The warm months of spring and summer are perfect for wine-tasting weekends, whether with passports or straight out of the barrel. It's a social thing to do, perfect for like-minded people to enjoy the good weather, verdant scenery and sensory pleasures of wine. It's also slightly intoxicating, like love itself.
One such event is this weekend in Sonoma Valley, the. starting Friday June 15 and continuing through Sunday. It takes place in celebration of Gay Pride Month, and benefits Face to Face Sonoma County AIDS Network.
"This is our second year for Gay Wine Weekend," said Gary Saperstein, who with Mark Vogler runs, a local events and travel company dedicated to the LGBT community. "The tasting rooms here are very, extremely hospitable," he added, which encouraged the event's return this year.
The three-day weekend starts at with a welcoming reception on Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the host . Winemakers dinners follow the same evening at (with Penfolds wines) as well as (with B. Wise) and (La Crema). Many of their events are already sold, so check for details on the Out in the Vineyard website.
A Cabaret night follows at , starting at 9:30 with Russian opera diva Katya Smirnoff Skyy, named "Best Drag Act" by the Bay Guardian in 2008. ($25, tickets still available)
Saturday's festivities official start at 10:30 with a series of three exclusive wine tasting tours for participants at supporting wineries. Most of these tours are sold out, but most Sonoma Valley wineries are happy to have event participants visit their tasting rooms during regular hours.
If you haven't already signed up for one of the wine tasting tours, too late - they are sold out "as of an hour ago," Saperstein said. But, he added, "The El Dorado hotel has a pool, people are free to hang out there and enjoy the hot weather!" There's also a Ravenswood Lounge in the hotel's Fireplace Room from 12-4.
Saturday night is the weekend highly, with a Twilight T-Dance (anybody know what a T-Dance is?) at the El Dorado from 7 p.m. until 10:30. (General admission $50, tickets still available). An "après-T" party follows, beginning at 11 and probably lasting until the wee hours. ($20, still available).
Perhaps not surprisingly, there's the Big Gay Wine Auction and Recovery Brunch on Sunday, 11 a.m. at . 100% of the monies raised from the auction will benefit Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network. ($50, tickets still available)
"We really want people to know that we have everything here - the wineries, the cuisine, the lifestyle - that's what we want to show the LGBT community," said Saperstein.