The Inside Track on California’s AVAs at SWE 2012

Of the many topics addressed at the 2012 Society of Wine Educators conference held in San Mateo, Calif. in July, Master Sommelier David Glancy’s seminar “A Fast & Deep Dive into California’s Appellations” was popular with attendees who wanted more in-depth information on the distinct terroirs of California’s sub regions.  “Most trade certifications spend precious little time on California,” said Iain Phillips, a WSET educator from Vancouver, B.C.

The Inside Track on California's AVAs at SWE 2012

Malibu-Newton Canyon AVA

Glancy’s seminar was based on the California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS) credential, the industry’s first to focus solely on California, that he developed and began offering last year at his San Francisco Wine School.  “As an industry in California, we’re underserved in education that focuses on our own back yard,” said Glancy who emphasized the importance of terroir by highlighting smaller sub regions like Sonoma’s Bennett Valley that often go overlooked by educators.

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High Valley AVA

During the tasting Glancy intentionally offered no Cabernet Sauvignon and presented instead Chardonnay from Malibu-Newton Canyon, aromatic whites – Torrontes from the Alta Mesa sub-AVA of Lodi, Sauvignon Blanc from High Valley in Lake County and Cole Ranch Riesling. He also emphasized Petite Sirah from San Antonio Valley in Monterey and Rhone varietals: Grenache from Bennett Valley and a Ballard Canyon Syrah.

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Cole Ranch AVA

The biggest take away for Lindsay Pomeroy, CWE was Glancy’s handout, “In addition to covering the soils, climate and sub regions, the presentation included information on growers and notable producers for each AVA making it a great reference.”  Pomeroy who lives in San Diego was introduced to regions like Cole Ranch in Mendocino and Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz.

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Ben Lomond AVA

“Until David began offering this intensive study of California, we were typically only addressing the state’s largest AVAs, said Fred Swan who teaches the course at Glancy’s school.  “We need to get outside of our comfort zone and keep pushing to broaden our understanding of what California has to offer.”

The Society of Wine Educators conference was attended by 325 educators who came from across the United States, Brazil, Canada, England and Japan.

Did you attend the 2012 SWE Conference? What did you think of this year’s sessions?

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by Deborah Parker Wong, AIWS
Northern California Editor, Tasting Panel Magazine

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