Posts Tagged ‘sonoma county’

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.

Seasons Greetings to the fine readers of Simple Hedonisms! This article is the first of twelve (I hope!) on the ’12 Days of Wine Christmas.’

We will be exploring an array of Wine and Wine Country related gifts each article, ranging from a few events, gadgets and books, and more, as well as the occasional philanthropic touch, which the Wine Country is renowned for, especially this time of year.

The First Day of Christmas: Tickets to The Winter Wineland, and Redwood Food Bank Raffle Tickets

Winter Wineland is a special event for me;  I can remember it, 2 years ago as the event that made me decide it was time to stop driving up here every month, and move here, and by July, voila I had. (Even when my relationship partner at that time got cold feet at the very last minute. ) My life has changed 100x for the better, and my only regret was I didn’t commit and move back in 1999 when I was first working/commuting to Petaluma.

What is Winter Wineland?

This is the 19th year of the event, organized by the Wine Road – the amazing organization that does events and marketing for Russian River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, Sonoma Coast AVAs.

This year 125 wineries (wow!) are participating, Jan. 15th and 16th. Each winery will have something special and unique; food pairings, art, library wine pourings, tours, and more. The complete program is here. (Note this is still being updated, final completion is Jan. 7th.) Last year I wrote a series of 4 articles for the event, feel free to peruse.

Tickets are $45 for both days, or $35 for Sunday. That’s a great  entertainment value, and gift for the wine lover in your circle of loved ones.

Beef Up Your Gift with a Raffle Ticket for a $2600 Prize, And Help fight Hunger!

For only $10, you can purchase a raffle ticket to win one of three amazing packages, each worth $2600. The packages are here, I will tease you with the first one:

Package 1

• 2 nights Farmhouse Inn – the new “barn” suites ($1400 value) exp. 5/11/2011
• 2 nights Fountaingrove Inn – includes breakfast for 2 people ($400 value) exp. 10/11/2011
• Dinner for two – at Farmhouse Inn ($200 value) exp. 5/11/2011
• West Sonoma Inn – spa treatment ($100 value) exp. 8/20/2011
• Arista Winery – Hummer vineyard tour and tasting for two ($100 value) exp. 11/01/2011
• Rustic at Francis Ford Coppola Winery – lunch or dinner ($100 value) exp. 11/01/2011
• Healdsburg Bar & Grill – lunch or dinner ($40 value)
• 2 tickets – Wine & Food Affair, Winter Wineland & Barrel Tasting ($260 value)

You can purchase tickets here. A single ticket is $10, three are $25, and ten are only $50 ($5 each!)

Add it to your Winter Wineland ticket gift, or buy this is a standalone. Or just donate and do some good for fighting Hunger in Sonoma County. Think we don’t have hunger here amidst our bounty? Take a second to read the 2010, detailed report. (I teared up reading this and bought a $50 ticket.) Help the Redwood Food Bank help those in need.

Hunger In Sonoma County Study Facts

  • up to 35% were forced to choose between paying for food and paying for other basic necessities
  • 33.3% had to choose between payingfor food or gas for their car
  • 35.2% had to choose between paying for food or paying for utilities
  • 32.5% had to choose between paying for food or medicine and medical care
  • 32.4% had to choose between paying for food or their rent/mortgage
  • 30% do not have access to a working car limiting their ability to seek food, services and employment
  • 21.1% have a hard time paying their rent and were late paying it in the previous month thus jeopardizing theirliving situation
  • 16.9% said their children were hungry the previous year.
  • 9.9% have no place to live

None of the people interviewed in this Hunger Study ever imagined they would be seeking food assistance.
Each person had a story to tell which included fortune and misfortune, as well as decisions made and circumstances beyond their control.

Raffle Ticket Sales end Dec 15th!!

More to Come

Come back each day for another suggestion. (Or sign up for email updates.) Feel free to email or post, comments, suggestions, questions, I love to hear from readers.

A very warm, cheers!

Sonoma Valley Events Nov 5-7

As promised last week, there will be a new weekly post on the week’s events in Sonoma Valley. (Calendar information courtesy of Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers.) Please note this is Sonoma VALLEY, aka downtown Sonoma, not the entire county. I am endeavoring to have a less manual weekly post for North Sonoma and the Wine Road as well to cover their AVA’s. Key events are usually also on the Blog Calendar (which I have contracted a company to re-do.)

The big event of course this weekend in North Sonoma is the Sold out Wine and Food Affair.


