Today's local paper had the Spring 2004 magazine Imagine inside with the following information:
125 West Coast wineries and 40 selected restaurants will participate in the 22nd annual event presented by the Viticulture Alumni Club and the Enology Alumni Assn. of CSU Fresno, on Sunday, June 6, 2004, at the Coombs Riverbend Ranch in Madera (E on Ave. 12 off Hwy 41), from 3-6 pm, followed by coffee tasting with dessert and live jazz from 5:30 to dusk. Tickets are $65 and include souvenir wine glass, buffet plate and program. Proceeds benefit the Vincent E. Petrucci Library at CSUF. There will also be a fine art raffle for a print of this year's A Celebration of Wine artwork by Phyliss Neufeld. Details: (559) 244-5741 Additional information and reg. form via link below.
Being a native it's a little embarrasing to admit I was unaware of this event until last year (hey, I still haven't been to the Underground Gardens) when I couldn't attend due to out of town commitments, sadly as again is the case this year. Truth is I've always considered viticulture in this area as being restricted to Thompson seedless, Red Flames and grapes suitable for jug and box wines, even after the award winning efforts of CSUF (barbera, merlot, primativo, etc) and the great products of Ficklin and Quady. While true that grapes grown in this climate are not suitable for fine table wine winemakers are importing them from other areas with commendable results. I've been meaning to try Englemann Cellars http://www.engelmanncellars.com/ west of Fresno (3275 N. Rolinda at Shields Ave.) that has received some good reviews for their Cabernet-Shiraz, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Shiraz.
What I find especially attractive are the number of northern CA and central coast wineries participating and the excellent representation of local restaurant cuisine.
Wineries (ones that I'm familiar with): Cambria, Castoro, Chateau Montelena, Cuvaison, Domaine St. George, Duckhorn, Eberle, Edna Valley, EOS, Ficklin, Grgich Hills, Groth, J. Lohr, Joulian, Justin, Landmark, McManis Family, Merryvale, Pine Ridge, Rombauer, Saucelito Canyon, Silver Oak, Tobin James, Zaca Mesa.
Restaurants: Ahwahnee Hotel, Campagnia, Ducey's on the Lake, The Elbow Room, Erna's Elderberry House, Shaghai Chinese Cuisine, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. (also two I haven't heard of, Casa Corona and Sosza's.... anyone have any info?)
At $65 per, this seems to be a great deal considering all the food and follow-up entertainment (the WOPN was $75 and had very little in the way of edibles, granted the Pinot Noirs made up for it).
If you're unfamiliar with the Coombe's Ranch, it is an idyllic spot along the San Joaquin River under old oak trees, perfect for wine, food and jazz.
Please report back if any of you hounds attend.
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with this event or any of the participants other than being a wine guzzling CSUF alum.
Dave in Fresno