The annual International Alsace Varietals Festival in Anderson Valley draws an international crowd of wine lovers. This year, an especially enticing educational seminars start with a feature tasting of the sparkling wines of the region, Cremant d’Alsace. Master Sommelier, Catherine Fallis will lead a panel of my wine friends, Fred Swan (who has a fancy new WSET Diploma!), Deborah Parker Wong, also a DipWSET, and Master of Wine Dr. Liz Thach in a deep dive breakfast session on this delightful fizz. Immediately following the tour of Cremants, David Strada, representing the Wines of New Zealand, will walk us though some beautiful food pairings with Alsatian varietals from the Kiwis. Finally, before the Grand Tasting in the afternoon, a unique look at Michigan’s Dry Rieslings will explore this up and coming wine region. I have only tasted a few wines from Michigan, and admittedly I am somewhat dubious, but this will be a great opportunity to learn more and step out of my comfort zone. Seminar tickets sell out fast! Get yours today for $60 After a break to hydrate, the Grand Tasting begins at 1pm. This extravaganza features wines from around the world, including California, France, and more! Some of my favorite wineries that wll be pouring are Cartograph, Greenwood Ridge, Navarro, Toulouse, and of course, the Wines of Alsace and New Zealand Winegrowers. Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry – pairing tastes include seven unique tasting stations featuring pork belly B-B-BACON, duck, handmade pizzas, assorted artisanal cheeses, and so much more. Grand Tasting tickets are $90, and can be combined with the educational seminars for $135, which is a great deal! Designated drivers can eat all the food at the tasting stations for $60. If you aren’t too full, I highly reccomend one of the very small Winemaker Dinners, at the Apple Farm, featuring Long Meadow Ranch and Balo Cellars, or the Scharffenberger Cellars Dinner, featuring six wineries including Scharffenberger, Navarro, and more. Participating wineries include Scharffenberger Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Winegrowers of New Zealand, Lichen Estate, and Husch Vineyards. These very intimate dinners sell out early so be sure to book on ASAP! Dinners are $150 and area almost sold out so hurry! If you are planning a full weekend, be sure to book a room in nearby Cloverdale or Ukiah and enjoy the Open Houses on Sunday. This is a very special opportunity to get up close and personal with the winemakers, pouring special selections and many offering food pairings and no additional tasting fees. This annual event is not to be missed and always sells out so get your tickets early and head on up to the Anderson Valley!
Spring has sprung, at least temporarily, in Northern California. The trees are blooming, the mustard blankets the resting vineyards, and our gratefully recieve El Nino rains have made the hills green with life. Every year, the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association shows off one of it’s two claims to fame: Alsatian varietals. These beautiful, nuanced, elegant, varied aromtaic white wines are a cetnerpirce of teh AVAs culture, and production. Next weekend, the 2016 International Alsace Varietals Festival kicks off with educational seminars and grand tastings. While many events are sold out (because I am late on the ball), there are still tickets available to many. Even if you cannot make it this year, make a point of visiting Anderson Valley anytime, to taste the splendor of these delicious whites. The Festival schedule is as follows: Grand Tasting (Sold Out) – Saturday, Feb 20th 1-4pm Taste Alsace style white wines from around the world with delicious bites to match. Participating wineries include (my faves are in bold): Balo Vineyards, Barra of Mendocino, Bink Wines, Brooks, Cartograph, Claiborne & Churchill, Copain Wines, Discover the East, Dry River Wines, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Elke Vineyards, FEL Wines, Foris Vineyards, Goldeneye, Graziano Family Wines, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Lazy Creek, Long Meadow Ranch, Lula Cellars, Maidenstoen, Maritime Wines, Navarro Vineyards, New Zealand Winegrowers, Panthea Winery & Vineyard, Pacific Rim Wines, Phillips Hill Winery, Philo Ridge Vineyards, REIN Winery, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Domaines Schlumberger, Stirm, Stony Hill Vineyard, Tatomer, Thomas Fogarty, and Toulouse Vineyards. Winemaker Dinner at Scharffenberger Cellars – Feb 20, 6:30pm Dine with one of 6 winemakers in the private dining room at Scharffenberger Cellars to learn why these aromatic whites are the darlings of the wine world. Participating wineries include Scharffenberger Cellars, REIN Winery, Maidenstoen Wines, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Stirm Wine Company and Husch Vineyards. Educational Session – Feb 20th, 8:30am (sold out) Learn, engage, and interact with winemakers from around the globe as they discuss winemaking and grape growing specifically for Alsace varietals. This year’s deep dive is all about Riesling. Riesling is the world’s seventh most-planted white wine grape variety and among the fastest growing over the past twenty years. It is a personal favorite of many sommeliers, chefs, and other food and wine professionals for its appealing aromatics, finesse, and minerality; for its uncanny ability to reflect terroir; and for its impressive versatility with cuisines of all types. This discussion and panel tasting will look at the present state of dry Riesling on the west coast: where it is grown and made, what models and objectives vintners have in mind, and what parameters of grape growing and winemaking are essential when the goal is a delicious dry wine. Panelists: Chris Williams – Brooks Winery, Oregon Nicolas Quille – Pacific Rim, Washington Graham Tatomer – Tatomer Wines, Central Coast, CA Alex Crangle – Balo Vineyards, Anderson Valley, CA 10:00am Food and Wine Pairing Speaker: Francois de Melogue, Chef and Author This session will explore pairing a selection of Alsace Varietals with food. Francois will serve delectable samples to showcase […]