Sonoma’s Wine and Culinary Leaders Honored by Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

(Sonoma County, CALIF.) —A trio of wine and culinary leaders, each with a deep commitment to Sonoma County, will be honored for their vital contributions to the community at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean sponsored by TricorBraun WinePak on Sunday, September 1, 2013. The auction, with a sizzling Brazilian theme of Sonoma Samba, is the traditional finale of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend presented by Visa Signature®, Sonoma County’s top, charitable fundraising event scheduled annually over Labor Day Weekend.

The 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Honorary Co-Chairs, were carefully selected for being innovators and community leaders, as well as passionate individuals with a demonstrated and lengthy commitment to Sonoma County. The honorees are The Gallo Family as Honorary Winery Co-Chairs, Phil Coturri, Enterprise Vineyards, as Honorary Grower Co-Chair and culinary community leader Sondra Bernstein, proprietor of the girl & the fig, as Honorary Culinary Chair.

The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean is the heart of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, where the wine community comes together to support Sonoma County charities. The Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Honorary Chairs have lent their leadership and support to the fundraising cause, and this year each has also donated an extraordinary auction lot with their own signature Sonoma style.

The Gallo Family, one of Sonoma County’s wine pioneering families, has planned an exclusive experience for their auction lot. The “Denim and Diamonds Party” will be held at their beautiful MacMurray Ranch, personally hosted by Gallo Family members and Kate MacMurray, with a feast grilled by sausage pro Bruce Aidells who happens to live next door.

“Nearly 80 years ago our family first ventured into Sonoma County, where we fell in love with the foggy coastal vineyards warmed by the sun. We made a commitment to Sonoma County, building longstanding relationships, business and community friends. We love Sonoma County and support many activities, including the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, because we believe in investing in its future,” stated the Gallo Family.

Phil Coturri is a lifelong farmer and Sonoma Valley's leading organic viticulturalist with over 600 acres of CCOF certified vines under his supervision. For the past 35 years Coturri has been a steward of the land in Sonoma County, working closely with native habitats to increase vineyard biodiversity. “I am proud to call Sonoma Valley home, and to be a part of this great auction. It’s a special opportunity to celebrate the wine we all work to make, while supporting charities that improve our quality of life,” said Coturri whose decades working in specific vineyards has resulted in many highly-sought and critically acclaimed wines made from grapes he nurtured.

Coturri has generously created an auction lot comprised of a “Magnum Collection of Wines from Phil Coturri Farmed Vineyards.” In addition to the 25 wines from wineries such as Amapola Creek, Stone Edge Farm and Lasseter Family Winery, the winning bidder will also enjoy a full day in the Moon Mountain AVA with Phil Coturri and Robert Kamen, plus a farm-to-table dinner prepared by Chef Nick Demarest of Harvest Moon Café that will be attended by a star-studded line-up of celebrity winemakers.

With a passion for food and wine, the trip from Philadelphia to Sonoma County was inevitable, and for Sondra Bernstein who has now been in Sonoma for decades, having restaurants in Sonoma County is all about producers and craftspeople of this bountiful landscape. “Being a part of Sonoma County’s culinary community is a tribute to the efforts of the farmers, food producers and, of course, grape growers and vintners. I’m proud to support the work that our beneficiaries do to make our community better,” said Bernstein who will be participating with Chef John Toulze and her culinary team from the girl & the fig, in the Annadel Estate Winery lot, which will host thirty people for a magnificent dinner in the ruins on the estate.

This year Sonoma County’s auction leadership took a close look at the needs of the community, and launched the first “Fund the Future” presented by Kaiser Permanente auction lot which will support a multi-year initiative focused upon childhood literacy and preparing kids to read. Proceeds raised through “Fund the Future” will support key reading programs that address the fact that more than half of Sonoma County third-graders currently read below grade level. 

Hallmarks of this signature, sell-out auction include high-energy bidding, fabulous décor, winery and vintner-hosted tables and hot auction lots that will tantalize bidders such as:

  • Become a Cult Winemaker at Williams Selyem Estate – A winelover’s dream: make ten cases of your OWN cult wine under the tutelage of famed Williams Selyem Winemaker Bob Cabral, while spending two nights in the Russian River Valley, on the Williams Selyem Estate.
  • Kosta Browne World Cup – Check this one off the “bucket list,” with a trip to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with the Kosta Browne Winery Boys.
  • Have Some Fun Like A Rock Star – If all you wanna do is have some fun, get up close and personal with Chateau St. Jean Winery and beloved rocker Sheryl Crow; includes the opportunity to meet the artist at a concert.
  • Royal Adventure in Scotland – Luxurious accommodations in a castle, golf on the famed St. Andrews links and spa experiences for four at The Fairmont St. Andrews Scotland, United Kingdom along with a private event at Howard Backen-designed Ram’s Gate Winery.

