Conversations on Food & Wine 2009

Conversations on Food & Wine 2009 Hosted by The Epicurean Connection

February 1

Venus in the Kitchen

Aphrodisiac Conversation and tasting with John Ash, Sheana Davis, Carlo Cavallo.

Moderated by Sylvia Crawford, Poetry by Buch Engle,

Artisan Honey Tasting with Ross Rubin, Abejero,

Napa & Sonoma County Organic Beekeeper

Included a taste of dishes prepared by Meritage, Jimtown and The Epicurean Connection

February 21

Sonoma Valley Artisan Cheese Fair

Conversation with cheese book authors, Rob Kaufelt, Murray’s Cheese New York; Jeanette Hurt, Wisconsin, and Laura Werlin California

Moderated by Janet Fletcher, Chronicle Columnist

Meet cheesmakers, including Sid Cook, Carr Valley Cheese Wisconsin; Bill Boersma, Bravo Farms California; Ig Vella, Vella Cheese California; Dee Harley, Harley Farms Califorina; Anna Cox, Shamrock Artisan Cheese California, Tim Welsh, Beehive Cheese Utah; Clover Stornetta; California, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, The California Artisan Cheese Guild and more!

March 29

Women Winemakers of Sonoma

Conversation and tasting with Lynda

Trotta, Teresina Family Vinters;

Linda Hansen, Hanzell Winery;

Carolyn Craig, Larson Family Winery,

Honore Comfort, Sonoma County Vintners and Growers.

Moderated by Heather Irwin, The Press Democrat On Line Bite Club

Includes a flight of wines by the guest women winemakers of Sonoma

All events held at the Sonoma Valley Women’s Club

574 1st Street East, Sonoma, Ca. 95476

Doors open at 1:00, conversation and taste times 2:00-4:00

$20.00 per person

Tickets available at Readers’ Books, Sonoma

For information please contact Sheana Davis at 707-935-7960 or

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly. ~M.F.K. Fisher

Sheana Davis

The Epicurean Connection

P.O. Box 1916

Sonoma, CA. 95476

707-935-7960 phone & fax

707-235-9530 cellular

Eat Responsibly * Act Locally * Respond Politically

February 21-24, 2009

7th Annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference

Sonoma Valley Inn, Sonoma, Ca.

Hosted by Sheana Davis, The Epicurean Connection

“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.”
M.F.K. Fisher

Sonoma Valley Events for March 16-18

Big weekend in Sonoma Valley. More events and full details available at

Friday, March 16th:

6:00 pm Manzanita plays at the Boyes Hot Springs Barking Dog Coffee Shop

8:00 pm Cullan’s Hounds play the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

All weekend, Savor Sonoma Valley, A Barrel Tasting & Culinary Experience at 19 Sonoma Valley Wineries. See interview about this event at This Link (

All weekend, Jewelry Making Workshop at the Sonoma Community Center

All weekend, Michael Holland Exhibit at Bartholomew Park Winery

All weekend, Free admission to A.R.T.S. (Art Rewards the Student) Sixth annual exhibition showcases the works of local fourth and fifth graders, curated by local high school students. Sonoma Valley Museum of Art on Broadway.

Saturday, March 17th:

Public Solar and Night viewing at the Robert Ferguson Observatory. See interview about this facility at This link (

Move and Relax at Nia Saturday Spa Day – Combine elements of Dance, Martial Arts & Yoga. Sonoma Mission Inn.

The party is always amazing at Murphy’s Irish Pub on St. Patrick’s Day. Live music by the Spiral Mystics. The event takes up the entire alley and is a local favorite. Not to be missed if you are in town on Saturday night. NO COVER CHARGE. Music starts at 6:30pm.

Sunday, March 18th:

Chris Elms offers a Feldenkrais introduction at the Community Center beginning at noon.

Further details at

Savor Sonoma Valley Barrel Tasting Event this Weekend – March 17-18

There is a big wine tasting event in the Valley this weekend. Which, of course, necessitates a check in with Phillip Torres of Epicure Wine Tours:

I heard you had a great time at the last barrel tasting event we talked about, I heard something about Mr. Plastic getting his exercise, did you find some nice wines to purchase?

