Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 19-21, Philo, CA


Normally I’d begin this kind of posting with a reminder about the slightly obscure, off-the-radar nature of Anderson Valley, but at least in the Bay Area, that now seems slightly unnecessary, given the heaping plate of love that the San Francisco Chronicle wine team served up last week to readers, across no less than 10 different feature-articles. I dare say no other wine region in California has ever gotten that kind of treatment, ever.

So perhaps now you’ve heard about this out-of-the-way little valley that makes some of the state’s best Pinot Noir. Well, now’s time to come learn about it. The weekend of May 19th, the valley is hosting its annual Pinot Noir Festival, and in the process celebrating 40 years of having been designated a winegrowing area.

I’ll be hosting two panel discussions at this year’s event. The first will be a look back at the last 40 years of history in the Anderson Valley, along with the chance to taste some older wines (I’m working hard with some collaborators to track down some good stuff). The second will be a look forward at where the valley is going, and a chat with some of the newest producers who are bringing new thinking and expression to the valley’s wines.

The event begins on Friday with the so-called “technical conference” which is the talks and panels and seated tastings all day, followed by an evening BBQ. Saturday kicks off with a sparkling-wine-and-caviar tasting for those who snagged the VIP tickets required to get in. Then the main event on Saturday is the grand tasting where more than 50 producers will be pouring their Pinot Noirs for any and all comers. Then, as usual, wineries throughout the valley will be throwing open-house tastings at their facilities, so anyone with a ticket to the weekend can drop in and taste some more.

This is a weekend worth attending for the wine alone, but when you combine it with the Friday set of seminars, it can be a real in-depth education on one of California’s truly special wine-growing regions. I hope to see you there.

24th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
Grand Tasting – Saturday May 20, 2023
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Scharffenberger Cellars
8501 Highway CA-128, Philo, CA 95466

Tickets for this event MUST be purchased in advance, and it will likely sell out within the next couple of weeks. The grand tasting tickets will run you $175, the technical conference on Friday is $110, and the Friday night BBQ is $95. The discounted all-access VIP tickets are sold out at this point, so get the remaining individual events while you can.

Also, be aware that the number of hotel rooms in Anderson Valley proper are few and far between. If you want to stay up there for the weekend, you’d best make arrangements right now. The roads in and out of the valley are winding and hard to drive even while sober, so please, please do not go taste a lot of wine and then think about driving home.