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Tasting Room Adventures
February 1st, 2015
Peggy Fiandaca

Over the past 20 years, we have had some incredible wine tasting experiences. Sometimes the wine had nothing to do with making it a memory. Remember when you saw the movie Deliverance for the first time? We relived that suspense as we drove down an over-grown, tree-lined road in northern California watching threatening no trespassing signs go by as we continued toward our destination.

We kept going more because we couldn’t turn-around without getting stuck rather than the desire to see what was at the end of the road. Once we reached our destination, we spent a delightful afternoon tasting wine at a picnic table with the owner in a barnyard surrounded by old stills from prohibition days (we think). The wine was mediocre at best but the experience was memorable and has made a great story!


Another was the last minute decision to attend a winemaker lunch/tasting at Chalk Hill in the equestrian chandeliered clubhouse overlooking the most incredible arena where the
U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team practiced. The wine, lunch, conversation in this world-class privately-owned facility followed by a private tour of the pristine vineyard was priceless.
 LDV - Chalk Hill Winery

Chalk Hill

Through these experiences, we have a learned a lot about wine tasting adventures. Actually, adventures in general.

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Brick Cellar is in the Burgundy Region of France. We made it through a wine tasting and wine purchase with someone not speaking English and us not speaking French.

Wine tasting adventures are seldom planned and typically just happen. However, the environment can create the framework for the experience to unfold. Nothing gives us more joy than to have someone riding their bike past our tasting room, walk through the door not knowing what to expect, and be surprised by the wine, place, and overall experience.

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Private tour of the chalk caves where champagne is stored under Reims, France
and champagne tasting with Isabella at Veuve Clicquot

Experiencing someone’s passion is also part of a memorable wine tasting experience. We decided a few years ago that we only wanted to hang with people that were passionate about something (anything). And winemakers we have met are passionate about what they are doing and that excitement is contagious. The key to a good tasting room experience is having that passion be expressed by staff pouring the wine. You may not like the wine but you will be able to tell a story about the experience if that passion can shine through.


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Picking the brain of a winemaker in Santa Ynez, CA before opening our winery.

An adventure also involves learning something unexpected. It might be the fact that we used hybrid French and American oak barrels to age our 2012 Viognier that provides the kiss of butter and a hint of nutmeg or that Petite Sirah is genetically a distant cousin of the Syrah grape and was created by a French botanist named Francois Durif. We recently were the wine hosts of a wine river cruise down the Rhine River through Germany, France, and Switzerland. Listen to Curt Dunham talk about the numerous wine tasting experiences at this link.

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Wine tasting on the river cruise

We hope when guests visit Lawrence Dunham Vineyards at our winery or in our tasting room in downtown Scottsdale, you leave with more than just great wine. It is our goal that you have a wine tasting adventure that you want to tell your friends about and look forward to returning time and again.