San Francisco was the launch point for the 2013 Wine Spectator Grand Tour as more than 800 people attended the tasting April 24 at the Marriott Marquis. They sipped wines from more than 225 producers, representing 15 countries and four states, in what was the first of three stops on this year's Grand Tour.
“If you’re interested in good wine or learning about good wine, this is the place to be,” said vintner Kathryn Hall, of Hall Winery in Napa Valley. Hall poured alongside the likes of second-growth Bordeaux estate Château Cos-d’Estournel, Barolo master Paolo Scavino, Burgundy house Louis Latour and Australia’s notable Two Hands.
Attendees seemed to enjoy themselves. In typical San Francisco fashion, the dress code ranged wildly, from skimpy dresses with high heels to goths clad entirely in black. Between tastes, they nibbled on artisan cheeses and treats like mini pork sliders and pasta.
“This is a chance to try new wines from all over the world,” said Hillary Kneeshaw, who tasted with a group of San Francisco friends. “We’re spoiled just tasting California wines all the time.” One of her companions, Megan Hamilton, particularly liked the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from New Zealand. “It tasted like a spring garden,” she said.
Pierce Foster of nearby Redwood City was concentrating on the Italian wines. “I’ve never really enjoyed them before and I was pretty impressed. What I like about the tasting is that there’s more than just the usual varieties you see in Napa or Sonoma.”
Jason Jardine, president of Flowers Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma, said the Grand Tour is one of the few tasting he attends every year. “As a winemaker,” he said, “this is a great way to engage and build a personal connection with people in a face-to-face, authentic way.”
Tickets are still available for the tasting in Las Vegas on April 27 and in Chicago May 3. For more information, visit WineSpectator.com/GrandTour.
Here are portraits of a few of the notable winemakers and winery owners who were on hand to pour their wines, along with the guests who came to enjoy them. Click any thumbnail photo to open the slideshow.