Sonoma Summit 2016

Sonoma Summit 2016

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.

New this year, the Sonoma County Winegrowers hosted a special sustainability seminar to provide an overview of our program, why it matters (locally and in the marketplace), and offer a deep dive and discussion on various sustainability practices. Karissa was joined by Brad Petersen, SCW Board Member and vineyard manager at Silver Oak Cellars and Lise Asimont, director of grower relations at Francis Ford Coppola Winery. The seminar also included a great Vineyard Adventures walk at Paradise Ridge Winery so they could walk among the vine rows and get a close up view of some of our sustainability practices.  

Paradise Ridge Winemaker Dan Barwick discussing sustainable vineyard practices with the group.

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. 

Sonoma Summit also featured the popular “Iron Somm Challenge” where attendees were divided into 4 teams and competed against each other to create and cook several dishes paired with different Sonoma County wines. This year each team represented different AVA regions and were required to come up with interesting pairings from wines sourced from each of those AVA’s, including Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, and Sonoma Valley.