Family Winemakers of California

What if you could go to one location, and try some of the best wines in California? What if that location included about 175 wineries, and around 750 different wines? What if those wineries were from Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez, Temecula....well you get the picture.

So, what are you doing the weekend of March 9th? I know where I will be. The Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego county will be hosting the largest wine tasting event in Southern California, and includes some of my favorite California winemakers. This event is normally open only to those in the trade, and mainly meant as a buying opportunity for wine shops and restaurants. BUT... this year, they are going to open it to the public for a few hours on Saturday, March 9th.

This will be the fifth year that the Family Winemakers of California have held an event in San Diego. The president of the organization, Paul Kronenberg said, “As the region’s largest tasting of California wines, the event gives members of the trade and wine enthusiasts alike the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines coming from California’s small production, family-owned wineries.  It’s a great opportunity to taste and discover exceptional and hard-to-find wines while getting to meet the passion-driven winery owners and winemakers behind it, who are committed to the craft of producing quality wines.”. Kronenberg continued, “The Family Winemakers tasting introduces attendees to California’s small, family-owned wineries, the varietals being produced by California wine growers, and the state’s many rich and diverse wine regions.  With such a vast selection of wines, I am positive that each person who attendees will discover a new favorite.”
According to their website, the Family Winemakers of California Association was established in 1991 in response to a need for public policy involvement for the small wine producers of California.  The Association has become a strong force in the wine industry, lobbying for wine producer rights, and has an active membership of over 550 California wineries.  Family Winemakers draws its membership from all the wine producing areas of the state, with the largest concentration coming from Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Family Winemakers trade tastings, have been held in San Francisco since 1991 and in Southern California since 2000, are well known in the industry for the quantity and quality of the participating wineries.  The tastings give members of the trade and public the opportunity to get to know wineries from all over the state, especially the small, all in one place at one time.

The cost of the event, for the general public, is $70 at the door, but I am going to share a way to get in at a lower cost. If you register before February 22, you can get in for only $50. Tickets are on sale right now, and can be purchased online at at the advance ticket prices. Or, you can go to  This year’s tasting will also offer a new Reserve Area, only open to consumers.  For an additional fee, fine wine lovers can purchase the “Reserve Area Access” ticket, where wineries will be pouring wines that retail at $75.00 or more. And if that is not enough, there will be a limited number of consumer tasting passes available for the Sunday only trade tasting.

For those outside of the San Diego area, why not make a day of it, and take the train? From Los Angeles, you can avoid traffic and take the Amtrak Train from LAX Airport to the Solana Beach Station, less than 2 miles from the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  Prices range from $30 for unreserved coach seating one-way to $45 for reserved business class seat one-way (prices vary depending on time of purchase).  For departure times and tickets visit:

If you want to follow the event, they have a number of social media connections. You can "Like" their page on Facebook, at or follow them on twitter: FWCTasting. Those of you, who can't make the event, can also look for my recap on this blog site, the week after the event. But, who wants to read about it, when you have the opportunity to attend? If you see me walking around (and most likely tasting and talking) introduce yourself, and say, "hi".

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