Celebrating three decades of fine wines, beautiful scenery and destination-worthy cuisine, event kicks off November 6 in Yosemite National Park

The Ahwahnee, a recently refurbished, full-service, AAA Four-Diamond hotel located in scenic Yosemite Valley, Calif., will welcome 33 of California’s best vintners for its 30th annual Vintners’ Holidays event series starting this November.  Celebrating three decades of excellence in winemaking in the unmatched and beautiful natural setting of Yosemite National Park, Vintners’ Holidays will be held over a series of eight sessions from November 6 to December 8, 2011.  From terroir to table, participants in each session will have personal access to meet the vintners, learn about the latest trends in viticulture, taste the wines and enjoy a five-course finale candlelit dinner in The Ahwahnee’s grand Dining Room.

“Fall is always a wonderful time of year to visit The Ahwahnee and Yosemite National Park as the foliage changes color and the fireplaces are roaring in the hotel,” said Brett Archer, general manager of The Ahwahnee. “Vintners’ Holidays is a fun and interactive event and with the hotel’s recent design renovations this year, guests will be able to experience a new level of comfort.”

Since its inception as a small gathering of vintners and hotel guests in the winter of 1982, Vintners’ Holidays has become a premier and much-sought-after destination for wine aficionados and winemakers alike.  Held every year in the fall, Vintners’ Holidays allows the vintners to relax after their busy harvest season and share the fruits of their labor with Yosemite visitors.  Many vintners have participated multiple years, and returning for the 2011 season are boutique producers such as Jaffurs Wine Cellars to such widely-recognizable names as Mumm Napa.  New wineries joining the festivities this year are Hitching Post and Blackbird Vineyards.  Many vintners have a family history with the event, including three winemakers whose fathers have also presented at Vintners’ Holidays including K.R. Rombauer III and his father Koerner Rombauer of Rombauer Vineyards, Bill Phelps and his father Joe Phelps of Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and Bo Barrett and his father Jim Barrett of Chateau Montelena Winery.

Vintners’ Holidays offers everyone from the novice to the connoisseur an opportunity to participate in a part of viticulture, as the wineries share their latest vintages and oftentimes rare and limited-release samples exclusively with guests.  Each session includes a “Meet the Vintners” reception, educational tasting seminars and concludes with a five-course gourmet dinner by Executive Chef Percy Whatley in The Ahwahnee Dining Room.  Whatley prides himself in providing the best in local and organic California ingredients with his seasonal American menu.  Working with each vintner, he expertly crafts each course to complement the presenting wines in a fun role-reversal on the more traditional wine pairing, creating beautiful and delicious dishes for each guest to enjoy.

The sessions are hosted and moderated by leading experts in wine, sharing their own knowledge with guests and engaging the vintners in discussions about the industry.  This year welcomes back Gilles de Chambure, M.S., director of wine education at Meadowood; Peter Marks, M.W. and vice president of education, Constellation Academy of Wine; Dan Berger, syndicated wine journalist and judge;Evan Goldstein, M.S., president of Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc.; andMichael Stepanovich, wine journalist and judge.

“Without a second thought, I can say that The Ahwahnee’s Vintners’ Holidays is the preferred event of about every California winemaker I know,” said long-time moderator Evan Goldstein who has participated in 26 of the last 30 seasons.  “Where else can you combine breathtaking scenery, an engaged and enthused group of guests and a broad range of the best vintners and wines?  Half Dome, great bottles, wonderful company, delicious food and articulate winemakers—does it get any better than that?”

