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EXPLORE AMERICA: Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Red barn and grape vines in Napa Valley

Red barn and grape vines in Napa Valley

This grape-to-glass weekend bills itself as California wine country’s premier wine and food festival, and with good reason. More than 200 wineries and chefs flood oenophiles and foodies with all types of distinctive epicurean experiences. At estates throughout this famous region, you can take a seat at chic winemaker lunches and dinners, where winemakers pair pours with innovative cuisine. It’s a rare chance to chat with vintners in an intimate setting; some meals seat as few as six guests. The grand event, Taste of Sonoma County, grants attendees access to entertaining wine seminars, lively cooking demos, get-your-boots-dirty vineyard tours, tastings, and shopping expeditions. Watch local chefs face off in the fast-paced, fun Chef of Steel competition as they show onlookers how to flip and whip with the best of ‘em.

Don’t miss the zany Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction. It’s a great excuse to sip sumptuous wine and bid on lavish items while supporting a good cause or two—local children’s charities, community health care, and the like. This auction isn’t your run-of-the-mill fundraiser. One year it sported a ‘60s theme with a Volkswagen bus-turned-refreshment stand and a live band performing tunes from yesteryear. No matter what year you visit, you can expect to find winemakers performing irreverent skits, star sommeliers from respected restaurants, and auction items such as wine and culinary trips to destinations around the world.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend will be held in Sonoma County from September 3rd – 5th, 2010. Telephone (800) 939-7666. www.sonomawinecountryweekend.com

Photo credit: © Brad Perks Lightscapes/Alamy