Meghan and I are currently up in Yosemite for this year's Vintners' Holidays event, and I was reminded just how great an event it is. If you haven't been, you should make it a point to. Each year, the Ahwahnee Hotel holds 8 3-day sessions, each of which welcome 4 wineries and up to 200 guests. As a participating winery, you participate in a "meet the winemakers" reception, present a seminar one afternoon, and provide wine to pour with one course of the culminating gala dinner.
The event gets tremendous wineries to participate, and you have an opportunity to spend some nice time with the guests who attend. It's a different (and wonderful) experience from a typical festival where you're standing behind a table with hundreds of other wineries, and more long-lasting and relaxed than a winemaker dinner.
Plus, you're in Yosemite at a time of year when there's virtually no one there. Meghan and I took Eli on a hike this morning up to Vernal Falls. Not your typical festival indeed!
The seminar I'll be presenting tomorrow is titled "A glimpse into California's future: grapes you don't know (yet!)". Although we're best known for our Rhone blends, I'm using the opportunity to shine a little light onto some varietals we're excited about but which aren't yet widely known: Vermentino (I'm showing the 2005 Vermentino), Picpoul Blanc (I'm showing the 2005 Picpoul Blanc), Mourvedre (I'm showing the 2004 Mourvedre), and Tannat (I'm showing the 2004 Tannat, which doesn't yet have a Web page). I'm also showing the 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel, figuring that anyone who sits through a collection of oddments, as fascinating as they are, deserves also to see our signature wine.
[Ed Note September 2008: We will be returning this year to the Vintners' Holidays, for a session from December 2nd-4th with Bonny Doon, Merry Edwards, and Rombauer. Check out details on the 2008 Vintners' Holidays sessions.]