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Sonoma County heats up August with new festivals, distilleries and wineries

PHOTO: Scenic Sonoma courtesy of the Sonoma County Tourism Board

For those fortunate enough to venture to Sonoma’s warm days and temperate evenings in the waning days of summer, a laundry list of new restaurants, festivals, distilleries have opened recently in Sonoma Wine Country. Read below for all the new things that shine in the summer sun in Sonoma Wine Country, just 30 miles north of San Francisco. Plan your trip today at or counsider these events listed below.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, celebrating the region’s grape growers, winemakers, and chefs, will take place over Labor Day Weekend, September 4-6, 2015. Events take place throughout Sonoma County, where the winemakers, chefs, and food producers ply their respective crafts, resulting in an intimate and direct connection with guests offered at no other wine event. Tickets range from $85-$500. Full schedule here:

Petaluma Gap Launching Wind to Wine Festival in August

Not yet designated as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA or appellation), the Petaluma Gap is a coastal mountain opening that stretches east from the Pacific Ocean, letting the wind race through the town of Petaluma and then roar south to San Pablo Bay. According to local winemakers, this windy and foggy 200,000-acre area produces some of the world's most uniquely flavorful wines. Those wines will be showcased at the new Wind to Wine Festival hosted by the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Association, a consortium of local vintners working to make the Gap an official AVA. Saturday will be $95; VIP admission of $150 includes a VIP Wine Seminar, early access to the Grand Tasting, a buffet lunch, and access to the Elite Wine Lounge. More information here:

PHOTO: Rugged coastlines in Sonoma County courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism Board

New Griffo Distillery Handcrafting Small-Batch Spirits in Petaluma

A light, crisp, and fresh twist on the traditional English Gin, Scott Street Gin is the distillery's initial offering. Made in the London style, Scott Street Gin is mixed with a balance of botanicals inside the pot before being distilled into a single run, an intensive preparation. Additionally, the grains are hand-selected from the best local farmers, all within 15 miles of the distillery, and hand-milled on site. In a cool twist, all whiskey is distilled four times, and every drop of water used in the process is collected and given to local farmers. For more information visit:

From Garage to Tasting Room: Joseph Jewell Wines Open in Forestville

When friends and winemakers Micah Joseph Wirth and Adrian Jewell Manspeaker teamed up in 2006, they made their first wine together in a garage in the Sonoma County town of Windsor. With two French oak barrels, a small basket press, and exactly one ton of Russian River Valley grapes, they produced 50 cases of single-vineyard Pinot Noir. The success of that first release enabled them to invest seriously in their project and to grow their garage experiment to a 2,500-case production of exceptional wines. Joseph Jewell Wines (a combination of Micah and Adrian's middle names) has received great reviews for the wines it produces from vineyards in the Russian River and Dry Creek valleys. For more information visit:

PHOTO: A scenic vineyard view in Sonoma courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism Board

Ektimo Vineyards New in Russian River Valley

Wines reflecting all that Sonoma County has to offer is the goal of the new Ektimo Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The Ektimo family bought the 20-acre property (previously known as the Cahill winery) in 2014, and this family-owned winery grows grapes on its estate vineyard -- as well as sourcing fruit from some of the most acclaimed vineyards in the country -- primarily producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with smaller lots of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel. Leading the winemaking team is winemaker Kevin Holt, a 15-year wine veteran whose wines have been rated above 90 pointed by Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. For more information visit:

Baker Lane Vineyards Open for Tasting

Baker Lane Vineyards winemaker and owner Stephen Singer now hosts tastings by appointment at the winery's estate vineyard at the end of Baker Lane in Sebastopol, in Sonoma County. The vineyard is located at Singer's Roads End Farm, where cool, daily maritime breezes combined with the summer's afternoon sun provide optimal conditions for its Syrah and Viognier grapes. Tastings are limited to groups up to 10 people, and the $15 fee is waived by purchase. For more information visit:

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