Perry Creek Winery is in the California viticultural region of El Dorado County. One of Perry Creek’s most unusual events is the Hunt for the Zinman when the moon is full. The party begins with wine pairings and appetizers in the tasting room, followed by dinner on the veranda. As the sun begins to set and the full moon rises, Dieter Jurgens and winemaker Scott Johnson lead guests on a tour through the vineyards. They enjoy a glass of wine while they learn the art of grape-growing in the vineyards and soak up the scenery. They are able to taste the actual grapes, from which their favorite wines are made. As the sun begins its descent and the moon rises, guests are encouraged to imagine Zinman, dancing amongst the vines. While experiences like these can be memorable fun, they are also highly informative. The more consumers know about wine, the more they can appreciate both the wine and the effort that winemakers employ to make it.
Winemakers often spend weekends in the tasting room and maybe a day in the middle of the week and have some unique challenges. Like everyone else, they say that they can appreciate beautiful young women. But when they arrive in a limo, they can be less appreciative. “They come only to drink, not for the education or to enjoy the wines. They become loud and rowdy and are constantly taking pictures of one another with their cell phones. It’s a big circus,” some say. And they don’t buy wine, which is the only way that free tasting can be cost-effective. Neither are they likely to join the wine clubs.
Dieter Jurgens of Perry Creek has had other issues with tasting room visitors. A native of Berlin, he erected a series of flagpoles in front of the winery and hung flags from all of the wine producing countries in the world. A wonderful display, he thought, until an elderly man entered the tasting room and complained. “He made a big fuss,” Dieter recalls. Military protocol requires that the American flag be flown higher than the others, the visitor insisted. “So we took all the others down and left just the American flag.”
Some people who visit tasting rooms have little experience with wine and gravitate toward sweeter styles. Dieter says that his is not a “market-driven” winery with wines that are going to appeal to everybody. “We want wines with nice complexity and a certain weight but not such high alcohol that they have to be watered down like many wineries do. I want a wine that can be paired well with food,” he emphasizes. Dieter makes two dessert wines that appeal to inexperienced wine drinkers, a Muscat Canelli and a Moscato. “But some people get carried away with them. We had an event at the winery, and they drank the Muscat Canelli as if it were a regular wine. They didn’t last the night.”
In addition to hosting people in the tasting room, Perry Creek offers a series of events throughout the year. “Our Mother’s Day event is one of our biggest. This year, we had food and a German band playing music.” The winery also has a Fourth of July barbecue celebration and a Futures Release Party.