Posts Tagged ‘sonoma’

Labor Day Weekend is Sonoma’s Finest Food and Wine Weekend

A Very Special, Personal Weekend

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend (SWCW) is a special event for me, and Simple Hedonisms. Four years ago….hmm I thought it was five, have I REALLY only been here just over four years? People think I have lived here forever.  Anyway, I digress.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

Moving here on a complete whim in July 2009 in a whirl of tumult, I followed my passion and knowing almost no-one, and having no social media presence, I descended upon Sonoma County. I wasn’t new to the county wine scene however. I have shared regularly, I was in love in the Sonoma, especially Russian River Valley, and visiting so regularly, it just made sense to move, and immediately it ‘fit.’ I immediately planted a tiny vineyard, assisted with harvest, and started Simple Hedonisms.

I am a huge fan and regular attendee of the Wine Road events, but the Saturday Taste of Sonoma was my first walk around tasting where on foot, you could experience dozens and dozens of wineries, sorted by AVA (region) and get a true taste of how diverse the county is.  Sprinkle in amazing food, gorgeous scenery, good weather, and Sonoma County hospitality, and if you don’t love it here, you should be in the next Grinch book.

Just prior to the event, I launched the blog after being urged by many for years to do so, and the Taste of Sonoma, was my first event covered.  The article probably had 100 readers then if I was lucky, a far cry of the peak of my most active writing of 5,000+ a month.  This 2013 event may also prove to be special and unique for me, but alas, that is for a future telling.

How passionate am I about this event? I am in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of my year, and I am taking the time to sit outside with my laptop, overlooking my vineyard project, glass in hand, and trying to ‘write’ as opposed to pasting the press release. We can sleep when we are dead.

Experience The Magic in Sonoma’s Unique Event

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is an annual event every Labor Day weekend and is Sonoma County’s largest charity event and premier wine and food event, celebrating the region’s incredible bounty of food, wine, and fun while raising much needed funds for Sonoma's local charities.

The event is actually entire weekend full of a la carte options, from Friday night dinners to Sunday BBQ, each detailed below.

1. My Favorite: The Saturday Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

There are many wonderful tasting events in the county, and Bacchus be willing (and I also win the lottery) I’d attend them all.

However there are very few ‘walk around’ tastings, most involve going to each winery with a bracelet and a glass. These are wonderful because they provide the experience of the winery itself.

There is however a certain ‘efficiency’ (although I hesitate to use that word for such a relaxing, joyful environment.) of being able to walk around dozens of wineries gathered together from regions like Russian River, Dry Creek, Sonoma Valley etc and compare across the region, and then compare regions. There are 200 wineries in total pouring! I suggest you print the list and make a plan.

Come For The Food: If wine isn’t your thing, the event hold’s its own on the food and demonstrations alone. The who’s who of our many talented chefs are present, with over 60 chefs offering their creations.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

The event is brilliantly orchestrated and comes off like clockwork. You simply enjoy a decadent day.

Tickets are $115 for Visa Signature holders (odds are you have one, flip your card over) or $165 for general admission. This Saturday event sells out! (All Grand Reserve already are.) You have been advised.

2. Friday Night Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola, with Food Icon Sondra Bernstein

Kick off Sonoma Wine Country Weekend poolside at the iconic Francis Ford Coppola Winery for an unforgettable evening of world-class wines, delicious cuisine, live music, and dancing to Bay Area favorites Pride & Joy – all set against a backdrop of shimmering stars in the Alexander Valley.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

Guests will enjoy a bountiful array of local, seasonal cuisine poolside created by Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s 2013 Honorary Culinary Director, Sondra Bernstein and Chef John Toulze, proprietors of the girl & the fig. Over 20 local wineries will be on hand to share their Sonoma County wines, pairing wines with incredible local fare.  Info and Tickets here.

3. Friday Winemaker Lunches and Dinners

Prefer something more intimate? Enjoy a special afternoon or evening of wine and food.  Many of these are already sold out, as seating is limited to each. Remaining winemaker lunches include wonderful venues like Davis Family Vineyards, Lynmar Estate, Landmark, and others. See the full list, descriptions and tickets here.

Only a handful of the Winemaker dinners remain, in various parts of the county, including a few seats at places like Sonoma Cutrer, Longboard, Muscardini and a few others.  I attended one of these last year, and it was buy viagra free shipping a highly personable, memorable experience.  See the full list, descriptions and tickets here.

4. Sunday BBQ

Three wineries are offering a Sunday BBQ and wine, a perfect finish to the weekend. Since there are only three, these shouldn’t last long either. See the full list, descriptions, and tickets here.

5. Sunday Harvest Wine Auction

For you high rollers, this is an amazing, first class experience of food, wine, and entertainment, all casual but classy Sonoma style. I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of the limited seats once.

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction is Sonoma County’s largest and fun, fundraising event, bringing together the wine community and caring donors to raise essential funds that make our world-class wine region a better place by supporting our kids and our community. Not all lots are expensive, I 'bought' a lot that was simply a donation to a fund that assists our migrant grape pickers.

Immerse yourself in the intrigue of Brazil at the 21st Annual Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, Sonoma Samba, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak.  The Grand Lawn of Chateau St. Jean will be transformed into a Pan-Latin Celebration. The winery skits, usually in theme, are quite comical. (I will forever carry the memories of the Benziger brothers in bikinis for a beach theme.)

