September 2, 2017

Press Democrat

Taste of Sonoma marks first year at Sonoma State's Green Music Center

"The Taste of Sonoma charity event made its debut Saturday at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center amid searing afternoon heat, sapping some luster from the star-powered food and wine gathering, where summer outfits and appetites gamely put up with triple-digit temperatures.

About 2,000 guests in shorts and flowing sundresses, cold neck towels and hats endured a day that topped out at 114 degrees by turning to iced coffee, tea and craft beers, along with world-class white and red wines poured by some 165 wineries on the terraced lawn.

The mood remained upbeat, as first-timers and veterans alike relished the opportunity to explore a new venue for the venerable event.

“What I like is that everything seems easy,” said Sharon Morris of San Diego. “And I love that they gave me a (neck) holder for the wine.”

While the venue was fresh this year after the move from the event’s longtime home at MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg, most of the furniture was familiar, from the welcoming Bubble Room featuring Marin Miyagi oysters and sparklers from Gloria Ferrer to wine talks and blind tastings inside the air-conditioned performing arts center.

“We’ve been coming for years,” said Bridget Cunningham of Oakland. “The entry has been seamless, and they’re taking care of us with misters and water stations. New is always fun.”

Skip Gumble of Dallas, returning to the event for the fifth time, said he appreciated the layout and the fact that it still allows visitors to try all the food and wine of Sonoma County in one, central location.

The heat was still a bit shocking. Many guests took advantage of the multiple misting stations provided at the last minute by Sonoma County Vintners, which produces the annual charity event.

For staff and guests out on the lawn, however, there were only blue shade cloths overhead that seemed to create a sauna effect, intensifying the moist, rising heat. Ice packs and wet towels proliferated around the necks of the wine pourers as well as wine bottles.

“We brought ice packs from home, and my dad (Medlock Ames President Jim Connell) brought hats to pass out to guests,” said Alyssa Connell, while manning the Medlock Ames booth. “And we have buckets of ice.”

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