“It’s going to be a hot one!” These were the first words that everyone at The Vineyard at Stockcross said when we met them for breakfast. Nestled in a beautiful part of Berkshire on the outskirts of Newbury, The Vineyard is the iconic ‘temple’ of wine, especially Californian. Owned by Sir Peter Michel, this luxurious Spa, Hotel and restaurant was hosting its annual wine festival, called Uncorked, and House of Townend, as suppliers of top Californian estate Jordan Wines, were hosting a series of events during the day. The day was to be shared between Brad Butcher, Sales Director at Jordan, as well as the Eastern and UK Director, Ashley Cesario.
First to organise on that warm sunny morning was the setting up of our tasting table, which was set in the beautiful restaurant with views of the new sunken lawn and flanked by stands supporting the likes of Riedel Glassware, Sonoma Distilling Company, English sparkling wine producers and the like. All busy setting up tables, opening bottles, laying out brochures etc. The Vineyard expected 120 people, but numbers had grown to around 150 – it was going to be busy! We opened the necessary bottles and tasted each one to ensure they were clean and fresh. So many people forget this… how many times have I gone to a trade show and been served corked or out of condition wine!
Second job was to manoeuvre the giant 18 litre Melchior bottle of Jordan 2013 Cabernet into position. This giant bottle was a showpiece of the whole event. Shipped across from California specially, the only one ever opened outside the US, and weighing in at a massive 60kg! It came with its own preservation system that we had to fix onto the bottle. 144 glasses of prime delicious and warming Californian cabernet was now ready to be poured! Brad and I tasted – it was dark, cassis laden, warm and spicy – beautiful!!
For two hours the staff at the Vineyard were running around sorting tables, chairs, Champagne stand, parasols, ice, more glasses, food trays came back and forth, chefs fired up a BBQ, the band arrived, more ice, more glasses - most had been done the night before, but always with these events a lot has to be done last minute.
First guests arrived at 12 noon and the stand was immediately busy. People really wanted to know about the Jordan story, taste the wines and learn about the estate. Other stands were busy, but the attraction was all about Jordan. The Melchior bottle stood on a table and customers were busy taking selfies with it.
By 1pm the day was in full swing with customers packing into the 2 tier restaurant and swirling, tasting and enjoying the buzz. At 2pm Ashley and Brad went to host a Masterclass on Jordan wines for 25 customers. As always happens, the event overran as customers asked more and more questions – a thirst for knowledge and a reflection for how popular this iconic Sonoma estate is. The Masterclass enjoyed some unique wines that Jordan had sent specially – the 2013 Chardonnay was a big draw, as was the delicious 2005 Cabernet.
Back on the stand… most popular wines were the crisp elegant and poised Chardonnay 2016 from Jordan, almost Puligny Montrachet in style, so untypically Californian in the customer’s eyes. The Cabernet was as popular too, especially as we had brought 3 vintages – 2014, 2011 and 2005. The 2005 was our top wine of the day, resplendent in its sweetness, rich balanced black fruits, integrated mellow oak and a sense of brooding power that lingered. We started taking orders for this great wines, with more ordering the newly released 2014 as a wine to lay down.
3pm… We gathered everyone together in the main restaurant and Brad and I gave short speeches to welcome everyone to the opening of the Melchior. Cameras clicked, people cheered and the first 8 glasses were poured as prizes for a raffle. Soon the table was crowded with customers wanting to taste this amazing wine.
The day continued and we all managed to get lunch at a packed Californian-style BBQ (food was amazing, especially the combo of roast lamb and the mellow 2011 Jordan Cabernet). The band, 3 young hipsters, playing mellow jazz and blues, gave the event a depth and soul. The Champagne stand was busy, the tasting stands full of guests wanting to try the different combination of wine with different dishes.
By 5pm the day was almost done for us but in the garden the guests were happily sitting tasting, discussing and enjoying themselves!
Back to blog