The annual Chardonnay Symposium is this weekend! This is a special event – the only one in the United States that focuses on Chardonnay in all its many styles. There are many events scheduled, beginning with a clonal tasting and a welcome barbeque at Sierra Madre Vineyard on Friday July 22nd at 4pm. Clonal tasting sounds like some strange television show – a cross between the Food Network and the SciFi channel, but in fact it is a wine tasting led by Sierra Madre Vineyard’s winemaker Steve Rasmussen and proprietor Doug Circle where eight different clones of Chardonnay are poured and discussed. A panel of speakers, including Bob Steinhauer (2010 Agriculturist of the Year and foremost authority on the history of Chardonnay), Nancy Sweet (Editor of the UC Davis National Grape Registry), John Falcone (Falcone Family Vineyards), Steve Fennell (Sanford Winery) will be discussing the diversity of Chardonnay.
Saturday July 23rd there are two educational sessions:
#1 – The Great Oak Debate 9:30-11:30am Bien Nacido Vineyards – An impressive group of speakers Steve Heimoff (celebrated wine writer and West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast magazine…quite possibly the best job in the known world IMHO), Greg Brewer (Brewer-Clifton, Diatom, Melville Vineyards), Dieter Cronje (Presqu’ile Winery), Mike Eyres (Chahalem Wines – Oregon), Joshua Klapper (La Fenetre Wines), Leslie Mead Renaud (Lincourt Winery and Foley Wines), Greg Stach (Landmark Vineyard) will be on hand to debate the age old question of buttery, oaky chardonnay versus bright, citrus-y UNoaked chardonnay.
#2 Taking Back Chardonnay 9:30am-11:30am at Tantara Winery – an illustrious panel of wine pros discuss Chardonnay in its myriad of styles. Speakers include Karen MacNeil (Tantara Winery), Bill Cates (Tantara Winery), Neil Bernardi (Migration Wines), Steve Rasmussen (Sierra Madre Vineyard), Denise Shurtleff (Cambria), Jim Stollberg (Riverbench), Steve Tylicki (Steele Wines).
In the afternoon from noon-1:30pm, Full Day attendees will have a Wine Tasting Luncheon (and wine, naturally) with area winemakers at the Au Bon Climat & Qupe Winery in Santa Maria. After lunch, beginning at 2pm and continuing until 5pm, the Grand Chardonnay Tasting will take place at Byron Winery. Here attendees can taste a wide variety of Chardonnays from fifty (50!) different wineries from Washington, Oregon, Sonoma, the Central Coast and of course our very own Santa Maria Valley. Here is the impressive line up of wineries that will be pouring: Alta Maria, Au Bon Climat, Bien Nacido Vineyards, Brewer-Clifton, Bridlewood Estate Winery, Byron Winery, Cambria Winery, Chamisal Vineyards, Chehalem Wines (Oregon), Conway Family Wines, Costa de Oro Winery, Cottonwood Canyon Winery, Deovlet Wines, Diatom Wines, Dierberg Vineyard, Eberle Winery, Falcone Family Vineyards, Flying Goat Cellars, Foley Wines, Fontes & Phillips, Foxen, Fresh & Easy Wines, Gainey Vineyard, Kendall-Jackson, Kenneth Volk Vineyards, Kessler-Haak Vineyard & Wines, Knights Bridge Winery, La Fenetre Wines, Landmark Vineyards, Lincourt Winery, Lucia Vineyards, Mercy Vineyards, Migration from Duckhorn Wine Company, Ojai Vineyard, Pali Wine Co., Pisoni Vineyards, Presqu’ile Winery, Qupé Wine Cellars, Rancho Sisquoc, Riverbench Vineyard & Winery, Rusack Vineyards, Sanford Winery, Sanguis Wines, Sierra Madre Vineyard, Solomon Hills Vineyards, Steele Wines, Tantara Winery, Toretti’s Family Vineyard, William James Cellars. And what goes well with fabulous wine? Fabulous food, of course! There are a number of restaurants, caterers and specialty food purveyors who’ll be serving tasty dishes including: Bello Forno Wood-Fired Cuisine, Butterfly Brittle, Central City Market (I just went to a wine event they catered last weekend on the Star Lane Ranch – the food was beautiful and delicious), Chef Rick at the Far West Tavern, Fresh & Easy, Panera Bread, Testa Catering, Trattoria Uliveto, Vintner’s Grill, Zoe’s Hawaiian BBQ & Catering. I went to the Chardonnay Festival last year (here is my post about my favorite wine of last year’s festival, Presqu’ile) and it was wonderful (and I typically don’t go out of my way to drink Chardonnay) and well worth the price of admission. Note, if you don’t like to “geek out” about wine, rootstock and clones, then just skip the educational morning seminars and just come for the Grand Tasting – you’ll be happy you did! Here is where you can get details and pricing for the various event tickets. Cheers!