Produced in partnership by the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and the Sonoma County Vintners, the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend event features Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®, Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and an assortment of intimate and exclusive winery lunch and dinner parties at multiple locations throughout Sonoma County.  Sonoma Wine Country Weekend has become the region’s largest and most fun charity event, celebrating the vintner, grower, and food communities while raising needed funds to improve children’s lives and literacy for a better future.

2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Schedule At-A-Glance

Friday, August 30

                    12:30 p.m. – Winemaker Lunch Series at Wineries throughout Sonoma County

                    6:30 p.m. – Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

                    6:00 p.m. – Winemaker Dinner Parties

Saturday, August 31

                    11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®

                    6:00 p.m. – Winemaker Dinner Parties at Wineries throughout Sonoma County

Sunday, September 1

                    12:30 p.m. – Winery Barbecues at Wineries throughout Sonoma County

12:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean


All Tickets On Sale Now

Sonoma Starlight at Francis Ford Coppola Winery: $95/person or $175/person Patron

Winery Barbecues: $85/person

Winemaker Lunches: $85/person; Winemaker Dinner Parties: $150/person

Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch®: $165/person (General), $195/person (Grand Reserve)

Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction: $500/person

* Special Visa Signature account holder pricing and benefits available at

For more information visit, call (855) 939-7666, like it on Facebook at and follow on Twitter at

About 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sponsors and Beneficiaries

A partnership between Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners, Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is California’s premier wine, food and social event, taking place on Labor Day weekend each year. Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s wine community supports the Sonoma County economy, regional wine marketing efforts, and invests in the future of the region by supporting worthy charities that improve quality of life at the present and for generations to come. The events comprising Sonoma Wine Country Weekend have raised over $11 million in support to local charities that support youth and children to ensure their success, preserve the environment for future generations, and improve the health and welfare of local communities.  The 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is presented by Visa Signature®. For a complete list of beneficiaries and sponsors, please visit

About 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Presenting Sponsor Visa Signature

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is presented by Visa Signature. Visa Signature, Visa’s premium credit offering, provides account holders with benefits and perks that offer special access and provide everyday value to enhance account holder experiences.  In addition to points, miles, cash back or other premium rewards offered by Visa Signature partners, account holders enjoy perks such as 24/7 complimentary concierge services, the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection and exclusive offers for fine wine and food, travel, and sports and entertainment events. For more information on Visa Signature visit

About Honorary Winegrower Chair – Phil Coturri, Enterprise Vineyards

Enterprise Vineyards was established in 1979 by Phil Coturri, a lifelong farmer and Sonoma Valley's leading organic viticulturalist, with over 600 acres of vines certified with the CCOF under his supervision.

If you ask him, Phil Coturri might quote a Levon Helm song and describe himself as a “poor old dirt farmer.” However, after 35 years pioneering organic and biodynamic winegrowing in California, descriptions range from “famed organic viticulturalist” by the Hollywood Reporter to “the ubiquitous wizard of sustainable winemaking” by Sonoma Magazine. He was born with the cultural palate of Italian immigrants, weaned on the music and ethos of San Francisco in the 1960’s and planted deep into the rocky hillsides of Sonoma Valley.

Enterprise Vineyards grows premium wine grapes that show the vibrancy and individuality of terroir by using organic and biodynamic farming methods. They strive to work constantly to evolve their farming techniques to promote long-term sustainability and a healthy environment. All Enterprise-managed vineyards are certified organic by CCOF and a number of them are certified Biodynamic by Demeter. Dedicated stewards of the land, Phil’s team works closely with native habitats to increase the biodiversity of vineyards.

About Honorary Vintner Chair – The Gallo Family, E.J. Gallo Winery

When Ernest and Julio Gallo founded E. & J. Gallo Winery in 1933, they were armed with little more than an entrepreneurial spirit and sheer determination.  These two brothers – who learned to make wine from a University of California pamphlet – were instrumental in establishing California’s thriving wine industry and built a worldwide reputation for the Gallo name. Eighty years and four generations later, what began as a dream for Ernest and Julio has grown into the thriving E. & J. Gallo Winery.

