Seattle gears up for Riesling Rendezvous in July

By on May 18, 2016
Riesling is a favorite in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

A winemaker at the 2013 Riesling Rendezvous at Chateau Ste. Michelle displays his love for Riesling. (Photo by Andy Perdue/Great Northwest Wine)

SEATTLE – The world is Riesling is returning to Washington.

Riesling Rendezvous will take place July 17-19 on both sides of Lake Washington and promises to be another superb opportunity to taste some of the world’s finest wines.

Riesling Rendezvous is a three-day international event that attracts winemakers, wine lovers and Riesling aficionados from around the globe. It takes place every three years, rotating with similar events in Germany and Australia.

In 2013, Riesling Rendezvous attracted more than 75 Riesling producers from around the world.

As has been the case with past Riesling Rendezvous, this year’s is sponsored by Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen. Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington’s oldest and largest winery and is the world’s largest producer of Riesling. Dr. Loosen is owned by Ernest Loosen, the renowned German winemaker.

Riesling Rendezvous opens Sunday, July 17, with a grand international tasting on the grounds of Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville. It runs from 5 to 8 p.m. and features a walk-around tasting of Rieslings from various U.S. regions, as well as Germany, Alsace, Australia, Austria and other wine-producing nations. Food also will be served.

VIP tickets for the grand tasting (which get patrons in an hour early) are $125, while the general admission tickets are $85.

Entry for all three days of Riesling Rendezvous is $800.

The event was spawned by the collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Loosen. In 1999, Loosen joined Ste. Michelle to create Eroica. When the wine was released a year later, it spurred the American Riesling revolution, which led to large-scale plantings in Washington. It also brought attention to the noble white grape that was often spurned by wine consumers because it was perceived as a sweet, simple wine.

International Riesling Foundation Riesling Taste Profile scale.

The IRF Riesling Taste Profile helps consumers discover how sweet or dry a Riesling is.

At the inaugural Riesling Rendezvous in 2007, the International Riesling Foundation was formed by a group of Riesling advocates led by Coke Roth, a Washington attorney and former wine distributor; Dan Berger, an acclaimed California wine writer; and Jim Trezise, longtime leader of New York’s wine industry.

As a result of the IRF’s founding, the Riesling Taste Profile was created and designed and now appears on the back of tens of millions of bottles of Riesling each year. The taste profile quickly shows consumers where a particular bottle of Riesling fits on a dry-to-sweet scale.

Riesling Rendezvous seminars

Washington wine

Riesling comes in many forms, from ultra-dry to mega-sweet. All of these styles will be explored in July at the Riesling Rendezvous. (Photo courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle)

The Riesling-filled sessions on Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19, take place at Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the Seattle waterfront. Monday will open with speeches from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates CEO Ted Baseler, Loosen and the incomparable Stuart Pigott, author of The Best White Wine on Earth: The Riesling Story.

The morning general session will be a blind tasting of international dry Rieslings, led by Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food and Wine Magazine. Hundreds of participants will evaluate dry Rieslings from around the globe. This often is a lively session.

Monday’s lunch is sponsored by the Idaho Wine Commission and will feature Rieslings from the Gem State.

In the afternoon, breakout sessions on climate, Australian Riesling and dry Riesling will take place. This will be followed by a special two-hour tasting of Riesling and various cuisines at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

Tuesday will open with a blind tasting of off-dry and dessert-style Rieslings. It will be moderated by Joshua Greene, editor of Wine & Spirits magazine.

The International Riesling Foundation will provide its annual report, focusing on its social media campaign.

The lunch is sponsored by Oregon Riesling producers and will feature wines from Alexana, Argyle, Brandborg, Brooks, Chehalem and Elk Cove wineries.

Tuesday’s afternoon breakout sessions include such topics as selling Riesling, Alsace’s diverse terroir and a winemakers-only roundtable led by Loosen and Ste. Michelle head winemaker Bob Bertheau.

The 2016 Riesling Rendezvous concludes with a farewell reception on the Bell Harbor’s Rooftop Plaza.

About Andy Perdue

Andy Perdue is founding partner of Great Northwest Wine LLC and a longtime wine columnist. He is a third-generation journalist who has worked at newspapers since the mid-1980s and has been writing about wine since 1998. He co-founded Wine Press Northwest magazine with Eric Degerman and served as its editor-in-chief for 15 years. He is the author of "The Northwest Wine Guide: A Buyer's Handbook" (Sasquatch, 2003) and has contributed to four other books.


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