After climbing up two stories of stairs, which showed off a great view of the entire entrance hallway, I walked into a large dining room. It contained a historic collection of California wines encased in glass- I was simply blown away!
The oldest was a bottle of 1875 Isaias Hellman Cucamonga Private Stock Port. The wine is made from the zinfandel varietal, and was aged five decades before being bottled post prohibition.
The next one I looked at was the 1941 Simi Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon Hotel Del Monte Selection. The Simi brothers started making wine in 1876 after a tough go at the Gold Rush. Women led the winery to greatness, as Isabelle Simi hid the wines for prime aging in Healdsburg during prohibition, and later hired the first two female graduates from UC Davis.
They also had the 1958 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon. The Martini name is associated with bulk wine, but older vintages are great wines and collector items. Louis was trained in winemaking at the age of 19 in Italy, and returned to his family's California winery to make excellent post prohibition wines.
Onto a bottle of 1962 Inglenook Charbono. The winery was started in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum and thrust into fame after prohibition. The property was eventually purchased by Francis Ford Coppola.
Another oldie was the non-vintage Sebastiani Barbera Bin No. 132, bottled in 1968. It was another Italian immigrant founded winery, as Samuele Sebastiani started it in 1904. They were know known for their zinfandel, and are known for many more varietals nowadays.
The best wine I stumbled upon was the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay created by winemaker Mike Grgich, now of Grgich Hills Estate, who put his signature on the bottle. That wine won the white wine category in the now famous 1976 Tasting of Paris. This event clearly put American wines on the radar of wine lovers and collectors worldwide.
I eventually settled down to listen to a great wine social media seminar conducted by Barry Schuler, former CEO of AOL. His information was one of the highlights of the conference. I think much of what he said will inspire wine writers to push to the next level. I was also very happy because it was one of the few times I had access to Wi-Fi! The seminar ended around noon, just in time for everyone to move to their bus and move on to lunch. More on Bus #6 travels tomorrow...
If you get a chance to visit the CIA Greystone, make sure you do. It is a majestic building- with a huge kitchen!