For those who just can't swing a trip to France this May, the Russian River Valley is an obvious choice for some of the very best Pinot Noirs. Over Memorial Day Weekend (May 23-25), this premier destination for wine and magical hospitality will host its annual celebration - the Pinot Classic. Comprising three separate events and opportunities to enjoy the abundance found in the Russian River Valley, the Pinot Classic truly does offer something for every style of wine drinker, from the scientifically minded, to the elegant connoisseur, to the weekend warrior who simply enjoys great wine and spectacular scenery.
Five of the most compelling reasons to attend this year's festivities are detailed below:
1. You're a seasoned wine lover with a sophisticated palate. Overall, more than 40 wineries will participate in the 2014 Pinot Classic, allowing guests to differentiate their tasting experiences with access to yet-to-be-released wines and exclusive barrel tastings. The elegant Paulée Dinner also presents a rare opportunity to enjoy favored wines shared from vintners' personal cellars.
2. You're NOT a seasoned wine lover with a sophisticated palate. With more than 40 diverse wineries welcoming guests for unlimited tastings throughout the Valley, the Passport to Pinot (May 24 & 25) is the ideal time to sample, compare and expand your appreciation for good wine with insights from resident experts and proprietors.
3. You love wine, but you also really love food. Between vertical tastings comparing various vintages throughout the years, you'll also enjoy perfectly paired bites of some of the Russian River Valley's finest local foods. Once you've visited the experts on their turf, proceed to DeLoach Vineyards for the Paulée feast, artfully prepared by Chef Michou Cornu of Boisset Family Estates. Think such delicacies as Omble Chevalier with grilled white asparagus and organic petit lapin with fallot mustard sauce and roasted shallot potatoes...
4. You geek out when it comes to viticulture. The Russian River Valley AVA is a veritable smorgasbord of rich soils, varying micro-climates and distinctly nuanced wine-making techniques. The Neighborhoods Seminar on May 24 at 10 a.m. features an expert-led panel discussing the distinguishing characteristics of three of the region's separate neighborhoods; how these are expressed in the wines produced in each.
5. You're out to impress with a magical location to uncover. Bring a date, your parents, your high school friends who voted you "most likely to... nothing," and splurge on the Pinot Classic experience. Buy a ticket to all of the weekend's festivities and you'll create some amazing Russian River Valley memories.
Besides, the French don't even observe Memorial Day, so it's still just a two-day weekend there.