Friday, November 05: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Big 3 Wine Bar at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

Winemakers discuss the nuances of the Sonoma Valley Wine Region at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn”s Big 3 Wine Bar. The unique tasting room and education center pours only Sonoma Valley designate products. Complimentary.


Saturday, November 06: 10:00 a.m.
Kunde Family Estate

Join Sonoma Valley Docent Bill Myers on a fun, casual and up-close hike through the 1,850 acre volcanic and vertical Kunde Estate. This is a great opportunity to see sustainable winegrowing practices at work while taking in some of wine country’s most spectacular scenery. Bill’s tours wind through the estate’s distinct eco-systems, each one uniquely contributing to the process of sustainable winegrowing. This moderately strenuous hike lasts approximately four hours.

Please pack a sack lunch and wear hiking boots or appropriate footwear. Also bring sunscreen and water, especially on hot days. The hike will also conclude at the Tasting Room, where invigorated hikers can sample Kunde’s hand crafted estate-grown wines. $25.00 per person. Price includes wine tasting. A portion of this fee will be donated to the Sonoma Ecology Center. Please no pets or children under 5. Contact Information: Hospitality Department (707) 833-5501 Ext. 334. Reservations required. Hikes limited to 50 people per hike.


Saturday, November 06: 5:30 – 6:30 pm
Big 3 Wine Bar at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa

The Big 3 Wine Bar provides both locals and guests an opportunity to sip the best of the Sonoma Valley. In partnership with the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers the unique tasting room and education center will pour only Sonoma Valley designate products. Re-discover the best tastes, flights and full bottles of the Sonoma Valley. The Wine Bar is pleased to offer ongoing wine education programs every Friday and Saturday night. All events are from 5:30-6:30 pm in Wine Bar and are complimentary.


Saturday, November 06: 12:30 – 3:30 pm
Benziger Family Winery

Roll your sleeves up and join us for our annual lobster feed. Ticket prices are $90; $75 for club members. For more information phone. 800-989-8890 or email


Saturday, November 06 – Sunday, November 07: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Chateau St. Jean

We are releasing our premium Pinot Noir styled to showcase the very best of Sonoma County. Be the first in line to sample it and you too will concur that “All roads lead to Burgundy!” Come sip, save and shop with many special Holiday packs and unique wine country gifts available. $10.00 per person, $20.00 Reserve Wine Tasting ($10.00 for Club St. Jean Members)

Other Resources

A Great Wine Tasting Offer in Sonoma County; and One Year Anniversary Ticket Drawing

Simple Hedonisms Has Its First Birthday

It’s not November yet, but I have a lot to be thankful for, first and foremost living here in Sonoma County. I was a ‘lurker’ of the area for a decade before I finally took the plunge in July 2009 (hard to believe such a short time isn’t it?)

I owe a lot of my discoveries and love of the county to the Wine Road. I kept coming to great events, and it was at the Winter Wineland 2 years ago I knew I had to find a path to make this happen, travel challenges or not with my technology industry exec full time job.

Since then I have immersed myself headlong into the wine industry, hobby viticulture (grape growing), garagista oenology (wine making), professional tasting, and more. My ‘big’ dream – buy some land (solo or in partnership, as well as lease vineyards) and be a farmer, and grower. A bit of a change from an American Airlines Two Million Miler.

And now, here we are a year later with the Blog’s Birthday. I only write about 10% of the topics I’d like to from lack of time, but the intent remains; connect consumers with Wine and Food Artisans. It’s not Vinography, but we now average about 3,000 unique readers a month, and ~200,000 hits. And go figure, the more we write, the higher it goes.

Stay with me, at the end of the post are some great giveaways!

A Ticket to the Wine Road

Without taking anything from the many fine AVAs (wine regions) I love and support, the Wine Road team has always done an incredible job promoting their wine regions, event planning, education, and marketing. They embrace both traditional and social media, and are a benchmark for what solidarity can be, in an industry that can splinter with emotion and opinions. Hospitality staff have generally learned here, when the Wine Road speaks, listen.

One of the cool offerings the Wine Road started some months ago is the “Ticket to The Wine Road.” For $25-$50 you can create your own 1-3 day Tasting Excursion, like a mini-event, self-designed.

How Does it Work?