Your ticket not only offers you passage into the Wine Spectator Auction Tent, but it also allows you to mingle with Sonoma's finest winemakers, as each table will be presided over by a local  Winemaker or Grower who will share not only their finest wines, but great stories, too! Over 70% of the tables are already sold out.

Follow The Fun On Twitter

Courtesy of SWCW

Courtesy of SWCW

This event is attended by people all over the country, all here to experience the magic of Sonoma. You can follow some of the fun on Twitter via hashtag #SWCW as well as their Facebook Page. However, I suggest you come experience it in person. I will be.

Cheers!

Related Articles

The Annual Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

Spotlight on Sonoma – Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sept 3-5: Visa Signature Event Highlights

Sonoma County's Finest Wine Weekend Gets Even Better: New Starlight Dinner Kickoff

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Rosé the Rhone Way – A Post in Pictures

A few weeks ago, William and the North Coast Rhone Rangers organized a beautiful Rosé tasting in the garden at Quivira Winery. Between the wonderful weather and the gorgeous bottles of Rosé, I ended up with a lot of really great pictures. I decided to just put them all up here and let the wine do most of the talking (with my own notes interspersed of course).

The pictures below represent just a few highlights from the tasting. The whole event was lovely and I look forward to adding some of these wonderful wines to my personal collection.

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2012 Broc Cellars Santa Ynez Rosé $20

We started the day with the Broc Cellars Rosé. The blend is 50% Counoise and 50% Cinsault. It was a great refreshing way for us to start off the tasting. With clean, fresh, watermelon flavors it felt like a perfect start of summer wine. I personally am really excited about Broc Cellars – with a tasting room located in Berkeley, I know I will be stopping by before at least one Cal Football game this year.

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2012 Campovida Rose di Grenache $34, 134 case production

The next Rosé was from Campovida. I had met the winemakers a few weeks earlier at the 7% Solution Tasting and was excited to get a chance to try their wine. Grenache Rosé is definitely something I've been enjoying a lot lately and this was no exception. To go from loving Grenache to discovering Grenache Blanc, it is only fitting that I've now progressed to Rosé and am growing quite passionate for it as well.  The Campovida was also selected by attendees as their favorite wine of the day, in a poll completed by attendees, by quite a margin, congrats!

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2012 Front Porch Rosé $25, 90 case production

My personal favorite of the day was the Front Porch Rosé being poured at the Idlewild table. As a blend of 70% Grenach and 30% Syrah, it has a lovely juicy flavor that was reminiscent of guava.

Of course, there were also some amazing Idlewild wines (which for some reason I didn't manage to get a picture of). The 2012 Vin Gris ($22, 70 case production) was an exceptionally light Syrah Rosé. With only 1.5 hours on the skins, it had delicate strawberry and crisp citrus tones.

The third wine at the table was another favorite – the Idlewild Grenache Gris ($28, 122 case production). With 3 days on skins and stems, it was darker in color than the Vin Gris. The wine had a beautiful nose and lovely cranberry flavors. I had tasted it a few weeks earlier and was happy to try it a second time and see that it was still as wonderful as I remembered.

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Mounts Family Winery 2012 Grenche generic viagra Rosé $16, 82 case production

The Mounts 100% Grenache Rosé caught my eye initially just with how light and peachy the color was (I told you the pictures did a lot of the talking here). With only 4 hours of skin contact and low sugar content, it had such a light and crisp grapefruit flavor. It was absolutely perfect on the sweltering Sonoma day.

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Quivira 2012 Rosé $19, 602 case production

It wouldn't be a complete review without mentioning the host winery's Rosé as well. This Rosé is a blend of 51% Grenache, 32% Syrah, and 17% Mourvedre. There was a lovely strawberry flavor that I very much enjoyed along with the bright pink color. The wine is also organic which I always support. In addition to the Rosé, I also picked up the Quivira 2011 Grenache. I had to contain myself from buying anymore and I'm sure next time I visit I will also be grabbing a few of their blends.

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Drink Pink, Dress Pink

It wouldn't be a day of wine tasting without me hamming it up for a few photos as well. I was very enthusiastic that my dress matched many of the wines. I would love to say this was a happy accident but I noticed that most of my dresses had some wine spots on them and I figured in this case, no one would see if I spilled wine on myself. Ironically, since I took the precaution, I managed to refrain from my usual clumsy nature and keep all of my wine in the glass.

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I can't take her anywhere…

The commentary on the event would not be complete without mentioning the beautiful sustainable garden at Quivira. It was fun to explore and see just how many different types of produce were flourishing. I can hardly keep my key lime plant alive so I was definitely impressed. My friend, Natalie, really enjoyed exploring the gardens as well. I hear the raspberries are delicious…

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A wonderful end to a beautiful day of wine tasting!

After tasting a lot of lovely Rosé, we all went back to William's house for a wine filled homemade dinner that went way past sunset. It was a wonderful day and I'm looking forward to more of these smaller Rhone Ranger tasting events. At $15/ person, the Rosé tasting was a fun and inexpensive way to explore a very specific wine topic. Quivira was a perfect location for it and intimacy of the event really let me talk to the winemakers a little bit more. Thanks William for putting together such a beautiful tasting!

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Sonoma County's Finest Wine Weekend Gets Even Better: New Starlight Dinner Kickoff

Labor Day weekend in Sonoma County is extra special to me.  Its’ the weekend every year that hosts my beloved adopted county’s premier, county wide wine event: Sonoma Wine

Country Weekend, the star of which, for me personally, is the Saturday afternoon Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch. Its also my last hurrah before harvest for my own wine project begins.

