Yesterday I had a chance to check out Family Winemakers tasting at Ft. Mason in San Francisco. It's one of those events where hundreds of wineries pour thousands of wines, except the key thing about this is that most are small, family-owned operations.
In the past I've attempted to take tasting notes, but I've found that it's too difficult, especially when you go from table to table quickly sipping and spitting dozens of wines across a variety of varietals. Some people I ran into tasted whites first, then circled back around to the same tables to taste reds, but I mainly stuck to reds and tasted the occasional odd white when it was an intriguing bottling.
I mostly enjoyed the wines I tried, with standouts being a Syrah from Quivira (biodynamic), a trio from Red Car Wine, including a Pinot Noir that just received a high 90s score from Wine Spectator, a Bosche from Freemark Abbey and a Howell Mountain grenache from Outpost .
The quality this year seemed better than last, and better than other events I've attended at this building. One thing that stood out to me at a variety of tables - I was getting a lot of earthy and dirt notes across the board. Not sure if it's just something I happened to notice this year and not last year, but I found myself making the same remark to several people pouring wines. It's a scent I like in wines, and to me, seems to indicate a closer connection to the place where the wines were made. It seemed like the bottles overall were in better balance on the aggregate and I'm excited to see if we're going to be drinking more restrained, complex wines from California in the future that don't all taste like juice made from raisins.