Its simple – 66 of the ~170 (at this time) Wine Road Wineries participate: for $25/person for one day, or $50/person for 3 days, you can taste for free at any of the participating wineries. With wine tastings often costing $5-$20 these days, it’s a value right there, but it also includes many other benefits, which vary by winery; such as:

  • Acorn – free Riedel tasting glass with wine purchase
  • Balleto – 20% purchase discount
  • Downtown Wine – 15% discount and free case shipping
  • Quivira – complimentary marble logo coaster

Hotels, Inns and Restaurants also participate with things like:

  • Applewood Inn – $25-$50 restaurant voucher
  • Farmhouse Inn – free additional spa treatment with purchase of first
  • Rio Villa Beach Resort – 20% off stay

These are only a sample, of the many choices of tours, pairings, discounts and more. For the complete list, click here.

  • Some wineries are appointment only, be sure to book in advance
  • Tours, food pairings etc usually request at least 24 hours notice
  • Not valid during other Wine Road events, such as Wine & Food Affair, Barrel Tasting.
  • Valid for Groups less than 8.

It’s that easy, and a great deal whether you are local Bay area resident and tasting for a day, or flying in for a long weekend.

Special Wine Road Offer and Giveaway to Celebrate Simple Hedonisms One Year Anniversary

To celebrate, the Wine Road has generously offered these two giveaways:

1. The first 10 “ticket” orders after this blog is posted on the Wine Road Facebook Page today, will be sent a Wine Road license plate frame and Wine and Food Affair cookbook Volume 10.

2. We are drawing for  TWO pairs of One Day Passes.To win the first pair, go to the Wine Road Facebook Page and post “”Why (or what) You Like About the Wine Road.” The 2nd pair will be given away to a Email subscriber of Simple Hedonisms.

If you can’t attend, a license plate frame and 2010 cookbook, is an alternate prize.  If you are not on Facebook, post on the Blog in comments.

Contest ends this Friday evening, so don’t delay!


A heartfelt thanks to all the readers; Consumers, Wine Industry, and Fellow Bloggers. Simple Hedonisms is here to stay, and in fact looking to expand coverage. (Details to follow.) Cheers!!!

(If you are not on Facebook, post on the Blog in comments.)

Wine Review: Long Gamma Cellars – 2007 Red Blend

Earlier this year, Simple Hedonisms reviewed the tasty Long Gamma white blend, so I was quite pleased when I got my hands on a bottle of the Long Gamma red to taste.

Long Gamma is the brain child of the Chicago expats who founded Reynoso Vineyards of Alexander Valley over 9 years ago, and created the brand to create a high quality, value priced wine, from their own great vineyards, estate fruit, not bulk wine. Unusual for wine of this price point.

As described on the bottle label, the blend  is a “an ever changing fusion that showcases the best of Sonoma County.”

Blends generally do change in percentages year over year, that’s the beauty of them, they allow the winemaker to adapt to the quality and characteristics of that years finished vintage.


Region/AVA: Sonoma County (although fruit is from Alexander Valley)

Color: Deep Purple

Aroma: Ripe red fruit, blackberry, black cherry, hint of spice

In The Mouth: Pleasant melding of lush fruit that is expressive, but not an oppressive fruit bomb. Good balance and taste of fruit through front, mid palate and finish. Enough acidity and structure to let it pair well with many foods; it made me want bbq or a ribeye, drinkable alone as well though, with good ‘quaffability’ factor. Finish slightly off dry, not hot nor tannic. 14.3% alcohol: I appreciate the moderate alcohol level  a red wine, especially zinfandel based under 15% is nice to find these days.

Price: (Media Sample) ~$12/bottle. Available online by the case or  via retail at places like Draegers, Big John’s, Molsberry,  as well as local hangouts like Healdsburg Bar & Grill.

Wine Geek Info:

  • The 2007 release is a blend of 75% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, and 5% Petite Sirah.
  • The Zinfandel and Petite Syrah were fermented, aged in stainless steel;  The Syrah barrel aged 20 months in new and neutral French oak.
  • 750 cases produced

The Red Gamma Red would be a good buy at a higher price, it’s steal at under $15.

Celebrate the 4th of July with the “All American” Grape – Zinfandel; and these Dry Creek Events

Zinfandel is considered ‘the’ American varietal (grape),  and has been grown/drunk in the U.S. as far back as 1860.

Zinfandel is grown in many places, with a special focus in California. The styles can vary slightly depending where grown, but many consider Dry Creek Valley the heart of Zinfandel. Dry Creek’s warm weather, and variety of growing conditions, produces a range of wonderful wine.

