More Than Just Pinot Gris: The 2014 International Alsace Festival

International Alsace Varietals Festival LogoThe 9th annual International Alsace Varietals Festival is coming to Mendocino County on February 8th and 9th this year and luckily, tickets are still available.  This festival celebrates varietals such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, 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 8th 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 to 12:45, the 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 and winemaking specific to Alsace varietals (and a Continental Breakfast will be provided).   This year’s session will include a Riesling Tasting guided by Dan Berger, a Gewurztraminer Tasting guided by Casey Hartlip (vineyard manager at Ordway’s Valley Foothills Vineyard), and a Food and Wine Pairings experience led by Lars Kronmark (Chef Instructor at CIA Greystone).  At the end of the Educational Session, there will be a Cooking Demonstration from Chef Francois de Melogue of Figue in La Quinta.

Elke Vineyards

Elke Vineyards

In the afternoon, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, a Grand Tasting offers over 100 Alsace varietal wines from both domestic and international wineries.  Some of the wineries participating this year are Anne Amie Vineyards, Balo Vineyards, Claiborne & Churchill, Cutruzzola Vineyards, Elke Vineyards, Handley CellarsNavarro VineyardsRobert Sinskey Vineyards, Toulouse Vineyards, and TrefethenThere will also be food available to pair with these aromatic white wines.

The International Alsace Varietals Festival Winemakers Dinner happens that night at 6:30 pm, in the elegant private dining room at Scharffenberger Cellars in Philo (8501 Highway 128).  Renowned local Chef Rocco Hanson will present a special five-course menu for the occasion with dishes including Truffled Winter Root Gratin, Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish, and Apple Strudel with Calvados Crème Anglaise.

Esterlina Vineayrds

The view from Esterlina Vineyards

On Sunday, February 9th, many of the wineries in Anderson Valley will be holding Open Houses as part of the Festival.  Activities will include food and wine pairings, art displays, tours, and more at wineries such as Esterlina Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Lula Cellars, Phillips Hill Winery, and Philo Ridge Vineyards.

To learn more about the International Alsace Varietals Festival and to order tickets, click 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 (but if this sounds good to you, move quickly as the event is almost sold out).

Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association LogoThe Anderson Valley is located in the rolling hills of the coastal region of Mendocino County, about two hours north of San Francisco.  Only fifteen miles long, this beautiful valley is home to a unique group of vineyards and wineries producing a broad range of excellent wines.  Their tasting rooms range from a picnic table at a backyard winery to a beautiful salon at a sleek, modern facility.  Known for world-class Pinot Noir and Alsace Varietals, the Anderson Valley offers a great wine tasting destination.

If you want to learn more about our favorite wineries in Anderson Valley and our favorite places to go for food, click 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).


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