Q&A with local Sommelier Perrin Wolfe of Old World Wine
KICKING OFF SUMMER
To find out about what’s in store for The Aspen Times’s 2020 Summer Kickoff Virtual Culinary weekend, go to http://www.aspentimes.com/culinaryweekend to check out the schedule and register for a virtual 5k and webinars hosted by local chefs and wine experts.
With the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen placed on the back burner until 2021, The Aspen Times has created the 2020 Summer Kickoff/Virtual Culinary Weekend to help fill the void.
On Friday and Saturday, The Aspen Times is hosting a collection of virtual events to fill in just a bit, at a time when the town usually is welcoming chefs and sommeliers for Aspen’s annual rite of summer. The Times is hosting four Zoom webinars (as well as a virtual 5K), two Friday and two Saturday. All this week, we are asking some of the hosts about the industry trying to rebound from the pandemic and what this weekend of wine and food means to them.
All donations from the weekend events will be used to provide economic assistance to Roaring Fork Valley restaurant workers.
Today, we talk with local Somm Perrin Wolfe of Old World Wine. He will be hosting an “Old Wines vs. New Wines” Zoom seminar at 5:15 p.m. Friday along with Johnny Ivansco, the longtime Roaring Fork Valley wine expert with Sopris Liquor & Wine in Carbondale.
What will you miss most about the Food & Wine Weekend?
Sunday! The obvious reason is that Sunday has largely become the locals day under the tents, but more than that it’s the satisfaction and gratification of several months of leadup and hard work culminating and being accomplished and it’s time to celebrate and enjoy with friends and coworkers. The craziness of the weekend has quieted down just enough and the crowds have thinned out just enough where town feels like home again but the excitement and fervor of Food & Wine is still very much alive for that last day. Very close second is Jason Sterner’s (owner of Grape and Grain) birthday party, which usually goes down every Food & Wine on Saturday afternoon.
We all have specific or special memories of Classics past. What are two or three of those for you?
A few special memories. As one of the sommeliers at Jimmy’s I have been privileged and privy to some very cool events and people at both Jimmy’s and Jimmy’s Bodega. One in particular is breakfast. On some years Jimmy Yeager will sometimes serve a late night industry breakfast where he will actually get in the kitchen to prepare the food himself! This particular year he “employed” the help of my good friend Carlton McCoy of the Little Nell to cook and serve the eggs. Once the food is served Jimmy, the great Ron Cooper and Steve Olson of Del Maguey Mezcal regaled the crowd as to the beginning of their relationship some 20 years earlier at Aspen Food & Wine.
Another great memory of mine, and I can’t quite remember the year, maybe 2013 or so, I received an invite to an after-hours party being hosted by Paul Grieco of Terroir Bistro in Manhattan. I got out of my somm shift at Jimmy’s at around midnight and without even changing out of my suit hightailed it over to a great old house across from Wagner Park. Of course there was a line at the door but I was on the list so I went right in. Grieco himself was pouring Mags of Grand Cru Riesling from the ’50s and ’60s and while I was there I got to meet Raj Parr and Aldo Sohm and talk wine which was a pretty big deal for me at the time.
What has changed in your business since we have started to reopen?
Expectations and frequency. For a long time we have been able to count on certain things (such as Food & Wine) driving business for F&B and wine sales in particular. Now of course everything is a big question mark. We don’t know what the future holds for tourism in Aspen, therefore our revenue stream is also in question. More specifically from a wine wholesale perspective, the majority and focus of sales has shifted to retail customers over restaurant.
How can the food and wine worlds emerge stronger from this period of time?
Eliminate tariffs. They’re harmful and unjust to all of the small grape growers, wine makers, importers, retailers, restaurants and consumers.
I’d also love to see the movement toward small independent and naturally produced wines that purveyors like Wendy Mitchell and Johnny Ivansco have been pushing on the consumer gain even more steam and become the more logical and easy choice as opposed to the big mass produced and marketed products that are so commonplace.
What has been the biggest thing the community has done to support you since all this began?
Just keeping level heads and being themselves! I know that sounds like a bit of a cliche but it’s the truth. Jimmy and Jessica Lischka and Wendy worked super hard and found very creative ways to keep us (their employees) working and paid. My customer base on the wholesale side took a step back, evaluated their position, adjusted accordingly and kept buying wine. I was at first a little surprised. It’s not unusual for people to drink during a crisis and apparently even under quarantine! I just figured handles of whiskey and vodka and cheap wine would prevail but again thanks to our retail partners they pushed our boutique wines.
Additionally, there was a serious “wow factor” in the way that a lot of local competitors came together to form to support each other.
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