Getting Away and Taking Notes. Refilling the cellar, choosing quality over quantity.
Sometimes you need to get out of town and see what other people are doing, what wineries need to be discovered.
All year, I've been using wines found all along the coast of California, in the hopes of bringing something new to the table.
San Luis Obisbo, Pismo, Edna Valley, Paso Robles, and the whole area surrounding Santa Barbara has been great for small to medium size wineries to explore. A big surprise has been Temecula, who as of now still isn't taken seriously as a wine region. Well, Let me tell you that might have been true ten years ago, but things have changed, and all for the better. You can still spend the day visiting some really nice properties and taking things home.
Another trip up to the Willamette Valley and Hood River areas up in Oregon have been very fun, and the small discoveries made by just taking a drive has never failed to impress, especially if you're a Pinot fan. I don't care what anyone says, Oregonians make Pinot Noir right. I still use Old World wines from all over the world in my dinner parties though.