Love of the Land is what the Sonoma County Farm Bureau calls the grand cookout that spotlights the bountiful benefits of local agriculture and its most passionate advocates and guardians.
The more than 1,100 people drawn to an oak-shaded private park northwest of Santa Rosa on Thursday afternoon expressed roughly equal shares of reverence to the land and to Saralee McClelland Kunde.
The celebration inducted Kunde into the Farm Bureau's Hall of Fame for a lifetime of leadership, philanthropy and achievement that encompasses her immense, often founding contributions to the Sonoma County Fair, Select Sonoma County, the Harvest Fair, the 4-H Foundation and Russian River Winegrowers.
Kunde, who is battling cancer, beamed beneath an orange garden-party hat as she arrived at the event stage in Geyserville rancher Dick Dilworth's horse-drawn open wagon.
The crowd that enjoyed plentiful local wines, vegetables, meats and cheeses cheered her and also the Lee and Carolyn Martinelli family of west county, honored as Farm Family of the Year, and Glen Ellen rancher Tish Ward, recipient of the 2013 Luther Burbank Conservation Award.
Fittingly, the sumptuous benefit for Farm Bureau land stewardship efforts took place off River Road at Richard's Grove & Saralee's Vineyard, which Rich and Saralee Kunde created and shared generously with the community and sold recently to Jackson Family Vineyards.