Conversations on The Peninsula

8.20pm, Tuesday March 2nd, Pleasanton, CA, USA
Just got back to the hotel, heated up chilli for dinner, put the washing on and will now plough through the emails and get set up for tomorrow’s day down in Monterey and Carmel.


Today was spent on what’s referred to as The Peninsula – that strip of towns that run south of the San Francisco airport, roughly San Mateo down to Mountain View, which is north of Santa Clara and San Jose. It’s the area that is home to the Stanford University, as well as being the hotspot of the dot com world – with Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard and Oracle all in the neighbourhood.

My babysitter today was HWG rep Ken Knox, ex-sommelier in the city and current movie and history buff. With my travels in the US and the Oscars coming up – no shortage of interesting conversation in the car between calls. This is always a bonus, as you never know what sort of person you’ll be working with. What if their interests were rock collecting and tennis? I’d honestly have nothing to contribute!

So our first stop was local landmark power lunch restaurant John Bentley’s. In our tasting bag today was the Y Riesling, Wild Ferment Chardonnay, Y Shiraz Viognier, Bush Vine Grenache, Wrattonbully Cabernet, 2004 Signature and the Antique Tawny. So lots of good flavours on board that go well with food, and good food places are where we went.

Starting with John Bentley’s, who know our wines well thanks to Zu and the young apprentice Brian, on to the always-busy Cafe Borrone where Geoffrey – who also knows our wines well – tasted with us as I kept staring with great desire at the Eggplant & Zuchini Melt. Watching the meals go out whilst we were there, plus checking out the contents of the cake trays – it’s not hard to see why the lines for brunch on the weekend go out to the road!

And then into the heart of Stanford to the exotic Tamarine. I had a deja vu moment here, and realised that we’d been here about 6 years ago with my colleague and man mountain Darren Cosgrove to do a business lunch. It had just opened with a flourish and some extremely good Vietnamese fusion food – spot on for showing the food-friendly flavours and textures of our wines to the local trade.

Then I want to tell you about our only retail store call for the day. It was further south in Cupertino, at Coach House Wine & Spirits, owned by Paul and Upi Rekhi – a couple of lovely Indian boys who were just itching to talk the game of cricket to someone who understood. Sorry guys – I’m the only Australian who doesn’t like the game at all! But I did tell them my Dennis Lillee story, and about my travels in India – turns out I went to their hometown – and it was like old home week as we tasted through the wines. The Coach House is unique. It’s a circular building that used to be a bar, where the cowboys would tie their horses up to the verandah posts, and now Paul and Upi have the wine store plus a gourmet deli and sandwich bar. They’ve had many of our wines on for a long while, and it was nice to come by today from the winery to say thanks.

And thanks is a nice way to finish.

We’ve got a lot of friends down on The Peninsula with our wines in nice slots – plus we’ve got a couple of things lined up for ‘down the track’. Thanks folks, and to Kenny – the conversationalist – Knox, I’ll see you down the track.

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