The 2008 Wine Country Weekend takes place on Labor Day Weekend, August 29 – 31.
What:The fun and irreverent Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, (which has always been held during the Labor Day Weekend), and the suave and sophisticated Sonoma County Showcase of Wine and Food, (which used to be held each July), have now combined forces to create the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, held on Labor Day Weekend.
The 3-day event starts on Friday with Winemaker Lunches and Winemaker Dinners. Various wineries host these get-togethers with the winemaker, and local chefs (or perhaps the wineries’ own chefs) prepare a meal with wine pairings.
On Saturday is the TASTE of Sonoma event at the beautiful MacMurray Ranch, owned by Sonoma’s own Gallo Family. If you travel on Westside Road between Forestville and Healdsburg, then you already know about that stretch of road which is exceptionally green and gorgeous and absolutely lovely. Right smack in the middle of that is MacMurray Ranch. You can stroll through the grounds and sample thousands of wines poured by over 100 wineries and try food pairings created by over 60 local chefs. This is all-out sensory overload at its best.
Saturday night, there are more Winemaker Dinners.
Then, on Sunday, is the infamous Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, a fundraiser for local charities. Imagine what you think a highfalutin affair such as a wine auction would look like. Now, imagine the opposite. There are no long gowns and tuxedos and people whispering ever so politely. Instead, this wine country event is full of silly costumes and folks laughing and having fun. The 2008 auction has a 60’s theme: “You’re not hallucinating, you’re in Sonoma Valley.”
Where:Winemaker Lunches and Winemaker Dinners: held at wineries throughout the county. Click on the links for details.
TASTE of Sonoma event: held at the MacMurray ranch, 9015 Westside Road, Healdsburg.
Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction: held at Cline Cellars, 24737 Arnold Drive at Highway 121 in Sonoma.
How Much:Winemaker Lunches run $75 per person. The TASTE event is $150 per. The Winemaker Dinners run between $160 and $200 per. And the auction is $750 per person.
Local Buzz:Locals are curious to see what happens when Sonoma County’s two big wine regions team up.
Generally, there’s a bit of rivalry between the southern end of the county (Sonoma Valley, Carneros, etc.) and the northern part (the Russian River, Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, etc.). It’s not something we like to talk about, but, you and I know it’s there. And, considering how large Sonoma County is, it’s not surprising that there are different “factions.” But, it does make it difficult for the typical tourist to figure out what’s going on with Sonoma County as a whole. It’s tough to get a handle on this place.
And then there’s Napa Valley—Sonoma County’s tame, demure and, yes, charming little sister. Whereas people like to compare Sonoma’s regions to Provence and Tuscany, which are both very beautiful but highly spirited Mediterranean areas, Napa Valley seems like a sweet, little town in Switzerland. It’s pretty and clean and has an innocent sophistication, like a sheltered debutante. And it’s simple: There’s a valley, you drive up, you drive down, you stop by at the pretty wineries along the way. It’s simple to navigate, in all senses of the term.
Sonoma County, on the other hand, is complex. And although complexity is a good thing for both a wine and a location, it does take some experience and know-how to appreciate it. Luckily, more and more of the public has been gaining that knowledge, and, in turn, Sonoma County has become recognized as a top Wine Country region in the world. Yet, considering that Napa stills draws in significantly more tourists and more tourism dollars, it’s not such a bad idea to make ourselves a bit more accessible as well. Hence, North and South are teaming up more and more. And the 2008 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is the first big foray into this united front. Nevertheless, the North’s casual elegance and the South’s humor, independence and Devil-may-care attitude, still live and thrive.
With a national promotion campaign sponsored by Visa, and plenty of buzz throughout the wine world, this very well may become Sonoma Wine Country’s signature annual event.