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Mark Your Calendars for the 2008 CA Wine Tasting Championships!

May 7th, 2008-- by Dave Chambers


The California Wine Tasting Championships
Greenwood Ridge Winery, Anderson Valley, CA
Sat July 26th & Sun July 27th
Sign Up Here!
$45 for Single Competitor, $80 for team of two

Though the weekend of July 26th and 27th may seem a long ways off, it will arrive before we know it. And when the sun rises on those fateful days, you’ll count yourself lucky if you decided to join me at Greenwood Ridge winery, high in the hills of Anderson Valley for the annual wine tasting competition.Dscn1631_2Novices, amateurs and professionals compete in three different waves, so no matter what your expertise, you’re assured of a good time while “competing” with your peers. Each class offers two rounds of competition, those making it through the first round moving on to a second, more challenging round. The winners of each group then compete in the final round, held in front of the seated crowd – the “American Idol” of the wine industry.Bring a big hat, a blanket, a picnic and lots of sunscreen then wander from the music deck to the food tent to the ample lawns or vineyard of this scenic winery.Recommended Strategy
There are those who feel it wise to keep their palate unfettered by alcohol between rounds of competition. Then there are those who just as strongly advocate for the opposite strategy – consuming ample quantities between rounds. I’ve seen victors emerge from both training schools. My approach is to take the abstention lane, as I was once offered a most welcome, thirst-qunching beer between rounds only to blow it in the second round. Given that I’m as superstitious as your average baseball player, I now swear off the intra-round imbibing.Dscn1641_2 But I do draw the line at crossing myself before each sip. But now that I think about it, what could it hurt? Last year’s winner, the affable Donovan Weir of Southern Wine & Spirits (see photo, Donny is the one with the hat) took the opposite tack. Maybe Donny won because he was well relaxed by his mid-round tipples. But I must say he gave an impressive performance that day, identifying not only the varietal, region and vintage, but the PRODUCER on three of the five wines in the championship round. Good night, turn out the lights, this round is over!I’d also be remiss were I not to mention consultant Mark Bowery, responsible for the wine list at the Albion River Inn, winner of several “Wine Spectator’s Best” awards. I was humbled while competing at his table, and will fight you for one of the seats within eye shot of his tasting notes this year!Register Today!
This is a nice, relaxing family event, with outdoor music, olive oil tastings, chocolate tastings, vineyard tours, and lots of open grassland. One year, a couple who first met at this event years ago got married in the vineyard between rounds of the competition. Yeah, it’s just that kind of event. So even if your summer calendar is already full – find a way to go!

Email Me at if you’d like me to send you an application. Everyone is welcome, and you’ll find it difficult to locate a better use for $45 or $80, even in these economic times!

Click here for map and orientation.

A full listing of Anderson Valley lodging options can be found here. I recommend making reservations early, as even the campsites will be filling up quickly.

Part of Anderson Valley’s appeal is its rural nature. You’ll find no posh hotels, no Michelin Star-Chasing chefs, no golf courses. But you will find diversity.

In fact, I’ll buy your next bottle of wine if you visit for a summer weekend and DON’T see visiting yuppies (you can tell them easily, they push SUV-sized strollers with cup holders, drive European cars, and wear expensive clothes) and resident hippies (shoulder-slung baby hammocks, Prius, hemp clothing, pitchouli oil), leather-clad bikers (Harley AND Japanese versions), resident farmers and city professionals with weekend get-aways. What they all have in common? They eat at the following restaurants:

  1. Libby’s (Philo) - Good mexican food. Frosted beer mugs. Don’t be in a hurry. Everyone eats here.
  2. The General Store (Boonville) – Great bakery, city prices. Best scones I’ve ever tasted (and I’m Scottish!) but they sell out early. Open for breakfast (full breakfast available). Sandwiches made on fresh-baked breads. Open for Pizza night one or two nights a week.
  3. The Boonville Hotel - The best kitchen in the valley, with prices to match. Short wine list focuses on local producers. Very sustainable menu, with most product coming from within the valley and most greens coming from the hotel’s garden. Outdoor patio available, brick oven sometimes operating. Always full, so reservations required.
  4. Lauren’s (Boonville) - Lauren’s is a local favorite for dining as well as an art gallery and occasional music venue. Shower before you go, but don’t dress up unless you enjoy paying the Out-Of-Towner premium. I’m kidding, I think.

Tags: California: Mendocino · Dave Chambers

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