Class in a Glass: Elevated Wines
At the start of February this year, before the word “Pandemic” was in our lexicon, Highlands Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kaye McHan and Davis Picklesimer, co-owner of the Highlands Wine Shoppe visited California’s Napa Valley to meet with members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, wine makers and owners.
According to Picklesimer, their goal was, “to make Highlands and Cashiers to the wine industry what Sundance is to the film industry – to become the right of passage for new and upcoming winemakers and small production wineries.”
Their trip revealed that the towns of Napa, Highlands, and Cashiers have much in common – a sense of community and a commitment to helping their neighbors.
What was borne out of that trip was a pilot program and a promise by the association to endorse Highlands and Cashiers as the first destination, outside of Napa, the organization has ever sanctioned.
Then, in a space of a few calamitous weeks, times changed, and by March Covid-19 infections began surging. Small winemakers began going through upheavals that have since shaken the very core of their businesses.
Wine and Food Festivals, which are crucial launching pads for most boutique wineries, have been cancelled, not only because they involve large numbers of people gathering, but because many of the attendees must travel to attend them.
And without the marketing and distribution support available to larger wineries, these “Mom and Pop” vintners have been suffering.
By August, the Highlands Food and Wine Festival* announced that out of concern for the well being of their constituency, the Fall 2020 Festival would be cancelled. McHan and Picklesimer determined to do something – as McHan said, “to keep people interested in food and wine in Highlands;” to assist the wineries in need while at the same time providing stimulus to the local restaurant community that as of this writing is still operating at 50 percent capacity.
And so Elevated Wine Experiences, Small Towns Supporting Small Wineries was born, scheduled for Thursday, November 12, through Saturday, November 14.
To date, 18 wineries (see listing of participating wineries below) have committed to join in and send representatives and emissaries.
On Thursday and Friday, the focus will be on American Wineries, and tastings will be hosted at five venues, safely distanced for Covid protection, along Main Street. They are Highlands Wine Shoppe, Park on Main, New Highlander Mountain House, Tug’s Proper, and Midpoint Restaurant.
Saturday will feature International Wineries and local breweries at the same locations. Each spot will provide small plates and entertainment by local musicians who, in the absence of weddings and social events, have suffered equally and as dramatically since the onset of the pandemic.
The weekend also offers the perfect occasion to embark on a culinary exploration of our amazing area restaurants that continue to struggle with the fall-out of this great calamity that continues to rage on.
More details and events will be revealed as the event nears, and can be found by visiting elevatedwines.com.
Tate Cellars | tatewine.com
Barnett Vineyards | barnettvineyards.com
Royal Prince | royalprincewines.com
Lapelle Wines | lapellewines.com
Vine Cliff Winery | vinecliff.com
August Briggs Winery | augustbriggswinery.com
Kate Arnold Wines | katewines.com
Andis Wines | andiswines.com
Italics | italicswinegrowers.com
Vina Robles Vineyard | vinarobles.com
Coquerel Wines | coquerelwines.com
Trentadue Winery | trentadue.com
Elizabeth Spencer Winery | elizabethspencerwinery.com
Textbook Vineyards | textbookvineyards.com
Pine Ridge Vineyards | pineridgevineyards.com
Ancient Peaks | .ancientpeaks.com
Reynolds Family Winery | reynoldsfamilywinery.com
Turley Wine Cellars | turleywinecellars.com
Chappellet Wines | chappellet.com
*Read about Bear Shadow, Highlands Food and Wine’s Spring Music Festival on page 28.