Napa Valley

DOORS OPEN WIDE: Meet Melody Fuller and The Oakland Wine Festival

“There is a little known fact that if you do what you love, the universe will conspire to support you. Ideas will flow. Opportunities will be presented. Doors will be opened and the path will be navigable. I’m not saying it will be easy or fast, but the challenges will be immensely rewarding. The journey will be worth it.“ — me

When I say things like this out loud to other people, the response is often inspiration mixed with a lot of doubt. It’s understandable, considering the world we live in. That’s why I love nothing more than crossing paths with real people that can’t help but do what they love…and it works. Melody Fuller is one of those people.

Melody is the founder of the Oakland Wine Festival and I had the pleasure of meeting her recently at its Kick-Off party one Saturday afternoon in downtown Oakland. Now in its second year, the Oakland Wine Festival is slated to be a history-making event this year, thanks to Melody’s dedication and passion for food, wine and most of all - community. She might be a one-person show, were it not for the large showing of equally passionate and enthusiastic volunteers backing her up.

Get  Truly Napa Valley,    and discover the heart and soul of this famous wine region.

Get Truly Napa Valley, and discover the heart and soul of this famous wine region.

Melody isn’t pulling any punches and this will be no ordinary wine festival. Hustling and directing every detail at the Kick-Off Party, Melody is a class act. No detail is overlooked or too small. Her passion is electric. Her attention is sharp. This wine fest is going to be Oakland’s top-shelf event. In between the hustle and bustle of preparing the three seated tasting rooms, I stole moments to find out what drives her and why this event is personally meaningful to her.

Having been a solo traveler herself for many years, Melody found opportunities to travel around the world. At first she was a wine-curious traveler, but her interests in food and wine quickly escalated into the professional realm, meeting winemakers and chefs. When I inquire about the motivation behind the Oakland Wine Fest, she answers, “I wanted people to experience what I experienced.” And as soon as she said that I knew I had come to the right place, for that is the very reason I wrote Truly Napa Valley and why I started Joyrides of America.

Melody’s face brightens when I ask if her early family life had any influence on her direction. Oh yes, her mom taught her about champagne. Her grandfather was a fisherman and farmer, teaching farm-to-table long before it was fashionable. Most of all, her parents taught her about building relationships through food, wine and champagne.

“Relationships are built one sip at a time.” That’s Melody’s mantra and the driving force behind the Oakland Wine Fest, and also the Oakland Wine and Food Society (Melody is the president) which holds regular events and gatherings in the area. She’s not about rushing through anything. In fact, she demands that people sit and enjoy a wine tasting properly. Relax, talk, discuss, get to know each other and the wine. Enjoy and learn about this shareable joy that wine is.

Drawing wineries and winemakers from all over the world, The Oakland Wine Festival is especially significant this year as it celebrates and pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris, the legendary wine event that thrust Napa Valley back into the world spotlight.  Dubbed The Judgment of Oakland (TM), this year’s double blind wine tasting will feature over 100 wines for the expert and novice to taste and rate side by side. Featuring premium, reserve, library, high-end, hard-to-get and newly released wines, it’s an event I’m especially looking forward to.

Will you be in the area?
IT'D be great to see you at the Oakland Wine Festival!

As a special gift to readers of Joyrides of America, Melody is offering a Full Day Package for $100. That’s a pretty great deal. Make a $100 donation directly at the Oakland Wine and Food Society (click on the green MEMBERSHIP button at the bottom) for your Full Day Pass. Email Melody with any questions.

And, I’ll be doing a reading and presentation from my new book, Truly Napa Valley.  I’ll be on hand to sign books and share inside knowledge picked up from my travels through this famous wine region. 

I’m prone to philosophical meanderings, and what’s on my mind beyond the taste extravaganza and fun that will be had at the Oakland Wine Fest is this: something very interesting happens when people who are doing and enjoying what they love come together. Doors open for everybody. 


The Oakland Wine Festival happens on July 16, 2016 at the Sequoya Country Club in Oakland, California.
100% of net proceeds go to local charities