Additional articles BY COURTNEY COCHRAN

Sonoma Showcase

Coming Soon to Wine Country

When I took a much-needed vacation in Sonoma recently I was blown away at the diversity of the region.  Not only in terms of grape varieties grown successfully there, but also in terms of terrain, personalities, and things to do – Sonoma’s got it going on!  If it isn’t the next “it” place to go tasting, then I don’t what is. 

And for travelers looking to get in on a little Sonoma action, there’s no better excuse than the upcoming Sonoma County Showcase Weekend of Wine & Food.  Taking place July 12-15 at wineries and other spots throughout Sonoma County, Showcase offers a ton of opportunities to experience this very cool region, all in the context of a weekend-long party.  Sounds tempting, right?

Get Real:  Experience Sonoma First-Hand
Exclusive parties at wineries, hosted vineyard treks, and a Steel Chef competition are just a few things travelers can look forward to at this year’s Showcase.  One thing that WON’T be on the roster is the annual live auction, which has been moved to another date later in the year.  Happily, this leaves more time for parties, which is music to my ears. 

To help savvy travelers ferret out the best experiences to be had at Showcase, I’ve hand picked a few that I think sound most interesting.   

Showcase Top Picks
Wine Camp Safari – Travelers with deep pockets and a hankering for a truly “out there” wine country experience can go on safari, literally, just minutes from the wineries of Sonoma County.  For an impressive sum of $2,500 a head, participants spend the weekend at Safari West, a privately-owned 400-acre preserve that’s home to zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, and other exotic wildlife.  The fee includes – of course! - access to other Showcase experiences and personal concierge service throughout the weekend. 

In the Vineyard Experience – Ideal for anyone who’s ever wanted to grasp what aficionados really mean when they talk about “terroir.” Hiking boots are recommended, as guests will be heading into the vineyard to learn first-hand about cool stuff like soil composition, vine cycles, trellising, and canopy management.  It’s all followed by a vertical tasting of wines from the same vineyard – so guests can observe how the plot produces different wines from year to year – and a comparative tasting with wines from throughout the Sonoma area.  The cost is $95 per person for the two-hour experience. 

Taste Sonoma –Taste is the smorgasbord portion of the weekend and brings together more than 100 wineries and 50 chefs on Saturday and Sunday at MacMurray Ranch.  Guests are invited to meet and mingle with the key figures of Sonoma’s gastronomic scene while enjoying added perks like the Sonoma Steel Chef Competition (Sunday).  In its second year, the competition pits four local celebrity chefs against one another in a cooking demonstration to see who will be named Sonoma County's Chef of Steel.  Tickets for Taste run $150 per guest for one day or $250 for admittance to both Saturday and Sunday festivities. 

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