travelWe can travel the world without ever flying the friendly skies. Wine is rife with opportunity; with it we can transport ourselves anywhere.

The Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting March 28 in the Bay Area is a perfect opening to use “wine miles” to learn more about France’s Rhone region.

First up – a peek at the tasting.

The Rhone Rangers, with more than 100 winery members, will be offering the largest tasting of American Rhone wines with 300-plus pours. More than 2,000 people are expected to sip through Rhone varietals grown on American turf. (See below for tasting details and/or visit

The Rhone Rangers are not a masked band of men who fight injustice and force their enemies to taste Rhone varietals. They are simply a group of people who find Rhone varietals from France intriguing and want to test their magic on American soil.

To get our geographical bearings, the name Rhone Valley comes from the Rhone River, which begins in the Swiss Alps and ultimately flows into the Mediterranean, just west of Marseille. The region is divided into two segments – northern Rhone and southern Rhone.

Here’s a quick hit look at how the geography in the Rhone is bottled: The top northern reds are Cote-Rotie and Hermitage. Meanwhile the most popular southern red is Chateauneuf-du-Pape. You’ve also no doubt come across many Cotes-du-Rhones and they hail from the north or the south, although most come from the south.

If this has whet your appetite, here’s more for that curious palate of yours. You can get a feel for the most popular Rhone reds by perusing through the typical flavor profiles, whether they’re from France or the U.S.

Syrah – meaty, with notes of blueberry, blackberry boysenberry, cracked black pepper, smoke and tobacco.

Petite Sirah – intense and chewy, with notes of blueberry, blackberry, black pepper and licorice.

Grenache – bright, with notes of cherry and currant, with aromas of black pepper and licorice.

Mouvedre – earthy and gamy, with notes red fruit, chocolate, mocha and leather.

If you go to the Rhone Ranger Grand Tasting, you’ll have fun exploring these varietals, among others.

As promised, here are the tasting details: The Grand Tasting, at 3 p.m., will take place across San Francisco Bay at the Craneway Pavilion, Ford Point, Richmond. Along the perimeter of the pavilion, guests can purchase a range of small plates from chefs and specialty food trucks. The ticket price for Grand Tasting is $75 in advance and $85 at the door. To purchase these tickets, and others for the string of weekend events, visit