I did, in spite of the fact, that I have a relatively large wine collection I can never resist adding to it at events like this.

We have another barrel tasting event this weekend!

For those of you who thought that Russian River/Healdsburg area was too far of a drive, this is a PERFECT opportunity to stay closer to home and still experience the combination of culinary delights and barrel tasting simultaneously.

I know this is a two day event, still, 19 wineries sounds like a lot to try and visit (see list at the bottom of this post)….

Those 19 wineries are the epitome of what Sonoma Valley has to offer. It really is the Heart of the Valley. This is the one event where this group of wineries pulls out all of the stops. It is truly a delight to see how each winery matches up their appetizers with their wines to truly give you ideas on what you could do to create that same “WOW” effect when you are serving these wines at home.

I attended this event about 6 years ago and it WAS a good time, however, 19 still sounds like more than you can hit in one weekend….

Since you have five hours each day, plan on one hour at each winery so that you have time to taste the wines and food sensibility and be able to enjoy it. You have to bear in mind that most of these wineries will have 4-5 current releases that they will be pouring IN ADDITION TO THE barrel tasting opportunities.

Going to five wineries may mean that you taste up to 20 or more wines in one day, and that is plenty for anybody. Many of these wineries are very close together so travel time will be kept to a minimum.

This differs substantially from Napa Valley wine tasting events because these wineries are all so close together. That’s what makes in Sonoma Valley wine tasting so special.

Here is a little quiz for you. One of the wineries which is not listed on the program but who will be participating is Sullivan, can you find it? If you can’t find Sullivan, contact me and I will let you know where it is!

Since the wineries are so close together, do they offer any sort of public transportation for participants. Like a shuttle? I know that parking and traffic can be difficult on normal weekends, special weekends like this must be a challenge?

Not that I am aware of. Perhaps one of our larger limo companies could consider offering this next year.

Any last comments?

Here is a barrel tasting foot note – Don’t expect the wines from the barrel to taste anything like the current releases. The whole point of barrel tasting is for you to be able to experience the wines as they are developing their flavors in the barrel. This is NOT the finished product. (But, some of them are SO GOOD that you would think they are the finished product!)

Another quick quiz before we go:

If you can find Henry Belmonte’s winery (it is on the list) stop in for a special treat. They make a specific type of port that is only made by a few wineries in the world.

Savor Sonoma Valley

A Barrel Tasting & Culinary Experience

Dates: March 17, 2007 — March 18, 2007
Time: 11 AM – 4 PM
Cost: $55.00 per person

The 17th Annual Savor Sonoma Valley – A Barrel Tasting & Culinary Experience happens March 17 & 18! (Barrel Tasting Weekend!)


Join 19 Wineries throughout Sonoma Valley this March for a Barrel Tasting & Culinary Experience!

Wineries will be showcasing 2006 vintage wines straight from the barrels, sampling new releases, and offering award-winning wines paired perfectly with culinary creations prepared by local chefs and restaurants.

Meet winemakers, mingle with wine lovers behind-the-scenes, peruse art from local artists and listen to live music. Experience the best that Sonoma Valley has to offer!

Ticket Options & Prices:
*SUNDAY-ONLY PASS: $40 per person

Participating Wineries Include:
Benziger Family Winery, Blackstone Winery, B.R. Cohn Winery, Chateau St. Jean, Eric Ross Winery, Imagery Estate Winery, Kenwood Vineyards, Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards, Landmark Vineyards, Ledson Winery, Loxton Cellars, Mayo Family Winery, Audelssa Estate/Navillus Birney Winery & Vineyards, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, SL Cellars, The Wine Room, VJB Vineyards & Cellars, Valley of the Moon Winery and Wellington Vineyards.

Interview with Phillip Torres about Wine Tasting in Sonoma

I sat down with Phillip Torres of Epicure Wine Tours to get the scoop on an upcoming Sonoma County wine tasting event:

What is the upcoming event?

This year is the 29th annual Russian River Wine Road Barrel Tasting event, and there’s a new twist to it this year; it’s going to be held for TWO consecutive weekends rather than just one. It will be March 2, 3, 4, and March 9, 10, 11. There will be over 100 wineries participating in the Dry Creek Valley , Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, and the town of Healdsburg.

