Hospice du Rhone returns and Rhone wine lovers celebrate

Fans of the 22 Rhone varieties — bourboulenc, camarese, carignane, cinsault, clairette blanc, clairette rose, counoise, grenache blanc, grenache gris, grenache noir, marsanne, mourvedre, muscardin, muscat a petits grains, picpoul blanc, picpoul noir, roussanne, syrah, terret, ugni blanc, vaccarese, viognier — reunited last week in Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone.

Hospice du Rhone 2016

From winemakers to wine trade to wine enthusiasts, hundreds of attendees enjoyed two full days of seminars, walk-around tastings, lunches and dinners featuring more than 150 wineries from France, California, Washington, Australia, Oregon and Spain.

With the mission of promoting Rhone variety wines, Hospice du Rhone has been an event that both the wine trade and wine enthusiasts have anticipated year after year. But after 20 years in Paso Robles, Hospice du Rhone took a break after 2012. In April 2016, it came back.

According to John Alban, founder of Hospice du Rhône and Alban Vineyards, there are so many grapes and so much diversity but “the 22 varieties are what bring everyone together, what links everyone together. As I travel around and meet winemakers, we may have very little in common and yet we have so much in common.”

There are so many opportunities for diversity and each winemaker goes in their own direction. It is about the passion, exploring different climates and different ways.”

After Alban’s welcome, it was time to start tasting. The seminars covered topics from exploring the terroirs of Châteauneuf du Pape and the white wines of the Costières de Nîmes in Southern Rhone to the state of Rhône varieties within the state of Washington and a road trip through the alluring varieties of syrah and grenache hailing from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara.