- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- THE WILDEST PARTY : Red Zeppelin winemaker Stillman Brown is bringing this year’s unusual Wet Zeppelin party to Cayucos on Sept. 25.
Dubbed Wet Zeppelin, this live concert offers a night of mayhem that’s as close as it gets to a backstage pass for Metallica’s post-concert party. But here you’ll rub shoulders with rock stars and winemakers. Now Stillman has taken his annual bash up several notches; it’s a fundraiser for a nationally ranked, comprehensive college university. Somehow that seems appropriate, doesn’t it? This year the proceeds will provide scholarships for Cal Poly’s enology and viticulture program for students who are deemed potential assets to the local wine and vineyard community in the future.
The concert takes place on Friday, Sept. 25, beginning at 2 p.m. and ending at 2 a.m. Get there before 5 p.m. and you can help set up the pierside social hall. It is, undeniably, a dress-up party, but whatever you do, forget about the little pointy birthday hats or your black-tie finery. At Wet Zeppelin they’ll expect your best Elvis, Elvira, ACDC, or Metallica gear. This is one dressy party where only the dweebs come in tuxedos. “If there’s only one sentence you quote me on,” Brown insisted during the interview, “make it this: Wet Zeppelin is the wildest wine party you’ll ever experience!”
The bands include notables like: Dread Zeppelin, Dario Rosa, Meth Leppard, Maxx Idle, Sexy Time Explosion, Elvis Kokopelli, Donald Elvis Prieto, Butt Flutes, Stimulus Package, and Architecture of Destruction. The infamous dancing cage will be there, too. The wines, mostly Stillman’s excellent Red Zeppelin line-up, will be filled out with wines by his many winemaker friends in attendance. In addition Stillman created a special barrel of Red Zeppelin in collaboration with Robert Hall winemaker Don Brady.
With the open bar serving wine throughout the evening, Stillman ensured good food was available. He invited chef Adam Pollard of Taco Temple to provide dishes from his outstanding menu during Wet Zeppelin. Pollard will offer five dishes, each priced at $8, and they’ll serve until they run out of food. Knowing Taco Temple’s popularity, they’ll run out long before this show is over. “We’re making dishes that are wine-oriented since this event will have all kinds of good wines to taste,” Pollard explained. “We’ll be serving potato, chile, and chorizo sausage taquitos, salmon tacos, barbecued tri-tip tacos, ceviche, and Temple nachos.”
Considering all that’s included, the entry fee requires only a donation for Cal Poly, credit cards accepted. There is a certain amount expected, say the price you’d pay for two glasses of wine in a restaurant or a wine bar, $20. The price for a bottle of two-buck Chuck, however, won’t do. Of course, those who are most generous will certainly get the V.I.P. treatment for their large donation.
According to Keith Patterson, Ph.D. in the crop science department at Cal Poly, many students struggle to find ways to pay their tuition. These donations can make all the difference for them. “We have several wine events that provide scholarships. It’s amazing how generous people are to our kids, and our kids work very hard at what they do. The benefactors look at many criteria in giving awards: some choose students with good grades, some prefer students who are passionate. We love people like Stillman who just want to help.”
Stillman said he wanted to support Cal Poly because, unlike Davis and Fresno, its enology and viticulture program puts students in the heart of wine country: “U.C. Davis enology students are taught how yeast converts grapes into wine; Fresno State viticulture students are taught how to make grapevines grow; but Cal Poly students are taught how to grow, make, and sell great wine, plus we have a better climate,” he quipped.
From recommendations provided by Cal Poly faculty, Stillman described the type of students who will earn a scholarship: “I’m looking for people who have their eye on the horizon. The Central Coast has the potential to be the greatest and most versatile winegrowing region in the world. Passion, creativity, intelligence, and a palate are on the list. Plus cage-dancing skills … the Cal Poly faculty can’t do all the work!”
You can reach New Times’ Cuisine columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.