Taste of Sonoma is part of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, Sonoma County’s biggest annual charity event. Proceeds from this benefit go to local Sonoma charities with over $20 million raised since it began.
With over 200 wineries pouring their wines and over 60 local chefs presenting their creations for attendees to savor, it’s a must-do for the wine and food lover!
To say Taste of Sonoma is a well-attended event is putting it mildly. People flock from all over to attend this festival of wine and food.
MacMurray Ranch is such a beautiful setting for this event. Famed actor Fred MacMurray bought the ranch in 1941. Now his daughter, Kate MacMurray, who grew up on the ranch, took over the vineyard and ranch property, which is known for its award winning Pinot Noir wines.
Before I started exploring, I wanted to have a taste of some Sonoma County wine!
First I visited the marketplace area that featured many different purveyors of local Sonoma County foods. I stopped by tables full of teas, honey, cheeses, jerky and even gourmet locally grown mushrooms.
I loved seeing all the fresh and colorful summer produce.
There were also samples of beer, cider and limoncello too! I stopped by Prohibition Spirits to say hello to owners, Amy and Fred Groth, and try their special lemonade made with their delicious limoncello. Perfect for a warm September day!
Taste of Sonoma isn’t only about sampling Sonoma County’s delicious food and wine, it’s about education too. There are a variety of seminars and demonstrations going on throughout the event. I happened to catch part of Chef Steve Rose’s cooking demonstration while I was there. Steve is a longtime chef, restaurant owner and farmer here in Kenwood, where I live. Hosting the demonstration was another Kenwoodian, Marcy Smothers, who is an author, food and wine expert and TV and radio personality.
More learning opportunities can be found elsewhere at Taste of Sonoma. I came across this display – which was much bigger than pictured here – with real examples of grape varietals. It was so interesting to be able to compare them to one another and see the differences in size, shape and color.
I started to head to the wine tents that are separated by regions, when I saw friend Jeff Tyler of Palooza cooking up pizzas for guests. Jeff is also a Kenwoodian! So many talented people in the food and wine business live in our tiny town of just 1200.
In each wine tent you will find dozens of wineries presenting and pouring their wines. It’s hard to choose which wines to try!
I also saw Arden, on the left, who hosted me and Bill at Pezzi King Estates earlier this year.
I made sure to stop by to say hello to Sheana Davis of Epicurean Connection and try her pesto pasta and taste some of her cheese. I will be telling you about Sheana’s cheesemaking class that I took a few weeks ago later in this post.
Don’t you love Sheana’s “Cheesecake”?
One of the tastiest things I ate at Taste of Sonoma was sausage from TIPS Tri-Tip Trolley. I need to track some down to enjoy at home!
There were foods for every palate including paella, which size always astonishes.
When you’re not eating and sipping and looking around, you can find a charming place to sit and rest your feet, talk to a friend or eat your treats sitting down.
Shortly before I headed home, I ran into Hannah and Edward of Healdsburg Social who interviewed me while I was at the event. It’s a short video and it really gives you an idea of how fun – and tasty – this event is.
Along with teaching cooking and cheese classes at General’s Daughter, Sheana puts on workshops and stays very busy participating in local and national culinary events such as Taste of Sonoma.
With over two decades as a chef, caterer and culinary educator, Sheana is known as one of the top cheese experts in the country and is certainly well-known here in Wine Country!
Shana makes her own artisan cheese called Delice de la Vallee, a triple-cream blend of cow and goat milks. It has been added to the menus of several of her customers, including The French Laundry!
When we arrived in the charming and stately General’s Daughter, we were invited to grab a wine glass and pour ourselves a glass of wine – as we often do here in Wine Country – from Sheana’s handpicked selection of both white and red wines.
We were also invited to sample her other cheeses displayed along with French bread, crackers, apricot muscato and tomato relish. As a huge cheese lover, I did not need any convincing to make my way quickly to the cheese table!
Once we had some cheese and sipped on a little wine, Sheana told us we would be making fresh ricotta cheese, which would be ready from start to finish in 90 minutes.
Sheana and fellow cheesemaker for The Epicurean Connection, James Fanucchi, started by showing us what equipment we would need to make our own cheese and what ingredients to buy. All the ingredients needed are easily found in grocery stores.
Sheana breaks down each step in the ricotta cheesemaking process, making it doable for anyone willing to be attentive and gentle because timing, temperature and the way you handle the ingredients are very important.
The class is interactive and students are encouraged to stir, ladle and sample!
It’s a simple process but you must pay attention. Little things like being sure to ladle the curds into the colander gently can be the difference between a great cheese and a not so great cheese.
Sheana’s cheesemaking classes are ideal for couples, a group of friends, family members, corporate team-building or as a gift for a friend.
Once the cheese is ready, you can serve as is…..
Or make a mold out of it, add seasonings or simply top with a sauce like Sheana did. She poured some of her delicious homemade pesto sauce on top of this mold.
You can also use the leftover whey to make soup! Sheana loves to use her whey to make her special Whey & Potato Soup with herbs, garlic, onions and leeks.
Sheana gave each student the flour sack towel she recommends using and a stainless steel skimmer. And we all went home with a copy of the recipe for fresh ricotta cheese, which includes very detailed instructions. Now I have no excuses for not making my own ricotta!
Have you ever made your own cheese?
I hope you have enjoyed this food and wine-centric post!
Make it a rich day!
Disclosure: My ticket to Taste of Sonoma was given to me in exchange for media postings. Our two tickets to Sheana’s cheesemaking class were also complimentary. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.