If I can’t visit all the wineries, which of the wineries should be on my
‘must visit’ list?

Let me break that down into categories so that I can more effectively answer. For instance, a couple of great spots in downtown Healdsburg are Selby Winery and Rosenblum Cellars. They are both very close to the Plaza which makes it convenient if you’d like to stroll through historic Healdsburg and do some shopping. If you’d like to find a great location to have a picnic, I recommend Armida Winery. They have a nice selection of wines and a beautiful picnic area overlooking the valley AND they have a bocce ball court. If you’re interested in seeing a real CAVE while you’re out wine tasting, then I recommend Alexander Valley Vineyards. Again, they have great wines and they will (usually) be able to have one of their staff members take you into the caves for a short tour.

What is the difference between wine tasting and barrel tasting?

Typically, when you visit wineries to go wine tasting you will be simply what they call their “current releases”. That simply means that you will be tasting wine poured from the bottle, and those are the wines that they have available for purchase. When you go “barrel tasting” it means that you are sampling wines directly from the oak barrels that they store the wine in during the aging process. They put a long, glass cylinder (called a “thief”) into a hole at the top of the barrel. The thief fills up with wine, then they extract it from the barrel and VOILÀ! They pour some into your glass and you get to taste a wine that’s not yet finished with its aging process. This gives you the ability to taste of these “barrel” wines and compare them to the same “current release” wine that they pour for you in the tasting room.

If I like the wine, can I buy it?

ABSOLUTELY! Not only that, but during this barrel tasting event many of the wineries will allow you to purchase “futures”. That is, the wine that you taste in barrel is usually sold at a discount, and when the wine is finished aging and they bottle it, you can return to the winery to pick it up or have them ship it to you. Of course, you are always able to purchase their current release wines.

Tell us about your company (and you).

My company, Epicure Wine Tours, is geared toward small, intimate wine tours (seven people or fewer). I get to know my clients on a very personal level, which allows me to take them to the wineries that I know they will enjoy based on their level of wine knowledge, likes, dislikes, prior wine tasting experience, etc., etc. Having conducted wine tours in Europe as well as Northern California wine country, it allows me to share my experiences and wine knowledge in a way that simply cannot be matched by someone who’s just a “limo driver”. I’m going on my second decade as a tour guide/wine aficionado. This is not just a job…. it’s my PASSION!

I understand that you use Bio Fuels in your vehicle, why?

I am a VERY strong advocate of doing all that we can to minimize any negative effect we may have on this planet. That includes eating organic foods, supporting sustainable, pesticide-free farming methods (particularly in the wine world), and generally employing environmentally sound practices in every aspect of my life. So, it was a logical choice for me to purchase an SUV with a diesel engine SPECIFICALLY so that could run bio diesel, which minimizes greenhouse gases, eliminates the need for fossil fuels, and reduces carbon-based emissions to zero. For me, it’s a no-brainer.

Any tips for the first time visitor to wine country?

This is such a beautiful part of the world. I have lived in South America, Europe, Mexico, and other parts of the world, but nothing compares to this. So it may seem counterproductive for me to steer people AWAYfrom doing wine tours, but I recommend to my clients that they try to do other things in addition to wine tasting while they’re visiting this area. Take a drive to the ocean, play one of our fabulous golf courses, stroll through the Sonoma Plaza and be taken back in time.

How about one ‘insider secret’ for Sonoma Valley wine?

Well, my secret isn’t really a “secret”, but here’s what I recommend: when you’re out wine tasting, if you like it…. buy it. So many of our wineries in this corner of the world are small, family-owned businesses that don’t produce a lot of wine. They simply cannot distribute their wines to a lot of markets outside of this geographical area. You don’t want to get home and kick yourself for having to say, “Darn! I should have bought that zinfandel that I really liked.” Buy it, take it home, open it, share it with friends. I GUARANTEE you won’t regret it.

Anything else you want to add?

This is a bit self-serving, but it is relevant and it is VERY important. Above all else, PLEASE don’t drink and drive. It’s just not worth it. And when you hire a knowledgeable driver, you get so much more than just transportation. You’ll get an insider’s perspective, a local’s point of view, and (hopefully) a new friend.

Phillip Torres of Epicure Wine Tours