Last week, I attended an amazing event called Sonoma in the City (“SITC”) hosted by the Sonoma County Vintners Association (“SCV”), and Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, for the benefit Share Our Strength. I’m a huge fan of Sonoma County, and SITC is the largest tasting of Sonoma County wines outside of the county. It was a superbly organized event with comprehensive representation of the 12 appellations within Sonoma.
The event was held at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Inside the Grand Ballroom of the hotel, the wineries were grouped by major appellations (Dry Creek, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley,etc.) which was nice because the appellations tend to dominated by certain varieties of grapes which are better suited for particular locations. Looking for Pinot and Chard? Head over to the Russian River Valley area of the ballroom. If you’re a fan of Cabs and Zin, then stroll on over to the Dry Creek area. But, before you even entered the Grand Ballroom, in the foyer, there was a themed tasting area where you could explore the influence the diverse terroir of Sonoma on different styles of wine. For example, there was a table for “Powerful Pinot” that showcased the difference between Pinot from a warm weather site, compared to a cool weather site. My favorite “theme” though was one that featured one vineyard, the Dutton-Ranch Manzana Vineyard. It was interesting for me to see how the same grapes, from the same vineyard, and same vintage taste so different when made into wine by different wine makers. It was a chance to experience, at some level, how a winemaker’s choices manifest themselves in the taste and texture of a wine.
I had mixed feelings about the event. On one hand, I was excited about attending the event because it was a chance to taste wines I’ve always wanted to taste, and to try some wines from producers unfamiliar to me. On the other hand, SITC is an enormous event, by my count 123 wineries, and probably 400 wines to available for tasting. In 3 hours! So the sheer scale of the event created some anxiety for me because I was trying to figure out how I was going to maximize the opportunity. I decided to spend an hour sampling whites, and the rest of the time with reds. I also decided to minimize sampling wine from producers I’ve previously enjoyed (Dashe Cellars, Everett Ridge/Esterlina, Freestone, Hanna, Quivira, Sausal, and Seghesio). Still, I ended up sampling about 100 wines from 47 different producers!
Favorites I heartily recommend follow (which includes links to the wines on Cellar Tracker where you may get details about the wines such as ratings, tasting notes, and cost, etc.):
1992 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley (from magnum)
SITC, though a bit overwhelming for me, was the best wine event I’ve been to so far, especially when I consider the breadth, depth, and quality of wines offered! I always enjoy discovering new (at least to me) producers – in this case, Fort Ross, Kunde, Landmark, and Stonestreet are now on my radar screen. Likewise, when it comes to Kosta Browne, and Siduri Pinots, it exciting to know I can ”believe the hype” !
Still, I know I missed other amazing wines…Oh well there’s always next year!!