Posts Tagged ‘ziggy the wine gal’

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

I can’t believe it’s already here again, Sonoma County’s biggest, brightest, best display of its wine and culinary treasures. This is a special event for me; it raised the bar in what a large scale event can achieve in quality, but it’s especially dear to me heart as it was the inaugural Blog Post for Simple Hedonisms, Sept 5th, 2009.

It’s been heartwarming to talk to people who think I have lived in Sonoma County for years and that Simple Hedonisms has been around for ever; but I have only been here full time since July 2009, and Simple Hedonisms is about to be One year old! (More on a Anniversary celebration later.)

What IS Sonoma Wine Country Weekend?

I’ll pretend you are new here. Many associate WCW with the stupendous Taste of Sonoma showcase, set in the gorgeous MacMurray Ranch. The location is a treat of itself, as its only open a few select times a year. But its three full days of events that include:

Saturday, Sept. 4th, Taste of Sonoma

Over 150 wineries pour thousands of wines, paired with 60+ local chefs divine creations. Taste of Sonoma is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for wine lovers and foodies alike. The layout is extremely well done and organized, with separate tents for each of the Sonoma AVAs (regions) – a great way to taste an AVA side by side.

This year I am looking forward to also attending a Sonoma’s Sommelier Stars Wine Tour, and a Taste with Wine Spectator Seminar. (Seminars are full, but some of the Sommelier tastings are still open, and only $20.)

Named one of the 10 Best Wine and Food Events in the United States by Celebrated Living magazine, Taste of Sonoma is an coveted ticket; get one before they sell out.

Other Features:

  • The Gloria Ferrer Bubble Lounge: What a great way to kick off the event! Right as you enter, join Gloria Ferrer in the Bubble Lounge! This was one of my faves last year, and I returned a few times. The Bubble Lounge showcases Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines with fanatastic food pairings.
  • Steel Chef Competition and Cooking Demonstrations: Watch Sonoma County’s best chefs face off for a fast paced, and educational competition for the coveted title of Sonoma County’s Chef of Steel.  Throughout the day Sonoma’s top chefs share the tricks of the trade. Learn new recipes, techniques and innovative cooking methods.  Sonoma radio celeb Ziggy the Wine Gal is the MC.
  • The Crushpad – Experience the Sonoma County Harvest: Throughout the day guests can  join local Sonoma winemakers and growers to taste, touch, listen and learn about the grapes grown in Sonoma’s  vineyards. Featuring tastings of freshly picked winegrapes, a demonstration of basket pressing, and a sample of a finished bottle from the highlighted vineyard, Crushpad is a unique opportunity to engage with the Sonoma Wine community, from grape to glass.

Tickets are still available online, and at the door, although with people flying in from all over the country, ticket sales do stop if maximum capacity is reached. Note: Visa Signature Card holders (like an airline Visa) get a special discount and VIP treatment, details here.

Sunday Sept 5th – Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction

Sonoma County’s  culinary scene takes center stage at the 18th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction at Cline Cellars. An all-star line up of Sonoma County chefs will showcase fresh seasonal ingredients from local farms and food purveyors in a sumptuous menu to pair with Sonoma County’s diverse array of world class wines.

The auction is renowned for its themes and skits, performed by the Who’s Who of the Wine Industry.  This years theme is  “Endless Sonoma”; with a backdrop of beach, surf and summer, combined  with wine, food, fun and frivolity. Catch the wine wave dude!

Festivities kick off at 11 a.m.  Hang out in the Long Board Lounge before the Live Auction kicks it old school at 1 p.m.  Each table is hosted by a Winemaker or Grower, your choice, based on availability at ticket purchase. A team of Sonoma County’s most renowned chefs will prepare a multi-course meal.

After churning and burning your way through a most awesome auction, cross step into the Cigar Aficionado Cigar Lounge, or, drop in to the Long Board Lounge where you’ll catch a party wave of cocktails in flavors to please every palate.  This is the first time for Simple Hedonisms to attend this much heralded event, stay tuned for live coverage!

Friday and Saturday Wine Maker Lunches and Dinners

How does one fill in your Sonoma County experience in between these two events? Well with spectacular lunches and dinners with winemakers at their winery of course! Peruse through this tempting list of Friday lunches and Friday and Saturday dinners. Many are sold out, but there is still a great selection of seats throughout the county.