Many wineries are celebrating this holiday and featuring this All American wine. Here are two (of many) special Zin events in Dry Creek to check out:

All American Zin Day

Saturday July 3, 11:00 – 4:00

A $20 logo glass is your ticket to a great time at five Dry Creek wineries, each serving award winning Zins paired with something tasty. Right when you come into Dry Creek, kick off at Amista, where  Baci Cafe will be serving up pizza from their new wood-fired oven – the perfect match with a 2006 Saini Farms Zin. Enjoy their winegarden and then head off to Wilson, Family, Rued and Mazzocco for more fun.
Don’t miss this Zin-tastic start to Independence Day weekend! Purchase your tickets here at the door.

Mounts Family Winery  Independence Day Celebration!

July 3rd & 4th 11:00 – 5:00

It will be a ZINtastic weekend with music, BBQ, and amazing Dry Creek Valley views atop their 140 acre estate.

Get your ZIN on and check out the  unveiling of two brand new single block designate Zinfandel’s; the 2008 Estate ‘La Loma’ Zinfandel, and the 2008 Estate ‘Cypress’ Zinfandel.
$10 per person Complimentary for Club Members (up to 4 people)

Also, Mounts has a special case sale on their 2007 Zin, only $150, though July 4th, or until it sells out!

Of course there are MANY great things going on in Sonoma County this weekend; for more ideas check out the Wine Road and Inside Sonoma websites.

Have a GREAT 4th, and of course, CHEERS!

Tips & Suggestions for June 5&6 Taste Alexander Valley

We are just a few days away from the Taste of Alexander Valley, a fun filled weekend, I am very much looking forward. Thirty-five Wineries, many without tasting rooms, or open to public are pairing their wines, with gourmet food, and in many cases entertainment. Reviewing the list last night, planning my route, was making my mouth water – the wineries have really outdone themselves.

Planning Your Stops

If you have read my articles before on events, you will recall a consistent theme of making a plan. Taste Alexander Valley has a little more leisurely pace than some of the Sonoma events where you have to choose from 100+ wineries in a few days, but I have always found the event more enjoyable if I take a few minutes with a map, the list of offers by winery and make an ‘A’ list of those I don’t want to miss. You have unique opportunities, such as “Outlaw 7” seven very small wineries,  you may not come across otherwise.

I find it fun to also have a bit of a theme for the weekend; is my main focus this time exploring wineries I have never been too? Maybe its on a hunt for a certain type of varietal (wine type). Maybe mostly visit favorites. Maybe the music and/or food offers are the theme. I often do one theme one day, and one the other.

My two personal quests for this event: (1) visit as many new wineries as I can, as I have tended to focus on my faves like Stryker Sonoma, Trione and a few others repeatedly, more from habit and friendship.  (2) My love affair with Rhone wines (22 wonderful varietals from the Rhone region of France) after attending Hospice du Rhone remains at an all time high, so I will be seeking these out. I have already marked producers of Syrah, Grenache, Viognier; I am hoping to find some other Rhone varietals and blends. (Petite Sirah doesn’t count sorry.) Shout out to me if you have one, or know of one!

Print out the two page overview, look at the map make some notes, give it some thought, I promise you’ll find the investment worthwhile instead of randomly driving and stopping.

The Alexander Valley website also has a great sorting tool where you can search by wines produced, amenities and more.

What to bring

As a near professional eventer, I have a standard list of things I load up to have on hand:

  • Clothing: Yes, wear clothes. Plan on layers, the day starts cool and warms as it goes. Most events seem focused on outside, but if you spend anytime in a barrel room or cellar, the temperature will be 58 degrees, you’ll want a layer to put on. Weather info here.
  • Credit Card: This is a great time to buy wine; some of these wineries don’t have tasting rooms, or limited distribution. If you find something you like, buy a bottle or 3. Many wineries will be offering sales on releases and cases, which I will feature in a article tomorrow.  Many of these wineries are (very) small business and family owned, and they aren’t non profits, they stay in business via wine sales. These events don’t generate profit, they actually cost the winery money unless sales are good. Please support small local business and artisans.
  • Cooler. I actually bring two. One small one with soft drinks, water, caffeine sources, fruit, and a second larger one for wine. There is no better way to ruin wine then to leave it in a 75+ degree car for the afternoon.
  • Spit Cup: Most consumers are not going to do this, but I am relentless on sharing how this changed my tasting experience. If you become a hard core wine taster, you eventually have no choice to learn this; taste 50+ wines in an hour and you learn why the big red plastic cups are prevalent at industry events. It takes as little as 6-8 oz of wine to impact your sensory analysis and judgement, and move from wine tasting, to drinking.  Nothing wrong with the latter, if being responsible, but it depends on your goal. Tasting room staff should generally recognize a more serious wine taster and buyer, and you usually also get more interesting pours. At a minimum, especially in the first few hours as you warm up, make use of the dump bucket – its not an insult to take a taste, and dump out the rest.
  • Sunny Disposition: You are in gorgeous wine country, having fun. Smile, relax, breathe the great air and be one with the vineyard. If it gets busy, go easy on that staff (often volunteers) helping out. Saturday afternoon is generally the busiest time, so I plan accordingly and seek out the less beaten paths.

