Wine Futures is Christmas, Opening Day, and the world’s best President’s Day Sale wrapped up into one for lovers of the grape. When people line up outside the Wine Cask, waiting for the noon opening, you can sense the anticipation, the whiff of worry in the air that someone is drinking the last of the best before you’re even in the door. Wine is serious--at least when it’s Santa Barbara good, you’re getting one of the first shots at buying it, and it’s slightly cheaper than it will be upon release.
It truly was my favorite day of the year, a sign of spring and the endless hope each vintage would be lovely, that each winery would learn yet more, make yet better wines. Somehow it almost always seemed to happen. Then there was the joy of running into people who grew to be old, if just one-day-a-year friends: Gray Hartley happily pouring at the Hitching Post table or Sashi Moorman working for more and more labels yet never diluting his skill. And then each year there'd be a new surprise, a new favorite: Ampelos, tercero, Autonom. Life was full of grapey goodness.
In the time between Mitchell Sjerven and Doug Margerum rescuing the Wine Cask as a restaurant from Rosenson's failure with it, Bob Wesley of the Winehound bravely stepped into the breech and delivered two great years of futures at the SB Museum of Natural History and then the Fess Parker Doubletree.
But now it's all gone, for as Wesley says, "It involved a lot of work and advertising expense, as well as facilities and food costs, and it just didn't meet budgetary expectations."
Wesley says that the Wine House in LA might do a program up here next year (they are doing one in LA, so that means the big city gets our futures and we don't, and that's a sad state o' affairs), so here's hoping Jim Knight can pull that off (in addition to making his own fine wines Jelly Roll and working on Holus Bolus). Until then, drink slowly, my friends....
UPDATE (4/11/11): An informant has let me know that the Wine House will be having a futures at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History next year, most likely in April.