This week the Sonoma County Winegrowers, in partnership with Sonoma County Vintners, hosted 34 influential wine buyers and sommeliers from across the country for a three-day immersion in Sonoma County vineyards and wines.
Attendees represent some of the country’s most prestigious restaurants and hotels and are considered influencers in the wine trade. The group included beverage professionals from top restaurants and retailers, including Eleven Madison Park, Jean-Georges, and Gramercy Tavern in New York City; Pappas Brothers Steakhouse in Houston, The Boarding House in Chicago, and San Francisco Bay Area’s The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, Pebble Beach Resorts, Michael Mina (San Francisco), Liholiho Yacht Club (San Francisco), Cost Plus World Market (Oakland), and many others.
In addition to tasting over 80 of Sonoma County’s finest wines during a series of master classes, panel discussions, other events and activities, attendees met over 50 Sonoma County winemakers and grape growers, which gave them an opportunity to hear about the vineyard sites, sustainability farming practices, growing conditions, and winemaking practices firsthand.
The program featured a comparative tasting of several Pinot Noirs sourced from the same vineyard to showcase the importance or terroir and “sense of place,” as well as the different winemaking approaches and their impact on the wine. There was also a double-blind tasting of Chardonnays to showcase the diversity of Sonoma County and help explain why this varietal thrives almost everywhere in this region. Other master classes and seminars included a tasting and panel discussion on Zinfandel and another on Cabernet Sauvignon; and several food pairing exercises for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and other wines. Each seminar featured winegrowers and winemakers discussing their vineyard practices and winemaking techniques, and how they work together to create distinctive wines.