From temporary tattoos to a tasting room on wheels, riesling is one of the few grapes bringing the educational tasting experience straight to people’s doorsteps. For the second year in a row, riesling enthusiast and restaurateur Paul Grieco and German wine author and expert Stuart Pigott will drive from Key West, Florida, to New York City from May 6 to 16. Wines of Germany will spread the riesling gospel on its signature wine bar on wheels, leading tastings for trade and media and hosting consumer dinners along the way.
The journey all began at a small wine bar in New York City called Terroir. Opened in 2008, the bar was 560 square feet with 24 seats. At that point, it offered only five non-rieslings by the glass. When Wines of Germany hosted Riesling Week, a 7-day festival celebrating German riesling, Grieco poured only riesling by the glass that entire summer, effectively starting the Summer of Riesling.
“I can’t say that anyone loved it, but it made a point,” says Grieco. “Afterward, people would always say, ‘you’re not going to do that again, are you?’ I took that as a challenge.”
The landscape began to change in 2010 and Grieco opened the second Terroir. And in 2011, Grieco, together with the International Riesling Foundation, launched the Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle bringing together leading experts and producers to explore the versatility of rieslings from around the world.
That year, 200 restaurants participated in Riesling Week. “We thought Riesling Week wasn’t long enough, so in 2011, German wine week turned into the 31 Days of German Riesling, ” says Grieco. “To make something a habit, you have to do it for 30 days. Our goal was to make German wines a part of the everyday occurrence.”
In 2012, Grieco and Wines of Germany were invited to participate in Outside Lands. The outdoor San Francisco music festival typically included local restaurants and vendors. But in 2012, they decided to allow non-California wineries to pour.
“They asked Summer of Riesling to be there in 2012 because they liked our zeitgeist,” says Grieco. “During a press event, I was asked how I got there. My sarcastic was response is what spurred the idea to take riesling on the road. I told them I loaded up a Winnebago, stopped across the country for two weeks and spread the gospel of German riesling.”
And that is how the Riesling & Co. Road Trip was born. In its first year, Grieco learned that “people are much more open-minded about this stuff than we give them credit for. It’s not to say that riesling is the greatest grape, it’s to say that it is just as great. In the hands of the Germans, they can do something that no one else can. They have the ability to create a wine in every style. Challenge me and I will find a wine to fit your mood.”
Take Grieco up on his offer and follow the riesling tasting room on wheels to these venues:
Wednesday, May 7th at 6:00pm
Virginia Philip Wineshop & Academy
101 North Clematis St, Suite 150
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Contact 561-721-6000 for more details
Saturday, May 10th at 12:00pm
1081 Morrison Drive
Charleston, SC 29403
Contact 843-727-1145 for more details. Tickets are $100 per person.
Tuesday, May 13th at 6:00pm
Petit Pois Restaurant
201 East Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Tickets are $52 per person. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org