How to start your own wine club
“As long as you’re linking to what you’re drinking, you’re learning about wine” -- Ed Hunt, Rome, Ga., wine enthusiast.
By Michelle Picon
For Wine News Vine
Rome businessman Ed Hunt is very generous sharing his time, his knowledge and his love of wine with his many friends. Just ask a Cork Screw, a Cork Dork or an Uncorked.
With names that disguise the seriousness with which Hunt approaches his passion for wine, the three wine clubs Hunt has taught in Rome have provided a fun way for friends to socialize while learning about wine in an organized, systematic way.
Wine events in Northwest Georgia are becoming a popular social activity. Restaurants and wine stores offer wine tastings as a way to get prospective clients through their doors. Some restaurants offer special dinners with food and wine pairings. And events such as the Rome Fine Wine Festival, a benefit for the Rome Symphony Orchestra now in its sixth year, continues to grow in quality and popularity in Rome. This year's event is Nov. 14 (click here)
Not everyone is lucky enough to have Hunt as a guide when navigating the complicated world of appreciating wine. But Hunt shares some ideas about how a group of friends can get together to form their own wine club, and explains how he arrived at his teaching system.
E.J. Hunt, Hector Picon and Ray Jarvis, members of the Cork Dorks Wine Club in Rome, Ga., host a benefit wine class that was up for bid at a recent auction benefitting Saint Mary's Catholic School.
Years ago, Hunt attended a class in Kennesaw with his wife, Margaret, and his newly married son E.J. and daughter-in-law Jenny. “But when I left that class, I was more confused than when I went in. It wasn’t making sense to me,” says Hunt.
Attending the New Orleans Wine Festival later on, he enjoyed choosing “one class, one finite subject, something we would learn about for a two-hour period. So, that was not confusing,” he says.
Hunt uses that systematic approach in his classes. He admits that gathering all the information out there and presenting it in a way that makes sense is “no easy thing
“If you’re going to form a wine club, the number one thing to do is READ,” says Hunt. “There are all kinds of wine books. There’s even a book on how to start your own wine club.
“Your first class certainly has to be on the basics of wine tasting; there’s thousands of articles on that. Or an introductory course is fine,” he says.
For the next classes, “you then pick a country or a grape. One of my big deals when teaching wine is you have to know four things:
-What’s the grape?
-Who made it?
- Where was it made?
-What was the weather like when it was made?
“You’ve got to understand all four of those things. Wine is not Pepsi made from a formula,” he says. “A farmer makes it. “
There can be two approaches to a wine club: If you’re going to take it seriously and want to learn, you need to use your intelligence and you need to be patient, he says.
Hunts suggests getting six couples together and meeting every two months. Essentially, the group decides how much money it wants to spend, and how much wine members want to purchase for 12 people. Couples alternate hosting meetings. The hosts decide what grape or region they will cover, get on the Internet and do the research.
“The internet will tell you what you need to know about that wine, about the winery, about the vineyard, about the area," Hunt says.
“As long as you’re somehow, some way, linking to what you’re drinking, instead of pouring out of a jug," you will be learning about wine, he says. “It should take about a year so don’t get in any hurry. You can’t do it in a hurry. “
If the approach you prefer involves drinking the wine with friends but not doing any serious research, he suggests another alternative: go to the local wine tastings, enjoy the friends and the wine, and grab a cab home.
-More on Ed Hunt: Please see Michelle Picon's recent profile of Ed Hunt, who also owns a Rome computer company, coaches volleyball at Darlington School and performs in the band, Broad & Third. Click Hunt.
What's ahead this fall in North Georgia's wine country:
-Oct. 2: The Georgia Winery, 2010 Annual Grape Stomp, noon until 4 p.m. "Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy wine tasting, live music, hayrides, kids' activities, and more. $7 per adult." Also releasing a Tennessee Tangerine: blended muscadine and tangerine.
-Oct. 2: Tiger Mountain Vineyards / Facebook, patio party, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wine, cheese and live music on the patio. Learn about the wine making process, and see the progress of the 2010 vintages. (From WAG)
-Oct. 16: Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards Swinging in the Vines, 2-6 p.m.
-Oct. 23: Crane Creek Vineyards, Annual Harvest Festival, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. From the website: "Hayrides, grape stomping, tours of the winery, a kiddie tent." Tickets: $20 for adults; $10 for those ages 13-20; 12 and under, free. Ticket price includes wine tasting, souvenir wine glass, lunch and admission.
Nov. 14/Sipping for a cause: The Rome Fine Wine Festival is from 3 until 6 p.m. at The Forrest Building Ballrooms at 436 Broad St. This event will feature wines from around the world as well as from local restaurants and caterers. Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at Kroger, Provino’s, Riverside Gourmet, World Hi Fi and the Visitors Center.Each guest receives a complimentary Riedel glass. A patrons' party will be held from 1 until 3 p.m. at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Greg Fricks. Private sommeliers with high-end wines will serve guests at this private tasting. Individual tickets are $85 per person. All proceeds benefit the Rome Symphony Orchestra. Restaurants and caterers include Coosa Country Club, Harvest Moon Cafe, Meals on Heels, Panera Bread, Provino's Italian Restaurant, The Greener Burger, The Olive Garden, Two Can Do and WOW Cafe & Wingery. Details: 706-291-7967 or www.romesymphony.org.
Second Winter Wine Highway weekend set for Dec. 3, 4, 5
-Nine wineries participating with each offering special events during the weekend, according to the Wine Growers Association of Georgia. Additional details will be announced soon. The spring wine highway weekend usually is held in March as well. The winter tour's hours
-Friday. Dec. 3 2-5 p.m.
-Saturday, Dec. 4: Noon-5 p.m.
-Sunday, Dec. 5: 12:30-5 p.m.