The West Sonoma Coast Vintners announce an exciting new line up of special events for their weekend long wine festival taking place in Sebastopol this weekend, July 31st – August 2nd, 2015.
The wine festival celebrates its fifth year with a new opening night ceremony and whole hog celebration BBQ party, entertaining and educational wine seminars moderated by Bloomberg wine writer Elin McCoy, a visit to epic coastal vineyards, access to the VIP Grand Tasting and an invite to the Saturday night seated grand dinner featuring award winning James Beard cuisine from Stark &Co paired with rare and allocated wines from the West Sonoma Coast Vintners.
Friday Night Opening Party: $150 LIMITED TICKETS LEFT
Saturday Seminars & Catered Lunch: $100
Saturday Grand Tasting: $125
Saturday Grand Dinner: $175 SOLD OUT
Sunday Grand Tasting: $100
This special destination wine weekend is held at Sebastopol’s The Barlow, a home to food producers, wine makers, brewers, distillers and artists that uniquely connect small artisan producers with the greater community of local and visiting consumers.
“The WOW wine festival has become a destination event for oenophiles world-wide and we continue to add new and exciting events to create an unparalleled wine experience. We have expanded our schedule to immerse our guests in this unique and stunning region that produces some of the finest cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the market place” says Michael McEvoy of Joseph Phelps, West Sonoma Coast Vintners’ Board President and founding member.
The association has also increased the size of the Saturday night Grand Dinner, allowing for more guests while retaining an elegant ambiance and the extraordinarily intimate ratio of guests to winemakers making this one of the few winemaker dinners where the wines and winemakers will outnumbers the guests.
The West Sonoma Coast Vintners is an association formed to highlight the distinguished wines crafted from grapes grown on the coastline of West Sonoma County. The West of West “WOW” wine festival is quickly becoming the preeminent tasting weekend for some of the finest cool climate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
SEBASTOPOL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Friday, July 31st
Opening Ceremony: A West County Whole Hog Celebration. 6:00pm – 10:00 pm
The WOW weekend kicks-off on Friday, July 31st with a warm welcome as part of its inaugural Opening Ceremony followed by a West County whole hog celebration held at an historic Martinelli property. This casual and relaxed evening will include live music and of course, plenty of great West Sonoma Coast wines. Mix and mingle with the vintners, growers and an all-star list of sommeliers from the finest restaurants in the nation to learn what makes West Sonoma Coast so special.
Saturday, August 1st
Ode to Chardonnay: a blind tasting exploring famed Chardonnay producing regions from around the world.
10:00am – 11:30 am
Award winning wine journalist and author Elin McCoy will moderate this seminar exploring benchmark Chardonnay regions from around the globe extending from Burgundy to the cool climate of the West Sonoma Coast. This blind tasting of nine esteemed wines will take you on a journey to study the unique terroir of each region and to better understand how they are reflected in this charismatic varietal. It will challenge all your assumptions about this noble but often misunderstood variety.
11:30 - 1:00pm
A catered lunch prepared by Rocker Oysterfeller’s and Firefly Fine Catering immediately follows the first seminar on the picturesque grounds of The Barlow.
A Study of Terroir: the Wines of Freestone and Occidental.
1:00 pm - 2:30pm
There’s no better way to understand the coastal influences, extreme farming conditions and unique terroir of the West Sonoma Coast than through a comprehensive tasting of 2013 Pinot Noir hailing from various vineyards throughout its Freestone and Occidental sub-regions. Wine writer Elaine Chukan Brown of Wakawakawinereviews.com and Jancis Robinson.com will moderate a panel of winemakers as you blind taste through 6-9 wines from these dynamic growing regions and discuss their differences and/or similarities.
VIP “All-Access Weekend Pass” Grand Tasting preview 2:30pm – 3:00pm
The doors open early to the Grand Tasting for our all access pass ticket holders. Enjoy an early opportunity to taste with our winemakers before doors open for general ticket holders. Experience select special reserve wines before they run out.
