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 15th, 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 14th with speakers that include wine writer Jordan Mackay, winemaker Greg LaFolette, Jim Klein of Navarro Vineyards, Dan Sogg former editor of the Wine Spectator, and several other scientists and winemakers.
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: Baxter, Black Kite Cellars, Breggo Cellars, Brutocao Cellars, Cakebread Cellars, Drew Family Cellars, Elke Vineyards, Esterlina Vineyards, Expression 39, Foursight Wines, Goldeneye Winery, Grant Family Wines, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Harmonique, Husch Vineyards, Jim Ball Vineyards, Lazy Creek Vineyards, LIOCO, Londer Vineyards, MacPhail Family Wines, Navarro Vineyards, Phillips Hill Estates, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Roederer Estate, Scharffenberger Cellars, Skewis Wines, Standish Wine Co., Toulouse Vineyard, Waits-Mast Family Cellars, Williams Selyem, Zina Hyde Cunningham, and more.
The full conference details can be found on the event web site.
13th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
Saturday, May 15th, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
9200 Highway 128
Philo, CA 95466
The $95 tickets to the Grand Tasting can (and should) be purchased in advance online. The Friday technical conference will cost you an additional $95 (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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