Why is Taste of Sonoma So Special?

It’s the only event of the year where wineries from our many widespread AVA’s (regions) gather together into one place. People email me regularly saying “I am coming to ‘Sonoma’ where should I go?” Often not realizing we have 13 AVAs, and the county is very spread out. And the regions can be VERY different. Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley are only miles apart, but one is very warm, and one is very cool, and produces very different wines.

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Sonoma County has lots of great  wine ‘bracelet’ events, where you go from winery to winery, but fewer ‘walk around’ tastings where you can move from table to table covering ground more quickly, and these tend to be focused on a single variety or narrow focus.

There is no other event where all our regions are combined together in one event on this scale. As if that isn’t enough, each regional tent is accompanied by some cheap auto insurance of the many rock star chefs and great epicureans of the county.  It’s an event not to be missed. I attended it in a boot cast once even and hopped around at lightning speed!

My only ‘complaint’ every year is that 4 hours is just too little time, I could spend 2 whole days just tasting food and wine from so many amazing artisans. The afternoon window is a gift and experience I’ll happily accept.

The other amazing thing about Taste of Sonoma is the leisurely pace. It’s true several thousand people attend, but the event is so well organized, and spread into so many venues and things to do, it never feels busy, rushed, or crowded.

This event sells OUT! You have been warned if you procrastinate. People travel from all over the country ever year to attend this event.

In addition to tickets there are additional items you can add to your event, including Sommelier Tours and more.  Many are already sold out!

New in 2013:  Sonoma Starlight Supper Club

On Friday, August 31, the first ever Sonoma Starlight Supper Club will be held at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Set against the backdrop of the shimmering night sky of the Alexander Valley, the Sonoma Starlight Supper Club begins poolside at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, featuring an array of wines from twenty Sonoma County wineries paired with local cuisine served al fresco and prepared by Jeff Mall, Carlo Cavallo and Josh Silvers, the Sonoma County trio of chefs that comprise Culinary Cuvee.

The evening will culminate with dessert, live music, and dancing to the ever-popular Bay Area band Pride & Joy.

Also available is an exclusive Patron Ticket which will entitle guests to a Sparkling discount cialis online Wine Reception, a luxurious, sit-down multi-course meal prepared by Mark Stark – Chef/Owner of Stark Reality Restaurants, and access to a cigar bar and private lounge.

 

But Wait, There’s More!

I am not doing the Wine Country Weekend experience justice focusing just on the Taste of Sonoma. Locals and visitors alike can fill their weekend with lunches, Friday and Saturday night dinner parties, and BBQs. I attended a wine maker dinner last year and it was an incredible evening.

Last but not least, there is the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction – a grand affair at Chateau St Jean this year. I was the guest of a sponsoring winery 2 years ago, its an amazing, fun, experience. Also, money raised at this, goes to support Sonoma charities. In 2011, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend gave $395,385 to local charities in Sonoma County.

See you at MacMurray Ranch!

2012 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Schedule At-A-Glance

Friday, August 31
12:30 p.m. – Winemaker Lunch Series, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak
7:00 p.m. – Sonoma Starlight Supper Club at Francis Ford Coppola Winery sponsored by Kaiser Permanente
6:00 p.m. – Winemaker Dinner Parties, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak
Saturday, September 1
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®
6:00 p.m. – Winemaker Dinner Parties, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak
6:00 p.m. – Chairman’s Dinner Party
Sunday, September 2
12:30 p.m. – Winery Barbecues at Wineries throughout Sonoma County
1 p.m. – 7 p.m. Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St.

Jean, sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak

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The 17th Annual Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

 

Don't Miss This Weekend! Muscardini Cellars of Sonoma 8th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend

This weekend in Sonoma (July 27-28) Muscardini Cellars of

Sonoma hosts its 8th Annual Barrel Tasting Weekend , to be held at Deerfield Ranch Winery.

‘Mercato di Vino’ is the theme this year, with an Italian Marketplace set up overlo

oking the rolling vineyard hills in the Sonoma Valley.

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Guest can enjoy current release tasting from both Muscardini Cellars and Deerfield Ranch Winery, tasting out of the barrels in the wine caves, wood fired pizza, live music, artisan chocolates, and a cigar deck., all out on the beautiful Deerfield Ranch Property in Sonoma.

The views are magnificent, the wines are small production and high quality, and the parking is in ample supply.

This fun day is a steal at only $35/person

 

  • Event Hours: Both Sat and Sun 12-5pm
  • Location/Address: Deerfield Ranch Winery, 10200 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, buy viagra canada CA 95452
  • You can buy tickets for either Saturday Or Sunday

Buy tickets:

http://www.muscardinicellars.com/mercadodivino.html
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Transport Yourself to Spain This Weekend at the Gloria Ferrer Catalan Festival. Enter to Win Tickets!

Spend The Day in Spain Without Leaving The Bay Area

Every year

Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling houses, transforms their lovely winery into a Spanish Catalan Festival.

This July 21 – July 22, 2012 from 11:00am – 4:00pm, they will transport you to Spain for a day of order generic viagra online Spanish food, wine and entertainment with lively classical guitar, passionate flamenco dancing, a festive grape stomp and traditional folklore surprises.

Stroll and enjoy savory tapas, paella demonstrations and wine seminars as you sip California sparkling and estate wines.