Nearly 80 years ago, the Gallo family branched out of the Central Valley to the premier Sonoma County growing regions, where they fell in love with the foggy coastal vineyards warmed each day by the California sun. It was then that they made a commitment to Sonoma County, building longstanding relationships with the Frei brothers and the MacMurray family. Those relationships led to the creation of Gallo’s premium portfolio of wines and served as a catalyst for developing exceptional vineyards: Laguna Ranch and MacMurray Ranch in the Russian River Valley and Frei Ranch in the Dry Creek Valley.

In addition to these three historic vineyards, the Gallo family has been able to acquire remarkable vineyard sites that span the length of the county: Barrelli Creek Vineyard in the Alexander Valley, Chiotti Vineyard and Stefani Vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley, Del Rio Vineyard and Two Rock Vineyard in the Russian River Valley, and Monte Rosso Vineyard in the Sonoma Valley.

Today, Sonoma County holds a special place in the hearts and portfolio of the Gallo family. It’s where third-generation winemaker Gina Gallo completed her first full harvest, working side by side with her brother, Matt. He grew the grapes and she made the wine, in a partnership that has thrived for more than two decades. Together, the brother-sister team works closely to craft wines that celebrate the past, present and future of their family and express the depth of character and nuance found in these vineyards.

About Honorary Culinary Chair – Sondra Bernstein, Proprietor, the girl and the fig

Sondra has spent over twenty years dedicated to the hospitality business. With a passion for food and wine, the trip from Philadelphia to Sonoma County was inevitable, and for her, having restaurants in Sonoma County is a tribute to the efforts of the farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and, of course, grape growers & vintners in this bountiful landscape.

One sure thing that can be said about Sondra Bernstein is that, as a true restaurateur, her restaurants are a real expression of her personality. Many of the guests who frequent Sondra’s establishments feel as if she is a friend of theirs, which is understandable given her close attention to ensuring that their experience is distinctive and memorable. Her passion for the hospitality business is her driving force and continues to inspire her to create and recreate. Sondra is the Proprietor of the girl & the fig in Sonoma & the fig café & wine bar in Glen Ellen. She is also the author of the the girl & the fig Cookbook published in 2004 by Simon & Schuster and her newest book, Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country. Her gourmet food product line is available nationwide under the girl & the fig label.                                                                        

About MacMurray Ranch

Nestled in the heart of the Russian River Valley, the historic MacMurray Ranch is home to award-winning Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. MacMurray Ranch Winemaker Chris Munsell crafts a collection of elegant, expressive wines from cool-climate vineyards in California and Oregon, reflecting a passion for the special places that create extraordinary grapes. Kate MacMurray, daughter of Hollywood legend Fred MacMurray, remains deeply connected to MacMurray Ranch, carrying on the legacy of this iconic Sonoma landmark. Learn more at     

About Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis puts it best, saying the winery is, “A wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.” Francis Ford Coppola Winery is located at 300 Via Archimedes in Geyserville, California, accessed from US HWY 101 and the INDEPENDENCE LANE exit. Among the many unique attractions at the property, Francis Ford Coppola Winery features wine tasting, two restaurants, a swimming pool, a movie gallery, a performing arts Pavilion and a park area with game tables and bocce courts. Francis Ford Coppola Winery opens at 11 a.m. daily. For more information, call (707) 857-1400, toll free (877) 590-3329 or visit  

About Chateau St. Jean

Founded in 1973 in the Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean is the quintessential Sonoma winery.  Chateau St. Jean produces an extensive portfolio of Sonoma County wines as well as vineyard designated wines, limited production Reserve wines, and the flagship Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren, who was named “Winemaker of the Year” for 2008 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, has been with Chateau St. Jean for over 30 years. Chateau St. Jean is the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award from Wine Spectator Magazine for its 1996 Cinq Cépages, a Bordeaux style blend of “five varieties” and has long been recognized as a leader in vineyard designated wines. For more visit   

About Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners

The Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance (SVVGA) is a non-profit trade organization serving over 500 members who share a mission to promote awareness of Sonoma Valley’s grapes, wine, and history as the birthplace of the California wine industry. The Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation (SVVGF) is a non-profit 501c.3 organization that has raised over $8,000,000 for local Sonoma Valley charities. For more information on the SVVGA and SVVGF, please visit

Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to raising awareness of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier wine regions, noted for its heritage of artisan winemaking, distinct growing regions, and extraordinary quality. Founded in 1944, SCV represents more than 200 wineries and affiliated businesses throughout the county. Learn more about SCV at

Journalists: High-resolution artwork is immediately available. For more information, to speak with an event representative or to inquire about press credentials for the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend please email or call Lisa Adams Walter at or (707) 255-0300.

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