The end of summer is the perfect time to explore Sonoma County. Living in California is definitely not hard to take-Sunny days, a little cooler evenings and all the flavors of summer harvest around us. It is harvest time in the wine country and the grapes are making their way on their magical journey from the vine to the bottle. This week the National Heirloom Exposition (the World's Fair of Pure Food) is right here in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. It is the third year for the Expo and it just keeps getting bigger and better each year. If you are in the area this Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday (and the words organic, sustainable, and biodynamic are in your vocabulary) I sincerely hope you can make it.
The second annual event last year drew more than 14,000 people from around the country and beyond. With more than 100 speakers and 300 natural food vendors, the event was the largest gathering in pure food history! The Expo focuses on the education of our children also (kids 17 and under are free) so we are growing a more educated next generation too. This year they have set the bar even higher with more than 350 vendors epitomizing the pure food movement, selling everything from heirloom plants and produce to ceramics and pillows. And just look at the schedule of speakers- everything from bees to compost, GMO to seed saving and beyond.
Take a look at the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant Menu to see what Chef Steve has been picking up from the local farms. The Farmhouse menu is very farm-to-table focused and changes weekly based on what Chef feels is at its absolute seasonal peak. Chef is in tomato heaven right now...here's his beautiful Tomato Jellee with Lobster Salad. He had an amazing tri-color Trio of Heirloom Tomato Soup with lobster salad, avocado, and aioli on this last week's menu.
Speaking of tomatoes, the Kendall Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival (a celebration of wine and all things tomato) is coming up soon on Saturday, September 28. The Chef gets his share of the more than 175 heritage varieties of tomatoes the winery in their culinary gardens. The event features garden tours, wine & food pairings, garden seminars and live music. The festival benefits Cooking with Kids Foundation, founded by our local chef personality, Guy Fieri. I love that our wine and food community shares the Sonoma County lifestyle of world- class wine and fresh, local cuisine, all while raising funds that make a better future for our kids and our county.
One more harvest focused event is on the horizon. the Sonoma County Harvest Fair is the first weekend of the month every October and celebrates Sonoma County's best food, wine, and craft brews and ciders. Some changes this year - free gate admission and a new culinary competition with a renewed focus on local and artisanal products. And yes, the World Championship Grape Stomp is returning.
Don't forget- The entire month of September is a month long celebration of the diversity and quality of California wines. Regions throughout the state are highlighted during California Wine Month. Wineries are celebrating with more than 100 fun educational activities--from hands-on workshops and wine pairings to VIP tours, events, and special offers to allow visitors to experience the excitement of harvest firsthand.
From what I am hearing about the grape harvest- the word is all good; moving along nicely (all happening at once), winemakers enthused (and tired), and talk of another great year. Here at Farmhouse Inn we warn our guests they may run into a few tired (and sometimes grumpy) wine makers this time of year.
Summer in Sonoma...wonderful weather, fresh produce coming at us from all directions, all the wine and food we can handle. We hear people lamenting summer soon being over...but in California and in particular in Sonoma County we still have about 2 more months of summer AND IT IS PACKED FULL!