The day offers wine seminars, cocktail demonstration, grape stomping competition, cooking demonstrations, live music, singing, dancing and more. Check out the full schedule here.

Tickets are only $50 ($42 for wine club, and include a souvenir logo flute, 2 drink tickets, 4 food tickets, passport to sample Spanish wines, music and dancing entertainment, and Grape Stomping entertainment! Purchase here.

Check out this fun video of the event!:

 

Win A Pair Of Tickets – Ends Thursday!

Simple Hedonisms readers are lucky enough to again be offered to win a pair of tickets to this wonderful event.

To Enter To Win is Fun and Easy.

Simply go to this list of fun sparkling wine food pairings and tell us in comments (here on the blog) which one sounds most yummy paired with bubbles to you.

Make sure we get your first and last name for ticket will call.

Ends this Thursday evening, don’t delay! To enter you Must be 21 years

or older to enter, and that by entering you verify you are over 21. Winners will be chosen from correct answers by random drawing.

Gloria Ferrer Facebook

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Events for This Weekend and Two Routes for the Wine Road Barrel Tasting

Guest Post by Fred Swan

This weekend’s events look a little sparse on the surface. But one little line item portends barrels of adventure. Hundreds of barrels. Full of wine. canadian viagra

tle=”The 34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting in Northern Sonoma” href=”http://www.wineroad.com/events/barrel_tasting/3#tabs-5″ target=”_blank”>The 34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting in Northern Sonoma.

There have already been excellent articles on this site about the barrel tasting. I don’t want to repeat what has been said. But, the list of more than 120+ wineries makes it hard to know where to start. So, I’ll offer a couple of itineraries for you to consider:

(Editorial note by William, for those of you who listened to me on KRSO tonight and are looking for the Tips & Ticket Contest, see Monday’s Post Here: Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!) )

Route 1: Get it While You Can — Wineries Open This Weekend Only

Saturday, focus on wineries west of Hwy 101. I might start at Moshin. Their Sauvignon Blanc will ease you into tasting. Follow it up with vineyard-designate Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Next, head up Westside Road to De La Montanya. They have five different wines for you to sample, starting with Pinot Noir and closing with a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. The dessert wine will lead nicely into lunch. You did pack a lunch, right?

Head north on Westside Drive as it turns into West Dry Creek. Pull in at Quivira. Eat your lunch near their biodynamic gardens. Then enjoy their Mourvedre and Petite Sirah.

From Quivra continue on to A. Rafanelli Winery which will be pouring 2010 Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their wines are always very good. And they age well.

On the second day do an eastern route. Rodney Strong will have a tasty assortment. Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Dry Creek Zinfandel.

From there, go to Stryker Sonoma. See how the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate differs from the Dry Creek wines you tried on Saturday. The’ll also pour Merlot.

Stay on the Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon path by going to Trentadue. They’ll let you try their reserve, the La Storia Cabernet Sauvignon. The La Storia Zinfandel and La Storia Cuvee 32 blend will also be available.

For a taste of a completely different Cabernet Sauvignon AVA, head back across Hwy 101 to Ridge Vineyards. They’ve got a barrel of 2011 Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains. (Ridge is open the 2nd weekend too, but why wait?)

 

Route 2: Que Syrah — There’s more to Sonoma than Chard, Zin, Pinot and Cab

Formulate an itinerary from among these excellent Syrah producers:

Joseph Swan (Forestville) will be pouring not one but three vineyard-designate Syrah. Give them a try and see how the terroir of the different vineyards shows through in the wines. The winery will also have Zin, Tannat and more.

Vintoteca in Santa Rosa will be featuring six different wineries. Among the wines will be Olson Ogden’s Dry Creek Syrah. Before you dive into that though, try the Pinot Noirs from Bjornstadt and Baker Lane.

Krutz Family Cellars (Santa Rosa) Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stagecoach Vineyards of Napa Valley was one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Wines for 2011. They’re opening a barrel of Syrah from that same vineyard, which excels with that variety.

Lauterbach Cellars (Windsor) has acclaimed Syrah fruit, but makes wine in tiny quantities. This is your chance to try some. They’ll have the 2009 Syrah, but will start you off with Pinot Noir and their Syrah Rosé.

Red Car (Sebastopol) is un-bunging their Estate Syrah. But first, enjoy Heaven & Earth and their estate Pinot Noir.

Dutton Estate Winery will be pouring My Father’s Syrah. …I didn’t even know my dad had Syrah! I’m sure it will be good though. They’ve also got Pinot and Chardonnay on tap wine thief.

 

Events

Lake County

Six Sigma Ranch Pro & Amateur Pruning Competition —Lower Lake: March 3, 10:00am – noon
Learn pruning from the pros and try your hand at it, too!

 

Napa Valley

Cab Release Weekend at Velo Vino — St. Helena: March 3 – 4, 11:00am – 6:00pm
A special Vertical tasting of our 2006, 2007 and 2008 kit’s killer cab.

Charles Krug Winery Celebrates Charles Krug’s 187th Birthday — St. Helena: March 3, 6:00pm – 9:30pm
Imagine the light the birthday candles will put out! There’ll be appetizers and three-course wine dinner.

 

Sonoma County

34th Annual Wine Road Barrel Tasting – Northern Sonoma: March 2 – 4, 11:00am – 4:00pm
144 wineries open their doors this weekend, many will be offering futures. Advance ticket sales are over, but you can buy tickets at the door.

