The 7th annual International Alsace Varietals Festival is coming to Mendocino County on February 18th and 19th this year. This festival celebrates varietals such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat and is organized by the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association. If you enjoy white wines more than red, or are just a fan of the Alsace varietals, you should seriously think about attending.
On February 18th, there are three key events, with the first two happening at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in downtown Boonville. In the morning, from 8:30 to 12:30, there is a Technical Conference where you can listen to and interact with winemakers from around the world as they discuss the topics of grape growing and winemaking specific to Alsace varietals. One of the presenters is David Strada from New Zealand Winegrowers who will be discussing and sharing samples from the New Zealand Riesling Challenge. For the Challenge, 48 tons of grapes were hand-picked from one block at Mud House Winery in Waipara Valley, then distributed to 12 different winemakers across New Zealand resulting in 12 distinct wines, reflecting the impact of winemaker technique given a common grape, terrior, and harvesting technique.
In the afternoon, from 1:00 to 4:00, the Grand Tasting offers an opportunity to try Alsace varietal wines from over 40 different wineries. Wineries from California, Oregon, Michigan, and New York will be pouring, as well as wineries from France, Germany, and New Zealand. Some of our favorites that are participating this year are Bink Wines, Breggo, Esterlina, Londer Vineyards, Lula Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, and Trefethen. There will also be food available intended to pair with the wines, including fresh oysters.
The Winemakers Dinner happens on Saturday night at 6:30. This sit-down feast will take place in the elegant private dining room at Scharffenberger Cellars in Philo.
On Sunday, February 19th, many of the wineries in Anderson Valley will be holding Open Houses as part of the Festival. Several will be offering small bites to pair along with their wines.
To learn more about the International Alsace Varietals Festival and to order tickets, click here. If you are interested in attending both the Technical Conference and the Grand Tasting, a combined ticket will save you $15. If the Winemakers Dinner sounds good to you, then you should move quickly as the event is almost sold out.
If you want to learn more about our favorite wineries in Anderson Valley and our favorite places to go for food, click here.