Monday, September 22, 2008

Celebrating the Harvest of Sonoma County

Musicians have the Grammy’s, movie stars the Oscars, and winemakers have the Harvest Fair, well at least in Sonoma County, Gala Night is the one day during crush you see the winemakers try to make their workload as lite as possible, so they can slip off the wine-stained Levi’s and rubber boots in favor dressing like a ‘normal person’ once again and joining their peers to toast the previous vintages that have made their way to the bottle and sip some fine vinos while waiting for the results of the judges much like the nation waits for the judges decisions of American Idol. (ok, I kid.. it’s actually MUCH more exciting than American Idol)

Saturday, September 27, 2008 will kick off the Harvest Fair with Gala Night. There are only two events each year that I enjoy attending as an industry person, this is one of them. Why? If you wander around and take the opportunity to look up from your glass, you will run into many of the people who actually have a hand in the making of many of the fine wines that are there at the ready for tasting. In past years, I’ve found myself stopping to chat, sniff and swirl, occasionally even switching glasses with winemakers from all over the valley. Pointing out favorite booths to one another, or stopping to take in some delish bites from one of the restaurants, and of course listen to a bit of industry gossip along the way.

It's such a wonderful chance to get up close and personal with the people behind the wines. Rarely are the booths manned by ‘just another winery representative’ stuck behind the table prattling on with canned words someone else has given them to describe the wines before them. I have always wondered if I stand there long enough, will they do a cheer? like -- “GOOOOOOOO WINERY!” or something? Just incase they sense I doubt their plastered on smiles, hinting at lack of actual interest?

Besides wine, you can indulge the foodie side, with tastings from many of the incredible restaurants and caterers of the valley. After the Gala closes, most of the restaurants featured remain open for late night dining and celebration of their awards. A few years ago, I had the chance to experience my first After Party-Party (APP) and let me tell you, the APP’s are where it’s at! A word of caution:if you have a large group, I would strongly suggest making your APP reservations today. Some of the parties are invitation only, but many are open to the public. To find a list of restaurants participating in the Harvest Fair, check the Harvest Fair link. (below) I’m a huge fan of the APP at Sassafras Restaurant on North Dutton and have made that my APP spot the last 2 years. Equus has also been a favorite of mine in the past. Where I’ll end up this year, still remains to be decided.

The Harvest Fair is much more than just Gala night (although that's usually the only part I get to slip away to) - The fair also includes: World Championship Grape Stomp, food demonstrations, amateur wine awards, flowers, famers market produce, games, music and many other activities. The Harvest Fair runs October 3-5th. Besides the chance to taste some amazing wines, it's a fun, family friendly event with something for everyone.

For Tickets,a schedule of events, list of the Amature Wine Awards or just about everything else you would want to know: check out

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