Inspiration Vineyards Winemaker Dinner — Santa Rosa: March 2, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
There are still a few seats available for this dinner and the menu looks great!

Music at Vino di Amore Tasting Lounge — Cloverdale: March 2, 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Unwind after work, or barrel tasting, to rock and reggae played by Oscar Caleron.

Hanzell Vineyards Winemaker Dinner at Santé — Sonoma: March 8, 6:30pm
Join Hanzell winemaker Michael McNeill for a delicious four-course dinner paired with past and current vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

 

A Quick Plug:

The Wine Advocate will soon be releasing Antonio Galloni’s report on Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You can learn levitra viagra online more about him and what he looks for wines by reading my in-depth interview with him. It’s being published in daily doses this week at NorCalWine.com.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Wine Road Barrel Tasting – The Premier Wine Buying Event of The Season. Learn, Share and Win Tickets! (4 winners!)

Barrel Tasting – an event in North Sonoma rich in history. In fact this is the 34th anniversary.

I look forward with great anticipation to the six days of Barrel Tasting

, across two weekends, as do many of the 20,000+ attendees, many of whom fly in from all over the country to taste and stock up on wine, both bottled and futures.

At the end of this article is a chance to win a pair of tickets – 4 winners – so read on!

 

Barrel Tasting Is For Serious Wine Lovers

I have written numerous articles about Barrel Tasting over the last 3 years, and will admit I am a staunch advocate.

It’s an event that can garner complaints from some locals, jaded hospitality staff, and the occasional cheap Media sensationalism title to get a reader, but the reality is it’s a serious wine tasting & buying event for many, not a party.

The few stories that are bound to happen when 20,000 people go wine tasting, shouldn’t be overshadowed by the people who drive & fly in, from all corners of the US to taste & buy wine. Lets focus on those.

 

Toss Away Your Stereotypes & Get Some Perspective

Last year, I wrote two articles with dozens of people posting their positive comments on this event, and many who wrote to me as well. Generally, other than inter-industry chatter, consumers are quiet on blogs, but in this case over 40 came out to say something.

Everyone has a bad story about this event, but sadly what’s not shared enough are the many great ones, which last years comments highlighted for me, including one reader who wrote me, asking I not stereotype ” ALL buses as bad.” She was part of a group that every year rents a bus and drives several hours North, and everyone on the bus are serious tasters, all of whom leave with cases of wine. I stood corrected, and perhaps lost a regular reader.

These letters and comments made me realize just how many people really enjoy this event, with comments like:

“I LOVE Barrel Tasting, it’s a chance to get together with friends, who have varied experience with wine”

 

“This was our third year barrel tasting and we pretty much have it down to a science with strategic routes for Friday and Saturday, while Sunday is more relaxed meandering around downtown Healdsburg.”

 

“I had an excellent experience during weekend one of Barrel Tasting. The future wines were fun to try and then comparing them to a finished product was an experience that led to the purchase of so many cases of wine that my hybrid was doing a wheelie on the drive home to Berkeley!”

 

“Barrel tasting has become an annual event for my friends and I. In fact, we collectively have several wine club memberships as a result of Wine Road events.”

 

“I haven’t missed Barrel Tasting in years. I started going when I was a student at SSU. I got so hooked on the event that I decided to invite my cousins and make a weekend out of it. We use it as a bonding weekend to try fabulous new wines and taste old favorites. I love Barrel Tasting because it brings wine lovers together for one reason. I always come away with new stories, great memories, and a great new wine collection. I never leave a winery empty-handed and often come home with cases. I have also purchased futures and especially love going back when they are ready to try my favorites again!”

Just a small selection of the 40+ comments received.

 

Stop The Whining About Wine-ing

I love the wine business and wineries, but some it seems are never happy. “Its been dead for weeks.” “This event had no traffic.” “Oh my GOD, There were TOO MANY people.”

So which is it? It’s interesting for me to observe, often first hand, wineries that make a huge success, year over year, of the Wine Road’s three events, including this one, and those that decline every year, and bitch & moan in the process.

Having worked closely with some, (and been on the other side of the barrel) its all about attitude, preparation, and outlook. Is every person who comes into your tasting room an opportunity to join your wine club, or just some pain in the ass who drank too much that is in buy viagra without rx your way until 5 pm comes? You decide. I can tell you those who view it the former, always lead in sales results.

I have written repeatedly about the importance of the tasting room experience and its impact on wine sales. It’s as important (if not more important) than the quality of the wine. The winery with a great hospitality experience and mediocre wine will outsell the winery with the reverse, every time.

Locals, yes Healdsburg can be a bit crazy Saturday afternoon I know. Our hotels, shops, and restaurants are also all full. If you can’t

appreciate what this does for our tax base and smile just a bit, consider it a great weekend to get out of town.

 

What Barrel Tasting IS:

  • A chance to taste some great wines.
  • A chance to learn about wine that isn’t done yet, and the wine making process.
  • A chance to buy great wine and save some dollars, both in futures and finished wine sales.

I have more detailed information and suggestions in articles: My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting and Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

As always, I suggest you print out the Wine Road program, and make a plan. Some wineries participate early on Friday, this is an EXCELLENT opportunity for more attention and less traffic. Some wineries also only participate the first weekend.

