There’s only one week left until the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, your chance to savor a pavilion full of wines made from varietals such as Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. This fun and popular event is part of the 16th Annual San Francisco Celebration of American Rhones , March 22nd and 23rd at Fort Mason.
Next weekend’s festivities include a Winemaker Dinner, guided Wine Seminars, and a Grand Tasting (the largest American Rhone wine event in the country with over 500 of the best American Rhone wines from more than 100 wineries). You can purchase tickets for either the Winemaker Dinner or the Grand Tasting separately by going here. Or, you may prefer a Saturday Pass at $150 (for two Wine Seminars and early VIP admission to the Grand Tasting), or a Full Weekend Pass at $275 (Winemaker Dinner, Wine Seminars, early VIP admission to the Grand Tasting).
Keep reading, and we’ll tell you more about the activities going on during the Celebration of American Rhones.
To kick off the Celebration, the Rhone Rangers are orchestrating a Winemaker Dinner on Friday night, March 22, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the General’s Residence at Fort Mason featuring food from Sonoma’s the girl & the fig. There will be 15 Winemakers (one hosting each table) at this year’s Dinner including Bonny Doon Vineyard, Davis Family Vineyards, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Margerum Wine Company, Mounts Family Winery, Petrichor Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, Tablas Creek Vineyard, and Two Shepherds.
The menu plan includes: Passed Appetizers; a Salad of Roasted Local Mushrooms; Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi with Black Truffle, Butternut Squash and Pepita Pesto; Duck Confit with Farro, Braised Cabbage, and Dried Pears; and a Chocolate Napolean. For vegetarians, the entrée alternative is Black Pepper Fontina Arancini with Wild Mushrooms. The evening will also include an auction to raise money for the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and are $150 per person (or, admission to the Winemaker Dinner is also included in the Weekend Pass).
The culmination of the Celebration of American Rhones is the Grand Tasting on March 25. In case 100 wineries at once are a little intimidating, we suggest you start with the wineries participating in the Winemaker’s Dinner (see above) and the ones listed below. Based on the 2012 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, and other experiences, these are wineries we recommend for quality Rhone Varietal specific and Rhone Blend wines: Beckmen Vineyards, Clayhouse Wines, Cline Cellars, Cornerstone Cellars, Epiphany Cellars, Frick Winery, Halter Ranch, Lagier Meredith, L’Aventure Winery, Meyer Family Cellars, Qupé, Steele Wines, Truchard Vineyards, and Unti Vineyards. To see the complete list of participating wineries at the 2013 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, just go here.
For a wine to be considered a “Rhone Ranger” wine and poured at an official Rhone Rangers tasting, the 22 recognized accepted grapes whose ancestral home is in France’s Rhone Valley must comprise at least 75% of the blend. You can purchase Grand Tasting tickets here for $50 per person for General Admission between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm on Saturday March 23.
To warm up for the Grand Tasting, you may want to think about spending Saturday morning with Jon Bonné, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor. On March 23rd, he is hosting two seminars from 10:00 am to 12:45 pm:
- At the first seminar, “Old World Inspiration, New World Innovation,” attendees will enjoy four wines from E. Guigal (2011 Condrieu, 2011 Tavel Rosé, 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and 2009 Côte-Rôtie Château d’Ampuis) followed by four domestic Rhone wines: 2011 Ranchero Cellars Viognier, 2011 Margerum Riviera Rosé, 2008 Bonny Doon “Le Cigare Volant Réserve” and 2008 Silver Wines Syrah.
- At the second seminar, “Mourvèdre, a Rising Star in the World of American Rhones,” seven winemakers will present their wines with Mourvèdre in a leading role: 2012 Tercero Rosé, 2010 Holly’s Hill Vineyards Petit Patriarche, 2010 David Girard Vineyards Mourvèdre, 2010 Folin Cellars Mourvèdre, 2009 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Mourvèdre, 2010 Villa Creek Cellars “Damas Noir,” and 2012 Tablas Creek Vineyard “Vin de Paille Sacrerouge.”
After the wine seminars, attendees will be able to enter the Grand Tasting at 1:00 pm as VIPs, earlier than the 3:00 pm starting time for other General Admission ticketholders.
The Rhone Rangers organization has about 200 winery members, 110 Professional and Grower Associates, and almost 800 Sidekicks (consumer members). The Rhone Rangers Sidekicks program is free: You only need to provide your contact information to get priority notification about Rhone Rangers events, the opportunity to meet winemakers and growers of Rhone varietals, discounts at member wineries, special notice of member winery events, an information-packed educational newsletter and more. To learn more about becoming a member of the Rhone Rangers, please click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph.