Pinot Noir fans should check their calendars and grab their credit cards because it’s almost time for this year’s Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival up in beautiful Mendocino County from May 17-19, 2013. The Grand Tasting on May 18 will feature over 40 Pinot Noir producers from around California promoting and celebrating Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Other key events over the weekend are a Technical Conference, a casual BBQ, four Winemaker Dinners, and over 20 Winery Open Houses throughout Anderson Valley.
We strongly encourage you to act quickly: the Grand Tasting is almost sold out, and the only Winemaker Dinner that hasn’t sold out yet is really close to that. However, even if you can’t make it to the first two days of events you should still seriously consider driving over for the Winery Open Houses on Sunday, May 19th. Come for food, wine, music, gorgeous scenery, and the temperature is usually about 75 degrees this time of year.
Keep reading to get more information about the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, now in its 16th year. To buy tickets for activities on May 17 or 18, please go here. The Open Houses on May 19th do not require a ticket.
Friday May 17 at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
On May 17, between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm, the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival provides a Technical Conference at the County Fairground’s Apple Hall (14400 Highway 128, Boonville) for $95, and a light breakfast and lunch is included. The day’s agenda includes a Riedel Glass Comparative Tasting session as well as presentations on viticulture in Mendocino County, agricultural water use in Anderson Valley, and the history of Pinot Noir Clone 828. For 2013, the Technical Conference will also involve three tasting panels covering Pinot Noir Blanc wines, a Barrel Selection for Pinot Noir, and wines from Wiley Vineyard (one of the oldest and most westerly Pinot Noir vineyards in Anderson Valley).
Friday evening, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm you can swing on over for a casual BBQ at Scharffenberger Cellars (8501 Highway 128, Philo, 707-895-2957) and enjoy an evening filled with great wine and food (both chicken and ribs are on the menu). Pinot Noirs from near and far will be available, and guests are also encouraged to bring a bottle to share. Tickets are $50 per person.
Saturday May 18 at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
Starting at 11:00 am and going until 3:00 pm on May 18, don’t miss the Grand Tasting segment of the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival held at Goldeneye Winery (9200 Highway 128, Philo, 707-895-3202). Surround yourself with world-class Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs from over 40 different producers throughout California and savor foods designed to complement the wines. Talk with the winemakers, sample the wines, and listen to live music while you enjoy a delicious array of lamb, artisan cheeses, hand thrown pizzas, wine-based truffles, and more. During the Grand Tasting you will also have an opportunity to participate in a Silent Auction benefiting the Anderson Valley Health Center, a non-profit Rural Health Center offering primary care, mental health, and behavioral health services to the local community.
Some of our favorite Anderson Valley Pinot Noirs come from the following wineries which are participating this year: Baxter Winery, Breggo Cellars, Copain Wines, Drew Family Cellars, Elke Vineyards, Esterlina Vineyards, Goldeneye Winery, Londer Vineyards, Lula Cellars, Phillips Hill Estates, Roederer Estate (Sparkling Pinot Noir), and Williams Selyem. To see a complete list of the participating wineries, go here. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $105 per person, or Designated Driver tickets are also available for $50.
On Saturday night, there are four Winemaker Dinners to choose from, although three of these (at Roederer Estate, The Apple Farm, and Little River Inn) are already sold out. A fourth dinner, at Aquarelle Cafe & WineBar (14025 Highway 128, Boonville, 707-895-2767) still has seats available. For $127 per person you can dine with the winemakers from Navarro Vineyards and Lazy Creek Vineyards while you enjoy the culinary skills of Chef Christina Jones. Unfortunately, the dinner is limited to 25 people and is almost sold out so if that sounds good to you please move quickly to secure your spot(s) at the table.
Sunday May 19 at the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival
Come May 19, you can delight in the beauty of Anderson Valley as you travel Highway 128 and visit the many Winery Open Houses along the way. Over 20 wineries from Saturday’s Grand Tasting will offer opportunities to try barrel samples, taste select older vintages, and enjoy creative food and wine pairings. We don’t know what everyone will be serving, but we do know that your culinary options will at least include Oysters, Local Cheeses, Tacos, Flat Bread Pizza, and Lamb Sliders. The sounds of live music will be heard throughout the Valley on this closing day of the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival.
Even if you’ve been wine tasting in Anderson Valley before, you may not have visited the new tasting rooms for Balo Vineyards, Baxter Winery, or Knez Winery and all three of them are open this day. For the complete list of Winery Open Houses (and their hours) please go here.
It is important to realize that each winery has its own operating hours. Three of the wineries open at 10:00 am that Sunday and at least one will remain open until 6:00 pm but each winery determines their own hours and activities so please plan accordingly.
The Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association is a not-for-profit trade group created in 1983 to promote the grapes and wines of the Anderson Valley winegrowing appellation. The Association organizes two festivals each year, the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival and the International Alsace Varietals Festival (held in February). The Association also works to build the local community, and to date approximately $180,000 has been donated to local community groups
The 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival should be a ton of fun whether you can make it for all three days or only one. While you are in the area, if you want to learn more about our personal favorites for wineries and food stops in Anderson Valley then please go here. Or, to see our recommendations for the nearby Yorkville Highlands region you can go here.