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Wine Trek

[whitespace] Star Trek Experience Deep space wine: The enterprising Stone Creek Wines of Kenwood and Paramount Studios have joined forces for a viticultural thrill ride at the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas. Another round of Klingon Blood Wine, anyone?

Courtesy of Paramount

Local winemaker warps into the future

By David Templeton

STARDATE: 1998.7.16. While firmly rooted in the rugged history of Northern California--and with literal roots in the region's fertile land--a small, family-owned Sonoma County winery has recently gained a thrilling glimpse into its own possible far-flung future. Stone Creek Wines of Kenwood has, one might say, boldly gone where no winery has gone before--warp speed into the 24th century.

This isn't science fiction we're talking about here.

When the creative whiz kids at Paramount Studios first conceived of a major Las Vegas attraction based on their famous Star Trek television show, their ambitious concept was to create an environment in which fans of the popular sci-fi series could make believe that they had actually entered the vivid world of Star Trek.

Visitors would be "beamed up" to the transporter room of a Federation starship, walk the deck of a life-size Enterprise, suffer an attack by Klingon birds of prey, escape aboard a bouncy shuttlecraft, and then be sucked into a whirling time warp. Guests would be able to stroll along the promenade of the vast intergalactic space station Deep Space Nine.

There they would interact with Klingons, Ferrengi, Vulcans, and Federation crew members. Visitors could even have lunch--at Quark's Bar and Restaurant, lifted whole from the Deep Space Nine TV show--and enjoy imaginative and tasty cuisine, while sipping such bizarre interplanetary libations as Romulan Ales, Cardassian Coolers, Vulcan Nerve Pinch Martinis, and, of course, Deep Space Wines.

How about a nice Klingon Blood Wine? Maybe a rich ceremonial cabernet worthy of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx? There would have to be a good aged El Aurian wine (El Aurians live a long time!) and perhaps a refreshing white zinfandel for the Trill in all of us. After all, no self-respecting Ferrengi barkeep would dream of opening his doors without a good wine cellar under the floor.

This is where Stone Creek beams into the picture. While Paramount's engineers and designers set about bringing all the rest of the concept to glorious, three-dimensional life, Simon Liu--director of food services for the recently opened Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton--searched the universe for a suitable maker of wines.

"First of all, I knew it wouldn't be easy to find any winery willing to do a special labeling, especially with a wine from Sonoma County," explains Liu. "And I was looking for a quality wine. I wasn't about to go with just anybody. Quark's Bar and Restaurant is a quality establishment," he adds. "I wanted a wine that would do us justice."

Luckily, Stone Creek general manager Barry Jacobs is a Star Trek fan himself. "I loved the idea," Jacobs laughs. "I mean, Deep Space Wine! Why not?"

Adds Stone Creek marketing director Cynthia Slayton, "At first we had no idea what the labels would look like, or what the names of the wines would be, and we were concerned about getting the labels approved by the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms], which is notoriously picky about what goes on a wine bottle."

Their concerns were valid. How do you explain a product called Klingon Blood Wine, or the Sacred Chalice of Rixx? "The government," Slayton laughs, "didn't have a clue what to make of any of this."

EVENTUALLY Paramount provided a step-by-step explanation of the labels for each of the four suggested wines--complete with a guide to various Star Trek aliens. One can only imagine the look on the faces of the board members as they examined the label for Trill.

It read: "In reference to a species of alien called Trill, a species made up of a humanoid host and a symbiont that lives inside the host: The Trill are extremely long-lived, and consequently the label makes a good play on the idea of an aged wine."

It's a good thing the BATF didn't see the classy, full-colored Quark's wine list, describing Trill wines with the words, "These grapes have been tended by the same Trill for over 350 years, through seven different hosts."

Likewise, the Klingon Blood Wine label proclaimed, "An honorable vintage to quench the thirst that burns in the heart of a true warrior."

The labels were approved.

"I always said there had to be at least one Star Trek fan on the board," quips Jacobs.

Quark produced an initial order of 2,000 bottles. "It's selling even better than we expected," says Liu, who probably could have guessed that travelers would want a drink after traveling through space and time (and yes, visitors really are "beamed up" to the Enterprise, in a satisfying blend of show-biz trickery and special effects).

So, will Stone Creek still be around in another 400 years, providing exceptional wines for all the sentient beings of the universe? Will Northern California still be growing grapes, for that matter, or will the humans have sucked the last of the minerals from the soil by then?

"My prediction," offers Slayton, "is that Napa will have sold off all its vineyards to real estate developers, and the county will become a giant picnic park with tasting rooms here and there, selling wines made from grapes grown in the Central Valley, or out in space."

"Sonoma, of course, will have managed its soil better," continues Jacobs. "We'll have cut our vineyards in half and alternated growing back and forth every seven years, so the soil stays fertile.

"We'll be right here," he adds with a confident chuckle, "in the 24th century, still making the best wines in the universe."

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From the July 16-22, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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