Having arrived in KC early enough to get the place set, I was able to get my bike together and ride down to a late lunch at the Classic Cup, with Stephen Malloy, JP Gilmore, Brian Lynch, and protégé Ryan. Classic Cup on the plaza is home-away-from-home 1 in KC. (More # 2 later) The Cup is run by Malloy, a long time friend of mine and the winery’s, and he sets the kind of afternoon table that I would feel envious of if I wasn’t one of the invited ones. Familiar people raucously telling familiar jokes, over appetizers and delectable wines from Stephen’s cellar. Thanks to Malloy, the Cup is comfortable to regulars and strangers alike . And because it looks out onto the KC plaza, full of pedestrians and tourists in no particular hurry, there is nothing rushed about the atmosphere. A table full of regulars in such a place is a beautiful thing, and I was lucky to be welcomed into it. Told them about life on the bus, the tour so far, and then watched Malloy and Lynch rip each other apart while doing a world class array of impersonations. JP Gilmore, a great guy who runs our distributor in the city, foretold of the crowd he expected, and all was good.
Kansas City has an incredibly tight wine community, and Gundlach Bundschu has been part of it since my dad started going there in the 80’s. Though I have been going to KC regularly over the years, I wasn’t prepared for the crowd that turned up Wednesday night. Thanks to JP, Ryan and their colleague Bernie, word of the play got around and the crowd that showed was stellar. Not just in size, which was capacity, but also depth. Most any that I could have wanted to be there from the KC wine world was there. It was an incredible compliment to our family and wines that they all came. The theater was our most formal space yet, large and echo-y. Unlike the Austin crowd, which was vocal in it’s engagement, the KC group sat in rapt silence during the performance. A totally different animal for Mark. The silence though, wasn’t a sign of boredom, though. Afterwards, I got the most direct feedback yet as to how touching and meaningful the play was. Person after person showed genuine appreciation for the story and the performance.
We ended up over at home-away-from-home #2, JJ’s, for dinner after the show. Most of the play crowd was in the bar, as happens after any wine event in KC. JJ’s is famous far beyond KC for its food, hospitality, and mind-boggling wine list. Wine is everything in the place, yet it is as informal, fun and accessible as your own neighborhood bistro. Except that this one happens to have 2000 wines on the list ranging in prices from $30-$15,000 per bottle. The meal was suberb, and may end up being the best of the trip, thanks in large part to the hospitality ofJimmy the proprietor, a long time friend of the winery and KC wine pioneer, and Peter Maxwell, the GM of the restaurant and our host for the night. I rode bikes with Peter last year in Sonoma, and we immediately hit it off. Last time I had seen him, it was over a beer in the back of our local bike shop in Sonoma that had set his group up with bikes. At that point he was single and staying put in KC. This night he had his beautiful bride Molly with him, and they are running off to Crested Butte to open a restaurant in the fall. He spoiled us with vintage Bordeauxfor the table, which was mind bogglingly good and a wonderful treat. It was a wonderful way to end the KC tour stop. What a place, what a community.