Saturday, January 3, 2009

Winemaker Daryl Groom From PENFOLDS, GEYSER PEAK And Now His Own Aussie Winery GROOM, Adelaide Hills & Barossa, South Australia - What A Guy!!

      I just sent Daryl and email. He's in Australia. He emailed me other day in response to my email and said that he needed an infusion badly of some of the Aussie sunshine! I can't blame him and said as much when I just emailed him earlier to wish him a " Happy New Year "! Cheers, Daryl.

     We have currently in stock from you Daryl some of both the GROOM 2007 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc ( $19.99 ) and the GROOM 2005 Barossa Valley Shiraz ( $39.99 ). We will have to order more of both as we are almost out and I don't want to be out of these excellent Aussie South Australia wine gems.

     It's a pleasure knowing and doing business with Daryl. He actually keeps in touch and responds to emails and I find that both surprising and very much appreciated. It's rare it seems today to communicate and to keeping the lines of communication open : Daryl does both, at least with me.

     I met Daryl years ago at GEYSER PEAK winery in Sonoma, California when I went with the sales staff of Forman Brothers wholesalers ( the Estates and the Vintage divisions ) back in 1996 was it? I can't remember exactly. Emily, the two Johns, Jeff and myself were on this trip. We had one the sales' incentive trip out to California to visit and be wined and dined by the vineyards that we represented well that year. It's always a real treat for me and this was no exception. I did some artwork ( watercolors ) while I was on this particular trip.

     I remember that on this visit to GEYSER PEAK ( the first was with my father back in mid 1995 just as I started working for Forman Brothers. I took the week of August off to go visit my father in San Leandro and to visit some of these new wineries ) that Daryl was on hand to take us on the full tour of Geyser Peak. This was a close-up visit with the winemaker himself to answer any questions that we might have and to tell us more than we might otherwise hear. Daryl was both lots of fun and thorough.

     I remember asking Daryl about all the Syrah ( he called it then Shiraz ) that he puts in each blend? I was trying to get a reaction from him, and reaction I got! Daryl's response was quick, concise and delivered with wit : " I tell them if they don't like it - up their Shiraz ! " I think I got Daryl's point and dropped the conversation after smiling broadly.

     I have a picture here of taken with me and Daryl out front by the front gate area and I've got a glass in my hand  of white wine ( the GEYSER PEAK Sauvignon Blanc or one of their special white blend the Venezia series perhaps?!? ) and Daryl appears to have a beer in his hand. I've got my shorts on and the original red GEYSER PEAK shirt that was given to me I believe on my first visit there with my father. Daryl, what beer would you have drunk back then? I love it, it's so Aussie to see you with a beer. 

     I loved those limited bottlings of the Venezia wines : reds and whites. They were so beautifully presented/packaged. There was so much thought to detail that went into every aspect of those limited-release VENEZIA wines. The wrapping paper was amazing : so rich and lush looking : golds and coppers and brass colors that just spoke of wealth, money, exclusivity, entitlement?!? To simply unwrap one was a treat. I really enjoyed taking the six-pack boxes out and placing them in the stores here in Washington D.C. Even the little neck-labels were done up to max in taste and style. Kudos to whoever did the packaging for those VENEZIA wines.

     Of course the wines were superb as well and such interesting, fun, creative blends to make the mind curious and the taste buds challenged, soothed, cajoled, entertained, enthralled. It's been awhile so I do not remember exactly what the blends were but they were all on the back labels as well as on the neck-wrappers. Cheers to you Daryl and to your team then of very talented winemakers, workers and staff. You guys were creating quality and keeping costs down for all consumers on all fronts. That's easier said than done and yet all you at GEYSER PEAK did it seamlessly.

     It's now Saturday afternoon here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008, Tel : 202-363-4265 ) at 2 PM January 3rd, 2009 and colleagues of my wife are now or soon will be at GEYSER PEAK on a tour/special tasting arranged in late December 2008 by Daryl. I wish I were there! That would be a nice treat. Thanks Daryl for arranging this for me. My wife and I both thank you in advance.

     I'm still looking at this picture of Daryl and I as I type. It's been through a lot : it got run over by car wheels in the parking lot of Chevy Chase Wines & Spirits years ago when I still worked for Forman Brothers and was making a sales' cal on owner Buddy Weitzman. I was shocked to see it there by my car door. It must have fallen out when I opened the door. I retrieved it and treated it like a lost treasure, wiped it off and put it back where it belonged. I told this story to Daryl when he came and we laughed and invented many stories to connect to this one. I will try and remember what they are as I type. They were quite playful and creative on Daryl's part.

     Jody Jackman our Winebow rep brought Daryl here perhaps a year or so ago. She called and asked me if it was okay and I was delighted to see Daryl once again. I had such good memories from my two visits there that I really looked forward to catching-up with Daryl.

     I forgot to mention that on my original trip with my father there back in August of 1995 that I had purchased one of the nice oil-and-vinegar blown-glass vials and that I still use it to this day and think of both my father that has since passed away and those times in California visiting vineyards together that were so special. Daryl, I need another small cork-stopper for the vial/pourer, it's falling to pieces ; help!

     Anyway, when Jody brought Daryl here we both laughed like hyenas and broke enough smiles across our two faces to join a continent like Australia or the U.S. Boy did we split our guts! Can't wait till the next visit Daryl. Cheers to you and Happy New Year 2009 to you and to your family. I look froward to selling lots more GROOM this year. 

    The photos of Daryl's visit will follow as soon as I can download them.   TONY

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