Fifty Shades of White: Favorites from the International Alsace Varietals Festival

Grand Tasting

International Alsace Varietals Festival Grand Tasting

It’s hard to find a wine festival focused on white wines, which is one of the things that makes the International Alsace Varietals Festival so enjoyable.   We were lucky enough to attend this year’s events and found many outstanding white wines to recommend for you to try on your own. This fun and unique event was sponsored by the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association and celebrated varietals such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat.

The Festival’s events included an Educational Session with winemakers where we learned about scientific studies dating back to 1969 on the effects of skin contact (C.S. Ough and H.W. Berg, 1969 & 1971), compared Pinot Blancs from different wineries made from grapes grown in the same vineyard, and heard about the different AOCs in the Alsace region as we enjoyed Alsace Grand Cru wines.

"Honey" at Lula Cellars

“Honey” at Lula Cellars

We also enjoyed driving around the Anderson Valley visiting the winery Open Houses as part of the Festival weekend, enjoying food and wine pairings, art displays, live entertainment and more.  But the highlight of the weekend for us was the Grand Tasting of over 100 Alsace varietals from around the world.   Keep reading and we’ll tell you our favorites.

So, if you are heading to a wine store, a restaurant, or planning a wine tasting trip, these are the wines (and wineries) we strongly suggest you check out.

Favorite Wines at the 2015 International Alsace Varietals Festival:

Anthony Road Wine Company (Penn Yann, NY) – 2012 Dry Riesling

Balo Vineyards (Philo, CA) – 2013 Pinot Noir Blanc

Claiborne & Churchill (San Luis Obispo, CA) – 2013 Dry Gewürztraminer, 2012 Estate Dry Riesling, 2013 Dry Muscat

Foris Vineyards

Foris Vineyards

Domaines Schlumberger (Guebwiller, France) – 2011 Riesling Grand Cru Kessler, 2011 Riesling Grand Cru Kitterlé, 2011 Pinot Gris Grand Cru Spiegel

Dutton-Goldfield (Sebastopol, CA) – 2013 Pinot Blanc, 2013 Riesling 2013 Gewürztraminer

Foris Vineyards (Cave Junction, OR) – 2013 Pinot Blanc, 2013 Pinot Gris, 2012 Riesling, 2013 Gewürztraminer,

Handley Cellars (Philo, CA) – 2013 Gewürztraminer

Husch Vineyards (Philo, CA) – 2013 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer, 2007 Late Harvest Gewürztraminer

Lazy Creek Vineyards (Philo, CA) – 2013 Gewürztraminer

Lichen Estate (Boonville, CA) – 2013 Les Pinots Noir Gris (Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir)

Navarro Vineyards (Philo, CA) – 2013 Muscat Blanc, 2013 Gewürztraminer, 2011 Gewürztraminer, 2012 Riesling

Phillips Hill Winery

Phillips Hill Winery

Phillips Hill Winery (Philo, CA) – 2013 Gewürztraminer

Philo Ridge Vineyards (Boonville, CA) – 2013 Nelson Ranch Pinot Gris

REIN Winery – 2013 Schrader Ranch Pinot Blanc, 2013 Greenwood Ridge Riesling, 2014 Greenwood Ridge Riesling

Robert Sinskey Vineyards (Napa, CA) – 2012 Abraxas (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer), 2013 Abraxas, 2012 Pinot Gris, 2013 Pinot Blanc, 2012 Pinot Gris Late

Stony Hill Vineyard (St. Helena, CA) – 2013 White Riesling

Tatomer Wines (Santa Barbara, CA) – 2013 Paragon Vineyard Grüner Veltliner, 2013 Meeresboden Vineyard Grüner Veltliner, 2012 Vandenberg Riesling


Flammkuchen from Cory Morse Catering

To go along with the delicious white wines, the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association also had food purveyors offering small bites during the Grand Tasting, including a variety of cheeses and freshly shucked oysters.   Our favorite taste of the afternoon was the Flammkuchen (Tart Flambeé) from Cory Morse Catering.

Tatomer Wines

Tatomer Wines

We had a delightful time at the 2015 International Alsace Varietals Festival, and encourage you to attend yourself next year. Or, at the very least, please consider planning your own excursion to the Anderson Valley and/or more of this region. 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 made from Pinot Noir and Alsace Varietal grapes. One possible attraction is the upcoming Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival scheduled for May 15-17, 2015. 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.

If you want to learn more about our favorite wineries and places to go for food in Anderson Valley (or in other wine country destinations), please use the drop-down menus on the navigation bars above to see our Favorites By Wine Region.



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