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Monday, November 4, 2013

I tasted Sonoma. . . And I loved it!

While Sonoma may be known as Northern California Wine Country this post is for those of you who think because you don't drink wine, there's no reason to attend special wine country events.

This summer I attended the Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch after winning two tickets earlier this year at the Sonoma Scramble media event. Hosted by Visa Signature I was able to try many of Sonoma's most edible bites and discovered a new non-alcoholic libation I love!

My assistant for the day, Judy, and I headed up to Sonoma bright and early. We saw lots of grapes almost ready to harvest. Just being in Wine Country can take your breath away at times. It's so gorgeous.

As we approached Mac Murray Ranch on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley we spotted white tents set up in the distance.

After parking (at no charge) I hiked up a small knoll to take a picture of the vineyards and lawn lot area.

Judy brought her camera to document me documenting the event.

After parking we had two choices, take a complimentary shuttle offered by Pure Luxury Transportation, or walk along the main road. We chose to walk because the weather was gorgeous!

From the Mac Murray Ranch website: "Our roots in the Russian River Valley run deep. In fact, our majestic ranch has been a homestead since the 1850s. Our modern history began when actor Fred MacMurray bought the ranch in 1941 and began raising cattle here. Today, Fred's daughter, Kate MacMurray, is intimately involved with MacMurray Ranch, helping us share the incredible story of our world-class wines."

The property was buzzing with activity when we arrived at the main entrance.

We quickly spotted the registration area and media check-in just inside the entry. We received our wine glasses for the day and we were off!

So many tents to choose from. . . We went to the furthest one and worked our way back out towards the entrance.

So many wines we could taste. . . Judy tasted several of them :)

And even beer from the Third Street AleWorks BrewPub.

And then there was the beverage that surprised me! It didn't contain alcohol. For the first time I sampled Revive Original and Gold Kombucha. I'd heard of kombucha, a fermented tea beverage, and had even tried it once before but didn't care for it at all that time. Revive has changed that. I LOVED their kombucha so much I had two drafts and several samples by the end of the day. I also purchased a bottle to take home and have since purchased more at my local Whole Foods.

And there was food galore. I think the most beautiful bite I saw that day was the The Green Grocer's Crispy Duck Tacos.

Unfortunately I didn't get every item description that day but I'll list the ones I did. In the upper right was Chalkboard's Rustic Meatball. And in the lower left Jimtown's Camponata with Bellwether Farms Ricotta cheese on a hand cut corn tortilla.

John Ash & Co at Vintners Inn offered a petite Monte Cristo Sandwich on Cousteaux bread with Hobbs smoked ham and turkey, swiss cheese, housemade raspberry balsamic jam.

Simi WInery served this Caprese Salad of Dry Creek peaches, local mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and micro greens. It was one of my favorite tastes the entire day.

Left: Sea Thai Bistro offered a generous portion of their free range chicken, heirloom beans, Penang curry sauce, Jasmine rice, and homemade pickled radish & beets.

Right: The Spinster Sisters Grilled local calamari, zucchini, cabbage, mint, peanuts, nuoc cham, and chilies.

The Paella Guy was there offering his delicious paella prepared onsite in this huge pan.

Top: Judy enjoyed a Hana Japanese Restaurant Spicy tuna handroll.

Left: Relish Culinary Adventures offered a Summertime Shrimp Ceviche with Watermelon and Avocado Wild-caught shrimp, watermelon, red bell peppers, cucumber, red onions, cilantro, lime, and tequila.

Right: Drums and Crumbs had set out plates of Fried Chicken and coleslaw.

There was literally something for everyone!

Throughout the day cooking demos and cook-off competitions took place venue wide.

And my favorite food item that day? It was the candied jalapenos made by Savvy Productions and Events. Chewy, sweet, and spicy, what an awesome combination. I LOVED them and purchased a jar to bring home with me. So far I've added them to eggs, sandwiches, and had them on crackers with cheese. I should have bought two jars.

Some of the foods were just so gorgeous I had to take their pictures even if I didn't have any room left to sample them.

Perhaps the prettiest and most colorful desserts that day were from Sift Cupcakes & Dessert Bar.

Peach Cobbler from Dry Creek Peach & Produce was the first bite I sampled that day. It was delicious!

La Loo's goat's milk ice cream was as rich as you'd expect ice cream made from goat's milk to be. Definitely worth trying if you enjoy creamy, flavorful ice cream. It's more rich than ice cream like gelato, but with less fat. I sampled both the Deep Chocolate and Rumplemint. I couldn't pick a favorite. I think I'd need to purchase both and have them together always.

Moustache Baked Goods offered clockwise: The best salted caramels I think I've ever had, Meyer lemon olive oil cupcakes with organic vanilla bean frosting and raspberry dust, local lavender French honey macarons, and bite-sized chocolate hazelnut brownies.

Considering the numerous injuries I've suffered over the years Judy and I both thought it would be appropriate for me to take a break beneath the first aid station sign.

We visited the ranch's historical retrospective that included many photos and stories from all eras of its rich past.

When nature called Taste of Sonoma definitely kept things classy. Rather than the typical, traditional porta potties, we were treated to modern, upscale, mobile bathrooms that even included interior sinks. That was a very nice surprise.

The shuttles were at the ready to take attendees back to their cars. After eating all afternoon we opted to walk back for the exercise.

It had turned out to be a fantastic day. We had so much fun Judy said she wanted to come back again next year.

Not only did we get to take home wineglasses, we also received take home water bottles. So if you've never gone to wine country because you don't drink wine, if you eat food and enjoy other beverages, perhaps reconsider next year and attend the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend's Taste of Sonoma event August 29th - 31st, 2014 :)

And if you do love wine be sure to attend next year and check out my past posts featuring many of the wineries I've visited in Sonoma County if you're looking for new places to visit the next time you go wine tasting.

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