When Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance experimented last year with a new event called Signature Sonoma Valley, there was no telling how a super-intimate weekend for the serious collector and oenophile would do in a land of spirited auctions and open-to-the-public grand tastings and fairs.
But unprecedented access to private vineyards, rare bottles of vino (often from private cellars), and of course the vintners themselves were so well received that this year, the event has added an entire day. In addition, there’s a new concierge element and more rare opportunities to visit special wine-country locales open only to wine aficionados at the highest level.
“Signature Sonoma is an opportunity to make intimate, true connections with vintners in Sonoma Valley,” says Prema Behan, COO of the esteemed Three Sticks Wine, a Signature Founder’s Circle member. “At other, bigger events, such as grand tastings, people get lost in the shuffle. This event has the same excitement and fun, but the added takeaway is the added layer of making the relationships. It’s a deep dive into the lifestyle of wine. No other event offers this access to vineyards, homes, and wines. Only the cream of the crop will be on display.”
This special weekend’s signature events have become its Immersion tastings, which take place with impressive panels of winemakers in the heart of the actual vineyards—which are not open to the public—and the much-talked-about Legends dinner, where each vintner surprises their table with a special bottle that is historic, rare, or special to their own winemaking career. This year, the spectacular dinner will be held at Don and Nancy Sebastiani’s historical private residence.
Also new this year are a bubbly brunch send-off; the Hub pop-up lounge, where wine sales and future experiences can be arranged; and Wine + Design lunches that are taking place all over the valley, including the idyllic gardens of Beltane Ranch and the private, Jeff Zimmerman–designed estate of Muscardini Cellars’ Michael Muscardini and Kate Eilertsen.
“Sonoma Valley is poised to be the next region to be internationally recognized, and this event is how to get in before the wave,” says Erich Bradley, winemaker/partner of Repris Wines, Pangloss Cellars, and Sojourn Cellars. “It’s the exact sweet spot a collector is looking for. Plus, there’s great food and atmosphere along with the highly collectable wines. We want this to be very experiential.”
Signature Sonoma Valley runs from April 6–8 and costs $1,750 per person.