In several ways, this weekend's Sonoma County Harvest Fair, a fall tradition for the past 38 years, is a different event this year.
"This event is much more focused on the Sonoma County food and wine experience," Fair Manager Tawny Tesconi said.
There will be more wine and food tasting at the event than ever, and the wildly popular Grape Stomp competition will return.
But visitors to the Harvest Fair, running Friday through Sunday at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, will notice several changes:
- The high-profile Friday night "Grand Tasting" for wine and food will now run all three days.
"We've taken what had been the professional wine tastings on Saturday and Sunday, that had some cheese and crackers and stuff for you to enjoy, and made them much more of an overall taste experience, with food, wine, beer and cider," Tesconi said.
- Admission to the tasting pavilion costs $50 for unlimited tastings. Each ticket is good for any one of the three days. In the past, patrons paid $15 for a wine glass and four tasting tickets, then $2.50 for each additional tasting.
- Admission at the gate will be free. This will include access to the Grape Stomp event, chef demonstrations, workshops and cooking competition. In previous years, admission at the gate cost $10 or $5 for kids.
Visitors who don't choose to visit the tasting pavilion can bring a picnic, buy food from outdoor vendors, or shop for Sonoma County-made wine, bee`r, foods, arts and crafts at the fair's three-day Wine Country Marketplace.
- There's a new emphasis on local beer and cider, as well as wine. "As much as we celebrate our Sonoma County wines, we have amazing Sonoma County beer. It's capturing a California and national market," Tesconi said.