California’s Alsace

I don’t think any other growing region in California has so purposely gone out of its way to associate its climate and soils with particular varietals as the Anderson Valley and its wineries.

A few years ago, making the point that Anderson Valley was a source for unique and distinctive Pinot Noir, the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association created the "Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival. It’s a very good event largely because the Pinots from the region are so damn good and because the wineries that produce them are very serious about what they do.

But what I thought was the most brilliant move this organization has ever made was the launch of the "International Alsace Varietal Festival" last year. Quite simply, no region of California produces Rieslings and Gewurztraminers of the same caliber as Anderson Valley. The growers and wineries of that little appellation knew that and a number of folk in the wine industry knew that. But outside of that, it wasn’t well known that Anderson Valley was California’s Alsace.

The creation of the International Alsace Varietal Festival was surely created to make this fact better known.

The 2nd Annual IAVF takes place on February 3-4, 2006 in Anderson Valley,  a small valley just inGrapes
from the Mendocino coast. The big day is the third when more than 20 wineries from around the globe and from Anderson Valley will pour Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. In addition there are dinners and technical seminars and winery open houses.

The risk these folks take in having the festival way up in Anderson Valley is that it’s a long way for people to go. They are going to really have to promote this event to get attendees up there. They do have a secret weapon, however. The Valley itself. It is stunning and it’s a million miles away from Napa and Sonoma Valleys…if you know what I mean. I’ve yet to meet someone who visited Anderson Valley and not been converted into a die hard lover of the region. Myself included.

At Wark Communications we did some work for Handley Cellars, one of the longest winery residents of the appellation. Before that I had done some PR work for Obester, a winery that used to be there before selling it’s vineyards and buildings to Goldeneye. It was always a long drive to meet with clients, but never a drive I dreaded.

If you have any affinity for Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and sheer natural beauty you must attend this event. However, you need to sign up soon and get room reservations soon. Anderson Valley does not have a huge number of rooms. Of course all that means is you will need to stay somewhere on the Mendocino Coast, which isn’t a bad idea in and of itself. However, the Anderson Valley Experience is not to be missed.

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