DeRushaEats: Former WCCO News Anchor Launches Wine Club
Remember Jeanette Trompeter? She was a WCCO anchor between 2004-2009, but she grew up in Central California. She made a lot of friends when she was here in Minnesota (me included) and when she moved back home to San Luis Obispo, a lot of people from here came to visit, and fell in love with the area. (My former coworkers John Reger and Caroline Lowe both moved out to work there!) So why am I writing about her in a food blog?
Jeanette started a wine club called Ruby Shoes. She personally selects a winery from the Central Coast of California four times a year, and you get either three bottles (15% discount), six bottles (20% discount) or a case of wine (25%) from the winery. The winter winery is Adelaida Cellars; fall was Calcareous.
She was back in town last weekend, hosting parties for wine club members, trying to recruit new people (you can sign up at rubyshoeswine.com) and she took a couple minutes to answer some of my questions.
Jason: What's a news anchor know about wine?
Jeanette: Let's see...it's kind of like what do you know about food? You love food and love to eat it. Same concept with me and wine (and food!). I don't claim to be a wine expert in any way, though. I do know a bit about Central Coast wines as I grew up around the region and gained an early appreciation for good wine. Once I moved back, I kind of dove into learning about all the wineries that had come to the area since I left. I know a lot of the winemakers and love to talk to them about what they are hoping to get out of each vintage, bottle, blend. I am simply trying to make that kind of connection for the members of Ruby Shoes Wine Club.
How does the club work?
The wine certainly has to be great. I also want a winery location people from Minnesota would like to come visit someday. And I want the people to be "Minnesota Nice." I know that's a term that people don't necessarily like, but it's true in my experience. (And you should see how my two staff-members are talking about Minnesota right now after only being here 36 hours. They are enthralled with the people!) Basically, I want the chosen winery to be a place where when I'm there I think, "Oh I wish Jason, or Tom or Angela" could see this. Then I pick three of my favorite wines from there that you couldn't get down at your local grocery or liquor store and that's the club shipment for that quarter. We do a virtual tasting with the winemakers so members get to know what to look for when they open their wine, and who made it. And should Minnesotans come to the Central Coast, they can visit those wineries and be treated like friends. And VIPs. They'll also get discounts at hotels, recreation spots, wine events etc. We want to give you the "hook-up" when you come to our wine country, so you get the most from your visit. We're also adding VIP packages in the coming year that will include opportunities for private events at Hearst Castle, sunset dinner yacht cruises on Morro Bay, zip-lining through the vineyards, that kind of deal.
What should Minnesotans know about Central California wine?
A lot of the wine you may be drinking from other areas of California, including Napa/Sonoma, comes from Central Coast grapes. Check the label. You'll see Paso Robles, Santa Ynez, Edna Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara. Our climates is perfect for awesome varietals. We have hot summer afternoons with the coastal influence to cool things down at night and grapes love that. It's also, in my opinion, one of the most scenic wine countries in the world. World. I'm serious. We have mountains, beaches, rolling hills, prairie lands, cowboy country, all within a 60-minute radius. So if you want to take a wine-tasting trip, I think it's the best bet. You won't waste time driving all over to see a bunch of stuff. It's all right there. We also have had wines in the top ten (okay, Denner was #11 in 2011) of Wine Spectator's Wines of the World list the last few years. And the people are Minnesota Nice! And few if any wine snobs.
Is Central California underrated as wine country?
In wine circles, it's earned its respect, and Forbes called it the "Newer, Hipper Napa" maybe 10 years ago. But to regions outside California, like the Midwest, to just casual wine drinkers, it's kind of undiscovered, I think. It's an undiscovered treasure, and I aim to change that. At least for Minnesotans.