Now in its ninth year, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2015 is upon us. From September 4 through 6, wine lovers the world over will gather to experience the best in bottles and food, in addition to mixing and mingling with grape growers, guests and gourmands. During this Labor Day weekend, you’ll have your fair share of winemaker dinners to attend—tickets for events with Meadowcroft Wines and Hook & Ladder Winery are still available, but our favorite dinner party with Hamel Family Wines is sold out—and plenty of opportunities to bid on some amazing packages (think two sparkling wine magnums, a VIP lunch, tour and tasting at Gloria Ferrer) at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, which benefits local charities.
When deciding what affairs you want to attend, be sure to put the Taste of Sonoma (Saturday, September 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) on your list. Last year, 2,500 people attended the popular event at MacMurray Estate Vineyards, and with more than 200 wineries and 60 local chefs expected to show this year, it’s safe to say that the masses will make their way to Kate MacMurray’s property again for everything from cooking demos to wine seminars. We had such an amazing time at last year’s event and we know you’ll be in for a similar treat this go-round. Here are three other reasons why you should purchase tickets to the Taste of Sonoma.
Chef demonstrations are everything
You won’t want to miss out on the five up-close-and-personal chef demonstrations. Toques Christian Sullberg and Ozzy Jimenez of Moustache Baked Goods will show you how to make French macarons. And if that’s not sweet enough, J Vineyards & Winery will add an extra special touch with its J Cuvée 20 sparkling wine, which delivers a gentle hint of angel food cake. Yum! Another demo worth checking out is Jesse McQuarrie’s famous mac ’n cheese lollipops. The Feast Catering chef’s fare will be paired with a tasting of the Gallo Signature Series Russian River Valley Chardonnay. (Don’t be surprised if you see owner Gina Gallo prancing about. She’s super friendly and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to take a selfie with the talented winemaker.)
The Bubble Lounge is poppin’
Fun times will be had inside the Gloria Ferrer Bubble Lounge, were you’ll pair the family’s fabulous California wines with locally harvested oysters. While there, chat it up with Gloria herself, or other members of la familia, about everything from the estate’s 335 acres under vine to its 2003 Carneros Cuvée. This sparkling wine, which will have your palate bursting with baked apple and Meyer lemon flavors, goes extremely well with raw oysters. And we can assure you that with each tilt of the shell and sip of the wine, you’ll never want to leave this happening hideaway.
Get the inside scoop from a sommelier
Spending a little one-on-one time with an experienced sommelier is never a bad thing. And this year, you’ll have a chance to do just that thanks to the Taste of Sonoma’s 30-minute Somm Tours. Go from tent to tent asking your guide about proper wines to serve at a dinner party and correct cellar temperatures for storing your treasured bottles. Twelve sommeliers (including Bill Elsey, Brandon Kerne and Tyler Wesslund) will be ready and willing to share it all so make time to get in on the action. The best part? The moment you arrive at a winery’s table, we promise the winemakers will look to impress you and your somm with a most memorable pour.