The 10th annual International Alsace Varietals Festival is coming to Mendocino County next month, on February 7th and 8th offering a chance to celebrate varietals such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat. This fun and unique event is brought to you by the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association and whether you enjoy white wines more than red, or are just a fan of the Alsace varietals, you should seriously think about attending.
On February 7th there are three key events, with the first two happening at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in downtown Boonville (14400 Highway 128). In the morning, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm, the 2015 International Alsace Varietals Festival has an Educational Session where you can listen to and interact with winemakers from around the world as they discuss the topics of grape growing, winemaking and food pairing specific to Alsace varietals (and a Continental Breakfast will be provided).
This year’s Session will include a discussion on the Appellation of Crus in Alsace, complimented by a tasting of the 8 Grand Crus produced by Domaines Schlumberger. There will also be a lecture on how pressing and skin contact influence wine flavor, a Pinot Blanc tasting focusing on wines from three wineries using grapes grown in the same vineyard (Schrader Ranch), and a presentation on how to pair food with Gewürztraminer. At the end of the Educational Session, there will be a Cooking Demonstration from Chef Francois de Melogue.
The second event that day is a Grand Tasting at the International Alsace Varietals Festival offering over 100 Alsace Varietal wines from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Over 30 wineries from around the world are participating, including Balo Vineyards, Brooks Wines, Claiborne & Churchill, Cutruzzola Vineyards, Elke Vineyards, FEL Wines, Foris Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Lula Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Phillips Hill Winery, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Saintsbury and Tatomer Wines.
Festival attendes will also be able to enjoy tastes from New Zealand Winegrowers and Wines of Alsace. The Grand Tasting includes seven food-pairing tables, featuring small bites such as freshly shucked oysters, Tarte Flambée and Pork Belly dishes.
After the Grand Tasting, the International Alsace Varietals Festival offers a Winemakers Dinner at 6:30 pm in the elegant private dining room at Scharffenberger Cellars in Philo (8501 Highway 128). Chef Janelle Weaver (Owner/Chef at The Bewildered Pig, Executive Chef at Peter Michael Winery, and former Executive Chef for Kuleto Estate) brings an elegant yet simple approach to her seasonal, ingredient-driven cuisine and will present a special menu for the occasion reflecting the richness and the bounty of the local area. The evening offers you an opportunity to dine with one of the five winemakers in attendance but you should hurry and get your tickets as seating is limited.
To learn more about the International Alsace Varietals Festival and to order tickets, please go here. The Educational Session is $45 per person, and the Grand Tasting is $65 per person, but if you want to attend both a combined ticket is only $100. The Winemakers Dinner is $130 per person.
On Sunday, February 8th, many of the wineries in Anderson Valley will be holding Open Houses to help wrap up the Festival weekend. Activities will include food and wine pairings, art displays, live entertainment and more at wineries such as Balo Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Lichen Estate, Lula Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, Phillips Hill Winery, Philo Ridge Vineyards and Toulouse Vineyards.
As you drive around the Anderson Valley on Sunday, your food pairing options will include local cheeses, Crab Dip, Alsatian Onion Tart, Grilled Sausages, and Brick Oven Pizza. For details on which activities are taking place at each Open House, please go here. Or, for a printable map of the area to help you with your travels, please go here.
Festival artist Gerald Reis is a California designer and artist who has enjoyed a distinguished career in art and design who has received numerous awards in national and international competitions. He has exhibited at the Museo Fortuny in Venice, Italy, and was one of four designers featured in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit “In the Public Eye.” You are invited to bid on the original large scale artwork created for this year’s International Alsace Varietals Festival to benefit the Steve Pitcher Memorial Fund to preserve Alsace Varietal vineyards. Or, you can find poster art from Mr. Reis’ Wine Poster Collection on sale during the Grand Tasting.
Mendocino County was recently named one of the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2015 by Wine Enthusiast magazine and is located just two hours north of San Francisco. Only fifteen miles long, the beautiful Anderson Valley is home to a unique group of vineyards and wineries producing a broad range of excellent wines including world-class Pinot Noir and Alsace Varietals. Visitors will find that their tasting rooms range from a picnic table at a backyard winery to a beautiful salon at a sleek, modern facility.
If you want to learn more about our favorite wineries in Anderson Valley and our favorite places to go for food, please go here. Or, you can also use the drop-down menus on the navigation bars above to see our Favorites By Wine Region in other parts of Mendocino County (or elsewhere).