Three Reasons To Celebrate National Chardonnay Day

The most style-driven of all white grape varietals, Chardonnay remains America’s most beloved white wine. Here are three great destinations to celebrate Chardonnay in May from Pismo Beach to points beyond.

Celebrate Milestones In U.S. Chardonnay History At Grgich Hills

Photo courtesy Grgich Hills Estate

Winemaker Miljenko “Mike” Grgich is most famous for crafting the winning Chardonnay wine at the 1976 Judgment of Paris blind tasting, where his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay bested classic Burgundy Grand and Premiers Crus. The success of Napa Valley in Paris would catapult the reputation of U.S. wines and rock the world of wine forever.

A lesser known victory took place at “The Great Chicago Chardonnay Showdown” in 1980 which was the largest blind tasting at the time of fine Chardonnay wines from around the world. Among 221 entries, Grgich reigned supreme with his 1977 Grgich Hills Cellar Chardonnay. Celebrate the 35th anniversary of this momentous occasion with a festive evening of food and wine at Grgich Hills Estate on Saturday, May 16 beginning at 6:30pm. Tickets are $150/per person.

Visit: 1829 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford

Make A Pilgrimage To The Home Of California Chardonnay At Wente Vineyards In Livermore Valley

Photo courtesy Wente Vineyards

Founded over 130 years ago, the Wente family is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery. But its claim to fame are the Chardonnay vines that founders C.H. and Ernest Wente painstakingly selected over a period of 30-40 years for their high quality, and propogated. These vine selections would become known as the Wente clone which would later became available to growers throughout California.

Learn more about the history of “California’s First Family of Chardonnay” and the famous Wente clone with 4th generation winegrowers Carolyn and Phil Wente on National Chardonnay Day, Thursday, May 21 from 5pm-8pm, capped by a sparkling toast and Chardonnay-paired dishes. Tickets are $65/per person.

Visit: 5050 Arroyo Road, Livermore

Immerse In Chardonnay At The International Chardonnay Symposium In Coastal San Luis Obispo

Photo courtesy The Chardonnay Symposium

Chardonnay devotees won’t want to miss the 3-day International Chardonnay Symposium, May 28-30, featuring several trendy seminars, sumptuous Chardonnay-paired meals, and two grand tastings. Held in various venues in coastal Pismo Beach and Avila Beach, the symposium features a range of Chardonnay styles from all of California’s cool climate wine regions and abroad. Here are some highlights:

  • Explore the many ways winegrowers express the unique personality of their wines through farming and winemaking techniques in the roundtable discussion of “The Fashion & Evolution of Chardonnay” ($50/per person) moderated by Nicholas Miller of Bien Nacido Vineyards from Santa Maria.
  • Get inspiration for pairing Chardonnay - from clean, crisp, fruit-driven styles to rich, buttery styles - from Master Sommelier Bob Bath during “Diversity in Balance: Pairing Chardonnay with Food” ($125/per person) illustrated by a thoughtfully paired luncheon.
  • Contrast and taste the evolution of two revered California Chardonnay wines through a vertical of four wines covering three decades in “Hanzell Vineyards and Mount Eden Vineyards Retrospective Tasting” ($125/per person) presented by the winemakers and moderated by Fred Dame, MS. The seminar will be accompanied by a delicious lunch. Established in 1957 the style of Hanzell Chardonnay was inspired by the great whites of Burgundy which founder J.D. Zellerbach (of Crown-Zellerbach) discovered while ambassador to Italy post-WWII. The Hanzell clone is an important heritage clone and its Ambassador Vineyard planted in 1953 in the Sonoma Mountains is one of the oldest continuously producing Chardonnay vineyards in North America. Mount Eden, one of the original “boutique” wineries, has been making estate bottled Chardonnay from their vineyards in the Santa Cruz mountains since the 1940s.

The two grand tastings take place on May 29 and 30, from 1pm-5pm ($100/per person each day) or 2pm-5pm ($75/per person). Passes for both days are $150/per person early admission or $120 regular.

For the full agenda and to book, check the website. The symposium takes place in various venues in Pismo Beach and Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo.

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