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The Really Big News - Cheers to Wine School !

A Basic of Wine - Wine School Session

I've got really big news..... and for all of us at Terry Robards Wines & Spirits..... it is very exciting! This November the Basics of Wine - Wine School, which we started in the winter of 2015, will resume once again. As we all know the pandemic changed everything, but along with those changes came an exciting new opportunity. I am pleased to announce that our wine education program will enter the virtual world.

When Covid hit and we had to cease our in-store tastings it was a huge loss for everyone who enjoyed the classes - and especially for ME! I reveled in writing and teaching the lessons, and in hosting the events. The Basics of Wine course had become an integral part of my job and identity. When tastings abruptly ceased in March 2020, I felt as if I had lost a very important part of myself. Furthermore, because of the risks involved with the pandemic, it became necessary for me to stop working at the wine store all together.

That was a huge and difficult change - and while I was delighted to be spending more time at home with Terry, I was discouraged. The Basics of Wine - Wine School was a really good program and I just couldn't accept the fact that Covid 19 had put an end to it.

Then, one day last winter when I was feeling especially down over the situation, I got a telephone call from a woman named Peggy Benton. Peggy had attended one of our tasting classes while she and her husband were vacationing in Lake Placid. I remembered her well because she was very knowledgeable about wine, and we had engaged in an enthusiastic conversation after the tasting.

During our phone call Peggy shared with me that she had once met Terry at a wine event in New York City many years ago. She was fully aware of his impressive contributions to the world of wine through his books, newspaper columns and vast experiences. Peggy also said she felt it was a shame that our knowledge and expertise was only available to participants who attended our classes in person. I clearly remember her saying, "Why limit it to just Lake Placid? These tastings should be shared with anyone who wants to learn about wine!"

What I didn't know at the time was that Peggy is the director of special programing for Watertown Public Broadcasting Station. And last winter, while meeting with the executive board, she told them about the wine tasting class she had attended in our store. She then pitched the idea of a doing a virtual WPBS wine tasting with The Robards. The board agreed that it was a good idea, so Peggy was calling to see if I would be interested in the project.

It sounded like a WONDERFUL opportunity to me, and it instantly renewed my spirits and got my creative juices flowing again. Could it really be that the lost part of my identity was being restored to me? The answer was YES! And I instantly understood that the stars had aligned in my favor - the universe was conspiring on my behalf - and the powers that be arranged this. It was FATE! 5 years of teaching wine school had prepared me for this exciting new adventure.

Terry & Julie Robards at home in their wine cellar in 2007. Julie's education in wine began when she started traveling to French wine country with Terry in 2004. Photo by Nan Amstutz.

This September our virtual Wine Tasting Class will be filmed at the Hungry Trout Restaurant in Wilmington, NY. ( Thank you Jerry Bottcher! ) The format will be similar to our in-store tastings - with the exception of a camera crew, and of course Peggy Benton. I am also very pleased that Terry, Tim and April will all be a part of the filming.

As you can imagine I've had a lot of work to do. Choosing the wines and the focus of the lesson have occupied my mind since spring. The first two months of summer were jam packed full with our families visiting from far off places - but now I have carved out August to focus on the television program. The tasting outline has been submitted to the producer, wines and supplies are on order, and now I just need to write the lesson plan - within the next two weeks! It's crunch time but I can do it - I've had lots of practice.

The virtual class will air on Watertown and Syracuse PBS stations in November, just before the start of the holiday season. The WPBS broadcast signal reaches up into Ontario and goes as far east as Saranac Lake, and the SPBS signal encompasses central NY. Unfortunately, these broadcast signals cannot reach the Champlain Valley.

Since this is a fund raiser for PBS stations, those who want to participate in the virtual tasting experience will have to purchase tickets from WPBS, and then they will receive a wine shipment that includes six bottles, a lesson plan and some other goodies from Terry Robards Wines & Spirits. Even if you don't purchase a ticket / wine package you can still watch the show on those PBS stations.

So - that's the really big news!

I'll keep you posted.



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