Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 16-18, Philo, CA

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 this coming weekend, 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 16th. One of the guys speaking at the technical conference is John Winthrop Haeger, author of North American Pinot Noir, which is one of the definitive works on the grape. 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 Winery, Black Kite Cellars, Breggo Cellars, Brogan Cellars, Cakebread Cellars, Copain Wines, Drew, Elke Vineyards, Foursight Wines, Goldeneye Winery, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Gryphon Wines, Handley Cellars, Harmonique, Husch Vineyards, Jim Ball Vineyards, La Crema, Lazy Creek Vineyards, Londer Vineyards, MacPhail Family Wines, Madrigal Vineyards, Navarro Vineyards, Phillips Hill Estates, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Raye’s Hill Vineyards & Winery, Roederer Estate, Roessler Cellars, Saintsbury, Scharffenberger Cellars, Standish Wine Company, Toulouse Vineyards, Williams Selyem and Zina Hyde Cunningham Winery.

The full conference details can be found on the event web site.

11th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
Grand Tasting
Saturday, May 17th, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Goldeneye Winery
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.