Top Sommeliers From Across America Attend Sonoma Summit

Sonoma Summit attendees take a moment from their tour and tasting of vineyards in the Rockpile AVA for a group photo. Photo: George Rose

Sonoma Summit attendees take a moment from their tour and tasting of vineyards in the Rockpile AVA for a group photo. Photo: George Rose

By Sean Carroll, Sonoma County Winegrowers

Santa Rosa, CA, November 26, 2013 – The sixth annual Sonoma Summit brought 32 of America’s top wine buyers and sommeliers to Sonoma County for a three-day immersion in Sonoma County wines November 4-6. Sonoma Summit is jointly sponsored by Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrowers, and is produced by Full Circle Wine Solutions and moderated by respected Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein.

In addition to tasting over 75 of Sonoma County’s finest wines during several master classes, panel discussions, other events and activities, attendees met over 50 Sonoma County winemakers and grape growers, which allowed them the opportunity to hear about the vineyard sites, growing conditions, and winemaking practices firsthand.

Attendees represent some of the country’s most prestigious restaurants and hotels and are considered influencers in the wine trade. The group included beverage professionals from top restaurants and retailers, including ARIA and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Restaurant Gary Danko and Rich Table in San Francisco, and Mozza and Crustacean Beverly Hills from southern California. “Our goal is to teach these thought leaders about our region and wines, so that they can deepen their knowledge and appreciation of Sonoma County and become ambassadors for our wines in their home markets,” said Sonoma County Vintners Executive Director Honore Comfort.

The program featured a comparative tasting of several Pinot Noirs sourced from the same vineyard to explain different winemaking approaches and their impact on the wine, as well as a double-blind tasting of Chardonnays to showcase the diversity of Sonoma County and help explain why this varietal thrives in almost all of the region’s AVA’s. Other master classes and seminars included a tasting and panel discussion on Zinfandel; a vineyard tour and tasting in the Rockpile AVA, and several food pairing exercises with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other wines. Each seminar featured winegrowers and winemakers discussing their vineyard practices and winemaking techniques, and how they work together to create distinctive wines.

“This year’s Sonoma Summit allowed us to showcase the partnership between our growers and winemakers that is essential to producing world class wines,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. “Throughout Sonoma Summit tastings, our winegrowers provided their perspective on site, soil, farming practices, and the impact of Mother Nature each vintage so that attendees would go home knowledgeable about the critical role viticulture plays in our wines.”

“The whole experience was fantastic. Being able to meet and connect with winemakers to really understand wine beyond the label really helps bridge the gap between book study and fully understanding the wines. The winemakers and winegrowers were all very generous with their time and the information they shared. I carry many of the wines we tasted on my list and now have a deeper connection to them and great stories and information I can share with my customers,” said Brandon Rastok, John Howie Steak in Seattle.

“This was the best event I have attended in a long time. It was very well organized and full of information and useful tastings, but never felt rushed. I will recommend it to all of my friends and colleagues,” said Nick Hetzel, MS, Sage at ARIA in Las Vegas.

“This program was one of the most educational trips I have ever experienced. The collection of people really brought a new perspective to the wines of the region. I learned so much about the diversity of Sonoma County, and it is truly a gift to come and visit the wineries and vineyards and fully experience the terroir of a wine. I feel like a made a real home run connection with the region,” said Erica Wosky, Rich Table in San Francisco.

About Sonoma County Vintners
 Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness and building understanding of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions, noted for its heritage of artisan winemaking, distinct growing regions, and extraordinary quality. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 200 wineries and affiliates of all sizes throughout the county. Learn more about SCV at

About Sonoma County Winegrowers
Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, dba Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), was established in 2006 as a non-profit marketing and educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world. For more information about SCWC and its programs, visit

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