Grand Tasting 3:00 – 6:00pm
Spend the afternoon under the Grand Tasting tent exploring wines from roughly forty different winemakers and growers located throughout the extreme West Sonoma Coast. This unique tasting gives guests an opportunity to sample rare and hard to find wines that grace some of America’s top wine lists. Complementing the wines will be a selection of artisan foods from top local purveyors.
6:30pm – 10:00pm
The special seated dinner has literally moved under the stars this year. It will feature an outstanding local culinary bounty prepared by Sonoma County’s award-winning Stark & Co. The evening will start with a band and local oyster bar followed by porchetta carved tableside, halibut cheeks, Dungeness crab, fennel sofrito and many more specialties from our region. The Grand Dinner will be paired with a selection of fabulous library and reserve wines brought by our distinguished vintner guests. Feel free to bring special wines from your cellar to further spread joy as you are seated with new and old friends, as well as winemakers from throughout the West Sonoma Coast.
Sunday, August 2nd
Viticulture on the Edge of the Continent: A Stroll Down Taylor Lane Noon – 1:30pm (Vineyard Tour)
Take a late morning drive through towering Redwoods and coastal views ending at the West Sonoma Coast’s renowned Taylor Lane. After tasting some of the wines from these famed vineyards during Saturday’s second seminar, you will have a chance to visit the host vineyards, speak to the people who farm them, and understand the terroir of this special region like never before as you walk down a ridge top overlooking the magnificent Pacific Ocean.
* You are responsible for your own transportation to and from the vineyard. Directions will be provided.
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Finish your weekend with a return to the Grand Tasting tent where you can continue to explore the wines from forty West Sonoma Coast producers and growers.
The Traveling Sommeliers
Throughout the event, some the most experienced sommeliers in the country join WOW and will be on hand to help pour wines and answer industry questions during the seminars, the Saturday Grand Tasting and the Friday and Saturday night dinners.
“All Weekend Access Pass” is priced at $595 and has limited availability. Click here for a special pass purchase.
Locals night at Tony's Seafood Restaurant in Marshall is the place to be on as the sun goes down on a summer's Friday. Seated at a window table, watching the last of the fishing boats glide in on a perfectly still, picturesque Tomales Bay, a crisp glass of Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc and a plate of $1 a piece fresh oysters from those same waters were my rewards at the tail end of one of the most remote and curviest route from my house to the coastal west.
My prompt to head out west was in part to catch my good friend Pamela and her fellow D'Bunchovus band members rockin' out Tony's Seafood bay-side house with their upbeat brand of acoustic, folk, Americana. Much to the delight of coastal West Marin ranchers, artists, musicians and urban escapees, these talented, long-time musician friends have such a blast making music together — a super-welcoming private-party vibe makes everyone feel at home.
I had an ulterior motive and one involving talking the Italian husband into driving so that I might pay better attention to the twists and turns of our chosen route. Marshall/Petaluma Road is one of the least traveled of beautiful backroads from Sonoma County out to coastal west Marin.
On-going research for my second book, a sequel for Fog Valley Crush, calls for more extensive wandering around the region and this happy outing enabled me to take notes as we traversed exquisite, peaceful scenery of rolling hills and cattle ranches, dropping down directly into Marshall about 16 miles from home.
Anton (Tony) Konatich was an immigrant fisherman from Croatia who opened the largely unchanged eaterie in 1948 as an outlet for selling local catches of salmon, crab, herring and perch.
Today's craze for Tomales Bay-grown oysters attracts city folk on weekends, packing the place out during the day.
Barbecued and fresh oysters have long-since been a staple of the local diet. Drop in on a Friday evening to dine with the neighbors. Your best bet for a more affordable oyster supper. Classic Fog Valley.
Closed Monday and Tuesday, as are most eating establishments in the Marshall/Tomales area.
