For the ninth consecutive year, the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association will host the International Alsace Varietals Festival – an event that has become a popular showcase for Alsace-style whites, poured by producers from around the globe. The 2014 festival, to be held on February 8- 9, comes amidst a national surge in demand for wines made from the highlighted varietals. Last year, sales of Muscat/Moscato rose by 33% by volume in U.S. retail stores – the largest gain by percentage – and Pinot Grigio/Gris rose by 8%, making it the fourth most popular wine by varietal (according to The Wine Institute).
This year’s festival won’t be all about the sweet or the fizzy, however. At Saturday’s grand tasting, producers from Willamette Valley, Alsace and Anderson Valley will be showcasing some of the world’s best whites, in styles that range from bone dry to off-dry, with a few late-harvest selections. Varietals being poured will include Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat. Delectable bites like fresh oysters, pork belly, artisan cheeses and a traditional tarte flambée will be on offer throughout the tasting.
Saturday morning’s educational session has been tailored to appeal to the wine geek in all of us. Topics will range from a discussion of the Riesling sweetness scale, complete with a competitive tasting, to a vineyard-focused tasting of Gewürztraminers and a gourmet food and wine pairing demonstration by Lars Kronmark, chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
Francois de Melogue, chef at FIGUE restaurant in Palm Desert, Calif., will present a live cooking demonstration for festival attendees. Participants will learn tips and tricks from a trained chef, and have a chance to sample the dish he creates at the Alsace Festival Grand Tasting, just after the demonstration.
Participating wineries at the festival will include: Anne Amie Vineyards, Barra of Mendocino, Breggo Cellars, Claiborne & Churchill, Cutruzzola Vineyards, Foris Vineyards Winery, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Lazy Creek Vineyards, Lula Cellars, Navarro Vineyards, New Zealand Winegrowers, Phillips Hill Estates, Philo Ridge Vineyards, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Domaines Schlumberger, Tatomer Wines, Thomas Fogarty Winery, Toulouse Vineyards, Trefethen Family Vineyards and Valckenberg Estates & Wine Merchants, with more to come.
Rocco Hanson, chef/owner of Oui Cook, will craft Saturday evening’s winemaker dinner. Held at Scharffenberger Cellars in Philo, the dinner will showcase Alsace-style wines (including Pinot Noir) from participating wineries, alongside a multi-course, sit-down meal. Attendees will dine with the winemakers and savor amazing wines, perfectly paired with each course.
On Sunday, local wineries will host open houses that include live music, vineyard tours, food and wine pairings, and more. All are welcome, and most open houses are complimentary.
A detailed schedule for the weekend follows. Additional information about the event can be found at the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association Web site at www.avwines.com, or by contacting the Association via e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at (707) 895-WINE. Tickets can now be purchased at the AVWA Web site.