The 2011 schedule is as follows:

Session 1: November 6-8 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Gilles de Chambure, M.S.; director of wine education, Meadowood
Rob Talbott, Talbott Vineyards
Daniel Baron, Silver Oak Cellars
Eric Sklar, Alpha Omega
David Duncan, Twomey Cellars

Session 2: November 9-10 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Gilles de Chambure, M.S.; director of wine education, Meadowood
Frank Ostini, Hitching Post Winery*
Paul Leary, Blackbird Vineyards*
K.R. Rombauer, III, Rombauer Vineyards
Cathy Corison, Corison Winery

Session 3: November 13-15 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Evan Goldstein, M.S., and president, Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc.
Rob McNeill, Mumm Napa
Tom Rinaldi, Provenance Vineyards
George Bursick, Villa Toscana Winery
Ed Sbragia, Sbragia Family Vineyards

Session 4: November 16-17 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Michael Stepanovich, wine journalist and judge
Brian Talley, Talley Vineyards
Kent Rosenblum, Rosenblum Cellars and Rock Wall Wine Co.
Craig Jaffurs, Jaffurs Wine Cellars
Bill Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards

Session 5: November 27-29 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Peter Marks, M.W. and vice president of education, Icon Estates
Milla Handley, Handley Cellars
Dan Goldfield, Dutton-Goldfield Winery
Steve Reeder, Simi Winery
Bill Easton, Domaine de la Terre Rouge

Session 6: November 30 – December 1 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Peter Marks, M.W. and vice president of education, Icon Estates
Ross Halleck, Halleck Vineyard
Janet Myers, Mount Veeder Winery
Ron & Lorie Gianelli, Gianelli Vineyards
Joel Peterson, Ravenswood Winery

Session 7: December 4-6 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Moderator: Dan Berger, wine journalist and judge
Jason Haas, Tablas Creek Vineyard
Tim Carl, Huge Bear Wines
Andy Beckstoffer, Beckstoffer Vineyards
Ehren Jordan, Failla Wines
Larry Turley, Turley Wine Cellars

Session 8: December 7-8 (Wednesday-Thursday)
Moderator: Dan Berger, wine journalist and judge
Amelia Morán Ceja, Ceja Vineyards
Lawrence “Buck” Cobb, Karly Winery
Larry Brooks, Tolosa Winery
Bo Barrett, Chateau Montelena Winery

*Indicates new winery this year.

Special two- and three-night packages for Vintners’ Holidays are available at either The Ahwahnee or Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, and include lodging, two tickets to the Gala Vintners’ Dinner, admission to the “Meet the Vintners” reception and four wine tasting seminars.  These special packages represent a significant value and guest savings off the regular rack rate for accommodations and services.  The following rates are based on double occupancy, subject to change, and do not include room taxes.  Individual tickets for the Gala Dinner may be purchased for the special 30th Anniversary at a reduced price of $199 per person, including gratuity and excluding tax.

Two-night Packages from:        Three-night Packages from:
THE AHWAHNEE      $896         $1,145
YOSEMITE LODGE AT THE FALLS      $665         $800

For more information on Yosemite Vintners’ Holidays at The Ahwahnee or to make reservations, call 801-559-4903 or visit online at

The Ahwahnee is a full-service, AAA Four-Diamond hotel located in scenic Yosemite National Park, which is home to stunning natural beauty, bountiful activities and historic charm. The Ahwahnee is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and has been accepted as a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program that recognizes hotel properties for preserving and maintaining their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. The Ahwahnee was recognized by Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s “Reader’s Choice Awards” in 2010 as one of the top 100 resorts in the United States.  For more information, visit

Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts is an industry leader providing Stewardship and Hospitality in Special PlacesSM, with hotel, retail, food service, recreation and transportation operations at historic and scenic properties in North America and Australia. The company operates Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Sequoia and Yosemite national parks, including The Ahwahnee and other Yosemite lodges; Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite & the Cottages at Tenaya Lodge; Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa in British Columbia; Niagara Falls State Park; The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio; Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga; Holiday Inn West Yellowstone, Gray Wolf Inn & Suites and Yellowstone Park Hotel; and soon, LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash. The company also owns and operates five luxury resorts in Australia: Lizard Island Resort, Heron Island Resort, Wilson Island Resort, Kings Canyon Resort and El Questro Homestead and Wilderness Park. To learn more about Delaware North Companies’ hospitality management expertise, visit


Comments are closed.