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Mar 11, 2011

Savor Sonoma Valley: March 19-20

Laurent Fourgo at Landmark Vineyards, 2010 Savor Sonoma
 Make plans for the 21st annual Savor Sonoma Valley. Coming up the weekend of March 19-20, it promises to be the usual fun-filled extravaganza of food, wine and entertainment. Purchase a one- or two-day pass and you’ll be able to visit any or all of the 24 participating wineries to sip some of the world’s best wines straight from the barrel, sample tasty bites, listen to live music, chat with winemakers, and more.

Sponsored by the Heart of Sonoma Valley Winery Association, this event seems to get better each and every year. That’s not by chance, either.

“We analyze feedback from attendees and wineries,” says Executive Director Josie Gay. “We really listen to what people say and figure out what we can do better next time. Once we have a grip on that we start planning for next year.”

Of course, all the logistical planning in the world wouldn’t matter if the wineries weren’t enthusiastic about Savor Sonoma Valley. But as a glance at the lineup of wines, food, and activities at participating wineries makes clear, everyone involved is into the event in a big way. At Kunde Family Estate you’ll get to tour the Aging Caves. Loxton Cellars is offering artisan cheeses and food pairings prepared by Olive & Vine. Pulled pork sandwiches are on the day’s menu at Family Wineries.

“We’re planning a great event,” says Nick Benz at Landmark Vineyards. “We’re converting the entire courtyard, with its view of the Mayacamas Mountains, into a big wine tasting area, pouring current releases and 2010 barrel samples. We’re bringing in Rosso Pizzeria. We’ll have live music—Laurent Fourgo & His Ensemble on Saturday, and the Carlos Herrera Band on Sunday. It’s going to be a nice weekend for everybody.”

Hog Island Oyster Company will also be on hand at Landmark, shucking oysters in the courtyard (the oysters are not complimentary, however).

Over at VJB Vineyards & Cellars, owned by the Belmonte family, the weekend will be a celebration of the family’s Italian heritage. “Last year we had a Godfather theme,” said Lindsay Evans, Director of Marketing & Consumer Relations. “This year we’re going with an Italian Idol theme, but instead of singing it’s going to be wine—the search for the ultimate wine! People attending can vote for their favorite barrel wine on our Facebook page. When they vote they get a t-shirt.”

And that’s not all. The winery’s executive chef, Maria Belmonte, will be cooking up pasta with two different sauces throughout the day and giving live cooking demonstrations. Entertainment will be provided by the Don Giovannis, with their repertoire of traditional Italian songs.

Something new has been added to Savor Sonoma this year: the appearance of food trucks in many winery parking lots. “That’s the result of feedback,” Josie Gay noted. “Many people wanted to break for a sit-down lunch, but didn’t want to wait in lines at restaurants.”

Passes for Savor Sonoma Valley are $55 for both days; $40 for Sunday only; and $20/$10 for a 2-day or Sunday-only Designated Driver pass. More details: Heart of Sonoma Valley.
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