All Alsace, All the Time

    Nowhere in the world are the wine varieties of Alsace more celebrated than at the International Alsace Varieties Festival in California’s Anderson Valley.

     Nowhere — including the Alsace region itself.

     I’ve been to two of the three festivals held thus far, and they were amazing experiences. The vintners of Anderson Valley take the Alsace varieties — Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat — very seriously.

     But that’s not to say they don’t know how to have a good time. The festival’s Grand Tasting, featuring bottlings from around the world, is a party… particularly during its third and final hour.

     That takes place on a Saturday afternoon. Then on Sunday, wineries throughout the valley host open houses, and most offer delicious food to pair with their Alsatian-style wines.

     Part of the allure for me is the opportunity to chat with the winemakers. Most of the valley’s estates are small, which means the person behind the counter pouring the wine quite likely is the vintner and the proprietor. Anderson Valley folks tend to wear at least a couple of hats.

     If you’re really interested in the wines of Alsace, you may also want to attend the Anderson Valley Winegrowers’ Technical Conference, which precedes the Saturday Grand Tasting. There’s also a Saturday night dinner at Scharffenberger Cellars.

     This year’s festival is just a few weeks away — on February 21-22. To learn more, visit

     We’ll have a few more wintertime wine country getaway ideas for you later in the week, so check back daily.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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