Next week a small armada of Koi Zen Cellars folks will be converging in Sacramento.

Nothing starts the new year off as a trip to Sacramento for the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium. On January 29-31, thousands of merchants, vendors, distributors, producers, consumers all converge on the Convention Center for 3 packed days of everything wine. This is the largest wine conference in both North and South America. The entire convention center is packed with every conceivable piece and part used for the cultivation through storage of wine. Giant tractors through corks line the isles in a feast of the senses.

Before I entered the wine business, the process was simple: ferment some grapes, throw it in a bottle, cork it and bam we’re done…. not so much. I didn’t know there is a difference between Spanish corks and Portuguese corks and that there are scores of cork vendors each offering different colors, finishes, quality, volume discounts, lead times and embossing options. There are hundreds of choices for a cork. One can spend pennies on a cork or dollars for a cork. The myriad corks are impressive not even considering choices of bottles, foils, labels, boxes, bags, topers, sealers, corkscrews and stemware each with their own universe of diversity (and each represented at the show).

Walking down the rows of shiny stainless steel can make many a winemaker become envious.   There is something about the finely ground welds, the swirl patterns, the shape, texture, and function that always draws my attention (yes, I do get distracted by shiny objects). No matter what you have, there is ALWAYS something thinner, sexier and more expensive; but that is life, right?

The wine industry is relatively small and the trade show is a great place to get face to face with old vendors, new potential vendors, and other wine people. It is also a great place to pick up bags and bags of swag – you name it and you can probably find it there. Last year we collected a menagerie of “stress” balls in the shape of chickens, pigs, bottles, balls, corks, and frogs to name a few.

The most exciting part of the show though is the “trials”. This is where winemakers experiment by starting with the same batch of grapes and doing something different from each batch. This could be how it was fermented, oaked, bottled and such. This allows you to directly experience the differences side by side. This is where I personally learn the most. (the lavish afterparties are also way cool)

I have been told that I have to leave my credit card home this year which is a good thing…. Good thing I have Net 30 with most vendors. LOL.

Hope to see you around the winery in a long week or so.

Cheers,

P.S. If you need 20,000 corks or 500 corkscrews, or 900 crystal glasses, let me know and I can hook you up.

P.P.S We still do have a few wine barrels for sale right now and more to come in the near future; reserve yours now.