For participating wineries, the article I wrote a few months ago  may be of interest:

Still haven’t bought a ticket yet? Don’t wait, the Friday night opening Gala has already sold out. You can save $20 buy buying online in advance, AND use promo code FBOOK.

I hope that is helpful, don’t hesitate to post questions, suggestions, or comments – I want to hear from you!

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow (or sign up for email updates) for a special article on Sales Promotions by participating wineries.

Cheers, and hope to see you there! You can also follow my adventures, tasting notes, and pics on Twitter (hash tag #TAV10) and Facebook.

Weekend Events in Sonoma Wine Country – May 22 & 23

It’s another fun filled weekend in Sonoma County for events; below are some of the highlights and my personal picks.

May Sonoma Facebook Wine Meetup

Friday 5-7  p.m. Roadhouse Winery, Healdsburg

Facebook Wine Meetup meets again in North Sonoma this month!
Join consumers, wine producers, and fun residents (or visitors) of Wine Country, for a social meeting. Many of us are Facebook friends who communicate regularly, but may have never met: lets put the ‘Social’ in Social Media. :)

$10 at the door gets you a glass of wine, and nibbles. This month we are at Roadhouse Winery, a new winery in downtown Healdsburg.
The door prize raffle drawings for wine and other items at 630 pm, so try to be there by then! If your business wishes to donate wine or other merchandise (physical items only).
We usually get 60+ people, so come out and network, have fun.

Lets celebrate this amazing county, its great people, and make new wine friends. See you there!

Please RSVP  here if you can so we can have sufficient, glasses, food, soft drinks, etc.

Longboard Vineyards Mavericks ’10 Reception

Sat 5-9 pm The Tasting Lounge, 5 Fitch Street, Healdsburg, CA

The Mavericks, Everest of the Seas Exhibition has unveiled its latest gallery featuring some of the most heart-stopping images from the epic El Niño-fueled 2010 Big Wave Season. This year’s lineup will include the finest new images from Award-winning photographers Frank Quirarte, Doug Acton, Seth Migdail, Ed Grant and Art Gimbel along with a multimedia slide show and a video recap of the 2010 Mavericks Surf Contest, one of the greatest days in surfing history.
“Everest of the Seas” first made its debut at the Coastal Arts League Gallery in Half Moon Bay, drawing large crowds and an enthusiastic response. The show has finished successful runs at San Francisco’s world class Museum and Gallery, SFMOMA, The Fillmore, The Half Moon Bay Big Wave Surfing Festival and now a return engagement at Longboard Vineyards.

Facebook RSVP here.

Best of Sonoma County Wineries Exclusive Tasting Event

Sun 1-430  3358 Coffey Lane, Suite D, Santa Rosa CA 95403

Vinify Wine Services/Collective is a state of the art custom crush facility located in Santa Rosa that houses some of the best boutique winemakers in Sonoma County. Our member wineries produce wines from highly acclaimed vineyards all over the North Coast representing over 12 varietals.  Join us on Sunday, May 23rd and preview 40+ wines presented in Bordeaux or Burgundy Riedel stemware (yours to keep).

Winemakers and owners will be showcasing their wines and are available to answer all of your questions and educate you in order to make informed purchasing decisions.  Some of our wineries are hot “up and comers”, while others are established, reputable brands producing highly allocated, quality wines, many of which are sold exclusively direct from each winery.

A generous spread of cheeses and other tasty wine treats will be provided. In addition, we will be raffling off a few cases of mixed wine to anyone that enters, raffle entrance is free.

Limited tickets available!  Purchase tickets in advance at $20 per person and save, tickets available here.