 

What To Bring:

  • The program guide, with your plan: http://www.wineroad.com/media/originals/112-BT%20program%202012.pd
  • A cooler to put your wine purchases in. Yes its going to be 70 degrees. Bring a cooler. Heat kills wine.
  • Some food items. Since much of Dry Creek and Russian River is sparse in dining options, bring a picnic, a blanket and take a meal break. Or make your plan around dining somewhere in Geyserville, Healdsburg, or Santa Rosa. This is a day to be enjoyed, stop and smell the roses and eat lunch – its will enhance your day and experience. Its not a contest to see how many wineries you can visit.
  • Common sense. If you hate crowds and/or want to visit popular wineries, make your plan accordingly. Go to less busy areas like Geyserville & Russian River during peak times, and hit Dry Creek, Healdsburg, and popular wineries on Friday, first thing Saturday or Sunday morning.

Ok, Can I Win Tickets Already?

This Thursday Mar 1st, at 6 p.m. we will draw 4 pairs of winners for the Second weekend (March 9-11).

To win one of two ways (enter both!)

(1) Tell me in comments any one of the following:

  • Have you attended Barrel Tasting before, and what is your favorite part of the event? OR
  • Have you ever purchased futures before? Where? OR
  • If you won tickets, what winery do you want to go to most, and why? (Please make sure the winery you pick is participating, the list is here.

 

AND/OR

 

(2) Sign up for Simple Hedonisms email updates in the top right corner.

Its secure, private, and simply emails you when we have new articles. Nothing else. (Important – you will receive a confirmation email to complete your subscription, you must finish that step to be eligible.)

 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and giving away some tickets! See you on the Wine Road – Heaven Condensed!

 

Related Articles

Barrel Tasting Insights – What am I Tasting & Do I Get Splinters? What should I buy?

My thoughts on Wine Road Barrel Tasting. Tell us yours and win tickets.

Observations of Wine Road Barrel Tasting Week One; Suggestions & Ticket Contest for Week Two

 

Wine Events in the North Coast for February 15 – 24

Wine lovers and romantics are still coming down from the chocolate-induced sugar high last weekend’s pre-Valentine’s Day festivities caused. Fortunately, events for the coming days put the emphasis back on wine.

Start off your weekend with a jaunt

to the town of Sonoma this Friday evening. The Lodge at Sonoma is hosting the VinOlivo Grand Tasting. Nearly 60 different Sonoma wineries will be pouring and 25 restaurants and caterers serving.

If you’re a fan of Alsace varietals, or just like to laugh at people trying to say “Gewurtztraminer,” then I highly recommend you head up to Boonville this Saturday for the 7th annual Int’l Alsace Varietals Grand Tasting. There you’ll find more Pinot Gris under one roof than imagine. And, if you get white wined out, you can amble down the road a bit and enjoy some lovely Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

If you have an interest in California wine history — and would like to meet it — you’ve got to go the 6th Annual Vintners Hall of Fame Induction Celebration at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena. The food and wine are always excellent and you’ll never have a better opportunity to meet the legends of the California wine industry. Here are this year’s inductees.

All events listed below are in chronological order by region. Some events require advance reservations or ticketing, so it’s best to click through for any event you’d like to attend. The headline links for each event will take you to the calendar at NorCalWine.com where you’ll find further details on that event. And event organizers sometimes change details at the last minute, so it’s always a good idea to contact the host prior to showing up at their doorstep. For events in other regions, also check the calendar or my weekly NorCal event articles.

Lake County

Saturday, February 18

Ceago Winemaker Dinner at the Tallman Hotel — Upper Lake: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Owner Jim Fetzer, winemaker Barney Fetzer and family members will be there to introduce the wines and pairings.

Mendocino County

Saturday, February 18

Int’l Alsace Varietals Festival Technical Conference — Boonville: 9:00am – 11:30am
Winemakers from around the globe discuss winemaking and grape growing specifically for Alsace varietals.

7th annual Int’l Alsace Varietals Grand Tasting — Boonville: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Meet the winemakers and taste Alsace-style white wines from around the world, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat.

Alsace Festival Winemakers Dinner at Shaffenberger Cellars — Philo: 6:30pm
Enjoy a sumptuous dinner with the winemakers and learn more about their wines in the elegant private dining room at Sharffenberger Cellars.

 

Napa Valley

Ongoing Events

Saturday February 11 – Monday, February 20
The Ultimate Decadent Tasting at Trefethen Family Vineyards — Napa:
10:00am – 4:30pm
Enjoy special selections of Trefethen wines paired with handmade confections produced by one of Napa’s finest chocolatiers.

Friday, February 17

Cornerstone Cellars Winemaker Dinner at Bardessono — Yountville: 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Enjoy a special 5-course tasting menu drawn from Lucy’s Garden by Chef Victor Scargle, inspired by the wines of Jeff Keene.

Saturday, February 18

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Release at Nichelini Family Winery — St. Helena: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Leona Marini, 4th generation, will be on hand to offer food pairings and stories.

Winemaker’s Dinner & Bob James Concert at Miner Family Winery — Oakville: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
An intimate concert in the caves followed by a a four-course dinner prepared by La Saison chefs Natalie & Jonathan Niksa paired with new release 2009 Miner Cabernets.

Sunday, February 19

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Release at Nichelini Family Winery — St. Helena: 11:00am – 5:00pm
Leona Marini, 4th generation, will be on hand to offer food pairings and stories.

Monday, buy online prescription viagra February 20

6th Annual Vintners Hall of Fame Induction Celebration at CIA Greystone — St. Helena: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
A rare opportunity to mingle with noted winemakers, famous chefs, and wine-loving celebrities.

