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Napa With Altitude Tasting: April 23, San Francisco

mayacamas.jpgIf you've been drinking wine long enough, especially California wine, you've probably heard the phrase "hillside fruit" or "mountain fruit." While both phrases are certainly overused (I've seen some vineyards that produce "hillside fruit" that are about as steep as my kitchen floor) I cannot deny that I believe there is something special about fruit that is properly grown on steep slopes and mountainsides. I've had too many fantastic wines from such vineyards, whose generally sunny but cooler slopes produce slower maturing fruit that often has a distinct brightness and juiciness that I find hard to resist.

Everyone knows Napa as a Valley, but where there is a valley, there must be mountains. And the mountainsides that surround Napa produce some of its best wines, in my humble opinion.

The Mayacamas Mountains, which separate Napa from its neighbor Sonoma to the west, are home to three main AVAs (American Viticultural Areas), and more than thirty different wineries. Spread among the Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain, and Diamond Mountain AVAs, these wineries have joined forces to market themselves jointly as wineries of the Mayacamas Mountains. And they are all coming to San Francisco to let you taste their wines.

Friends and acquaintances are always asking me which wineries they should go visit when they head up to Napa. That's a hard question to answer when I know people can only really get to four or five wineries in an afternoon of tasting. But if the boundaries of time and space were non-existent, I would tell you all to visit THESE wineries.

Regular readers know my point of view on such public tastings -- they are unmatched opportunities to educate your palate while discovering new wines. This tasting represents a unique opportunity to sample some excellent wines in the most accessible possible -- side-by-side, all in one room, and two hours closer than they've ever been.

If you can make the time during the week (sometimes I think having a tasting like this on a weeknight is a way of limiting attendance) I highly recommend it. 38 wineries will be pouring, accompanied by nibbles by A.G. Ferrari Foods.

Napa With Altitude - Mayacamas Mountains Wineries Tasting
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
6:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Officers' Club
1 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA 94123 (map)

Tickets are $75 if purchased in advance online (which you should). Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $100 on a first-come, first-served basis. Entry includes a ticket for door prizes, one of which is a bottle of wine from every winery present.

Remember my guidelines for such events: wear dark clothes; come with food in your stomach; drink lots of water; no wearing perfume or cologne; and if you really want to learn something, SPIT!

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.