Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Laithwaite's Wine in the Big Apple

80, Fifth Avenue, Penthouse: the setting for our first 'Spring Festival'; three Customer Tastings in New York. 600 turned up. Enthusiastic? The word doesn't do justice to the atmosphere in that great room. 40 of our US office slaved to make the whole thing run like clockwork. Libby and Thomas very much in charge.  Good start; will certainly grow. We can now do 6000 a go in London (in a couple of weeks; Old Billingsgate – grab the few remaining tickets). 

Took a crowd of great winemakers from around Europe to present and pour alongside their US colleagues from the West Coast and Long Island. It all got very animated. As it always does. I think some particularly liked having their glasses filled by our smiling Principessa Natalia Strozzi. They work very hard these days, do Princesses. As do her neighbours Paolo and Anna Rita Masi. 

Wines of the Show winners

 There were also Diane and Hervé from Argentina, Laura from Puglia, Jean-Marc Pardon from Beaujolais (his first trip to the Big Apple), Javier, Paloma and Ruth from Rioja, Marianna from Portugal, Laurent and Hervé from the Midi plus others.  
Fifth Avenue by night
 The sun shone all afternoon on that stunning skyline then the city lit up for the evening. Quite distracting for some of us.  My three boys came and poured too… Is this what it’s like having a backing group? I shall enjoy more of this till the boys give me the elbow.  

The backing group
Did the tourist bit at w/e. It was certainly the best time to enjoy Central Park and most of New York was doing just that. The new leaves, the blossoms and that brilliant sky. 

Boy Band (minus Henry)
Brooklyn Winery was the best evening in town; all reclaimed wood, adapted junk, big tables and such; even an Oompah Band for the wedding going on in the tank room.

Brooklyn Winery

 Reminiscent of those Heurege grower's cellar/wine bars that encircle Vienna. The Winery ships in juice from the top end of Long Island (a hundred wineries up there) and the West Coast. Makes, matures and bottles – or pours straight from the tank. Jean-Marc S very jealous; he's been wanting to do this in London for years. 

Brooklyn is lovely; still affordable for inventive start-ups like this and their young customers. Cool! So cool. Parties all night. I particularly like the old tin garage with its nightly BBQ.  Huge portions, of course. Always huge here. Night ended up at a brewery. I think. 

Our US office is one hour north in South Norwalk (SoNo) Connecticut. Little town that seems built mostly of converted warehouses. And Laithwaite's Wine USA is in one – an old Lock factory. All rough brick and exposed pipes; everyone loves it. We Brits are quite jealous. Hear all about their latest ideas. Fantastic team there. Presided over by our Ade who started out with us under the old Railway Arch long, long ago. And I still call him Young Ade. 

Try their latest wines. Henry, Jean-Marc and I do our wine tasting Act. Then back home. It was lovely, USA, we will be back! 

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