This is the first post in the West Coast! A Week in San Francisco and Sonoma Series.
Welcome to the gorgeous Francis Ford Coppola Winery!
Every year around Labor Day weekend, Sonoma throws a huge weekend-long fundraising wine even called Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. It is a phenomenal weekend filled with various food and wine events, all focused on local producers from Sonoma County. We first came two years ago and totally fell in love with the wine, the food, and the entire region.
This year, we arrived in Sonoma Friday morning and therefore had the opportunity to attend the first major event of the weekend, Sonoma Starlight held at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery on Friday evening.
All tickets sold during Sonoma Wine Country Weekend are used to raise funds for a variety of local community organizations and social services. Tickets for this event cost $125 for regular admission and $175 for reserved seating (access to additional wines as well as a reserved seating area).
The event started at 6:30PM, right when the sun started to cast that gorgeous warm glow over the mountains and the surrounding hills. Upon arrival, everyone received a glass full of Gloria Ferrer sparkling white wine. This is the glass that you use for the rest of the evening for wine tastings!
There were various "huts" or stations that specialized in various types of wines, such as this Chardonnay station.
All in all, there were over 25 Sonoma County wineries pouring all sorts of wine!
Guests milled around poolside while sampling both wine and food.
Speaking of the food - it was excellent! Guests enjoyed small bites from Sondra Berstein and Chef John Toulze from The Girl and the Fig, a local favorite restaurant (we loved it too when we visited).
This simple yet elegant tomato bruschetta was one of my favorite bites of the evening. I loved how the fresh, summer tomatoes just popped in flavor.
One of the most popular stations was the wood-fired pizza station.
Guests stood in line in order to taste these gorgeous thin crust pizzas topped with ingredients like Fresh Figs, Gorgonzola Dolce, and Caramelized Onions (pictured above) or Quattro Formaggio, Tomato Sauce, and Fennel Sausage.
I got really excited when I saw this: Chili Butter Roasted Corn.
Here's my fun plate which includes Herb & Garlic Imagery Farm Vegetable Skewers, Chili Butter Roasted Corn, 14-Hour Smoked Beef Brisket Slider with Gravenstein apple cole slaw and house BBQ sauce, and Sonoma County Cheese & Charcuterie Bruschetta.
For most of the first couple hours, we alternated between trying various wines and standing in line to try different types of food. None of the lines ever took a very long time (they do cap the numbers for the sold out event), though it did take a few trips to try everything. Between "trips", we'd find different places to sit, whether it be an outdoor couch, a ledge next to the pool, or inside the Reserve seating area.
Dessert was another elaborate affair, with various flavored gelatos/sorbets (butter pecan, Cacao Barry chocolate, blackberry port), a variety of cookies, brownies, fig & thyme crisps, and zesty lemon bars. Finally, those pink popsicles you see in the front of the photos are actually wine pops (!).
As the sun set, it began to feel more and more like an evening under the stars. Though slight chilly, the sky was clear and it was beautiful. Many people smartly brought jackets, and by evening, I saw many women donning thick fleeces over their cute dresses. Me, I hadn't brought such a warm jacket, and was thankful for the indoor Reserve seating area where I could sit on a couch, sip on wine, and warm up!
At 8PM, the band Notorious came on stage. They put on an energetic show filled with songs from multiple decades and genres.
And then at 10PM it was over. I hadn't expected that I would stay for the whole thing, but the band was so good that I wanted to hear them until they were finished. If I hadn't been holding so much stuff, I would have seriously gone out into that dance floor!
It was good to turn in early, though, considering we were still on East Coast time (thus 10PM really feels like 1AM!). Plus, we had to get rested for the next day's huge event: the Taste of Sonoma (coming up next!).
Disclaimer: I received free press passes to attend this event in order to cover it. All opinions are my own.