Ranchero Cellars is a small winery, based in Paso Robles. When visiting for Hospice du Rhone this year, I made it a point to visit with Amy Butler, owner and winemaker for Ranchero on the recommendation of some local friends.
I can’t believe it! It’s here! Tomorrow afternoon, I kick off my 2012 Hospiece du Rhône experience with my good friends Amy & Joe Power of Another Wine Blog.
This year is a particularly special occassion, in that it is the 20th Anniversary of HdR, and Amy’s bday. I won’t tell you which one, since I want to live through the weekend but it will be big.
This year, Hospice du Rhône, the world’s largest gathering of Rhône variety wines and producers, will celebrate 20 years of all things Rhône. The events are sold out, which is hardly surprising given the amazing agenda we have lined up, and I’m so excited to be headed down to Paso Robles tomorrow to participate.
Fortunately for you latecomers, if you are in Paso Robles on Saturday, there will be 100 Golden Tickets sold at the door to the Grand Tasting. It is a bit like Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, as yo8u enter the gates to the fairgrounds, and see the throngs of people lined up.
For our experience, we are starting with dinner at Artisan, a local restaurant known for it’s wine & food pairings with local ingredients. Amy, Joe, myself, and our friends from Pithy LIttle Wine Co. will kick off the weekend wiht a dinner fit for Rhône-heads everywhere.
Thursday, I will be wandering around Paso with stops at Ranchero Cellars and whereever else the wind blows up. Thursday evening, a special welcome reception to jump start the event. A lucky few will be participating in a Châteauneuf du Pape seminar and pairing dinner, who will have the privilege to taste Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines dating as far back as 1954. Author of The Châteauneuf-du-Pape Book, Harry Karis along with Vigneron Philippe Cambie will lead the audience through an in-depth look at this historic region of France before delighting in dinner at Paso Robles’ premier French restaurant, Bistro Laurent. Chef Laurent Grangien has carefully prepared a five-course meal for this enchanting evening.
Friday will begin with wines from four rock star winemakers hailing from the Priorat region of Spain. Eric Solomon of Eric Solomon Selections will bring to the stage Jose Maria Vicente of Casa Castillo, Daniel Jimenez-Landi of Jimenez-Landi, Bixente Ocafrain of Bodegas Mas Alta and Daphne Glorian-Solomon of Clos I Terrasses. Next, attendees will dive into the stones Walla Walla, Washington with a focused seminar by the ever spirited and knowledgeable Christophe Baron of Cayuse. Having just hopped a plane home from Barcelona last month, I am especially looking forward to the Priorat seminar.
After we are full of Priorat, we head over to the Rosé Lunch, celebrating pink wine. There will be a huge variety of pinks to choose from, and with the delicious nibbles from the girl & the fig, I might need a nap after! I seem to recall the Great Pot du Creme caper of a couple of years ago when attendees could not eat enough of the three selections and may or may not have accidentally taken a pot back to their hotel room.
After lunch, and said nap, the Rhône Rendezvous has gone BIG! This walk-around tasting for will feature 100 producers who will share their Rhône wines from large-format bottles. Wowza! Friday night I have a feeling we might be seen at Villa Creek or the brewery for dinner, if we can roll out of the parking lot.
After a good night’s sleep (or lackthere of knowing how things roll at the Black Oak) day two of the 2012 Seminar Series will begin with a look at the historic Northern Rhône with the wines of Les Vins de Vienne. These wines are crafted by three long-time friends of Hospice du Rhône, Francois Villard, Yves Cullieron and Pierre Gaillard. Closing out day two of the Seminar Series will be Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg, South Australia who will guide the audience through 13 wines showcasing the terroir of multiple vineyard sites and plots.
Lunch on Saturday is always a raucous and good time. The Lunch and Live Auction gives us a glimpse in to the world of the Rhône Collector, as those with deeper pockets vie for the best lots as we eat the delicious food from Far Western Tavern. Proceeds from this auction
As we roll out of lunch, the Rhône quest continues at the Saturday Grand Tasting with over 135 winemakers pouring tastes from around the globe for over 1000 Rhône freaks. It has been said that to duplicate this tasting, one would need a passport, many weeks off work and thousands of airline miles to taste the variety of wines showcased at the Grand Tasting. While strolling the Tasting Pavilion guests will savor bites from specialty food purveyors who will be stationed throughout the hall.
Finally, on Saturday evening, we bid a bittersweet farewell to HdR with casino themed Farewell BBQ. The beer will flow, the bottles will be emptied, and weekend is topped off by some pretty serious silliness.
To follow all of the phone, the Third Edition of the app was launched. This app is available for your iPhone & iPad, as well as Android. Forget the paper! Go iRhône! This all inclusive app allows you to find, track, tweet and takes notes on your favorite wines from the event. Those with the app will never be at a loss for Rhône wine information when at the annual event or at home. This is the digital guide to all things Rhône.
A special thanks to HdR for this unique opportunity to participate again this year. I can’t wait! Stay tuned to @luscious_lushes for all event updates!