Sonoma in the City Grand Tasting
Where: Westin St. Francis Hotel, 335 Powell (at Post)
When: Tuesday, July 12, 5:30-8 p.m.
Unless you're willing to spend more than $60 a bottle, Sonoma County kicks Napa Valley's butt winewise. It's probably the best overall county for wine in California. And it's within easy driving distance.
But Sonoma County is big, so it's difficult -- and not really much fun -- to visit more than four or five wineries in a day. If you really want a sense of the diversity and quality of wines from there, Sonoma in the City is the way to go.
The four-day event starts Tuesday with the main attraction: a grand tasting, with more than 100 Sonoma County wineries pouring more than 400 wines. Many of the winemakers, owners, and grape growers will be there, so it's a good chance to ask them about the weather. (For grape farmers, this is far more important than simple elevator conversation.)
There's also a special "reserve room" with 14 wineries pouring some extra wines. We're neutral on the concept of whether these wines are worth the extra $20 charged, but sometimes at crowded wine events, access to a smaller, quieter room is worth $20 by itself.
If you want food with your wine, consider attending the Forks & Corks event on Thursday, July 14, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Firehouse at Fort Mason Center. It's not as much of a wine-geek show, with only 25 wineries participating, but for the same $55 as the Grand Tasting you also get five tastes of food from five local food trucks, including El Porteno Empanadas and Brass Knuckle.
Buy tickets here for both events. And if you're driving or bicycling, don't forget to spit. We recommend taking Muni for swallowers.