For questions, please call Hillary at 707-495-4959 or email at

Some of the participating wineries include: Baker Lane, Bevan Cellars, Bjornstad Cellars, Lattanzio Winery, Pfendler Vineyards, Sojourn Cellars, Westerhold Family Vineyards, Calluna Vineyard, Jemrose Vineyard, Barbed Oak Vineyards, Desmond Wines, Frostwatch Vineyard and Winery, Olsen Ogden Wines, Gracianna Winery, Cinque Insieme Wines

Facebook RSVP

Paradise Ridge Winery Santa Rosa Estate -16th Anniversary Celebration & Opening of Marijke’s Grove Exhibit “Mettle”

Sunday May 23rd 11-5

Join Paradise Ridge at their Open House to celebrate from 11-3.  Releasing the exclusive 2008 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley & the 2008 Ode to Joy, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Current release wines will be paired with scrumptious nibbles. Outstanding anniversary discounts will be offered on wine and gift items.

Tickets are $10 per person at the door refundable with purchase.  There is no charge for Paradise Found wine club members.

“Mettle” is the 14th annual sculpture exhibit at Marijke’s Grove. It will feature the amazing work of the following artists; Albert Dicruttalo, Ben Harris, Grant Irish, Michael Maes, Dan Romo, Wayne Shaffer, Raymond Suarez, William Wareham & Cedric Wentworth.

There will be a reception in the sculpture garden with the artists from 3-5 pm.


Facebook RSVP

Paso Robles Wine Festival

After my recent trip to Hospice du Rhone, I am dying to return to Paso for more Rhones, besides the tasting events, manywineries are featuring special pairings, entertainment etc. Just can’t pull it off, having been on the road two months straight.

Info is here.

Siduri Open House

Saturday, May 22nd, 9am to 4pm is our

Join Siduri for their Annual Spring Open House at the winery, enjoy  some fantastic Wine Specials, some great Growers helping pour, and more fun than the law should allow.

This Spring Open House also has the distinction of being the last event held at our current address – as we will be moving across the parking lot this summer!  It isn’t a big move, distance-wise, but it still promises to be a real pain!  To help ease that pain,  a number of wines are on sale, which will undoubtedly leave ess to move!  Those of you who live far away from the Wine Country and won’t be able to this event can share some of the Wine Specials with you as well.  These specials include fantastic pricing on a number of Siduri and Novy wines as well as discounts on some pre-release offerings.  To access the Specials please click here.

Mutt Lynch Winery – See You This Saturday at Barkus!!

Join Us At Barkus!

Join Mutt Lynch on this Saturday May 22 from 11am to 4pm for 2nd annual BARKUS Spring event at the winery.  All you need to know is this year’s theme… Mingle, Sniff, Mingle… who can resist?

Patch is resting up for the event.  And the Mutt Lynch human crew is getting the winery ready for a day full of wine tasters and canine sniffers!  Swing on by and join the fun!  And remember…  $10 admission, which is being donated in full to the San Francisco SPCA.  And 10% of all sales proceeds on the day are being donated to the SF SPCA as well.

For other links to Sonoma Wine Events check out the Wine Road and Sonoma County pages.

If you see me out and about this weekend, say HI!


Simple Hedonisms Previews the “Taste of Alexander Valley” June 5&6, Details and Promotions

Summer is here in Wine Country, and the plethora of amazing food and wine experiences is getting ready to ramp up, right through fall Harvest.

One of the highlights of the start of summer, is the Taste of Alexander Valley, an incredible event featuring food and wine pairings, and entertainment from 35 wineries in gorgeous Alexander Valley. I have yet to visit a fair number of these, and I bet many gems await your discovery as well.

Two Days of Casual Elegance, World Class Food and Wines

The event is June 5 & 6th, from 11-4 pm. Only two days, so many great places, so little time – will need a plan! Luckily the Alexander Valley website is very well done with great interactive tools and maps, the ability to sort by many different ways including varietal (3 wineries make Tempranillo – who knew?!), even sort by dog friendly! As the event gets closer, I will write an article to assist with planning your days, but all the tools are here.

For only $65, a weekend ticket provides you the chance to experience 35 wineries hosting their own special parties offering wine and food pairings, live entertainment and special weekend wine discounts. For a list of Participating Wineries and a Description of their featured pairings, click HERE.

*Special Offer* Enter Promo Code: FBOOK when you purchase online, and get $10 off – thats the entire weekend of premium food, wine, and entertainment in gorgeous Alexander Valley, for $55. To purchase tickets online CLICK HERE.

There are new wineries, as well as wineries not normally open to the public or without tasting rooms participating – have to admit a few I never heard of. (Check out the ‘The Outlaw 7’ pouring at the  Geyserville Inn: Icaria Winery, Joseph Family Vineyards, Kelley & Young, Pendleton Estate, Quaking Hills Winery, and Wilson Fleming Estate Winery.)

