Sonoma Valley and surrounds are characterized by family-owned wineries large and small. Here are a few weekend events offering a chance to taste artisan and estate wines of some of Sonoma’s family vintners. You’ll find the winemakers on hand to answer your questions too. (Check Simple Hedonisms for tips on how to plan for a day of wine-tasting.)
August 7 – 11:00am-4:00pm. On Saturday August 7 you can taste wines from 10 artisan wineries matched with top-notch food pairings, converse with the winemakers, even meet the winery dogs – all in one warehouse complex in Sonoma. Over the past year, Sonoma’s 8th Street Wineries collective has grown from 8 to 10 wineries, representing at least 15 different varietals – most of them Sonoma-grown. The wineries are independently owned, most wines are limited production, and many of them are unavailable to taste – other than a at few exclusive restaurants. This bi-annual open house is a chance to experience hard-to-find wines and the unique personality of each winery warehouse. You’ll find the winemaking philosophy of each producer reflected in their workspace.
Doors open at 11:00am when you pick up your “Passport” and enjoy some tasting at renowned MacRostie Winery. After visiting MacRostie, cross the street to visit 9 more wineries. Get your Passport stamped at each winery, and submit it for the wine raffle when you leave. Three names will be selected to receive 3 half-case selections from the 8th Street Wineries.
Rosso Pizzeria will bring their wood-fired pizza oven for pairings at Tin Barn and Kamen Estate. Sage Fine Foods of nearby Cornerstone Sonoma, and John McReynolds — chef and olive oil meister at new 8thStreet winery Stone Edge Farms — are among the other purveyors. Each warehouse sets up their own food station, so expect some yummy surprises.
Eighth Street Wineries is an informal collective comprised of [winery/winemaker]:
- Anaba Wines /Jennifer Marion
- Enkidu Wines / Phil Staehl
- Kamen Estate Wines / Mark Herold, Katy Wilson
- MacRostie Winery and Vineyards / Steve MacRostie
- Parmelee-Hill Wines and Vineyards / Steve Hill
- Stone Edge Farms / Jeff Baker
- Talisman Wines / Scott Rich
- Three Sticks Winery / DonVan Staaveren
- Tin Barn Vineyards / Michael Lancaster
- Ty Caton Vineyards / Ty Caton
Many awards and accolades are attributed to this collective of wineries. For instance, Tin Barn was awarded 5 medals at this years’ San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, including a Double Gold for their 2007 Zinfandel from Russian River Valley. In recent news, new member Kamen Estate was cited in a New York Times article on California Syrah.
Current releases, new releases, library wines and barrel tastings are offered. The price of $30 per person ($20 for wine club members of any 8th Street winery) includes tastings, pairings, and a souvenir wine glass. Parking is free and once parked, you can walk from winery to winery. Each winery will also have special discounts running this day. The most recent open house in February drew over 700 guests. I was there and can’t wait to return. The quality of the wines, enhanced by foods and conversations with the winemaking families make this a memorable experience. Come early for best selection and savory food pairings. Purchase advance tickets here.
Tip: Check back with Simple Hedonisms on Tuesday August 3rd for a contest to win free tickets!
August 7th and 8th, 12:00-5:00pm. This year’s Barrel Tasting will be held at the Muscardini Estate ~ Monte Terra, where guests can enjoy an afternoon in the courtyard, by the koi pond and under the oaks. Tickets are a steal at $20 – including a tour of the Estate Sangiovese vineyard, live music, delectable food and wine pairings, and special wine discounts. 2009 futures from the barrel as well as current releases will be tasted. Buy tickets here.
August 7 at 7:00pm. Saturday is Movie Night at Sonoma’s Gundlach Bundschu Estate Winery. This evening features the 1996 film Swingers. Gun Bun’s annual night under the stars features a high-energy local band at 7pm, followed by the movie at dusk. Bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy an evening under the stars. Wines available for purchase. $10/pp advance tickets to film; $15/pp tickets at door. Buy tickets here.
August 8th, 6:00-10:00pm. Sonoma’s own Epicurean Connection hosts an evening of food, wine, dancing to live music that is sure to be PRIMAL! Lolis Eric Elie, a New Orleans based writer and filmmaker and recognized expert on New Orleans food and culture, is the author of Smokestack Lightening: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country and co-producer of the documentary based upon the book. Elie most recently joined the staff of the HBO series Treme. He also produced and wrote the PBS documentary Faubourg Treme.
Memphis Minnies, The Epicurean Connection & Wild Thyme Catering and Events will cook a Barbecue dinner. Highway 12 Winery and Vineyards & Spann Vineyards will pour their wines, and beer will be available from Moonlight Brewing Company & Uncommon Brewers. Local group The Hellhounds will play for dinner and dancing. The event will be held at Wild Thyme. Cost is $45 per person, and includes screening, dinner and dancing. Tickets are available at The Epicurean Connection, Wild Thyme & Readers’ Books in Sonoma. For more information, call 707-935-7960 or email@example.com. Proceeds from this event benefit Southern Foodways Alliance.