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Wine Wanderlust Guide: April 2018

Plan your travels with wine in mind: This month, taste well-known classic wines and new discoveries alike at events in California and Oregon, more than 240 outstanding wines will be poured at the Wine Spectator Grand Tour, and get your fill of local cuisine at a Virginia food-and-wine festival
Photo by: Visit Williamsburg
Williamsburg Winery in Virginia is a key host at the upcoming Williamsburg Taste Festival.

Samantha Falewée, Brianne Garrett
Posted: March 30, 2018

Want to explore wine around the world? Wine Spectator's monthly guide opens the door, with insider tips, upcoming events and seasonal packages, and once-in-a-lifetime cultural experiences.


Journeys in Wine and Food

Ready for the next adventure? Look for these wine travel experiences this April.

California

If you want to explore wines from and inspired by France's Rhône Valley, the Paso Robles Hospice du Rhône wine weekend in California on April 26-28 is a great place to start. The international conference features seminars and tastings with more than 100 producers from both the Rhône and around the world specializing in Rhône-style wines, along with plenty of fine dining pairing opportunities.

The weekend pass is sold out, but tickets are still available for individual tastings and meals. The Tasty Twosome package grants access to the opening and closing wine tastings of the event ($222 per person), and individual passes can be purchased separately. The Rhône-Around Dinner Series features five opportunities (two on Thursday and three on Friday) to enjoy meals from Paso Robles restaurants for $150 each. (Hurry, tickets are going fast!) There’s also a Rosé Lunch on Friday, a lunch and live auction on Saturday and the Farewell Dinner on Saturday (all $100 per person). If you’re looking to fit in some education, you can attend any or all of the four master classes that range from $122 to $175 and offer in-depth looks at the art, science and history of Rhône-style wine.

The month of April is also celebrated as “Down to Earth” month by California wineries and regions invested in sustainable practices, and the roster is full of participants. A vintners’ festival celebrates more than 100 wineries in Santa Barbara on April 21, and the following weekend of April 27-29 has strong options too: Stags Leap District wineries give open-house tours at the Vineyard to Vintner event (a percentage of ticket sales will go to the Napa Valley Community Foundation) while Healdsburg features some 40 local wineries at the Passport to Dry Creek Valley event.

© Ponte Winery
Ponte Winery in Temecula is one of many offering special vineyard tours in conjunction with “Down to Earth” month in California.

A highlight this year is the Signature Sonoma Valley weekend, which brings together more than 80 wineries of Sonoma County with a hyper-local focus. On Friday and Saturday morning, guests can choose from two event options. A handful of small-group wine lunches ($175 per person) take place in private homes or winery rooms that highlight distinctive architecture, interior design or striking landscapes in a historical context. For example, Buena Vista winery, deemed a California Historic Landmark, will host lunch in its Champagne cellar, which was renovated in 2012 to replicate the interior as it first appeared in the 1850s. Or you can opt for one of the vineyard immersions, which dive into topics like the Moon Mountain District’s many volcanic soils and Los Carneros’ varying cool-climate Chardonnays. New this year is the Retrospective event on Saturday afternoon ($250 per person), a vertical tasting from Hanzell Vineyards in an exclusive tasting moderated by Culinary Institute of America professor Robert Bath. On Sunday, “Bubbles & Brunch” ($65 per person) is the final send-off, offering local sparkling wines in the Sonoma Plaza town square. If you want a fuller look at the many wineries here, consider the weekend package, which offers these events plus a few more, including a Legends Dinner with winemakers, a VIP reception and transportation to everything, for $1,750 per person. Tickets are available through the event's website.

More than 30 Mendocino wineries will be pouring at Taste of Mendocino in San Francisco April 7. Tickets are $60.

There are several more events affiliated with Down to Earth month. Check out the full list and ticket prices.

Oregon

Andrea Johnson
The Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association brings in producers like Maryhill Winery to pour their wines at the Portland Grand Tasting.

The Portland Grand Tasting on April 12 offers the opportunity to taste off-the-radar wines from Columbia Gorge from more than 20 different producers. Tickets begin at $35 for general admission; VIP guests get to arrive an hour earlier and have access to a VIP area with food offerings. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.


Washington, D.C.

Jenna Bascom
The Grand Tour hits D.C., New York and Vegas this spring.

This month also marks the beginning of Wine Spectator’s Grand Tour in Washington, D.C., on April 20 and New York on April 24. The third and final event takes place in Las Vegas on May 5. The event features more than 240 wines from top winemaking regions around the world, all rated 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator; a buffet dinner is also included. Attendees will also have the chance to meet winemakers from around the world. Early-bird tickets are still available for $225, and early-admission VIP entry is $325. For general admission, the doors open at 7 p.m.


Virginia

Visit Williamsburg
Williamsburg Winery has been making wines since the 1980s and hosts two events at the Williamsburg Taste Festival.

On April 19-22, the Williamsburg Harvest Celebration returns with a new name—the Williamsburg Taste Festival—and a new act. The walk-around Culinary Arts Kickoff starts the festival on Thursday, while Out and About dinners each evening showcase local chefs at their restaurants. Williamsburg Winery is also a key host, offering a five-course meal at their Wine Spectator Award of Excellence–winning Cafe Provencal on Thursday ($128 per person) as well as the Master of Taste Dinner on Sunday, where three sommeliers suggest the best pairing for several dishes and the audience votes on the best-quality pairing and most daring match ($170). On Friday, unwind at the Friday Night Street Beats event with food trucks and live music, or rest up for food and drinks lectures and cooking demonstrations on Saturday at the Culinary Village. Tickets may be purchased through VisitWilliamsburg.com.

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