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08.12.09

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Wine in Context

By Jackie Johansen


The vibrant redwood and Pinot Gris greens of the Russian River Valley are the embodiment of health and vitality of the wine country. From this land come rich Burgundies, Pinots and crisp Chardonnays. It is the environment and the care of the land that makes these wines possible, and it is the winemakers and their personalities that make them special.

The 14th annual Wine to Glass weekend takes place Friday–Sunday, Aug. 14–16, "where great food, vintners, cyclists, come together to share real-life experience," says Lee Hodo of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers. This is the opportunity to connect to this beautiful place we call home and learn how wine is made, about the earth it comes from and the people who develop it.Each year, approximately 900 people attend this event, picking and choosing how they want to participate. Among numerous other activities, on Friday there is the chance to cycle through the valley with Lee Martinelli Jr. and Dan Goldfield of Martinelli and Dutton-Goldfield wineries; on Saturday, kayak down the Russian River while learning how the river and fog affects grapes. Later in the evening, the Sip 'n' Cinema event at MacMurray Ranch takes place where Kate MacMurray, daughter of actor Fred MacMurray, discusses her family's connection to wine and cinema while opening up her doors of the ranch for a personal tour and tasting. "This is a private, unique and intimate opportunity," says Gallo winery rep Kelly Conrad. "Plus, the view of the valley is great." Saturday is the Hog in Fog event, where the vibe aims for everyone to be family. This is the time to relax and make new friends. Over 50 wines will be poured while growers are at the grill serving up pulled pork, tri-tip, sides and apple pie, putting a friendly and familiar face on our neighborhood winemakers that could not be achieved from a casual tour.

On Sunday, the wine weekend overlaps with the Sonoma County Air Show where tasting will be held as planes whiz overhead and while salt expert Kristopher Schalwitz of Dean & DeLuca gives a presentation on the distinct flavors of artisan salts and how they can be paired with wines and food.

The slogan of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers' Grape to Glass Weekend, "Live Like a Local," is exactly what these wine-filled days are all about. The weekend is a reminder that wine, as Hodo says, "begins in the dirt." Grape to Glass flows Friday–Sunday, Aug. 14–16, throughout the Russian River Valley. $35–$535. 707.521.2535.


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