The winery tasting room ritual is familiar to many: You sip some Syrah or Viognier, learn a bit about the different vintages and varietals from a staffer, and perhaps wander out to the vineyard to reflect on how those vines are transformed into wines.
If you're in the market for a highly curated and much more immersive version of the above experience, consider attending Signature Sonoma Valley, a four-day event held May 16-19 that showcases the region's wines and provides guests with amazing access to some top winemakers.
"Our events offer in-depth, educational wine tastings with a clear connection to the vineyard," says Lori McGovern, communications manager for the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance. "We are providing unprecedented access to private vineyards, homes, and rare vintages of iconic wines. The vintners and growers and principals are at these events and they are very approachable and eager to interact with guests."
And you don't have to be a lifelong wine connoisseur or serious collector to enjoy it all.
"It’s both for new wine lovers and people who have been here many times," McGovern notes. "We have many repeat guests and they find something new each time they come."
This year's program features influential wine critic Antoni Galloni, the founder and CEO of Vinous, who will serve as keynote speaker at the Legends: Collector’s Dinner on May 18. Ten Sonoma vineyards will be showcased at this elegant meal, and Glen Ellen Star Executive Chef Ari Weiswasser will prepare a menu designed to complement the wines.
Other program highlights include the Large Format Bottle Party held at Buena Vista Winery on May 16; ICON: A Grand Terroir Tasting at Ram's Gate Winery (May 17) that features a panel of leading sommeliers; and Bubbles + Brunch, the celebratory conclusion of the weekend held at The General's Daughter (May 19). Events are expected to sell out but some tickets remain available.
McGovern is especially enthusiastic about the Wine + Design Lunches, in which guests visit private, rarely accessible properties owned by wine industry luminaries and talk about art and architecture while enjoying a meal. This year's participants include the private residences of the Sebastiani family, Sophie and James Gray of Sophie James Wine, and two couples that own vineyards—Stephanie and Dick Fredericks and Gail and John Diserens.
“Signature Sonoma Valley shapes how wine collectors view Sonoma Valley as a wine region,” says Maureen Cottingham, Executive Director of the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance. “Our greatest hope is that guests will leave Signature Sonoma Valley with a deeper connection to our vineyards and an appreciation for the caliber of wines coming out of Sonoma Valley.”