 

Sonoma County

Friday, February 17

VinOlivo Grand Tasting at The Lodge at Sonoma — Sonoma: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Sip Sonoma Valley’s best wines as you get to know the personalities behind the

wine. Sample food from more than 25 of Sonoma’s purveyors.

Music at Vino di Amore Tasting Lounge — Cloverdale: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Guitar ballads with Brian Ward

Saturday, February 18

Mardi Gras Celebration at Meadowcroft Wines — Sonoma: noon – 4:00pm
The St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band, down home Louisiana cookin’, a Second Line-Parade, award winning wines and of course BEADS!

Sunday, February 19

Amphora’s Zinvitational: Zinfandel and Cioppino at Amphora — Healdsburg: 11:00am – 4:30pm
Current, library and barrel-sample Zinfandel plus Cioppino, sourdough and green salad.

President’s Day Celebration at Old Roma Station — Healdsburg: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Limited production wines from Bluenose, Hart’s Desire, J. Keverson, Kelley & Young, Sadler-Wells, Sapphire Hill, Skewis, Shippey and Willowbrook.

Sundays on the “Terraza” at Santa Rosa Vintners Square — Santa Rosa: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Bring a picnic. They’ll will provide the wine, bocce ball court and live music.

Thursday, February 23

J Vineyards & Winery Winemaker Dinner at John Ash & Co. — Santa Rosa: 6:00pm – 10:00pm
Join J Vineyards & Winery Assistant Winemaker, Scott Anderson, for an excellent dinner paired with five J wines.

 

Event organizers and publicists get your events published here. Post your events in the calendar at NorCalWine.com. Posting events there requires a one-time registration (easy, peasy), but is totally free of charge. And it only takes a couple of minutes. I’ll soon post a guide at NorCalWine.com with tips on how to make event posts as effective as possible.

Disclaimer: The events I’ll call attention to here are those that I’ve become aware of and which offer something beyond the standard winery tasting room experience. Neither I nor William are compensated by any of the event organizers in any way. The listings are for the benefit of the community. Event details are subject to change without notice.

This article is by Fred Swan for Simple Hedonisms. All rights reserved.

Valentine's Day Weekend Wine Events Update

Everybody wants to be your Valentine! Wineries, wine bars and restaurants are pulling out all the stops. And all the chocolate! Even if you don’t have a romance to kindle, you can cuddle up with a glass of wine and y

our sweet tooth this weekend.

My previous post included a whole box of chocolate and wine events. And even some without cacao. But then I got a Kiss-o-Gram with even more events for this weekend!

All events listed below are in chronological order by region. Some events require advance reservations or ticketing, so it’s best to click through for any event you’d like to attend. The headline links for each event will take you to the calendar at NorCalWine.com where you’ll find further details on that event. And event organizers sometimes change details at the last minute, so it’s always a good idea to contact the host prior to showing up at their doorstep. For events in other regions, also check the calendar or my weekly NorCal event articles.

Mendocino County

Saturday, February 11

Valentine’s Wine & Chocolate Sampling at Milano Family Winery — Hopland: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Bring your Valentine and tickle your taste buds with heavenly creations by the ladies of Milano Family Winery.

Parducci’s Valentines Day ‘Death by Chocolate’ Event — Ukiah: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Parducci Wine Cellars presents a romantic day of music, sensuous wines, and exquisite chocolates to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Napa Valley

On-Going Events

Saturday February 11 – Tuesday, February 14
Chocolate and Wine at Cornerstone Cellars — Yountville:
10:00am – 6:00pm
Bring your sweetie to Cornerstone Cellars and indulge them in a wine flight paired with 3 chocolates hand crafted by Brent and Anette at Anette’s Chocolates, Napa Valley.

Saturday February 11 – Monday, February 20
The Ultimate Decadent Tasting at Trefethen Family Vineyards — Napa
:
10:00am – 4:30pm
Enjoy special selections of Trefethen wines paired with handmade confections produced by one of Napa’s finest chocolatiers.
Daily Events

Sunday, February 12

Cooking up Sweet Passion: Amy Reiley, Author of Romancing the Stove at Peju — Rutherford: 3:00pm – 5:00pm
Learn to make hand rolled chocolate truffles from Amy Reiley’s new cookbook Romancing the Stove while sipping Peju wines.

Sonoma County

Friday, February 10

An Evening with Merry Edwards at Paradise Ridge Winery — Santa Rosa: 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Come spend a great evening celebrating Merry Edwards stellar career at a benefit for the Sonoma County Wine Library.

Music at Vino di Amore Tasting Lounge — Cloverdale: 7pm
Music by Michael Hantman plus belly dancing by Kimberly Andora.

Saturday, February 11

Special Valentines Day Vertical Tasting at John Tyler Wines — Healdsburg: 11:ooam – 5:00pm
2004-2006 Pinot Noir and Zinfandel wines in a mini vertical tasting paired with Brix Chocolates.

Wine & Chocolate at Amista Vineyards — Healdsburg: noon – 3pm
Join canadian healthcare viagra sales us at Amista Vineyards for award-winning wines paired with specialty chocolates from Sebastopol chocolatier Peters Chocolates.

5th Annual Amphoradisiac Winemaker’s Dinner at Amphora — Healdsburg: 5:30pm – 10:00pm
A multi-course gourmet dinner with fabulous wine pairings, white tablecloths, candlelight and roses.

