Posts Tagged ‘sonoma wine country weekend’

Short Sips and Quick Trips

August 25, 2012

With harvest approaching, there’s still time before it gets crazy busy for a quick trip to wine country to check out new offerings and old favorites.

I’ve put together some  suggestions below for specific events in the next few weeks.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

A three-day slate of tastings and special events featuring Sonoma County’s best wines is on tap for the Labor Day weekend.

The main event of the 33rd annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend will be held Saturday (Sept. 1) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MacMurray Ranch, the winery named after founder Fred MacMurray, the late actor.

More than 170 wineries will be pouring tastes for guests who will also be served by 60 local chefs. Tickets are $150 online.

Many of the wineries are hosting individual winemaker dinners and other events from Friday (Aug. 31) to Sunday (Sept. 2). Here’s a list of the full lineup of events.

Lastly, the long weekend concludes with a charity auction.

if you want to buy a treasured or rare bottle of wine, check out the 20th annual Sonoma County Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean pm Sunday (Sept. 2) from 1-7 p.m.

Winetasting, dinner and entertainment are included in the $500 ticket. Proceeds benefit local non-profits.

 Lake County Wineries Invade Treasure Island

On Saturday (Sept. 8), more than 100 wines will be poured at a tasting on Treasure Island sponsored by a group of more than 30 Lake County wineries.

The “Wines with Altitude” event will be held at The Winery SF from Noon to 3 p.m. Tickets are $60, but half-price admission is available online in advance.

Check out the Rhone-style wines made by one of my favorite Lake County producers, Gregory Graham, at this event.

 Family Winemakers of California

I’ll be attending the 21st annual Family Winemakers of California tasting on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Tickets are $65 in advance and $75 at the door.

Hundreds of large, medium, small and micro wineries from across the state will pour tastes of old and new wines from dozens of different type grapes.

The event began with a few dozen wineries pouring samples back in 1991. I find it to be one of the best big tastings of the year and a great chance to try a wide variety of wines in one afternoon.

Be sure to pace yourself. Drink water between tastings and don’t arrive on an empty stomach. There will be food available to help bring your taste buds back to life.

Please use a designated drive or public transit if you overindulge.

Atlas Peak Harvest Celebration

A group of mountain wineries from the Atlas Peak appellation in Napa County will be celebrating harvest with a special tasting in Yountville on Saturday (Sept. 8) from 1-4 p.m. at the V Wine Cellar.

There are at least 10 producing wineries in this area, which is located northeast of downtown Napa, east of Yountville and above the foothills of the Stags Leap District.. Several winegrowing-0nly operations in Atlas Peak also supply grapes to some of Napa’s most prestigious winemakers. About 1,500 acres are currently in cultivation.

Advance tickets are on sale for $25. Click here to order.

Short Sips

I’m learning to appreciate Viognier, the French grape that some call the poor man’s Chardonnay.

I recently enjoyed a terrific bottle of 2010 Loredona Viognier from Lodi, a region best known for big red Zinfandel wines.

I bought the wine off the list at Gecko Gecko Thai in Berkeley, a tasty spot for a quick dinner that’s just down the street from one of my favorite music venues, Freight and Salvage.

The grapes are from Loredona’s Clay Station Vineyard lies northeast of Lodi in the foothills of the Sierras. Warm days and cool nights which are typical in this region help ripen the grapes to maturity.

The wine tasted of peaches with a pleasant honeysuckle nose. This lighter-bodied white wine went well with a crispy rice salad spiked with ground pork.

The Loredona Viognier can be found at Whole Foods and Beverages and More stores on sale for less than $10 a bottle.

It’s a great summertime sipper at a great price!


Looking at 2010 and Beyond

December 31, 2009

The coming year will present opportunities galore for wine lovers to expand horizons, excite tastebuds and enjoy the wide variety of offerings from California’s multi-faceted wine country.

The 2009 harvest is complete and the wines are resting in tanks and barrels, making the transition from raw juice to finished product. Early signs are hopeful, but the proof will be in what develops in the months and years ahead. Time, and effort, will tell.

Most of the 2009 vintage will not be released for another year, or more, depending on the type and style of wine. The early harvest or nouveau style wines debuted before New Year’s. Young, feisty and anything-but-serious, these wines are meant for immediate consumption.

Next up will be the chardonnay and sauvignon blanc wines, most of which will be released over the next 12-24 months.

Zinfandel and syrah  and pinot noir usually show up for drinking in the second year after harvest. The 2009 merlot and cabernet wines will need more time — two or more years after harvest — to become finished wines. Some examples will be aged in barrel for even longer, to give them additional depth and complexity from the prolonged interaction with the wood.

You’ll see bottles from the 2007 and 2008 vintages — now ready for market — offered at tasting rooms and retail locations all over the place. For the adventurous, there will be opportunities to test the new wines before bottling via barrel tastings and special events designed to preview the pleasures to come.

Here are my recommendations for major wine-centric events you can attend over the next few months:


The Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) 19th annual grand tasting will be held at Fort Mason (San Francisco) from January 28-30. There are special winemaker dinners and smaller focused tastings before the grand tasting on Saturday the 30th.. While the list is still growing, ZAP officials expect 250 wineries to participate, with more than 1000 different wines available for tasting.

P.S. I Love You

This advocacy group, P.S. I Love You, supports all things related to petite sirah. Their fourth annual tasting event will be held Feb. 19 at Rock Wall Wine Company in Alameda. Each of the 40 or so participating wineries will pour their best bottles of petite sirah alongside great food from more than a dozen regional restaurants. A limited number of tickets are available online @ $60 apiece.

Savor Sonoma County

The 20th Annual Savor Sonoma Valley barrel tasting event will be held March 20-21. A group of 22 regional wineries participate in this fun event, held every year to showcase the newest vintage. A two-day pass is $55 per person. Tickets are on sale online at the Heart of Sonoma Valley web site.

Later in the year, the big auction events take center stage. Two of the biggest include Auction Napa Valley, the prestigious event put on June 3-6 by the Napa Valley Vintners, and Sonoma Wine Country Weekend on Sept. 4-7. Tickets for the Sonoma event go on sale in June.

Check your favorite winery’s website for information about product releases and other special events throughout the year. For example: I’ve got Feb. 6 circled on my calendar. That’s when Silver Oak unveils the new vintage for its Napa and Sonoma cabernet sauvignon with open houses at its wineries in Oakville and Geyserville from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

What’s your favorite wine event? Share your ideas with me and I’ll include them in an upcoming post.