The Founder’s Favorite for the month of August is most definitely the Barrington Wine Classic at The Barrington Golf Club in Aurora. I had been to the club before and knew it would host only the most exclusive of events, so I was immediately excited. Rightfully so, it was one hell of an event!
I started Wine Taste Cleveland as an information source and social media marketing outlet for local businesses, but never imagined I would be a vendor at an event. Let alone a “guest pourer” and author of a Tasting Tips article, but here we are!! The Founder’s Favorite for the month of April was the 720 farmer’s market and wine tasting at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was a brand new venture and experience for Wine Taste Cleveland and SO FUN!!
Lynn Shimko, the owner of 720 Market, contacted WTC after Gervasi was so kind as to refer her to me. She asked if I would write an article on wine tasting for her publication and host a tent at their big event. I eagerly and immediately said yes! I mean, what great exposure AND I get to pour/drink wine all day while talking to people - my kind of Saturday! Only little problem was that I didn’t have a tent, promo materials, people to work the tent for me, and any experience with any of these things!
In three weeks time (thanks to the incredible help of my family and boyfriend) I was given a crash course in tent assembly, manufactured 200 WTC water bottles to give away for free, had a banner and articles of clothing made, and was ready for the big debut.
After some prayers were answered and a near hurricane left us alone, Wine Taste Cleveland had the best time at this event!! HUGE shout out to my parents and boyfriend, yet again, for manning the booth and being the best support system I could ask for. Another HUGE shout out to Lynn’s husband who took pity on me during my solo set up and erected the tent for me:) I could have never done that alone.
The event featured all Ohio wineries and it was so wonderful to meet the local producers and form new connections for WTC. I can’t wait to feature many of these wineries in Instagram posts to come.
Had Gervasi and 720 Market not reached out, I wouldn’t have been granted this fabulous opportunity and experience to showcase and grow what Wine Taste Cleveland truly is…a COMMUNITY of wine lovers! Who knew we’d be doing events, but can’t wait to pour and swirl at the next one!
I mention in every post how fortunate I am to experience such great wine and even better people around Cleveland, and this past month was quite the testament to that! I tried the best wine I have had the privilege of drinking thus far, in some of the best company in all of The Land.
The Founder’s Favorite for March took place during an impromptu, causal wine tasting with a bunch of wine freaks at The Olde Wine Cellar on a Tuesday night. Through the wine lovers world, I have had the pleasure of becoming buddies with a man named Ken who runs the West Side Wine Lovers Meetup group. He puts together these great pairings once a month and is more passionate about wine than anyone I have ever met (check out the Meetup group). He’ll invite me to local get-togethers of wine geeks every now and then, and this night happened to be one of them.
There is a group that gathers frequently at The Olde Wine Cellar in Olmsted Falls, which happens to be one of my favorite local haunts and one of the cutest, quaintest places ever to kick back and sip wine all night. I’ve gotten to know Mike, the owner, through my years of drinking there and not only is he hilarious in his promo videos each month, he is one of the most generous and non-egotistical wine store owners in town (hard to find). He also puts up with quite the eclectic crowd gathering there on Tuesdays now!
On this one particular random Tuesday, Greg (my new friend), was so unbelievably kind as to bring a bottle of 2015 Hundred Acres for the group to try. I had heard of Hundred Acres, but didn’t have the whole background I should have before trying it. I knew it would be good, but it was PHENOMENAL. One of the best wines I’ve had in my entire life. I even said that that evening and they all blamed the the other bottles we had polished off prior, haha! But seriously, this wine was amazing.
Greg jokingly asked me to post his photo on social media to make him famous, and I promised to do just that. Greg has become one of my favorite wine drinking buds and after googling the 2015 Hundred Acres and learning that he so willingly shared a $500 (yes, $500) bottle of wine with almost strangers just made my month.
So to sum up… a $500 bottle of wine on a Tuesday night, a cozy and unpretentious venue owned by a really great guy and his wife, and an overly generous man in an Elton John shirt made this whole night my Founder’s Favorite. Thanks Greg (left) and Mike (right) and Ken (photo cred) for this awesome experience! Let’s swirl the good stuff some more!
February brought a huge amount of wine tastings around Valentine’s Day and I wish I could have made it to them all, but sadly that’s never the case when a big wine drinking holiday happens. This month kicked off a monthly wine series that took the cake for my favorite though, and I really look forward for more to come from this venue.
