Rhone Rangers bring a Winehaven revival to the Craneway


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blogimage.jpgWine aficionados from near and far descended upon the Craneway Pavilion this past weekend. The reason? The annual Grand Tasting event by the Rhone Rangers wine organization featuring over 400 varieties of Rhone wine available to taste, analyze, and purchase.

The Rhone Rangers’Grand Tasting attracted over 900 attendees. Now in its second year at the Craneway, the vinicultural event is the largest wine tasting in the United States dedicated solely to the Rhone variety of wine. 

The Rhone Rangers is the United States’leading non-profit dedicated to Rhone wines, and it boasts a membership of over 100 wineries. Some of the hundreds of wines featured at Saturday’s event were pricey —costing upwards of $100 —while other wineries sold their Rhone wines for $10 to $15.

The 22 varieties of Rhone grapes used for this wine trace their lineage to the Rhone Valley in France. They can be mixed in any combination to create a Rhone wine, as long as the Rhone grape content comprises at least 77 percent of the grapes used. Such broad possibilities with the grape varieties results in a wide range flavor palates, weights, and complexity.    

Among the more common Rhone red wine varietals are Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.  The most common white wine varietals include:  Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. The Rhone grapes are sought after for their great diversity though Syrah is by far the most popular Rhone-style wine worldwide from California to Australia (Shiraz). Depending on where in the Rhone Valley the grapes originated, each possesses a different level of fruitiness, acidity, tannins, and sugar. These factors play off each other in unique ways when combined.  

The myriad of blends available using Rhone grape varietals have created a large market served by a dedicated community of wine makers, and Rhone Rangers is their gathering place. While not a direct homage to Richmond’s Winehaven past, the Craneway event was arguably the city’s biggest vinicultural moment since the California Wine Association called Point Molate their home.

While not a direct homage to Richmond’s Winehaven past, the Craneway event was arguably the city’s biggest vinicultural moment since the California Wine Association called Point Molate their home.

The Rhone Rangers have all packed up and returned to their wineries, but Rhone is still easily available. Check out the Rhone Rangers’website here to learn more about Rhone wine and where you can find it.

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