Oh, and the only other vehicle we saw on the way home, was this one:
True aficionados of world's best fresh, local, seasonal and exceptional foods, wine and refreshing fermented beverages consider historic downtown Healdsburg, heart of Sonoma County's Chalk Hill/Dry Creek/Alexander and Russian River Valleys, a veritable edible Eden. Lucky for us that we live in the same county.
Healdsburg (with its friendly population of just over 11,000), provides as warm and refreshingly down-to-earth welcome to locals as it does wine and food lovers from all over the globe. This five-star farm town is a jewel in the crown of Sonoma County, built around an inviting central plaza. Its walkability and diversity of wine tasting and dining options are unrivalled. In fact, Fodor's Guide names Healdsburg as "One of the 10 Best Small Towns in America".
With so many splendid selections of where to eat and drink, visitors and locals alike are truly spoiled for choice. With this in mind and not being one to miss out on the best of the West, Savor Healdsburg Food Tours — a three-hour, six-stop, seated, progressive dining experience, had me chomping at the bit for finding out what I've been missing around the town's quintessential plaza and neighboring boutique district.
Whether you are looking for expert local insight on where to eat and drink over a stay of a few days, or like me, eager to soak in all the latest and greatest of the town's taste's in a half day gourmet tour, Savor Healdsburg Food Tours, offer remarkable insight, first-class bites, sites and sips for just $89 per person.
I took a summer Saturday tour (to write and take photos for my new Sonoma Insider's blog posts on the county tourism website), a few weeks ago.
The tour was led by Savor Healdsburg Food Tour owner and head foodie, Tammy Gass. "Eat and drink like a local," Tammy promised and as seasoned a sampler of wine country fare as the best of them, by our sixth and final stop I was thoroughly impressed with how at home we all were. This wasn't a typical tourist experience. Tammy's bespoke food tour style exceeded my expectations not only in fantastic, fresh, innovative food and drink — gracious hospitality and personal attention was the order of the day.
First stop, Healdsburg Shed. I'm a huge fan of The Shed, a modern day farming community "Grange”, a stylish and airy events space, market, cafe and fermentation bar that, if I had a whole day to work my way around, would keep me enthralled for endless hours and multiple meals. Tammy led the morning's group of six to a shaded, private outdoor dining area where we were served exquisitely prepared and presented Mezze platters of Beet Tzatziki, Sibley Squash Hummus, Quinoa Salad, served with Feta, olives and handmade crackers. The Shed (owned by Dry Creek farmers, Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel) is all about its responsible farming methods, ingredient driven cooking and flavorful food.
Our first taste of Healdsburg was paired with a selection of fruity Shrubs, specialty vinegar drinks made at the Shed with fresh quince, strawberry, blood orange and, that particular day, kumquat with ginger and tangerine with clove. I'm a fairly recent Kombucha convert, but this was my intro to the palatable pleasures of Shrubs. If you've yet to explore these healthy refreshers, made over a period of days, with white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, champagne, sherry and apple vinegars, among others, I recommend you seek them out — or, as we learned, make them easily yourself.
Second stop was another first for me, a taste of the Azores, Portugal, at Cafe Lucia. This spacious and contemporary dining spot is tucked away off the plaza, with its own sheltered outside eating area a plus on busy summer weekends. Thousands of Portuguese, brother-and-sister owners Lucia and Manuel Azevedo's father included, came to Northern California over the past century and more to fish and dairy farm, bringing with them their delicious seafood recipes influenced by centuries of seafaring exploration.
A family recipe for freshly baked bread rolls proved a crowd-pleasure, served, typically, warm with a piquant chourico crusted day boat scallop and creamy leek confit and perfectly paired with a youthful, slightly fizzy pour of Pinto Verde.
