Joseph Romero, current wine captain at El Gaucho Bellevue (he recently transferred from El Gaucho Tacoma), joined 12 wine buyers from around Washington state to visit Napa Valley last month. Besides the opportunity to drink great wine, the main purpose of the trip was to expand El Gaucho’s Napa wine portfolio and stay current on the wines from this epic region.
“What a treat, as a buyer, to be able to appreciate the work of so many still in the pursuit of perfecting the winemaking craft,” Joseph exclaims. “So many things we read and hear about – the wine, winemakers, and terroir – cannot be conveyed the same way as actually experiencing it, like I was able to enjoy on this trip.”
“Napa Valley, in all its allure and mystique, is a Mecca of sorts for those of us in the new generation of wine professionals. Wine education is a life-long journey; and for me, as a wine buyer and sommelier, it is my job to not just merely tell you, the guest, about a product, but to help translate what the wine represents for those who create it; it’s not just learning about the history of great wineries, but understanding the heritage of great people. At the center of any great wine anywhere, is heart, and winemakers represent a community of pioneers and risk takers. I came away from this journey with a better sense of self and where I stand amongst the great palates of the northwest and beyond,” he concludes.
The itinerary was packed for three days, and included visits to the following: Miner Family, ZD Winery, Jarvis Estate, Spottswoode, Paradigm, Ehlers Estate, Paraduxx, Orin Swift, Stony Hill Vineyards, Brassfield Estate, Storybook Mountain Vineyards, and Signorello Estate.
Joseph brought back three spectacular wines to add to the El Gaucho wine list. He notes that 90 percent of the wineries they visited are family owned and operated, and he loves partnering with winemakers who have the same philosophy in business and product as El Gaucho Hospitality (which is also family-owned and operated). “It’s not the story of the wine, but the people behind it who make it compelling,” Joseph notes.
Ehlers Estate, in St. Helena, is one of the wines he brought back and added to the wine list. “I love their story,” says Joseph. “They have employed the same family for 37 years to tend to the vines. You never hear of that!” he exclaims. The vineyard site for Ehlers was established in the late 1800s and is the highest valued property in Napa at $700/acre. Their wine, “one twenty over eighty”, which numbers represent the perfect blood pressure, is now on our wine list for $105/bottle. All of the proceeds from this wine directly support international cardiovascular research, and Ehlers Estate has donated over $30 million to this cause.
Another addition to El Gaucho’s wine list is from ZD Winery. ZD stands for “zero defects” and they pride themselves on their product. Joseph notes that again, the quality and heritage of hospitality, which is represented in each ZD vintage and bottle, is the perfect marriage with El Gaucho’s philosophy. Joseph was able to procure 2 bottles of Abacus, a Cabernet Sauvignon-driven wine (there are only 9 bottles allocated for the entire state of Washington), which are on our wine list for $750. Joseph notes that even the Abacus wine bottle is special – it was created just for the wine and is patented. The magnum bottle of Abacus sells for $4,000 (sorry, it is not on our list).
2011 ZD Carneros Pinot Noir has also been added to our wine list for $115/bottle. Joseph says, “This is a great wine to pair with steak. Pinot Noir is up and coming in California,” Joseph says, “and is something to keep your eyes on.”
Enjoy these new finds or any of the many wines available on our wine list at El Gaucho. Cheers!