This past weekend I had the pleasure—nay, the honor—of moderating the featured tasting and seminar at the 2022 Rhone Rangers Experience. It was a special event for several reasons. Top of most people’s minds is the fact that this annual tradition had to take the obligatory COVID-pause. So, of course, it was wonderful to see friends and colleagues from across the US gather together and, yes, even hug.
For me, the opportunity to participate goes a bit deeper. The Rhone Rangers was one of (if not the) first event I’d ever attended in a pseudo-professional capacity. Back in those days, I was but a newbie freelancer writing for just a few small outlets, and pretty much just getting paid in wine samples and event tickets. And so it was, the lovely Girls on Food blog ‘hired’ me to attend the SF Rhone Rangers event, complete with VIP tickets for the seminar and media-only portion of the walk-around tasting. (I wish I could find the link to the original article…)
Green as I was to the wine-scene, little did I know the characters I was meeting—Randall Grahm, Bob Lindquist, Neil Collin and Jason Haas—were ‘celebrities’ of wine history. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t, because they each became wonderful acquaintances and, in the case of Randall and Jason, I do in fact consider them friends. It also allowed me to make quick friends with smaller producers, like Larry Schaffer (tercero wines) and of course the boys over at Crux and eventually others, like Bob and Maggie Tillman over at Alta Colina.
Whether big name or small producer, the Rhone Rangers—these boots-on-the-ground, passionate producers of wine—have always welcomed me with open arms, a generous attitude, and have been critical in my pursuing my wine passion.
Anyway, my point is that it is nice that my Rhone Rangers Experience has, in effect, come full circle. The shy blogger girl who once was, returned as an experienced wine industry reporter, journalist, and editor—just as open and eager to learn from these exciting, innovative winemakers.