For those of you looking to up your wine knowledge with other apprenticing wine lovers a wine class might be a great idea. Wine classes typically focus on tasting techniques and often times will be centered on one specific wine region. Just taking one class can help you in almost every aspect of wine comprehension; plus, you get the opportunity to taste a variety of different wines side-by-side, making it easier to differentiate and compare varietals, styles, and regions.
Mary Ericson and Marcella Newhouse both teach superb wine classes in the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation program. I have taken classes from both of these women and would highly recommend them.
Mary Ericson works for Storrs Winery and has judged in commercial wine competitions. Her Santa Cruz Mountains wine class paints a broad stroke over our diverse region. She structures the class loosely around varietal; each week you get to taste one varietal from a selection of different local wineries. Tasting four different versions of the same varietal next to each other truly helps the students discover the similarity of one particular grape to another. You might find that all Zinfandels are jammy or that a classic flavor in merlot is olives. Mary’s class is perfect for the introductory wine student looking to get a base knowledge in tasting technique.
Marcella Newhouse is a certified sommelier and deservedly so. Her wine expertise is impeccable. Marcella’s classes are often structured around region instead of varietal. For example, when I took the class our region was Italy and we compared Italian wines to their Californian counter-parts. Her class is slightly more advanced than Mary’s; she gets into the nitty-gritty about wine laws and practices plus has a short quiz at the beginning of each class. Marcella’s class will send you away with an in depth knowledge of one specific region and the grapes they grow there.
I will also be hosting two single-day events this summer in which the class will go on a field trip to a couple of different wineries to take a hands-on approach to wine making and viticulture. The class will get to tour the wine making facilities and then taste the wine to help bring an understanding of how different wine making styles affect the final outcome of the wine. The objectives of the class are to get a basic perception into various wine making techniques and to recognize how these techniques shape the wine’s flavor profile. And of course…to celebrate our local wine culture!
I hope everyone who’s interested gets a chance to take a wine class this summer or fall. Make sure to sign up early, Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation summer registration begins on April 19th. Cheers!