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Hospice du Rhone 2010 Tasting: April 29 to May 1, Paso Robles

hdr_photo_2010.jpgMost wine tasting events focused on a specific style or type of wine that take place in California suffer from a single, but important deficit: they feature almost exclusively California wines. Go to a Pinot Noir event, and you get 95% California Pinots, etc.

There are a few notable exceptions to this, however, and one of my favorites is the annual fete for Rhone style wines called Hospice du Rhone.

For those who have not had the pleasure of attending Hospice du Rhone, it is a unique treat for anyone who enjoys this kind of wine. Attendees spend a laid-back two and a half days of seminars, dinners, and parties which offer a unique blend of California and international wines and wine talent. The event takes its title every year from some sort of bad pun -- this year's Rhonely Hearts Club theme being a particular groaner -- but that's really the only thing bad about this event. The rest is pure, unadulterated wine fest.

The event begins with a night of bowling and debauchery, which is followed by a full day of seminars on everything Rhone that ends with various dinner parties at wineries in the area. Day two for some people begins with a big dose of antacid and more than a liberal dose of coffee to compensate for the previous evenings festivities. The second day includes more seminars and the grand tasting, which offers the remarkable and instructive opportunity to taste California, French, and Australian Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and the other 19 Rhone varieties side-by-side.

The overall event is a very down-to-earth, and often humorous, celebration of the twenty-two Rhone varietals and the people who love them. The wine seminars are top notch, and the grand tasting is a fantastic opportunity to taste a lot of excellent wines, many of which are sold only through mailing lists, or not sold in the United States at all.

If you're a wine lover looking for something great to do the first weekend of May, you'd be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a couple of days.

Hospice du Rhone 2010: Rhonely Hearts Club
April 29 - May 1, 2010
Paso Robles Event Center
2198 Riverside Ave
Paso Robles, CA 93446 (map)

Tickets are $795 for the entire weekend (with a la carte pricing for various elements), and $100 for the Grand Tasting available for purchase online, and should be purchased in advance as the event will likely sell out. Also, book your accommodations quickly as they tend to be scarce in this little town the closer you get to the event.

Comments (5)

Allen Clark wrote:
04.12.10 at 7:28 AM

I've been attending since 2000 and have to say it's not only the best tasting of its kind (if you're into syrah, etc.), but because it takes place in a small town as far removed from San Francisco as it is from L.A., the crowds have not been a problem. In contrast, I don't go to ZAP or the Boston Wine Expo (or its DC version) any more, for exactly that reason - phenomenally oversold, one spends most of one's time waiting for a pour.

Alana Coburn wrote:
04.12.10 at 9:56 AM

I would have to agree with you Allen. ZAP has become a zoo. As much as I love Zin, it's just gotten to be too big to be able to offer the tasting opportunities it did years ago. Hopefully, Paso's location will keep it safe for at least a few more years.

Mark wrote:
04.12.10 at 12:38 PM

I think it's only a matter of time before Paso starts getting over run with Rhone tasters, but even in SF there are some incredible wines from Paso that can be difficult to find. Herman Story is just one example.

All that being said, it's hard on a normal schedule in Paso to find a decent place to stay with any type of event and if Calpoly SLO has any type of significant event that kills off a ton of rooms about an hour south as well.

Tom wrote:
04.13.10 at 1:33 PM

Bowling and debauchery? What could be bad about that? In December I received all my 2007 samples from my French Southern Rhone producers, and you'll be in for a treat.

10.28.14 at 11:59 AM

There's certainly a lot to find out about this topic.
I like all the points you made.

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