With California Wine Month returning to Hong Kong for its fourth edition, we sat down with Christopher Beros, director of Greater China and Southeast Asia of California Wines, to learn more about wines from the Golden State and highlights for this year’s event.
What was your initial motivation for launching California Wine Month in Hong Kong?
California Wine Month was the original brainchild of the Wine Institute and was a campaign in California to celebrate the top wine-producing state in the U.S., some offerings include onsite tastings and demonstrations, tours, festivals, farm-to-table harvest dinners, virtual tastings, and they all take place once a year in a month in California. In 2019, the Wine Institute organised its inaugural edition in Hong Kong to join in the celebration, aiming to encourage wine lovers to discover the diversity of the Golden State and its wines.
Returning this summer for its fourth edition, what are the highlights to look out for this year?
Special highlight of this year’s California Wine Month includes a special exhibition at the Sips of Summer pop-up store, which showcases important and significant events in the history of California wines as well as pays homage to wineries and winemakers that have made meaningful contributions.
The exhibition will cover affairs from 1849 to date, from the Gold Rush era to Prohibition, then post-Prohibition to the Judgment of Paris; an event that changed the wine world and established California’s role as a world-class wine producing region.
What can our readers expect when visiting the pop-up store?
To launch our pop-up store, renowned sommelier Reeze Choi will be onsite on the opening weekend (July 2 – 3) to introduce the wines available for sampling. Food columnist Walter Kei has also specially prepared a selection of delectable Cantonese bites to pair with the California wines we have on offer. Wanting to provide a seamless shopping experience, we have also partnered up with wine app Vivino to allow customers to view the details of our wines and to enjoy special discounts for a limited time.
Guided tours are available to visitors who wish to deep dive into our exhibition, while our live music performances on the weekends are perfect for those who wish to relax and unwind while enjoying our wines. The music element is our effort to bring a slice of “Music in the Vineyards”, an iconic California summer concert, to Hong Kong; artists featured include Mansonvibes, Higgo Raj and Luna is a Bep. RSVP is required, register here to claim your spot!
In addition to the pop-up store, we will also have multiple happenings in the city throughout the summer, including retail and restaurant promotions.
Now that we know what to expect at Sips of Summer, can you tell us more about the iconic grapes of California and their characteristics?
California wine starts with the unique terroir that is California. I don’t believe that any other wine region in the world has the diversity of soils, topography, and the incredibly important influence of the cold Pacific Ocean coming up against the coast and into the wine growing regions, which generally are quite warm in the summer. California has the longest and driest growing season of any major wine growing region in the world and this allows the fruit to develop complete physiological ripeness which is expressed in the glass with complexity and structure and very high-quality.
There are over 100 varieties across California, below are some of the most iconic grapes of California
This is the state’s most widely planted grape. From unoaked and fruit-forward with hints of minerality to rich and toasty with vanilla and butter, the spectrum of flavours and aromas in California Chardonnay is as broad as the microclimates where the grape is grown.
Always crisp and refreshing, California vintners like to put their own spin on this classic varietal, with flavours that range from vibrant lemongrass and herb to tart green apple, round melon and fig.
With its firm, focused structure, lingering dark fruit (blackberry, blueberry, black currant), and hints of mocha and earth, Cabernet Sauvignon’s concentrated flavours mellow into a rich elegance as it ages. It’s easy to see why this noble varietal is the bestselling red in the United States, and number two in California acreage.
Luscious and approachable, this classic varietal is known for its fruity aromas and hints of herbs. But don’t assume it’s all soft: the right California Merlot can go glass-to-glass with the biggest, boldest Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pinot Noir’s juicy cherry flavors and floral notes complement hints of earth and leather for a wine that is at turns delicate, rich, silky, subtle – and always intriguing. A cool-climate grape, it does exceptionally well in our breezy coastal regions.
Bold and rambunctious, Zinfandel can take your palate on an odyssey of flavor, from raspberry to black pepper, cloves and licorice. One of our oldest and most revered vines, we’re proud to call Zinfandel our signature grape.
Thank you for your time Christopher, is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
You can drink California wines anytime, anywhere! It’s for both special and everyday moments. One can relax with California wines with their food or alone, the possibilities are endless!
Sips of Summer details:
Date: 1 to 16 July 2022
Opening Hours: 12 to 8pm daily
Location: The Wild Lot, Shop B, G/F 6-10 Shin Hing Street
For more information on RSVP and event happenings please visit California Wine Month website.