Size 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 very high quality of the wines that are on offer, year after year.
Regular readers know that this tasting, now in its 25th year, is one of my favorites. While the definition of a “family-run” winery is stretched a bit to include behemoths like Jackson Family Estates and Gallo, the organization consists mostly of smaller, family-run wineries, many of whose wines are made in such small quantities that they do not receive wide distribution. The chance to taste the wares of these wineries remains the single best reason to attend this tasting. Because of the scope of the tasting, a trip around the room also becomes a very good way to get a sense of recent vintages from all over the state of California.
In their 25th year, the event organizers are returning to the site of their very first wine tasting event, the Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Having attended a number of tastings there, I can testify it’s a teensy bit more upscale than the cavernous cement box that is Fort Mason Center, the usual site of this tasting.
If you’ve never been to a large public tasting of wine, 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 August 16th, buy a ticket, and enjoy some of the best that California has to offer.
2015 Family Winemakers Public Tasting
Sunday August 16th, 2:30 PM until 5:00 PM
Palace Hotel Ballroom
2 New Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tickets cost $85 in advance and are only available for purchase online.
Parking is a nightmare in that neighborhood. A few underground garages exist (there’s one at 2nd and Mission) and another on Third between Folsom and Howard. Your best bet is to use public transportation or to use the handy valet service called Luxe.
Because this is usually a large tasting I recommend planning which wineries you want to visit using the list on the web site.