp – FLUXX; it served as a prelude to the San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival. Trekking in from Carmel and Paso Robles to more local wineries in San Diego and Temecula, this wine tasting soiree foreshadowed what is to come for San Diego’s palate for the season.  

Couples at wine rave  at San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival

At this progressively contemporary wine tasting event, individuals are able to sample various wines – from chardonnay and zinfandel to merlot and cabernet, along with the opportunity to sample other spirits such as Wilson Creeks’s Almond Champagne, honey whiskey, and tequila. And, while wine raves are obviously not the elegantly mannered traditional tasting rooms set on a lush vineyard overlooking the vines of delicately ripened grapes, they are however a good means for vendors and distributors to introduce their brand of spirits to this emerging niche of wine lovers. These club-like venues lend themselves nicely to young professionals who are seeking to become more versed with their wine palates and develop an appreciation for the culture as well.

San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival FINE magazine

Additional, these tasting venues are also a good way for wine vendors to experiment and explore nontraditional blends of wine making; young wine drinkers are more open to the experience and to the creation on new tastes. At last year’s 6th Annual Wine Rave, there were several fruit-inspired wines making their debut that some wine traditionalist may not favor; innovative and cutting-edge to say the least, when attacking the appeal and flavors of a varietal’s bouquets, body, and form.
Michelle Metter, one of the partners for Fast Forward Events commented that “Today’s young wine consumers are experimental. Without so many pre-conceived notions about wine and what it ‘should be’ or ‘shouldn’t be,’ young wine connoisseurs are more open to trying new things. WineRaves are the perfect venue for winemakers that are breaking the mold and delving into nontraditional blends, such as the California Fruit Wine Company, which makes wines from everything but grapes.”

San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival

Wine vendors are also seeing this movement with young wine lovers as wines are being introduced to more modern and hip tasting venues.  Russell Joyce from Joyce Vineyards, a family-owned winery in Carmel shared how he has noticed in recent years that the young generations are acquiring an affection towards wine and is excited to see this progression. “Over the past few years, I have watched wine grow into something that is considered hip, stylish, and [exudes] sex appeal,” said Joyce. “It seems as if the younger generation has taken more of an interest in wine over the past several years, so presenting an experience in which consumers can enjoy wine while socializing in a trendy and upbeat atmosphere seems like an [ideal fit].”

So for all professionals – both young and young-at-heart, if you are looking for more excitement during happy hour or those after dinner drinks, a wine rave might just be the ticket. Next time you smell the savory bouquets of wine and hear the sounds of the DJ mixing the turntables, inviting you to become part of the experience, embrace the ambiance and opportunity to expand your palate. As with people and fine wine, it only gets better with age!   

Paso Robles Grand Tasting Tour in Newport Beach  [February 27 - March 2]
Family Winemakers of California’s Tasting 2012 in Del Mar [March 13]
Wine & Dine Prohibition in San Diego [April 21]

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