WHILE WINE consumption in America, to those closely associated with this industry in California, seems to be moving upward with glacial speed, even fractional moves become effective over time: Thousands of gallons of wines are finding new and greater appreciation every year.
There's further evidence of progress in the growing number of well-attended festivals and seminars all across the land, from the Wine Experience in New York (alternating years in San Francisco) to spring galas in Dallas and Austin, Tex., and in Monterey, Calif., plus a new one, scheduled for March 3-6 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, called the American Wine Festival, which will make tasting events available to the public as well as the participants. But of them all, certainly the most unusual is the annual autumn series at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite.
In the beginning, MCA Inc., which had taken over the Yosemite Park & Curry Co., owners of the hotel, did not expect much from the Vintners' Holidays program, but the first event was a sellout. Guests now come from all over the world. Mornings are for enjoying the park and trails, and afternoons are spent with the wine makers, listening to inside information demonstrated with the wines in question. The Grand Hall is filled, with classroom seating at tables and generous pouring. This year's discussions, under the leadership of Richard Arrowood, wine master at Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma, focused on some of the difficulties in making Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay wines.