The Sonoma County Harvest Fair kicks off Friday evening with a new event — The Grand Tasting — that gives guests a sneak peak at all the award-winning wines and foods.

It's similar to the old Gala Awards night, only in a new time slot that's more user-friendly and won't include the awards presentation. (They were announced at an industry-only dinner last weekend. The top three winners were Kenwood Vineyards, Wilson Winery and Gloria Ferrer Vineyards.)

"We've moved the gala to the kick-off event," said Sheila Quince, exhibit coordinator for the Harvest Fair. "The key difference is that guests will know in advance who has won (the wine competition.)"

The Grand Tasting event, held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds' Grace Pavilion, will be a casual, after-work affair, running from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday<NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO><NO1><NO>.

"Come and enjoy and meet the foodies and winemakers in a more casual atmosphere," Quince said. "It's a social event and a celebration."

Tickets to the Grand Tasting are $60 in advance, $70 at the door.

During the day on Friday, there will be a raft of school tours emphasizing the growing "farm-to-table" and "eat local" movement.

<CW-32>On the tours, the kids will be given apples in the produce building, a honey stick from the food and fiber display, a glass of milk in the dairy barn and a mini-pumpkin from the produce area.

</CW>"When they go back to their classroom, the teachers will have a nice lesson on Sonoma County agriculture," Quince said. "Here's what you can buy, right in the county."

The animal barn will offer a new artisan cheese area, explaining how the milk from the cattle, sheep and goats is turned into cheese, Quince said.

The Harvest Fair is open to the public from noon to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $5 on Friday, $8 Saturday and Sunday and $3 for kids 7-12.

Tasting with the Wineries from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday costs an additional $12, including glass and four taste tickets. Additional tickets are four for $8 or $2.50 each.

If you are into hops, tap into the microbrew tasting from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday only. Admission is $15, including four taste tickets. Additional tickets are four for $12 or $3 each.

Chef's cooking demonstrations, rounds of Grape Stomp competitions, live music, animal and produce exhibits, artwork and a cornucopia of fair food round out the family fun. For a complete schedule, go to

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