Friday, February 17, 2012

The Organic Side: Alsatian Wine Festival in Anderson Valley This Weekend

Don't have your President's Day weekend plans together yet? Quick, jump on it and get up to the 7th Annual International Alsace Varietals Festival this weekend (Feb. 17-18).

The highlight of this festival is the opportunity to taste Alsatian varietals from French and German (and New Zealand) producers side by side with their American counterparts (from California, Oregon and NY).

Alsatian wine varietals include Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, and Gewurztraminer - all wines worth getting to know as they offer some of the most exquisite tastes.

They're a much overlooked and worthy change from Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs.

You can follow the conference on Twitter at @AlsaceFest.

Participating organic wineries include Handley Cellars (Mendo estate only) in Anderson Valley, McFadden (all) from Potter Valley/Hopland, and Hagafen (selected wines only) and Robert Sinskey (all) of Napa. 

(Though these are the only organic viticulture wineries in the festival, there are many other wineries in the U.S. - primarily in Oregon - that offer Alsatian varieties raised and certified organic so if you are a connoisseur of these varietals, seek them out as well. These include Bethel Heights, Cooper Mountain, Lemelson, Montinore, Pheasant Valley, Sokol Blosser (only some wines) Snoqualmie's Naked (from Washington) and more.)

The event takes place in downtown Boonville.

Following a technical conference in the morning ($45), Food Network star Beau MacMillan will offer a 30 minute cooking demonstration from 12-1.  Samples of his food will be served at Saturday's Grand Tasting from 1-4. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $65. Click here for details.

Organically Grown Wines to Taste:

Hagafen: Riesling
Handley: Gewurztraminer
McFadden: All on offer 
Robert Sinskey: All on offer

Area wineries will be open and offering special discounts and food tidbits from 11-5. This is when you can visit Handley Cellars, the only winery in Anderson Valley with an organic estate vineyard.

If you can't get a place in pricey Anderson Valley (likely to be quite full), I recommend Ukiah motels. For budget pricing you can't beat the Motel 6 ($40) which I have found to be quiet and clean, and the front desk staff friendly, bright and helpful. Midrange motels can be found in abundance in Ukiah near Starbucks et al in giant shopping centers district. If you are in Ukiah, don't miss shopping for organically grown wines at the Ukiah Natural Foods market - one of the best selections of organically grown wine in the state.

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