Using home tastings, winemaker dinners, and regional tours to introduce small, diverse wineries is what Southern California’s Zuri Wine Tasting is all about. Making wine fun – that’s Zuri’s message.
With a motto of “wine is complicated, we make tasting simple,” the Zuri wine ambassadors conduct classes and offer tastings in customer’s homes and area restaurants. They also plan wine tours that take participants somewhat off the beaten path, choosing to offer tours and tastes at family-owned, female-owned, and minority-owned wineries. The company also participates in wine festivals.
Begun in 2010 by owner Tuanni Price, Zuri Wine Tasting’s positive online reviews and active social media presence has resulted in a solid following by oenophiles and wine neophytes alike. Renowned for her intimate and relaxed wine tasting experiences, Price notes “When people drink at home, they’re more relaxed and willing to ask questions, such as ‘what makes a wine good.’” To Price, what makes wine good is a varietal that “brings a smile and starts a conversation.” Her in-home wine tasting and parties point out the nuances in the different wine flights presented, but do so in a fun way with games and prizes, and includes snacks paired with each wine. Price goes out of her way to make tasters feel welcome and included, whether they’re informed enough to know the right region to grow grapes for Pinot Noir, or have drunk no other wine than packaged wine coolers.
Along with in-home tastings, Zuri also hosts a dinner with wine pairings held at a West Hollywood restaurant that includes the winemakers behind the wine courses. Winemakers include California-based Flo Wines and Paul Charles Wines.
The tours the company offers take place via the company’s small bus. From large group tours up to fifty participants to intimate, private tours for up to twelve, Zuri leads wine lovers to Napa/Sonoma, Temecula, Solvang, and Los Olivos among other California locations.
One popular Zuri-tours tasting spot is Rideau Vineyards in Santa Ynez. Rideau offers unique Rhone varietals. Owner Iris Rideau provides tastes in the historic El Alamo Pintado Adobe, a bucolic setting for enjoying wines such as Syrah, Viognier, Mourvedre, Roussanne and Grenache, among others. Especially notable: the 2012 Dessert Fleur Blanche, a sweet Riesling with a slight tropical, citrus-edge due to its mix with Viognier.
Zuri also offers an “urban wine trail,” taking tasters to the historic San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles, as well as to Moreno Sparkling Wine workshop in Beverly Hills. Moreno, owned by Luins and Maureen Williams of the Premier Label Water Co., moved from innovative waters to equally innovative wines – wines that sparkle. Both their Brut and Rose Prive come in bottles that are decorated with hand-applied Swarovski Crystals, adding bling to their premium wines and the kind of lighthearted touch that Zuri embraces.
Zuri also sells some of Moreno’s wines, along with several other off-the-beaten-path choices.
The 2014 Theopolis Vineyards Rosé of Petite Sirah is one of the wines hand-crafted in a small lot in California’s Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. Redolent of fruits and florals, including green apples and rose petals, this is one interesting Zuri selling choice.
Overall, what Zuri offers is wine education, but couched inside the kind of fun experience that makes learning a pleasure.