Top U.S. Sommeliers Attend 2016 Sonoma Summit

summitgroupSanta Rosa, CA – The 9th Annual Sonoma Summit brought 34 of America’s top wine buyers and sommeliers to Sonoma County for a three-day immersion in Sonoma County wines November 7-9. Sonoma Summit is jointly produced by Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrowers.

In addition to tasting 100 of Sonoma County’s finest wines during a series of seven master classes, panel discussions and activities, these influential sommeliers met 75 of the region’s leading winemakers and grape growers to learn about the diversity of this renowned wine region including its appellations, vineyard sites, sustainable farming practices, and winemaking techniques.

Beverage professionals from top restaurants and retailers from New York, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Austin and other important markets attended the Summit. These sommeliers represent some of the country’s most prestigious restaurants and hotels, and are considered influencers in the wine trade.

“The Sonoma Summit is an event we look forward to each year,” said Sonoma County Vintners Executive Director Jean Sessions. “It’s an opportunity for some of the premier sommeliers to come to Sonoma County and meet the faces and families behind our significant and diverse wines. It’s our privilege to host them and spend three days focusing on education and conversation. ”

The three-day itinerary kicked off with an artisan winemaker dinner at Rodney Strong Vineyards, which set the stage for the entire program’s emphasis on “appellation diversity”. Additional events were held at some of the premier wineries throughout the region, including Lynmar Estate, Comstock Winery, MacRostie Winery and Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. These seminars featured winegrowers and winemakers discussing their vineyard practices and winemaking techniques, while displaying Sonoma County’s unique farming culture throughout the process.

Many of the Sommeliers left the summit with a better understanding of the award-winning product being made in Sonoma County.  “It really was a fantastic event and a great educational experience to understand Sonoma wines and the culture behind it,” said Gabrielle Waxman, Wine Director and Sommelier with Galatoire’s Restaurants in New Orleans.  “From the other attendees, to the impressive panels of speakers and wine makers, everything was truly wonderful.”

One of the key events was a seminar focused on sustainability through an interactive vineyard tour at Paradise Ridge Winery, which showcased Sonoma County’s goal to be 100 percent sustainable by 2019, a bold commitment that will make the region the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine region.

“Sonoma County Winegrowers is committed to educating our sommelier and wine trade partners about the importance of sustainability,” said Karissa Kruse. “This is critical to raising awareness and support among these important influencers who are trusted experts for consumers, especially in helping them understand the importance of sustainable practices in grape growing and winemaking. Sonoma County is a wine region that they can be proud to support.”

An additional fun highlight of the program was a Tuesday evening Iron Sommelier Challenge at the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Center.  Sommeliers competed on four teams hosted by Sonoma County’s Appellations:  Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Gap (currently under consideration for AVA approval), to create appetizers that paired with wines selected from each team’s hosted Appellation. Each team presented their appetizers to a panel of judges that included: Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein of Full Circle Wine Solutions; Dana Macaulay, Director of Events & Operations for Sonoma County Vintners; Karissa Kruse, President of Sonoma County Winegrowers; and Michael Salinger of Santa Rosa Junior College’s Culinary Center.  The winning team members each received a magnum of Sonoma County wine.

About Sonoma County Vintners

Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising  awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions, noted for its heritage of artisan winemaking, distinct growing regions, and extraordinary quality. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 200 wineries and affiliated businesses throughout the County. Learn more about SCV at

About Sonoma County Winegrowers

The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers, is a marketing and education organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. SCW has oversight by California Department of Food and Agriculture which supports producer regions. With more than 1,800 growers, SCW’s goal is to increase awareness and recognition of the quality and diversity of Sonoma County’s grapes and wines through dynamic marketing and educational programs targeted to wine consumers around the world. In January 2014, SCW committed to becoming the nation’s first 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.  For more information about SCWC and its programs, visit

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