Category Archives: Events

Wine Country Events

A Taste of Alsace in Anderson Valley



By Kareasa Wilkins

The bucolic, yet tortuous Highway 128 snakes through the sleepy towns of Boonville, Philo, and Navarro—towns known for their slow-paced way of life, and for the cool northerly climate that supports California viticulture at its extremes. Anderson Valley is perhaps the only California AVA that specializes in the aromatic white wines most commonly associated with Alsace, and the annual Alsace Varietals Festival is a grand affair for showing off the amazing depths these wines can reach in this region and beyond. Low on the radar for most wine connoisseurs, the Alsace Varietals Festival in Anderson Valley is probably one of the most neglected, yet enjoyable tasting events in California. Held every February at the Mendocino County Fairgrounds in Boonville, the event brings together producers of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Muscat from around the world.

The event always kicks off with a morning educational seminar that often includes technical information on growing and producing Alsace varietals led by fermentation science professors from UC Davis, tasting flights, and sessions on food and wine pairings put together by renowned chefs, wine writers, sommeliers and cookbook authors. This year’s event will feature John Winthrop Haeger, author of the upcoming book Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright, and Dry. Following the morning seminars is a cooking demonstration featuring culinary whiz and former Anderson Valley resident, Chef Francois de Melogue. De Melogue, who has worked in celebrated restaurants from Paris to New York has an affinity for the food friendly Alsatian varietals, and shares delicious recipes to pair with the wines.

After the cooking demonstration, the grand tasting begins. Wineries from Anderson Valley are prominently featured, yet while local wineries represent a significant portion of the producers who showcase their wines at the festival, it is an international event, and exceptional examples of the classic Alsatian varietals can often be found from Oregon, New York, New Zealand, and, of course, Alsace itself. The grand tasting is accompanied by a profusion of classic food pairings for the wines, such as oysters, glazed pork belly, tarte flambeé, and choucroute alsacienne.

While the grand tasting ends at 4:00 p.m., the festivities continue well into the next day. In the evening, some restaurants and wineries offer winemaker dinners or special menus to pair with Alsatian varietals. This year, the Anderson Valley luminaries at The Apple Farm will offer a locally sourced organic feast to pair with Alsatian varietals, while Scharffenberger Cellars is presenting a private dining experience with the winemakers.   On Sunday, many of the local wineries open their doors to the public and provide food, music, special offers on wine, and an all around good time. For anyone looking for a memorable wine experience, The Alsace Varietals Festival in Anderson Valley is not to be missed.

For more information on the Anderson Valley Alsace Festival, go to

ZAP’s 25th Anniversary Tasting

By Kareasa Wilkins

One of the most highly anticipated wine tasting events of the year is always the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) tasting in San Francisco. Zinfandel lovers are a carefree bunch, and each year ZAP brings them together to revel in the pleasure-inducing, tongue staining, sumptuous sipper that is Zinfandel. This year marks ZAP’s 25th anniversary, and it will be a bacchanalia like no other, so get ready to swirl, sniff, and sip your way to Zin bliss.

The three day festival will kick off with a 25 year tribute party at the lavish Bentley Reserve, the former San Francisco Federal Reserve building. Guests will have the opportunity to mingle with ZAP’s founders, and toast the winemakers while sipping on rare and exclusive bottles of America’s heritage grape. The party continues with The Heritage Supper Club, a showcase of the world’s best Zins perfectly paired with an extravagant meal. The supper club will be accompanied by celebrated crooner, Margaret Belton, the star of ‘Always…Patsy Cline.”

Friday’s “Flights—Forums of Flavor” boasts the occasion to stimulate your inner wine geek with a seminar and themed flights exhibiting the distinct characteristics of Zinfandel. This year’s seminar features the Historical Vineyard Society, a non-profit organization made up of a team of some of the most famous names in the wine industry dedicated to preserving historical vineyards and educating the public their importance.

Friday night = fabulous as we return to the Bently Reserve for the Silver Anniversary Spectacular Winemaker’s Auction and Dinner. Magnums will be popped open to accompany a special farm-to-table dinner, while patrons can bid on the best of the best in the world of Zin.

Saturday’s Grand Tasting is the tasting extravaganza that we’ve all been waiting for. This year the illustrious event will take place at the recently revamped Pier 27. With over 150 producers showcasing their finest Zins, among them some of the most important personalities behind Zinfandel rise to fame, this is the perfect opportunity to experience the regional distinctions of Zin and chat with the producers making the magic.

With a line up of exciting events and rare opportunities to taste some of the most refined Zins on the market, the Zin Experience is bound to please wine lovers from the novice to the expert. The Purple Tongue Press will be part of the experience, and you can too.

To find out more about the world’s largest single varietal wine tasting, go to

To buy tickets, go to!tickets/c1hae

To learn more about becoming a member of the Heritage club, go to!heritage-club/c8hl