Third stop, a conveniently located tasting room for Gustafson Family Wines, saved us a long, steep drive some 1800 feet above sea level to the winery itself. A special Savor Healdsburg Tasting Flight consisted of award-winning and rare to the Dry Creek Valley 2103 Reisling (made above the fog line and brimming with green apple and Asian pear), a 2010 Heritage Tree (deep blackberry and current) Zinfandel and a 2010 (sweet oak, toast and clove) Petite Syrah, paired with cheese, crackers and dark chocolate.
Just enough of a walk away to work up an appetite to do it justice, Bravas Bar De Tapas presides over Center Street in a gorgeous, fully renovated and updated (in 2012) 1920s bungalow with impressive outdoor paella kitchen, patio and bar.
Chef Cody Thomason and his talented and energetic team serve up scrumptious Spanish small plates and signature sangria like there's no tomorrow. Tastes kept coming and each with its own rich, spicy and distinctive set of surprises. San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer placed Bravas in his coveted top 100 Bay Area restaurant list for top-pick for tapas.
I opted for a glass of White Sangria — a splendid blend of Encanto Pisco, Dolin Blanc, citrus zest, apple and Spanish bubbles. Tapas featured in our taste at a comfortably secluded table in the front of house, ranged from savory Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes) in a spicy tomato sauce with aioli, creamy chicken, ham and Gruyere cheese croquetas, house braised Chorizo and blackened Padron peppers and a goat cheese and onion tostada.
Fifth stop offered a fascinating insight into the world of teas. The Taste of Tea owners Donna and Nez Tokugawa had a hunch that serious wine tasters and locals alike would find respite in their unique take on a retail tea store, tearoom and spa. We sampled and learned about three teas during our refreshing taste, an astringent Japanese steamed cut green tea, a lighter, milky, Taiwanese Oolong and a Chinese black tea, called "Golden Monkey".
Last stop on tour was super-stylish, sweet little Moustache Baked Goods, a hipster's haven and macaroon, cookie and cupcake-lover's delight. How to resist a cupcake collection with names such as The Farmer (my choice for just the right amount of fresh carrot cake with cream cheese frosting), The Butcher, The Local and The Milkman? Sonoma County natives, Ozzy Jimenez and Christian Sullberg are making waves as savvy young entrepreneurs behind a business enjoying a nationwide buzz.
Take a tour and taste for yourself with savorhealdsburg.com. Telephone 707 385 9811.
Petaluma Gap Winegrower’s Alliance hosts its inaugural Wind to Wine Festival, celebrating the elegant, wind-driven wines that have put our micro-region on the map.
To kick off this fun and informative festival, join McEvoy Ranch Winemaker, Blake Yarger, for a special dinner at the ranch on Friday, August 7th featuring current releases from McEvoy estate vineyards, along with outstanding, premium wines from fellow Petaluma gap producers including Fogline and De Loach Vineyards.
Prior to dinner, guests will enjoy tastes of McEvoy's current releases, before sitting down to a seasonally-inspired meal inside a spectacular, on-site Chinese Pavilion. The multi-course menu will be paired current releases from Petaluma Gap wineries, highlighting the spectrum of exceptional wines from this unique growing region.
Seats are limited. To reserve your spot, click here.
For guests interested in attending both the dinner and the Wind To Wine Festival Grand Tasting on the following day, Saturday, August 8th, bundled tickets are available at a discounted rate here.
Winemaker’s Dinner – $95
Location – McEvoy Ranch
Date – Friday, August 7th
Time – 5:30 pm
Mere mention of honey wine (mead) takes me straight back to high school and the Canterbury Tales. My English teacher, Mr. Kineally was so enthralled with Medieval literature this enthusiastic fellow read daily out loud of the 29 pilgrims to Canterbury with zeal, humor and a thoroughly captivating pronunciation of old English.
Chaucer isn't the only literary big-shot to celebrate mead. J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy readers are more than familiar with its honeyed charms.
Though it does rather conjure images of thatched roofs, tankards and trestle tables, mead is making a big come back today in the craft food and wine world.
