You’ve got less than a week left to get your tickets for the 15th Annual Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting, held on Sunday March 25, 2012 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This is the largest American Rhone wine event in the country with over 500 of the best American Rhone wines from more than 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries available for tasting. The standard ticket is only $45 per person, for admission between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., or there are still some VIP Tickets available that will grant you early admission at 12:00 for just $30 more.
In case you didn’t know, the Rhone Rangers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the knowledge and enjoyment of the Rhone wines produced in America. 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. The most common red Rhone varietals are Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan, and Petite Sirah. The most common white Rhone varietals are Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.
Rhone wine fans should know that about 60 of the 100 wineries pouring at the Grand Tasting will also be selling their wine at the event, several of whom don’t have tasting rooms and/or local distribution. In addition, event organizers will have two checkpoints so you won’t have to lug around purchased wine with you as you keep tasting.
The Grand Tasting isn’t the only event offered by the Rhone Rangers during the Weekend Celebration of American Rhones. On Saturday, March 24, there will be a seminar at 12:00 p.m. entitled “Rare Wines, Come Taste the Unusual” and another at 2:00 p.m. on “Wine & Swine, a Pairing of Rhone Varietals With Bacon.” On Sunday, March 25, a 3rd Seminar will be offered at 11:00 a.m. focused on “American Syrahs from a Variety of Regions.”
You can purchase tickets for the Grand Tasting or the seminars separately, or the Rhone Rangers are also offering a Weekend Pass that will provide entry for one person to each of the three seminars and VIP admission (at 12 noon) to the Sunday Grand Tasting for $185 per person ($55 off the a la carte ticket prices).
If you’d prefer a more formal event, the Rhone Rangers are also orchestrating a Winemaker Dinner on Saturday night, March 24, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.. This year’s Winemaker Dinner includes 17 winemakers (one hosting each table) who will provide the wines to pair with dinner prepared by the girl & the fig. The menu includes Passed Appetizers, Spring Salad with Beets, Fennel Crusted Rack of Pork, and Strawberry Buttermilk Panna Cotta as well as other offerings. For vegetarians, the entrée alternative is Spring Pea Ravioli with Wild Mushrooms and Pea Shoots. After dinner service is completed, there will be a live auction to raise money for the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. Tickets are $150 per person for the Winemaker Dinner, and admission is not included as part of the Weekend Pass.
If you are interested in purchasing tickets, learning more about the events, or learning more about the Rhone Rangers organization then please go here.
2012 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting
If you are attending the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting on March 25, 100 wineries are more than you can probably handle so we’re providing a list of 20 wineries we suggest you focus on. These are wineries we are familiar with and can personally recommend for a great exposure to quality Rhone Varietal specific and Rhone Blend wines.
B Cellars (Calistoga, CA)
Beckmen Vineyards (Los Olivos, CA)
Bonny Doon Vineyard (Santa Cruz, CA)
Chamisal Vineyards (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Clayhouse Wines (Paso Robles, CA)
Cline Cellars (Sonoma, CA)
Curtis Winery (Los Olivos, CA)
Davis Family Vineyards (Healdsburg, CA)
Frick Winery (Geyserville, CA)
Halter Ranch Vineyard (Paso Robles, CA)
Justin Winery (Paso Robles, CA)
Lagier Meredith (Napa, CA)
Meyer Family Cellars (Yorkville, CA)
Mounts Family Winery (Healdsburg, CA)
Ridge Vineyards (Cupertino, CA)
Shannon Ridge (Clearlake Oaks, CA)
Sheldon Winery (Santa Rosa, CA)
Steele Wines (Kelseyville, CA)
Tablas Creek Vineyard (Paso Robles, CA)
Unti Vineyards (Healdsburg, CA)
After you’ve tried wines from the wineries we’ve recommended, if you are up for some more tasting we suggest you focus on wineries that also offer the varietals you enjoyed the most so far during the event. Have a wonderful time, and remember to stay hydrated!