.Wine Encounters: Upcoming events showcase the region’s tastes

Several North Bay organizations invite the public to raise a glass in both virtual and in-person settings this summer for events that celebrate the region’s vintner culture and support local wineries, local youth and the fight against cancer.

Founded in 1944, Sonoma County Vintners represents more than 200 wineries and affiliated businesses throughout Sonoma County. Each summer, the group gathers many of these wineries for the annual Taste of Sonoma event.

This summer, Sonoma County Vintners pivots to virtual events and partners with Wine.com to present “Taste of Sonoma at Home,” presented by Visa Signature, featuring a lineup of online events in July.

“We wanted, out of an abundance of caution, to not move forward with a (live event) until we could do so in a safe and healthy manner for our wineries and community,” says Sonoma County Vintners Director of Events Vanessa Renee. “It also allows us to put the spotlight on the wineries who are welcoming guests back in smaller numbers to their tasting rooms.”

This week, “Taste of Sonoma at Home” digitally joins Kendall-Jackson Winery on Thursday, July 22, for an interactive virtual garden tour and culinary class hosted by Executive Chef Justin Wangler and Master Culinary Gardener Tucker Taylor. 

“The idea was to bring back that food and wine focus, and that’s such a big part of the Kendall-Jackson DNA,” Renee says. “They have these beautiful grounds surrounded by vineyards and these great gardens. This is a way for them to show that off and to get people excited about when this event comes back, because it will be at Kendall-Jackson.” 

The following week, on July 29, Wine.com hosts an online rotation of local red wines ranging from Russian River Valley pinot noir to Dry Creek Valley zinfandel and Alexander Valley cabernet sauvignon featuring participating wineries Pedroncelli Winery, Francis Ford Coppola Winery and La Crema. tasteofsonoma.com

In San Rafael, nonprofit organization Youth In Arts will close down C Street for an outdoor fundraiser, Sip & Bid: Dancing in the Streets, on Friday, July 23. Youth In Arts has plenty of reason to celebrate, as it marks a 50-year milestone of helping Marin County youth build visual and performing arts skills.

For the upcoming event, Chef Lisa Hines—also known as “the Food Fashionista—of Bella Luxe catering will serve food and drinks alongside live music by Marin band Pop Rocks and performances by famed YIA mentor artists.

In addition to the entertainment, the Sip & Bid benefit also boasts an extensive wine auction that includes rare vintages, wine trips and other experiences. youthinarts.org

In Napa Valley, the V Foundation Wine Celebration, benefitting the V Foundation for Cancer Research, goes live in August. The three-day soiree, running Aug. 5–7, includes highlights like the “Rock The V Party” on Aug. 6; which boasts a barbecue showdown and North Bay vintners offering samples of their latest vintages and perfectly aged selections.

On Aug. 7, the weekend celebration gathers some of the nation’s leading physicians and research scientists for the “Answer for Cancer” research symposium. The free event features top minds discussing current advances in immunotherapy and discoveries into alternative treatments for cancer.

Also on Aug. 7, the V Foundation Wine Celebration culminates in a gala dinner and live auction at Nickel & Nickel Winery in Oakville. Recently, V Foundation announced that a generous matching grant will challenge bidders in the fund-a-need portion of the evening’s auctions.

“With this generous matching grant, we are poised to raise a significant amount of money to advance immunotherapy research,” says Julie Maples, V Foundation board member and co-chair of the Wine Celebration, in a statement. “We are working to bring our vision of victory over cancer closer to reality every single day.” winecelebration.org

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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