Friday Night Opening Gala

For those Hedonists looking for even more culinary and wine delights, there is a special event Friday night to kick it off,  The Opening Gala. Friday June 4 from 5:00–8:30 PM at Rodney Strong’s renowned Alexander’s Crown Vineyard estate. The Gala will feature reserve wines from throughout Alexander Valley and a variety of exquisite small plates prepared by Peloton Catering. There will also be live swing music by Stompy Jones, a well known San Francisco bases sextet. Mingle with Alexander Valley’s winemakers, winery principals, and vineyard owners at “The Crown”, amidst stunning Alexander Valley views. Tickets are  $90 with limited availability, and nearly sold out.

Win Free Tickets

Taste of Alexander Valley has been generous enough to donate tickets for promotional giveway. Two winners will be selected this Friday, May 21st, at the Sonoma Facebook Wine Meetup, in downtown Healdsburg, at the new Roadhouse Winery. Early next week, we will announce a contest for drawing for an additional winners, so stay tuned. And in yet one more chance to win, there will be a drawing for tickets to email subscribers of Simple Hedonisms. (top right.) Come back for details, as well as Tips on planning your event, as well as a special article on Winery inventory promotions.

See you in Alexander Valley – Cheers!

May 21st – Sonoma Facebook Wine Meetup at Roadhouse Winery in Healdsburg

Friday May 21st is the next monthly meeting of the Sonoma Facebook Wine Meetup. If you haven’t attended or heard of, its a Wine Networking event started last December. It’s a social happy hour for networking of wine industry, marketing and social media, wine consumers, cellar rats, and people who love Sonoma. The underlying goal was to put the ‘social in social networking’ after I observed how many people in the county had been Facebook friends, but may have never met; and every event one can hear “so glad to finally meet you” as well as make new friends and have a great time.

We meet 1x a month and rotate the venue and the night. Most have been in North Sonoma, as I am traveling 4+ days a week now regularly for my ‘real’ job in the software industry, have limited time, and the best support/resource base has been up here, but I certainly intend to do Sonoma Valley again – sooner than later if a venue, or people step up to help. Napa Valley also just started their sister group and had their first event, with over 70 people attending. (The Monday night was a successful draw for industry, oddly no one here has requested that.) I hope to work with Andrew at some point this summer to combine one, if we can find a middle ground people will drive too. (Historically a challenge, given the distance.)

If you are interested in hosting one month, the suggested criteria for success, based on experience, is here. Contact me to discuss if interested. (June is tentatively selected at a winery, combined with a music event, but still in progress. For the busy summer, I am contemplating combining the meetups with other events.)

Anyway, I am pleased to announce this month’s venue and a new twist. We are at Roadhouse Winery, a new winery in North Sonoma, just a few blocks away from downtown Healdsburg. The event will run from 5-7 pm, $10 a the door gets you a glass of wine and nibbles ($5 for non drinkers.) As with previous events, we will have a raffle drawing for wine or merchandise, generously donated by local wineries (who get to present their offering.) drawn at 630.

Please RSVP by tonight, so we can have adequate food, staffing, glasses etc.

Wine Meetup: RSVP Here or email


(For those of you interested in the ‘Secret Dinner’ after by Chef Mateo, unfortunately he had to postpone (did we ruin the secret?). After the meetup, dine in one of Healdsburg’s many amazing restaurants.

This Weekend Events in Wine Country

Wine Country events are starting to ramp up again, to the point where I need to clone myself to be able to attend all the ones I want.

The Simple Hedonisms Calendar is a great source for events I scour from multiple sources.

Events can be downloaded right to your calendar for Google, Outlook, or other .ics based calendar, and synced to your Smartphone. In the next week or so, will be launchinhg an improved version, custom written by Healdsburg local Kenny Lowe.

This Weekend’s Highlights:

April in Carneros 2010

April 17 and 18, 10am until 4pm—is an exciting winery open house event featuring more than 20 wineries in Carneros.  Each will open its doors and invite visitors to join in on a variety of activities.  Wineries may offer food and wine pairings, live music, art or craft shows, special tastings (barrel, reserve, library, new release), discounts or special pricing, and more.
Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 the day of event and are valid both days of the event.  Tickets also include $5 in “Carneros Cash” per ticket which can be applied to any purchase at all participating wineries.

