Wednesday, May 16, 2012

San Francisco: 29th Annual Tiburon Wine Festival

Tiburon is a town which covers most of the Tiburon Peninsula. It reaches the San Francisco bay from the south and a nice way to get to it is by ferry from Pier 41.

I never knew this before I stumbled across a website, late one night in the thick of my travel research, which listed a range of wine festivals happening in California. Booyah, it was on in Tiburon the weekend we were staying in San Fran.

$65 per person got us unlimited wine and food for three hours. More importantly the festival was a chance for local growers to showcase their produce and to get up close and personal with their consumers...drunk and fun loving San Franciscans enjoying the sunshine, warm weather, live music, good food and vino.

According to the Californian Wine Institute, "sales of California wine within the U.S. in 2011 grew to a record 211.9 million cases, up 5.6 percent in volume compared to the previous year. The estimated retail value of these shipments was $19.9 billion, according to wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside. Global 2011 California wine sales to all markets in the U.S. and worldwide also increased 5.6 percent to 256.6 million cases.". That's a lot of wine. I'd like to compare that to Australian wine production an export rates...some other time.

I like red, in fact I love red wine. I'm not a fan of white - I attribute it to trashy white girls getting sloshed and tarting themselves off to the nearest innocent bystander. I though I shouldn't give it the cold shoulder this time; maybe I could be surprised. I didn't push myself out of my comfort zone too much, just tried a Sauvignon Blanc which was fruity, fun, light to get the ball rolling (highly enjoyable, reminded me of warm sunny days) before getting seriously stuck into the reds. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah. I hadn't tried Zinfandel before and it was a hit.

The crowd was preppy, yuppy, cheerleaders and jocks. It was an interesting contrast to the constant flood of hobos asking us for any spare change.

The girls loved the excuse to wear their summer dresses and sandals; they braved the chilly ferry conditions there and back, to be able to make the most of the pleasantly mild micro climate in Tiburon.

Talking with various producers, that's something I noticed in what they were telling: the many varied micro climates throughout the California coast, each producing a slightly different tasting wine, even though it might be the same type of grape. They all seemed like artisans in their own right, highly passionate about what they do and the quality and uniqueness they produce.

It was a fun day in the sun doing three of my favourite things: eating, drinking wine and hanging out with great company.

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