Wine Guy: California wineries to pour samples at DM Fairgrounds

On March 15, the Del Mar Fairgrounds will play host to a large tasting of California wines.

More than 240 family-owned wineries will be on hand to pour samples inside Wyland Hall at the inaugural 2009 Family Winemakers of California San Diego Tasting.

Exhibitors will represent most wine-growing regions from around the state, with the highest concentration being from Sonoma and Napa counties. Owners and winemakers will be on hand to share their wines with the public.

Though the event has a folksy name, the wines being poured are anything but. The tasting features a star-studded lineup of producers, including Napa Valley standouts Corison Winery, The Terraces and Grgich Hills. From Sonoma, look for Saxon Brown Wines, Fritz Winery and Landmark Vineyards.

Other notable producers scheduled to pour include Tablas Creek Vineyard, Pisoni Vineyards and Winery and Alfaro Family Vineyards.

Wine tasting events with this degree of transparency to winery ownership traditionally were reserved exclusively for those in the wine business. What makes this exhibition special is the access to winery executives by the general public.

“Their intimate involvement with many more aspects of the winemaking process provides for a much more unique experience as far as the dialogue goes,” said Michelle Metter, an organizing consultant for the event.

The Terraces owner and winemaker Timm Crull has high hopes for the first-time exhibition.

“This event will have great wines,” Crull said. “San Diego and North County are important areas. We are very excited to be there.”

Saxon Brown winemaker Jeff Gaffner is also pleased to continue inroads to the San Diego market - and in such an open format.

“It gives us a chance to pour all our wines,” said Gaffner, who plans on offering 12 different choices.

With so many producers on hand, patrons are encouraged to map out a plan to seek out their preferred producers, wines and varietals. An advanced feature on the event Web site allows Web surfers the ability to select varietals they are interested in tasting and will be directed to the producers who will be pouring them.

Family Winemakers of California San Diego Tasting

  • 3 to 6 p.m. March 15
  • Del Mar Fairgrounds
  • $40-$50
  • (866) 465-3995