The Sonoma Showcase of Wine & Food, held July 12—15, continues to reinvent itself, looking for the format that best highlights the region's easygoing charm. This year, it added a second day of the weekend's most popular event, the Taste of Sonoma (which featured wines from more than 100 local producers), and also retooled the Friday-night auction, which was sponsored by Wine Spectator.
"We wanted to shift the focus onto the wineries, the winemakers and the chefs, celebrating what makes Sonoma County a distinctive wine region," said Honore Comfort, executive director of the Sonoma County Vintners.
Showcase festivities began on July 12 with winery-hosted lunches and dinners. On Saturday, about 1,200 people attended the Taste of Sonoma at the MacMurray Ranch in Russian River. Most of the 100-plus producers poured at least three wines, with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel comprising the majority of the offerings.
|The Seghesio Family (from left), Donna, Ed, Rachel Ann and Camille, were in attendance.|
The live auction, held during dinner, was reduced to five lots this year from 19 barrel lots last year, and raised $31,750. John Hinman, partner at San Francisco law firm Hinman & Carmichael LLP, purchased two of the five lots and made the high bid of the evening: $7,500 for a package that included a two-night stay for 10 at Sebastiani Vineyards, as well as a new stainless-steel Weber gas grill. "We don't represent the Sebastianis, but we've known them for a long time. A two-night stay for 10 is perfect for a firm retreat, and we've seen the house and it's beautiful," said Hinman.
The proceeds from the auction and other weekend events benefited local charities, the Redwood Empire Food Bank, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Petaluma and Windsor, and the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation.
Dinner guests had a choice of six different menus, each of which featured the favorite family recipes from a local estate. For example, Hanna Winery, based in Healdsburg, teamed with chef Jonathan Waxman, owner of West County in Sebastopol, to prepare dishes adapted from the Hanna family's native Syria, including zucchini flowers stuffed with feta and slow-roasted leg of lamb with cardamom. After dessert, guests congregated around a cigar and port bar sponsored by Cigar Aficionado and Wine Spectator.
|Chateau Souverain winemaker Ed Killian with his wife Jean.|
Sassafras restaurant in Santa Rosa served a chilled watermelon salad made with seedless red and yellow doll watermelons red onions, jalapeño peppers, feta and basil. Hana restaurant in Rohnert Park and Go Fish of St. Helena presented spicy tuna rolls that harmonized with sparkling wines from Gloria Ferrer, including the Royal Cuvée 2000. "I wanted something you could prepare [here] from scratch that captures the freshness of the ingredients," explained chef Ken Tominaga, owner of Hana.
It wasn't just about restaurateurs and wineries showing their skills, however: Consumers enjoyed themselves, too. Houston interior designer Neera Patidar-Hossain, her husband Akbar Hossain, and their 2-year-old, Armaan, attended the showcase for the first time this year after reading of it in Wine Spectator. "It had been a while since we'd been to Sonoma. It's definitely worth it," said Neera. "I like the organization of it, and the amount of great food."
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