An event that I look forward to every year is the San Francisco Rhone Rangers Tasting. It can be said, and has been, that the first wine that ever wowed me was a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is also true that the first winery I ever visited in California was Bonny Doon. I even wrote a few incoherent words (from Disneyland) about the tasting last year for Palate Press.
This year, the event will take place March 26-27 at the Fort Mason Center with over 100 of the top American producers of Rhone varietals in town for seminars Saturday and Sunday, a winemaker dinner Saturday night and of course the grand tasting on Sunday. Unlike many events, these are open to both the trade and the general public. Information can be found at: Rhone Rangers San Francisco Tasting.
All of the seminars sound appealing, but my top choice is probably:
Seminar #2 - " Mourvedre on the Move."
Saturday, March 26, 2:45 p.m., The Firehouse at Fort Mason.
Moderated by Jon Bonné, Wine Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Participating Wineries: CORE, David Girard, Folin Cellars, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Quivira Vineyards & Winery, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Tercero Wines
Long known for its ability to add structure and age-worthiness to blends, American Rhone producers are pushing Mourvedre to new heights. Taste Mourvedre-based wines from up and down the west coast--both varietals and as leading roles in blends--and learn why Mourvedre is on the move! Tickets are $45 each.
I also think that for those of you with slightly deeper pockets, the Saturday dinner sounds great:
A tasting of current and library releases, dinner with the winemakers and live auction at Dogpatch Studios, 991 Tennessee St in San Francisco. Participating wineries include: Bonny Doon, Caliza, Clos Saron, Folin Cellars, J. Lohr, Kukkula, Landmark, Quady North, Quivira, Qupe, Ridge, Rock Wren Wines, Stolpman,Tablas Creek, Tarara, Terre Rouge, Terry Hoage, Thacher and Waterbrook. Proceeds benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. Ticket link here.
You can follow the Rhone Rangers on twitter @RhoneRangers and for those of you attending the event, they have asked you to tweet your thoughts with the hashtag #RRSF.
I'm pleased to say that I have one pair of Grand Tasting tickets to give away to a reader. To win, simply tell me in the comments section either your favorite Rhone grape or your favorite producer.
And if you are from out of the Bay Area or unable to make the event, I am pleased to offer instead a copy of the soon to be released The Finest Wines of California: A Regional Guide to the Best Producers and Their Wines by Stephen Brook. Just let me know one of your favorite California wineries and why. The book features many California Rhone producers, as well as many more. More info about the book can be found here.
Winners will be chosen randomly on March 10, 2011. Thanks!