How are things in Sonoma? California wine country thrives once again

Sonoma County is part of the world-famous “California wine country,” and is a popular vacation and day-trip destination, as visitors flock to the region’s award-winning wine tasting rooms and restaurants. Sonoma includes the poplar gay resort area of  Russian River, particularly popular for its beautiful woodland scenery; with Napa Valley to the east, these hills lined with vineyards are a gorgeous part of California.

Northern California suffered terrible losses between 2017 and 2019, as wildfires burned millions of acres of land, and the images of scorched earth played out in news stories around the world. But the fires hopscotched through Sonoma, and much of the wine-growing region escaped with little damage. And California wine country continues to grow those magic grapes.

Gary Saperstein is the owner of Out in the Vineyard, the organization that hosts the annual Gay Wine Week in Sonoma County, which is a wonderful event featuring parties, dinners, and tours of some of Sonoma’s best wineries. GayCities checked in with Saperstein as he was making plans for his big event, to be held July 16-22, 2020, to see how things really are in Sonoma County.


After the fires in northern California, how is Sonoma?

Although awful both in 2017 and 2019, these tragedies bring out the best in people and our community. We bounce back, because there is no other choice. 

But were any vineyards damaged?

The fires did burn down a couple of wineries, but otherwise there was very little vineyard damage. And nature is amazing, to see how it comes back. The media made it seem like all of Sonoma was on fire when it wasn’t. 

Which property is hosting Gay Wine Weekend?

The Lodge at Sonoma is the host hotel, and a number of events take place there. There are also winery tours and winemaker dinners that take place at a number of restaurants and wineries throughout the week. The twilight T-Dance will take place at Chateau St. Jean, which is one of the iconic wineries in Sonoma Valley. It is a stunning winery, with rolling hills and vineyards all around along with an amazing variety of wines. They are most famous for their Cinq Cepage, a Bordeaux-style red.

And for those of us who don’t know what that means, what is a Bordeaux-style red?

Bordeaux refers to the region in France where the grapes are grown, and typically the Bordeaux region is known for their blends, of Cabernet, Merlot, petit Verdot, Malbec and Cab Franc. Earthy flavors, full body.

What do you do at Gay Wine Week, besides drink wine for several days? Which sounds really fun.

While it is about the wine, Gay Wine Week is also about bringing people together from our community, and our allies, to experience the wine country lifestyle. It is a very social event as well, where people from all over the country come together. I am excited for the Russian River Winery tour with Jim Obergefell, who is co-owner of Equality Vines.

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