 

Event organizers and publicists get your events published here. Post your events in the calendar at NorCalWine.com. Posting events there requires a one-time registration (easy, peasy), but is totally free of charge. And it only takes a couple of minutes. I’ll soon post a guide at NorCalWine.com with tips on how to make event posts as effective as possible.

Disclaimer: The events I’ll call attention to here are those that I’ve become aware of and which offer something beyond the standard winery tasting room experience. Neither I nor William are compensated by any of the event organizers in any way. The listings are for the benefit of the community. Event details are subject to change without notice.

This article is by Fred Swan for Simple Hedonisms. All rights reserved.

Sonoma Holiday Wine Market delights with Wine, Food and Local Color

Dane Cellars Santa in "Floods"

The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Association “Wine Market – Holiday Edition” proved to be a great opportunity to taste from 27 wineries in one place, including small producers not open to the public. Here you could taste, then purchase unique wines at fantastic savings. Excellent food tastings, and food-wine pairing advice was available from local Sommeliers  – in Santa hats no less.  Last not least, you could speak with the winemakers … and see what characters they can be!

Santa in Floods? Bart Hansen, winemaker at Dane Cellars, says he spends most of the year in Bermuda shorts. When Sonoma temps hit 75’ F on December 2, he rolled out to the event in his special Santa Floods.  The Dane Cellars Clarksburg 2009 Chenin Blanc he poured is richer bodied than a Sauvignon Blanc, making it a was a good wine for a sunny winter day and a perfect match for the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese served up by the girl and the fig.

Santa Sommeliers. What is a sommelier (so-mel-yay)? A “Somm,” or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional specializing in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching.  Three certified Somms in Santa hats roamed the floor at the “Wine Market – Holiday Edition” event, helping guests with wine advice, pairing, and directing them to wine specials.

Eric Ross "Struttin' Red"

Cocky Wine: Eric Ross 2010 Struttin’ Red

Eric Luce, winemaker at label Eric Ross, invites you to taste his red blend of the year. 2010 is a unique blend of Tempranillo, Old Vine Zin and Petite Sirah. It screams out for a really good Cheeseburger. Failing to find any cheeseburgers, this wine was great with the Truffle Gateau chocolates featured at the Market.

Consumers have many benefits to gain from a single-location event like this. To name a few:

  1. Access unique fine wines and local cuisine
  2. Lower prices on quality wines
  3. Remove the driving around from a wine-tasting outing – all the wines and food, all in one place
  4. Access to *Santa Sommeliers* to advise on matching foods with the wines you like
  5. Buy where you taste and take your wine home with you!

I had a conversation with Christopher Sawyer, Somm at Carneros Bistro in Sonoma. I asked Chris how one should go about pairing up wines with a meal. “First of all, the method should be reversed. Decide your menu, then match the wine to it.”  OK, I said, then to break the rules a bit, let’s say I’ve got a Zinfandel from Haywood Winery, which is pouring here today. Chris suggests, “This is a supple, medium body Zinfandel that gives you a lot of flexibility with the food pairing. Game. Duck. Spicy pork with compote on the side. Strip steak. And of course Ribs will go well with Zin.”

Christopher Sawyer "Santa Sommelier"

Wines of note:

Eric Ross 2010 Marsanne-Roussane. Your guests will appreciate when you serve this unique white. Winemaker

Eric Luce blends two grapes from the famed SaraLee’s Vineyard in Russian River Valley to make a wine in the Rhone style that everyone’s talking about.  Full-bodied, food-ready, and a great under-$30 wine to diversify your palate.  It paired with the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese and I would recommend it with any cheese.

Dane Cellars 2007 Jackknife Cabernet Sauvignon. When you are looking for full-flavored, medium-bodied Cab, the Jackknife is a great choice. From a vineyard high above Sonoma Valley, with volcanic soils and generous late afternoon sun, this wine explodes with fruit and complex flavors. Sommelier Sawyer says:  “With a medium-bodied cab like Dane Cellars’ Jackknife you have more flexibility in your menu – you can pair with red meat or you can go with a bigger fish such as sturgeon or tuna prepared with a soy sauce.”

Pip 2010 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  Undecided between oaked and unoaked? You can’t go wrong with this under $20 wine from Dunstan, from famed Durrell Vineyards blended with nearby grapes, then aged in 1/3 neutral oak and 2/3 stainless steel.  The resulting Chardonnay will please both the oaked and unoaked taste, as the neutral oak imparts lovely vanilla aromas and softness while the stainless steel defines the varietal character and imparts a crisp finish.  Another great match for the Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese.

Abigail Zimmerman of Annadel Estate Wines

Best new wine find: 

Annadel Estate 2008 Anni’s Blend is an instantly memorable red wine that’s also easy to pair with food.  I got rich fruit medleys and a velvety mouth feel from this blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. For a Cab-Merlot blend like this, you could even serve it with a Mac & Cheese dish with toasted walnuts and mushrooms, according to Sommelier Sawyer.  The adjacent “Coppa & Apple Mostarda on Foccacia” from Estate went well.  Annadel Estate Winery is the effort of a family who are restoring an 1880’s vineyard estate in the region. Expect to hear more about their wines soon.

There were many more varietals and examples of great winemaking available for taste. I can’t cover them all here. See what you missed and check back soon for upcoming events at the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance website.

On my Christmas wishlist: http://www.platsdujour.net/

 

 

 

 

 

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