Sonoma County Harvest Fair takes a laid-back approach to wine, food tasting event

  • Jeffrey Mayo and Stewart Dorman (in black) pouring wines from Mayo Family Winery during the Sonoma County Harvest Fair Grand Tasting held at the fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Attendees were offered samples of this year’s award-winning food and wines. September 30, 2011

    (Photo: Erik Castro/for The Press Democrat)

A new, laid-back version of Sonoma County Harvest Fair's kickoff wine and food event made its debut Friday night, drawing 1,500 to Grace Pavilion at the fairgrounds.

Gone were the limousines, tuxedos and formal dresses. Levi's and cowboy boots were in fashion.

The casual scene was just fine with Tom Jackson of Santa Rosa, a long-time fairgoer. "It suits Sonoma County," he said.

2011 Sonoma County Harvest Fair Grand Tasting


Dubbed "The Grand Tasting," Friday night's event didn't include the fair's annual awards presentation. Winners of the wine and food competition were announced at an industry dinner last week.

That meant wine and food lovers could plan their tasting in advance, said Mike Martini of Taft Street Winery, who was pouring his gold medal 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris.

"You can go right to the winners," he said. "It's an opportunity to taste a lot of great stuff."

More than 150 gold medal wines were poured Friday.

The tasting was held earlier in the evening to attract an after-work crowd.

Award-winning restaurants and artisan food makers offered samples. "It's better for the consumers," Martini said.

This year's Harvest Fair includes other changes. There's the Marketplace, where the top-rated wines and foods are for sale. Food samples will be available.

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