Great Food and Wine Bennies from Visa Signature

If you have a Visa Signature card don’t make the mistake I did for years and not use its benefits, especially if you live in the Bay Area or wine country. Free or discounted wine tasting and bottle discounts all over Sonoma County. Offers change regularly; writing this I was pleased to discover that card holders get a complimentary dessert at Charlie Palmer restaurants, like Dry Creek Kitchen, here in Healdsburg. Check out all current Food and Wine perks here. There are also special discounts for Entertainment events, shopping and more. The discount and VIP treatment to Taste of Sonoma more than makes mine worth it, the rest is icing on the cake!

I will be broadcasting and uploading live through the weekend on Facebook and Twitter; however its officially a ‘consumer’ day and playtime for me, even Simple Hedonisms has to sometimes stop and smell the…wine. If you see me tasting, playing, chatting, do say hi, I love to meet readers! Whatever you do have a fun, safe, Labor Day Weekend with your friends and family – cheers!

Expand Your Wine Horizons July 11 with a Hot Night of Kinky Whites at Thomas George Estates

Learning about and tasting wine, has been an ongoing, progressive journey, these last 20 years. Along the way,  ‘breakthrough’ events have occurred that have completely transformed what I drink and enjoy.

The first of those was expanding to white wines.  I occasionally hear casual wine drinkers utter ‘real wine drinkers only drink reds.’ It’s not up to me to define what is or isn’t a real wine drinker, but any serious wine taster, writer, or industry person I have ever met, usually has an appreciation for both. Unfortunately for many people, white wine is associated with  chardonnay, which invokes the ABC – ‘Anything But Chardonnay’ syndrome.  For many, this was a backlash from the over popularity of oaky butter bombs California style of chardonnay.

Both philosophies are unfortunate, and cripple your wine education and experiences. The range of white wine varietals (grapes), and styles is staggering, and wonderful, if you’ll venture beyond  the usual Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. And thats not to malign those; Chardonnay is like an empty canvas, and the many styles, especially from France, are staggering. Look for the popular ‘naked’ or unoaked chardonnay, now more commonly found. Ask your wine store for neutral oaked French (or any country) to try something different.

But in addition, there is a wide range of incredibly interesting white wines, from light, crisp, low alcohol, to big white wines with presence and mouthfeel. Some of my faves include Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc (all Rhone whites) as well as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and so many others. White wines also generally offer broader ranges for food pairings.

The other event that changed my wine tasting experience was my (never ending) discovery of Rhone wines, wines varietals that originated and/or associated with the Rhone Valley in France. I had enjoyed Viognier for years, it was actually a white wine I stumbled across, that was touted as a white wine for red wine drinkers. It generally has good density, weight, mouthfeel, and when its fermented dry (some CA vintners leave a tiny bit of sweetness) is a very appealing wine.

I was well on my way to a steady relationship with Rhones, and then I attended the 2010 Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles, the mecca  event for Rhone wines, which I HIGHLY recommend. I went from dating to marriage overnight, and now am often nicknamed ‘Rhonehound.’ At the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla, I hunted down as many Rhone producers as I could, like I was on a quest for the Grail.

Ok, so what does all THAT have to do with a Hot Night of Kinky Whites at Thomas George Winery? It’s a new event, created and promoted by local wine celeb Ziggy the Wine Gal.

No, I am not promoting this event for money. I am passionate about these varietals, and consumers exposure to them. Heck I even paid for tickets, when I often get press passes. Besides how could a wine blog called ‘Simple Hedonisms’ NOT attend an event called ‘Kinky Whites’!

Join local wineries Davis Family Vineyards, Dutton-Goldfield, Joseph Swan, and Thomas George Estates,  pouring  their exotic, white wines; Gewurztraminer, Marsanne, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Roussanne & Viognier! Frolic in the vineyard and dine in the awesome Thomas George wine cave, pairing these unique white wines with exquisite dishes prepared by Chef Christopher Greenwald of Bay Laurel Culinary.

This is the first of what is hoped to be an annual event. You can purchase tickets online here or Call the winery at 707-431-8031 to reserve.Tickets are $100 per person, $69 for companion. Event starts at 5 p.m., hope to see you there!


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