California Pinot Noir lovers take note. Wine lovers with a free weekend, listen up. It's Spring, and the wine events are coming fast and furious. It seems like every week there's a new wine tasting to go to. But some are more worth paying attention to than others.
Anderson Valley is known for two things in California, and not coincidentally, it has more or less two major wine tasting events per year. The first, the International Alsace Varietals festival took place a few months ago, and I was sadly prevented from attending.
The second is the annual Pinot Noir Festival, which it looks like I'll also be unable to attend, much to my disappointment. But if you're a fan of Pinot Noir and you don't have plans for the weekend of May 16th, I seriously recommend it. It's definitely worth the three hour drive.
Not only is this a gorgeous time of year in the Anderson Valley, but the Pinot Noirs on offer include a few of the better ones in the state. This isn't a huge tasting, and consequently you'll find very few huge wineries there. Instead you'll find a bunch of small, dedicated growers and producers pouring their (mostly) small production wines.
The event includes a technical conference and BBQ on Friday May 15th with speakers that include Rusty Gaffney, author of PinotFile, Dan Duckhorn of Goldeneye Winery and Duckhorn Wine Company, and Joe Phillips, MS, sommelier at Bellagio Las Vegas.
Saturday features the grand tasting and winemaker dinners, and those who choose to stay through Sunday can wander around to the many open houses hosted by the valley's wineries.
Participating wineries include: Littorai Wines, Saintsbury, Husch Vineyards, Foursight Wines, Handley Cellars, Esterlina Vineyards, Londer Vineyards, Navarro Vineyards, Elke Vineyards, Toulouse Vineyards, Goldeneye Winery, Claudia Springs Winery, Raye's Hill, Jim Ball Vineyards, Standish Wine Co., Harmonique, Breggo Cellars, Roederer Estate, Scharffenberger Cellars, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Ferrari-Carano, Lazy Creek Vineyards, Waits-Mast Family Cellars, Zina Hyde Cunningham, Roessler Cellars, Drew Family, Black Kite Cellars, Brutocao Cellars, MacPhail Family Wines, Phillips Hill Estates, Woodenhead, Demuth Winery, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Harrington Wines, La Crema Winery, Copain Wines, Chronicle Wines and Couloir Wines.
The full conference details can be found on the event web site.
12th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
Saturday, May 16th, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
9200 Highway 128
Philo, CA 95466
The $85 tickets to the Grand Tasting can (and should) be purchased in advance online. The Friday technical conference will cost you an additional $100 (yes there is wine to taste at this event), and winemaker dinners vary in price.
If you are driving up for the event, I recommend giving yourself a bit of extra time to get there. Perhaps drive up in the morning and have some breakfast before the tasting.
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