2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: 5 Reasons To Get Your Tickets Now by valleyfog

Tickets for the 2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, happening May 20 – 22, 2011, are now on sale and there are many reasons to go. We’re going to count down our five top reasons, just ’cause. This festival is the highlight of our year and is one of the main reasons we are in the wine business today making California pinot noir. But enough about us, without further ado, five reasons to get your tickets to the AV Pinot Fest today, in descending order:

Hein Family Vineyard in Anderson Valley, near Philo, CA.

5. It’s beautiful. Just going to Anderson Valley, if you’ve never been, is reason alone. Even if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and you drive the three hours over hill and dale to get there, you feel like you are removed from the urban jungle or the suburban sprawl. The air smells fresh, you breathe easier, the landscape is gorgeous and the people are friendly and welcoming.

4. Geek out at the Technical Conference. Have a strong opinion about native yeasts vs. inoculating? Want to know about the benefits and risks of whole cluster fermentation? Does all the technical stuff wash over you much easier when you’re drinking pinot noir from great producers and vineyards? For years, the technical conference has been a great way for us to get more immersed in the winemaking process. If you want to dive in head first, go for the full day session. Or, if you just want to dip your toe in the water, check out the afternoon session that is designed to be more consumer-friendly. Wine goddess Karen MacNeil will be there in the afternoon session guiding attendees “through an in-depth study of the inherent grace and beauty of pinot noir through the lens of other varietals.” That’s hot.

Eager Pinotphiles rush to the Grand Tasting in Philo.

3. Pig out on pinot at the Grand Tasting. It’s actually not that overwhelming for a grand tasting. The festival organizers limit attendance to the Saturday tasting to roughly 650 attendees, so you have an opportunity to get up close and personal, as it were, with the winemakers and their pinot noirs (some sparkling wines, too, as long as they are made w/some pinot).

Over 40 producers will be under the big tent at the picturesque vineyard behind Goldeneye Winery. Londer Vineyards, Foursight, MacPhail, Jim Ball, Elke, Phillips Hill, Drew, Roederer Estate, Roessler, and many more…so much pinot noir, so little time. And there will be plenty of food to keep your energy up and your wits about you for the silent auction (there are some seriously cool wines and packages – all the proceeds benefit the Anderson Valley Health Center.)

2. Winemaker dinners. These dinners, hosted at either wineries or local restaurants, are a real treat. Guests get to interact with the winemakers in an even more intimate setting. Two or three wineries pair their wines with amazing cuisine from chefs in the Valley or from the Mendocino Coast, and there’s usually a winemaker sitting at every table. Seating is limited — the Apple Farm dinner which we’re attending is limited to 34 guests and is almost sold out — so get on it! We’ve been to the Roederer Estate dinners before and they are spectacular. The dinners on the coast feature great producers like Baxter, Claudia Springs, Esterlina and Lazy Creek and are perfect if you are lodging in Albion, Little River or Mendocino.

1. Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be there. Okay, so it is a little about us! But hey, we’re excited because at the Grand Tasting we are going to be pouring our two newest Anderson Valley pinot noirs for the first time. Our 2009 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir, from the 1600′ vineyard farmed by Rich Savoy, is savory and aromatic with notes of bright cherry, orange peel and coriander. And our 2009 Hayley Vineyard Pinot Noir strikes that perfect balance of Anderson Valley pinot with brilliant red fruit and a hint of earthiness and a touch of vanilla. Both of these wines, along with our three other 2009 pinot noirs, were recently bottled and are pending release, so stay tuned for their respective launches.

So hop on over to the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival website and get your tickets and we look forward to seeing you in the valley in May!

The calm before the storm at the Grand Tasting