With your ticket, you’ll receive an April in Carneros logo glass and access to all the fun!  (Some activities at some wineries may have additional fees, but all participating wineries have generous offerings for April in Carneros participants at no cost above the price of admission.)  Proceeds from Holiday in Carneros fund scholarships at Santa Rosa Junior College and Napa Valley College.

Some of the wineries participating are Adastra Wines, Anaba, Bonneau Wines, Bouchaine Vineyards, Ceja Vineyards, Enkidu Wines, Etude Wines, Homewood Winery, Kamen Estate Wines, Larson Family Winery, Larson Family @ Cornerstone, Mantra @ Grange Sonoma, McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards & Winery, Tin Barn Vineyards, and Ty Caton Vineyards.

More details at:

French PIG- the Butcher & the Cook, Kelley Young Wines

This Special Edition of French PIG is a full day hands-on workshop in the wine country home of Kathleen Kelley & Jim Young. In addition to the convivial and relaxed setting, the day-long workshop including lunch, concludes with PINK: a pork & rose’ tasting dinner featuring Kathleen’s Rose, a Bordeaux-style rose true to our Southwest roots.


Pope Valley Vintners Tasting

Come Visit Napa’s Last Frontier!

The Pope Valley Winery will be hosting a collection of the finest wineries, vineyards and labels of the Pope Valley region. Along with these amazing wines, there will be olive oil tastings, cheese and fruit platters, a bocce ball tournament, and live music from vocal guitarist Johnny Smith. And all event profits will be donated to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. It will be a day of great wine and music for a great cause! $20/person

Spring Passport Day – Wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association invites you to take part in our Spring Passport Program.  Over fifty Santa Cruz Mountains wineries – from Ahlgren to Zayante – will open their doors to Passport Program participants on Saturday, April 17th, 2010 between 11 am and 5 pm.  Passports, which cost just $40 per person, provide entry into participating wineries, including many that are not normally open to the public at any other time.  Passport holders will be invited to tour the facilities, meet the winemakers, and sample the fruits of their labors – including special wines poured only for participants in the Passport Program! Passports are valid until all wineries have been visited. The passport never expires!
The Passport Program will be repeated on the 3rd Saturday of January, April, July & November each year. This allows guests to visit the vineyards at every season in the growing cycle.  This Spring, on April 17th, begin a new adventure to experience the greatness of the wines produced in this appellation, spend a wonderful day at the wineries in the company of winemakers’ and bring home some great wine to treasure and share with friends for any special occasion!

More information at:

37th Annual Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? The Festival began as a celebration of the opening of the Salmon fishing season. Boats are decorated and parade out of the harbor on Sunday morning, gathering outside the jetties to receive blessings of the fleet by a local clergyman. A flower wreath is cast on the waters to honor those who have lost their lives in this dangerous occupation.
The festival is packed with music, food and entertainment.
Join great wineries like  Stryker Sonoma to be pouring some fantastic wines in the wine tent, and having a whale of a good time!

More info at:

Celebrate Earth Day With Green Valley

Sunday, April 18, 2010
12pm to 4pm

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Where better to celebrate than Green Valley … at a wine tasting … at beautiful Iron Horse? The eight participating wineries are DeLoach Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Hartford Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, Marimar Estate, Orogeny and Sequana Vineyards.
Serving California Osetra Caviar (sustainably farmed, of course) at the VIP Sparkling reception. At the main event, Hog Island oysters, shucked by founder and avid surfer John Finger, grilled fish prepared by surfer-chef Kory Stewart from Americano at Hotel Vitale in San Francisco, a fish taco truck manned by Iron Horse alum Christopher Greenwald of Bay Laurel Catering, the delicious breads from surfer-baker Jed Wallach of Wildflour Bread in Freestone and local, seasonal vegetables and salads (it is Earth Day, after all) prepared by Iron Horse Winery fisher-chef Ruben Gomez.

More info at:

Slow Food Russian River Mixer

The Spring Mixer is a regional event for all Slow Food members and friends in and around Sonoma County.  Rosso Pizzeria will provide the pizza and salad, and you provide the wine or other beverages and desserts.

This is an opportunity to eat and drink with friends and welcome the change of seasons.
To help us keep this a low-cost and low-impact event, please bring the following items:
*  Wine and/or a dessert for yourself or to share
*  Your own plate, utensils, glass and linens

Parking is very limited, so carpooling is mandatory.    Valhalla Gardens, 245 Ferguson Rd. Sebastopol, CA 95472

707-696-2952 or

Have a great weekend, and if you see me at one of these, come say hi!


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