Attention Chardonnay enthusiasts! The ultimate celebration of this noble varietal is coming to the Santa Maria Valley with the first annual Chardonnay Symposium on Saturday, July 31 hosted by the Santa Maria Valley Wine Country Association.

In the words of wine writer Steve Heimoff, “Chardonnay — America’s favorite white wine — is about to have its very own public event. The Chardonnay Symposium. About time.” Hear, hear!

The full-day event begins with morning informational sessions featuring speakers selected from California’s most notable Chardonnay growing regions, including Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat, Brian Talley of Talley Vineyards, Denise Shurtleff of Cambria Winery, Richard Sanford of Alma Rosa, and Randy Ullom of Kendall-Jackson.

Full-day tickets cost $100 and include a choice of morning panel discussion, lunch, transportation, admission to the Grand Tasting, a Riedel wine glass, and gift bag. Tickets for the Grand Chardonnay Tasting Event are included in the full-day cost or may be purchased for $45 separately. The tasting event will take place at Tres Hermanas Winery. Visit the symposium’s web site for tickets and more information.

Now, we won’t be so cheeky as to suggest that Chardonnay is the ideal pairing for Santa Maria Style Barbecue (a local Syrah or Pinot Noir tends to be a more appropriate match), but there is no question that the varietal is a perfect pairing for the soils and climate of the Santa Maria Valley. Chardonnay thrives amid the valley’s long, moderate growing season, which is forged by its rare “transverse” geography. Simply put, the valley runs west to east, opening right up to the Pacific ocean at the far end. This orientation encourages the influx of cool marine air, resulting in exquisite growing conditions for Burgundian varietals, among others.

So come on out and enjoy the ultimate Chardonnay experience, and don’t forget to savor authentic Santa Maria BBQ at one of our local restaurants while you’re in the neighborhood.