There will be corks popping all over town during Nevada City Uncorked, the upcoming wine event taking place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 14 in Nevada City.
Uncorked is a collaborative effort between the Sierra Vintners (our association of local wineries) and the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce.
There will be more than 20 locations, interspersed throughout the downtown area, each housing a different wine or beer and food combination. Locations stretch from The Stonehouse to The Emma Nevada House, including locations on Commercial, Pine and Spring streets.
The different venues include bed-and-breakfasts, the hotel, stores, restaurants and winery tasting rooms.
Mark Foster, winemaker at Nevada City Winery, helped assemble the list of participating wineries.
“This is one of the best wine tasting events you can do,” he said. “You get to mingle in great locations all over town enjoying different foods with different wines.”
You can purchase tickets online at http://sierravintners.com. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 on the day of the event.
The best insider deal is the $30 ticket for Wine Club members. Wine Club members of any of the participating wineries should contact their respective wineries directly to grab those.
Your ticket includes a commemorative wine glass plus five food tickets. You can purchase additional food tickets at two for $5 or five for $10.
Check in starts at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at The Stonehouse, located at 107 Sacramento St. at the bottom of Broad Street. Go there to collect your wine glass, food tickets and program with a map of all the locations.
Contact the Nevada City Chamber Office at 530-265-2692 or online at http://nevadacitychamber.com for event details.
Actually, when you think about it, the wine industry is quite remarkable. Wineries put themselves out there on public display in a way that few other industries do. Certainly other industries have trade shows and conventions or booths at home and garden shows to display their products, but few run the gauntlet of wine competitions, critical reviews and public tastings for each year’s new releases in the way the wine industry does.
Because of the way alcohol laws are written in California, there is a unique relationship between wineries and nonprofit organizations. Wineries can’t get the necessary license to pour wine at an off-site event, but the nonprofits can.
Whenever a nonprofit organization decides to host a fundraiser, one of the first things it does is look for wineries to come and pour their wines at the event.
Part of the unwritten contract between the two is that the nonprofit supplies exposure to new patrons while the wineries supply free wine for the event.
In a world where many wineries have limited marketing resources as well as limited access to the marketplace, nonprofit-sponsored wine events can help a winery build an identity, create exposure and find new customers. But it can be a very slippery slope.
A winery can go broke pouring wine at events while attempting to gain exposure. One local winemaker told me, “When we started, we were everywhere that would have us, building the name and the brand. As we’ve gotten more mature and better known, we’ve become much more selective and tend to participate only where we can document a true return on the cost of product and labor to be at the event.”
It only makes sense then that wineries would want greater control and greater benefits, over the type of events they participate in.
Nevada City Uncorked is a prime example of a beneficial partnership between the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and the Winery Association.
The only other similar partnership currently occurring is the Foothill Celebration in March with the Grass Valley Downtown Association.
Other notable events over the years included a dinner sponsored by the Winery Association in conjunction with the Foothill Celebration, Taste of the Gold Country, A Grape Affair and, most notable of all, The Wine Trail. None of these events still exists.
All the local wineries want to see more recognition of Nevada County as a premium wine region and would like to see increased wine tourism. They just can’t agree on how to go about doing that.
Wine Trail is a perfect example where opinions ranged from it being the best showcase of Nevada County viniculture to a nightmare that needed to end.
There is no question there were obstacles when it came to Wine Trail.
We have no central wine road. The wineries in western Nevada County are spread out with long distances of curvy, often private roads, separating them. It was a job to see more than a handful in a day.
There is no denying the appeal and value not just to wineries but also to the greater community that wine tourism creates.
Wine regions from Maine to Michigan and New York to New Mexico are establishing wine roads and seeing a corresponding increase in lodging, retail and restaurant business as a result.
At its core, wine is about place, and visitors like to get out in the vineyards.
But right now, Nevada City Uncorked is the best way to become more familiar with our local wineries.
Spend a few pleasurable hours enjoying the ambience of Nevada City, talking to some winemakers, tasting the wines and sampling foods.
Who knows, you might discover a new favorite restaurant and a winery or two you really want to go visit.
Rod Byers, CWE, is a Certified Wine Educator and wine writer as well as a California State Certified Wine Judge. You can find information about this fall’s upcoming Sierra College Kaleidoscope Wine Classes at www.pinehillwineworks.com and he can be reached at 530-913-3703.