Wine has become a passion of mine over the years. The nuances of terroir, the hundreds of aromas and tastes that wines offer keep me coming back time after time. Have you noticed that the very same wine can taste different from time to time and from place to place? It’s that intrigue of wanting to know what characteristics the palate and nose will find this time that keeps us tasting and tasting. I have tasted hundreds, perhaps thousands, of wines and always look forward to the next one. I love to taste new wines and find the next hidden gem. From many adventures to wine country, I have found so many exquisite boutique wineries and interesting wine makers. I find that discussing the characteristics of the wine with friends and family is very rewarding. All palates are different and I never fail to be amazed by what each person can distinguish in a taste of wine.
Growing up on a farm in Western Oklahoma, I learned the values of agriculture, the meaning of a hard day’s work and what it takes to survive Mother Nature’s curve balls. It makes me appreciate learning about the soil and vines when visiting wineries. It certainly makes me appreciate sustainable and organic farming practices performed by the very wineries that we feature each month in Celebrations Wine Club.
The Wine “Bug”
The wine “bug” is very contagious. I caught the “bug” from friends early on. Once you’ve been bitten, you have the symptoms for life. It seems that just about all of my close friends and family now have the wine “bug”. Once I caught it, it wasn’t long before everyone I was associated with ended up catching it as well. When you are passionate about something, you end up talking about it a lot. That passion passes on to those that you are around the most. It’s just natural. You don’t have to do anything special or try to get them interested, it just happens when you are passionate about it. It seems that I am blamed for passing on this “bug” to people in several cities and states. I can’t say that I am sorry for being a carrier. Give your friends and family a good dose of wine passion and chances are they will catch the “bug” too, but be careful as there is no antidote.
Anna Maria Knapp
One of the most common questions that customers ask is how I choose wines to send to wine club members. The short answer is that I taste, taste, taste and then select those wines that I consider the most outstanding. Having developed Celebrations Wine Club® over 20 years ago, I’ve become acquainted with hundreds of winemakers and have learned who the leaders are in various appellations throughout California and Italy. I also attend trade tastings where winemakers present their wines, and I sometimes become aware of certain winemakers through the wine press. My objective is to make sure our wine of the month clubs are the best possible. Our wine club members agree!
Whether from California or Italy, I’m always looking for gifted winemakers from small family-owned wineries, who are hand-crafting a wide range of wines in small quantities that are world-class no matter where they originate. Wines made on an industrial scale have their place at the table because they can be inexpensive, predictably consistent, and always available. But such wines are simply beverages, not much different than Coca-Cola or 7 UP. They will never express the place where the fruit grows or the winemaker’s passion or judgment. Nor will they have layers of flavor and aroma or the balance of components that melts into a gloriously integrated whole.
Napa and Sonoma / Tuscany & Piedmont
While everyone is aware of the Napa and Sonoma wine regions in California or those of Tuscany and Piedmont in Italy, members of our wine of the month clubs enjoy the full range of wines that come from all of the important wine areas in both California and Italy. For instance, the Sierra Foothills is an older wine region than either Napa or Sonoma, and today the area is producing remarkably delicious wines. In Italy, the spotlight is now on the south, which is producing spectacular wines from the ancient grapes that the Romans prized.
I Write the Songs
Much of what I learn, I write about. In 2001, Citadel Press published The Cheapskates’ Guide to Wine, which I wrote with Vernon Jacobs. The book examines how wine shoppers can find the best values. Ask the Wine Witch appears on this site as well as in various newspapers and magazines around the country. And I write the Vino Veritas column for PRIMO Magazine and articles on wines and wineries in other venues. But my most satisfying writing is for the newsletters that accompany the wines sent out with each of our wine clubs. I do an extensive interview with each California winemaker whose wines I send to club members. These are the winemakers who make the news, so you’ll know their concerns and enthusiasms before the media does. Normally, I don’t have consistent access to the Italian winemakers, so the newsletters are simpler but nevertheless informative. Wine is much less a part of our cultural heritage here in the United States than beer, coffee, or soft drinks. So the more we know about the wines we drink, the more members of our wine clubs learn to appreciate them.