Nowhere more so in Northern California than at the coastal bee haven of Heidrun Meadery, in rural West Marin.
Heidrun is the first Meadery to make its Mead in the Champagne-style and it's well worth planning a visit to taste and tour.
Mead is meant to be enjoyed after a short (four-month) fermentation and aging process. Heidrun varietals taste like sparkling wine, but with a distinctive honey-tone. Not surprisingly, as it takes 8 ounces of honey to produce one bottle of this delicious bubbly.
The Meadery has been at home on a 16-acre former cattle ranch since 2011, its production facility a renovated milking barn fitted out with state-of-the-art sparkling wine making machinery and equipment. Heidrun meads were first crafted in Arcata in Humboldt County. Bay Area being its primary market made a move to Marin a winning formula and foodies and fermentation fans from around the region now come calling in a bee-line of their own.
A full-time horticulturalist and a bee keeper are on staff. Nine hives supply just enough honey for a limited production highly prized Point Reyes Wildflower Estate Varietal, several other options might not be quite as hyper-local but are just as good. California native flowers are planted on site, particularly those with an optimum blue and purple color scheme that bees love.
Additional hives in Marshall and Bolinas make equally distinctive honey for unique mead. Billions of bees on the Hawaiian islands are to thank for the Meadery's bulk supply of a mind-boggling 55 gallon honey barrel stockpile for the necessary fixings for the majority of Heirdrun's mead.
To make a sparkling mead it's necessary to liquify one part honey with four parts water and give it a quick boil to kill off wild yeast. Pollen and wax are skimmed off and the liquified honey is cooled and inoculated with sparkling wine yeast. This, in turn, eats all the sugar from the honey and creates carbon dioxide.
After initial bubbles are removed over a week long period, soon-to-be-sparkling mead sits in a stainless steel Champagne kettle for a month before the clear part of the liquid is syphoned into a bottling kettle, inoculated with fine cane sugar, bottled and stoppered with beer caps ready for secondary fermentation in wooden casing.
The next process that rids the mead of dead yeast and sediment involves the time-old practice of hand turning bottles a quarter turn daily on an old-fashioned, up-right wooden rack for one week.
Bottles are then placed in a thoroughly more modern machine called a neck freezer for disgorging the sediment. Pressure in the bottles shoots out the sediment when bottle caps are removed and corking comes into play.
According to the Oxford English dictionary, the term Honeymoon derives from the drinking of honeyed meade, gifts given during the first month of marriage: "Mid 16th century (originally denoting the period of time following a wedding): from honey + moon. The original reference was to affection waning like the moon, but later the sense became 'the first month after marriage'.
Southern Sonoma County readers interested in tasting these lovely (12.5% alcohol) bubblies may pick up a bottle or two at Vine & Barrel or Wilibees in Petaluma, or look for Heidrun Mead on the wine menus at Lagunitas Brewing Company, Speakeasy and Wild Goat Bistro.
Heidrun Meadery is located at 11925 State Route ,Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
If you'd like to taste and tour, do make a reservation ahead of time.
Picnic tables around back and in front of the tasting barn are reservable too. The Meadery is just a little ways out of Point Reyes Station, traveling north on Highway One. Pick up picnic supplies in town or pack your own.
"I have never seen mead enjoyed more in any hall on earth,"
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
"They sat at the table with their wooden drinking bowls filled with mead,"
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
"The years have passed like swift draughts of sweet mead in lofty halls beyond the west,"
J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings
Mark you calendars for September 12th, 2015 for the South County's glitziest annual fundraising galas — Petaluma Educational Foundation BASH – Cirque du Soiree!
This fun and glamorous event takes place under the PEF Big Top at 901 Lindberg Lane, Petaluma. Always a sell-out evening with exciting live and silent auctions, live music and a Fund the Future paddle raise benefiting all 38 local K-12 schools.
The night begins with cocktails and appetizers before taking to the stage and celebrate our schools, community partners and individual supporters.
