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Family Winemakers Tasting 2009: August 23, San Francisco

FWMTasting_09.jpgSize isn't everything, they say, but sometimes it's mighty impressive. The yearly Family Winemakers tasting in San Francisco has as one of its many claims to fame that it is the single largest tasting of California wines in the world. That alone would not be reason for excitement, were it not for the generally exceptional quality of the wines that are on offer, year after year.

Regular readers know that this tasting is one of my favorites every year. It provides an opportunity to sample the wares of smaller, family-run wineries, many of whose wines are made in such small quantities that they do not receive wide distribution. Because most of these wines are made in such small quantities, by folks who often take extra care in their creation, a trip around the tasting is a very clear window into the quality of recent vintages in California.

If you've never been to a large public tasting of wine, then this might very well be the best one to experience for the first time. Such tastings are a fantastic way to learn about wine in a way that you simply can't anywhere else -- by tasting many dozens of wines in comparison with one another.

So set aside a few hours on Sunday the 23rd, buy a ticket, and enjoy some of the best that California has to offer.

Family Winemakers Public Tasting
Sunday August 23rd, 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM
Herbst Pavilion
Fort Mason Center
San Francisco, CA 94123-1382

Tickets are available for $50 in advance online. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door on the day of the event for $60.

Trust me when I say you want to buy a ticket in advance. Also trust me that you want to park far, far away from Fort Mason and then cab, walk, or take a bus to the event, as street parking, or even parking in Fort Mason's paid lot can be quite difficult.

Finally, do yourself a favor and observe my tips for large public tastings: wear dark clothes; come with your stomach full, drink lots of water, plan which wineries you want to visit using the list on the web site, and for Pete's sake, SPIT! You may think that you need to swallow to enjoy the experience, but you really don't. You'll be able to taste many more wines and will actually learn something, instead of ending up a stumbling drunken fool that the rest of us make fun of.

Comments (23)

Joe Lange wrote:
08.07.09 at 8:47 AM

Good advice on attending the large public tastings. We appreciate that PSA!

Our family winery will be there pouring our sustainably-grown wines - hope you can come over and taste them!


Joe Lange

08.07.09 at 4:21 PM

Wonderful to have a wine critic that can express the wines in the right manner and also have great sense of writing.Hope Adler can stop by and say hello.

Leah wrote:
08.08.09 at 2:46 PM

Really looking forward to it! Usually at Ft. Mason tastings they offer food as well...does anyone know if they will have snackies for us or should we completely stuff ourselves in the city first?

Alder wrote:
08.08.09 at 9:44 PM


They usually offer some cheese and bread, but that's about it. Best to have a good meal before you arrive.

Amelia Ceja wrote:
08.10.09 at 5:22 PM

Hola Alder,

I echo your advice – the Family Winemakers Fort Mason Tasting is a wonderful opportunity to taste and learn about wines from every wine growing region in California.

Dylan wrote:
08.11.09 at 12:34 PM

Alder, I forgot. What was your reasoning behind wearing dark clothing to these larger tasting events?

Alder wrote:
08.11.09 at 2:18 PM

Dylan, at these large public tastings, wine sloshes, splashes and spills. I've seen more than one woman's elegant, white linen pants ruined forever.

Valerie wrote:
08.26.09 at 11:26 AM

Alder, One of the other rules of any wine tasting is "Do not wear any perfume or cologne"! Not even a bit! It's not fair to your fellow tasters, or the wineries. People around you are trying to smell the wine, not your fragrance.

Tiffany wrote:
08.28.09 at 6:31 AM

A lot of good advice for those wine tasters.

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