This month’s Founder’s Favorite was the New Zealand wine tasting at Maison Maison in Rocky River. Maison Maison is actually a furniture store located in the adorable “Old River” area and I stumbled upon it while enlisting their services for a custom ottoman. They had just opened in their new location and when I provided my email address, they asked what Wine Taste Cleveland was.
After the brief explanation, they told me that they hired a Sommelier and installed a full kitchen and would be hosting their own wine pairing dinners there. I was definitely surprised! Most wine pairings are held at higher end restaurants or wine stores…this is a custom furniture store?! I had to check it out.
I had no idea what to expect, which was the best part. It was like this gorgeous pop up of a gourmet dinner amidst the beautiful furniture and decor of the store. The store has a GREAT feel and ambiance to it already that set the tone. The evening was literally a full 6 course pairing dinner while the Sommelier and wine rep walked us through each wine! The food was phenomenal, the wine pours were heavy, and we learned a ton too!
I absolutely love the mixing of the design, culinary, and wine concept all in one! I commend Maison Maison on putting their leg out there to do something new and creative. The dinner was a huge hit and I can’t wait to go to them each month now! Cheers guys (and thanks Jesse!), I’ll be there swirling for the next one!
This month was JAM packed with tastings and I can’t even explain how lucky I am to have been invited to some of these because the wines were all excellent and on the higher end. The venues hosting these tastings around Cleveland were also top notch and as always, I find it hard to choose just one favorite. However, my absolute favorite overall wine tasting experience this month was at Delmonico’s Steakhouse ( part of the Hospitality Restaurant group ) for a number of reasons.
The most obvious reason would be the killer selection of wines that the guests were offered in a blind pouring setting. Tickets for this event were $200 per person ( which is a bit steep for Cleveland ), but with the generous pours, paired with some of the finest foods, it made that price tag well worth it. I am also a sucker for the “good juice” and don’t hate an opportunity to drink Opus One on a Sunday afternoon :) After a glass of Veuve Clicquot to start, the line up included 2011 Dana Estate Onda, 2015 Continuum Estate, 2014 Opus One, 2014 Spottswoode Cabernet, 2015 Le Dome, and 2014 Chateau Valandraud. Not one of these retails for less than $150… like I said, the wines were obviously outstanding.
The food paired with these wines was literally fit for a king. I can’t remember how big the bone in filet was, but it was bigger than my head and could feed a family. The setting was more on the intimate side and I am glad they arranged it this way , because the tasting was too exclusive to turn into some drunken party. Don’t get me wrong, the wine was flowing but I really enjoyed the conversation and the setting too.
The reason this was my absolute favorite was hands down because of the company I was seated with. i am learning that the people “making” the event is becoming a trend and I love getting to know fellow winos, or just fellow Clevelanders looking for a good time!
I was fortunate enough to be seated with the infamous George Schindler ( President of Hospitality Restaurant Group, Dan Greathouse ( President of Heidelberg Vineyards ), and Keith Morris ( Vice President of Sales for Cline Vineyards ). These men are crazy successful and KNOW THEIR WINE. Needless to say, that’s a tad bit intimidating. However, these gentlemen was so incredibly warm and welcoming, engaging, supportive of Wine Taste Cleveland, and just an absolute blast to hang out with the guess wines with.
Dan Greathouse led the event and did a phenomenal job walking us through the tasting notes of each wine and keeping the event interactive. I came out of the day very full of both new wine knowledge AND delicious foods and red wine. The day would not have been nearly as fun and successful without these gracious and hilarious men.
I also have to note how attentive the staff was and the manager, Chase Rhodes, was so accommodating he even found me a step ladder so I could get a perfect camera shot! My wine tasting buddy, Bill Gardlock, hand picked the wines and planned this event so I already knew it would be phenomenal, but he went above and beyond.
Thank you Delmonico’s, Hospitality Restaurants, Bill, Chase, Dan, George, and Keith for rocking and being this months'‘s Founder’s Favorite!!!
Founder’s Favorite will feature the favorite experience of Wine Taste Cleveland’s Founder, Kristi Buckholz, in her adventures in the wine and food scene in Northeast Ohio. This could be a wine, food dish, venue, person, or all around experience. The beauty of the Founder’s Favorite blog is that it can be anything and will always be non solicited and unsponsored, it will feature a truly favored experience!
Stay tuned for the first blog after the official launch of Wine Taste Cleveland and a really fun circuit of holiday wine tastings!