We love the wines of Sonoma County and its various sub-regions — Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Chalk Hill, Green Valley, Carneros, et al.
But even when one visits the county, it can be challenging to get to all of the areas and sample at least a few of the wines of those areas. Sonoma County is big.
Fortunately, a number of events are held at various times during the year that bring lots of Sonoma wineries together in one place.
One of the best is Taste of Sonoma, which marks the unofficial end of summer and beginning of the harvest season over the Labor Day weekend.
This year, about 1,750 wine enthusiasts converged on Sonoma State University for the Taste of Sonoma event — up about 250 from last year, when the county was still recovering from the October 2017 fires that ravaged the area.
A number of visitors from outside California made a point of saying that they “came for Sonoma,” providing a show of support for the families — in the wine industry and otherwise — who lost their homes or had family members who lost their lives.
Even those who came with a strategy for negotiating the event’s 132 available tastings soon understood that they faced a daunting task.
Some started with a handful of sparkling wines, then moved on to rosés, then whites and finally reds. Others quickly discovered that it might be a better idea to focus on a single favorite variety.
Between sips, attendees could soak in the music of five bands and escape the summer sunshine in a number of “lounges” and in the lobby of the university’s Green Music Center.
I attended numerous Taste of Sonoma events when it was held at the MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg. But parking always was a challenge, and there really was no place to escape the heat.
Sacrificing rustic charm for air conditioning and efficient in-and-out parking was a trade-off most attendees were happy to make.
You can learn more about Taste of Sonoma, and get an idea of what the 2020 edition might be like, by checking out the website for the 2019 event.