In this era of lively food and wine events packed with activities for wine enthusiasts of every level, Sonoma Valley decided that one important element was missing from the year’s repertory: a grand wine-focused event at the highest level that would appeal to only the most serious collector.
Enter the first annual Signature Sonoma Valley, an exclusive event for wine-country’s most committed wine lovers taking place April 7 and 8. Put on by the esteemed Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance (SVVGA), the affair ($1,250 per person) includes a welcome dinner at the historic Buena Vista Winery, an all-day tasting in one of Sonoma Valley’s iconic vineyards, and a vintner dinner that is set up to be one of the most talked-about events of the entire year.
“We’ve developed such great relationships with wine collectors over the years,” says Maureen Cottingham, SVVGA executive director, of the invitation-only soiree, limited to just 260 collectors. “It’s going to be a very, very small weekend. We decided, ‘Let’s do it right. Let’s make sure it’s perfect.’”
SVVGA president Kenneth Juhasz has been planning and rallying the very best vintners for his brainchild for about a year and a half, and the results are enticing. Chateau St. Jean’s Margo Van Staaveren, Sojourn Cellars’s Erich Bradley, and Kamen Estate’s Robert Kamen are going to make this quite the party. “I wanted to really focus on wine, get geeky, get into it,” Juhasz says. “We’ll be tasting amazing wines with the people who grew them and made them, at one super-special event.”
On Saturday, guests will gain access to one of two storied vineyards: Durell Vineyard or Kamen Estate. Showing the diversity of Sonoma Valley’s terroir, Durell’s event takes guests on an adventure in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while Kamen’s afternoon shows off the rich Cabernet Sauvignons of the Moon Mountain District.
The current releases being served at the dinners were chosen via a blind tasting by a panel of sommeliers led by local master sommelier Geoff Kruth. The grand finale will be hosted by Ram’s Gate Winery and has been aptly named Echelon. The top vintners in the valley each host one table of guests and will be pouring a rare bottle from their personal collections. Among them are a 1992 Harlan Estate Bordeaux Blend poured by Brion Wise, a 1990 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon poured by Erich Bradley, a 1977 Hanzell Vineyards Pinot Noir poured by Steven Sangiacomo, and a 1978 Chateau Mouton Rothschild poured by Squire Fridell. (sonomavalleywine.com)