Where might you find the likes of Joe Cocker, Shelby Lynne, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Ziggy Marley, Lyle Lovett and Chris Isaak, all wrapped up in one pretty package and presented to you this Memorial Day weekend? Why, the annual Sonoma Jazz Fest, of course!
Beginning on Thursday and lasting through Sunday, jazz and country acts will take center stage at downtown Sonoma's Field of Dreams, which seats 3,800. In its fifth year, the Sonoma Jazz Festival stands apart from other musical events of its kind by including some of Wine Country's most celebrated chefs and vintners.
Just ask any Napa or Sonoma resident about the other, and the competition is evident: You'll get an upturned nose and a "we're better than them" response. But this coming weekend, Sonoma takes center stage with its annual wine extravaganza. In honor of Passport to Sonoma Valley, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite Sonoma pastimes.
In yesterday's New York Times, Eric Asimov wrote a thorough account of his attitudes toward Napa Valley Cabernet. He voiced a preference for a certain sort wine we'd call "old school" (he called them "balanced," "restrained," "subtle," and "nuanced"). He describes many Napa Valley Cabernets, however, as "jammy fruit bombs that overwhelm food."
Not really, but it's quite amazing that two huge, historical and prominent brands have recently been sold to European firms. First, Budweiser, the King of Beers, goes to InBev of Belgium. Now Chateau Montelena goes to the Bordeaux house Cos d'Estournel.
Both were good buys, given the state of the dollar. Still, it's weird that there's not more outrage that our national beer and wine icons are being wheeled and dealed like a used Chevy. Where are the anti-Gall cries of today? What are the new Freedom Fries?
A friend alerted me to this astonishing development in the world of beer: Happy Tail Ale, the first beer for dogs. It's nonalcoholic, fortified with glucosamine (for the joints) and Vitamin E, and it's beef-flavored. Hell, if it weren't for the nonalcoholic part, I'd probably drink it myself.
This was a dinner I attended during the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers up in Napa. It was a good three days, and I gleaned some valuable information about publishing. More than that, however, I made some excellent new friends. Not a bad use of time, particularly for people who are just starting their career.
I got to meet Peter McRea, the owner, who has continued making excellent Chardonnay from the Napa Valley in the exact same style his parents did--which is to say, balanced, completely devoid of new oak and extremely age-worthy.