Festivities continue with dancing by one of the Bay Area’s top dance bands, The Cheeseballs! Watch for more exciting updates about the 2015 BASH on PEF's Facebook page!
Please contact Maureen Highland at PEF (707) 778-4632 for information on 2015 BASH Event Corporate Partnership opportunities.
It's too early to drop in a spoiler or two, other than to share the best of the west in quirky and delicious pit-stops I find along the way.
Cafe Aquatica (open 8 am to 5 pm) certainly fits that bill. I liked everything about this funky little place, positioned at the mouth of the Russian River as it feeds into the coastal hamlet of Jenner, on scenic Highway 1.
And what could be better than King Salmon and lox on focaccia bread sandwiches when munched by the waters-edge?
Musicians strummed and sang for tips in the mid-day sunshine as a small crowd of multi-cultural coastal visitors hung out in this harmonious spot, enjoying a fresh, local, organic range of tasty things to eat (including fresh chowder), espresso drinks too.
Hard to believe this is the 6th year of Rivertown Revival, our local, arts-based, community festival highlighting the funky Petaluma River and so many of our region's favorite resident artists and musicians.This year's event includes an art boat race and parade, floating art barges and an all-day music, art, food and drink fest with over 40 local vendors. Tie the knot with a $5 wedding at the Hitching Post, craft or decorate a slough-worthy vessel, strut your stuff in your best steam-punk/Victorian attire down at Petaluma's Steamer Landing, July 18th from 11 am to 8pm. $10 entrance benefits The David Yearsley River Heritage Center/Friends of the Petaluma River non-profit.
If you're a fan of top-notch, fresh, local, seasonal meals without the pretentiousness of many wine country restaurants, head out to Bodega Bay and sit yourself down at one of the 35 seats inside Sonoma County's best kept dining secret, Michelin Star rated Terrapin Creek.
Chef owners, husband and wife team Andrew Truong and Liya Lin came north with their weighty San Francisco restaurant pedigrees to settle their skills in a homey little seaside eaterie, tucked away off the coastal route through Bodega Bay. in 2008.
Andrew worked at Jardiniere, Ame, and Bacar; Liya at Michael Mina, Ame, Ducca, and Absinthe before they made their move to Sonoma County to start a business and a family of their own.
Fellow diners at Terrapin Creek on a Thursday evening in July appeared a mish-mash of well-healed second homers, coastal locals in t-shirts and flip-flops and small groups of North Bay intrepid dinner travelers, including "the glampers" — Lesley, Jane, Gail and me, long-time friends and traveling companions who prefer the glamorously rustic over anything too posh!
The glampers opted for a splendid array of scrumptious starters, including Hamachi Crudo (parsley and radish, salsa, horseradish, lemon juice and olive oil), Prosciutto and Roasted Asparagus Salad, a Salad of Charred Octopus and Roasted Cauliflower, Monterey Sardines and Pan Roasted Maine Scallops.
For our main course, three couldn't resist the tidal pull of super seasonal Blackened Local King Salmon served over Sugar Snap Peas, Roasted Artichokes & Mushrooms, Tomato-Butter Sauce. I was the odd-one-out with a bowl of aromatic and completely delicious Lamb and White Bean Cassoulet (Braised Lamb Shoulder, Lamb Sausage, Cremini Mushrooms, Broccolini).
The wine list at Terrapin Creek is extensive and ranges from plentiful in the moderately priced range to the more extravagant. Again, the emphasis is on unpretentiousness and I was pleased to see lots of great wines in the lower price range. We went for a crisp, white (family owned) Barlow Sauvignon Blanc, which paired well with both fish and cassoulet.
This delightfully low-key restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star in 2011. It is open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday. As seating is limited, reservations are wise.
Terrapin Creek Cafe is located at 1580 Eastshore Rd., Bodega Bay; (707) 875-2700 terrapincreekcafe.com