By Vesta Copestakes
If your perception of this event is that it’s for the Wine Country population exclusively, then you’re missing a piece of information that opens this experience to anyone interested in sampling food and brews as well as wine. It’s also an educational experience and a good cause.
A parade of Pure Luxury Limousine busses traveled down River Road like a caravan, turning onto Westside Road just before 11am Saturday. They turned into Twin Valley Ranch as the road takes a bend from the forest to open valleys, that’s where Fred MacMurray chose to build his home and ranch. I’ve always wanted to go through these gates to see into the depths of these perfect West County valleys. This event was my chance.
Grapes hung on vines in ripe perfection. For many, harvest is starting this week so these grapes won’t be around long. HUGE tents spread out over the large field that separates vineyards from homestead under the oak grove near historic barns. This is an ideal location for an event like this. Just enough shade with plenty of parking.
The largest tents were divided into wine regions. Each able a different winery, some with samplings of food, all with information, education, the people who make the wine right there to tell their tale and express the passion they have for their work. It’s wonderful to meet the people behind the label. Many tables were family vineyards so this is an opportunity to taste wines that you will never find in a tasting room unless it’s one that specializes in small wineries.
Interwoven with wine tables are food makers. Sonoma Brinery made mini-Reuben sandwiches on pumpernickel and rye with their sauerkraut, which furnished sustenance heading into anther glass of wine. Kendall Jackson made heirloom tomato salad to entice us to attend their Heirloom Tomato Festival on September 27th. Sheana Davis of the Epicurean Connection offered fresh-baked bread with her cranberry cheese.
In the wine and cheese pairing tent Ziggy the Wine Gal gave lectures on pairings that matched locally-made cheeses with wines that were being poured in the same tent with cheese companies serving up little slices of cheese with bread and crackers. Over in the cooking tent chefs taught their audience how to make meals of fresh, locally-produced vegetables, fruit, grain, meat and cheese. Under separate and tents and in one of the historic barns, experts on wines taught and audience how to taste the difference between different varietals aged through different methods.
All throughout the event were watering holes for people to fill glasses and water bottles so they could balance their intake and not get overwhelmed on this hot sunny day. There were also comfy lounges under trees with outdoor sofas and chairs to sit and relax between eating and drinking. There was plenty of time to feel you could get a good sampling of a broad variety of food and drink, but you’d never be able to taste them all. You had to be selective, to wander the property for a broad picture of what was available, then take another circle to taste what appealed most.
When what you wanted most was iced coffee, there it was. When you wanted a bit of sweet, cookies, chocolate (my fave David Gambill of Sonoma Chocolatiers), cheesecake and fresh fruit, the table suddenly appeared in front of you. Tiny businesses with small batches of product sat among tables of large companies. Restaurants came to offer samples of what they produce in town. The owners of these businesses were right there to hand you a piece of chocolate, s cup of soup, a bit of salsa on a corn chip.
And if you thought this was just an opportunity to taste and sample, it’s more. This entire event funds good cause to the tune of millions of dollars. The list is long, the causes are all to support children, families and communities. Each year they reach out to ask for organizations to apply for grants that benefit from this event. The next opportunity is coming up with a deadline in November.
To learn all the details of who participated and what this event is about…what good causes they support and how to apply for a grant, lease visitSonomaWineCountyWeekend.com. The Community Grant Manager is Michael Irvine to learn how to apply for grants.