Star Sommeliers from across North America Bring Wine Palates and Talent to Sonoma County

(Sonoma County, CALIF.) — An exclusive group of rising sommelier stars from throughout the United States and Canada have been selected to serve as special guest, all-star wine guides at several events taking place in Sonoma County throughout the 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, co-produced by the Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners. Visa Signature® is the presenting sponsor of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend.

The young wine experts, known as the “Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sommelier Stars,” are sponsored by Rodney Strong Vineyards. While visiting to work the highly-popular Sonoma Wine Country Weekend event, the sommeliers will bring their discriminating palates and become immersed in Sonoma to gain a deep understanding of the region and the wines. In addition to the educational experience, the wine professionals will have some fun, and compete in a Sommelier Star Competition before they lead seminars and tours at Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg on Saturday, August 31 and provide custom wine service to auction guests at the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean in Kenwood, California on Sunday, September 1.

“Rodney Strong Vineyards feels a strong connection to sommeliers and to the Sonoma Sommelier Stars program. Sommeliers are the sage guides of wine enjoyment, offering wine selection advice and encouraging exploration,” says Carmen Castaldi, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “Our commitment to their discipline has grown significantly in the past four years as sommeliers not only introduce restaurant patrons to our wines and those from Sonoma County, but they raise awareness of wine enjoyment in general, which is a great benefit for consumers.” 

The 2013 Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sommelier Stars are:

• Christopher Bates – Hotel Fauchere, Milford, PA

• Andrey Ivanov – Elaia & Olio, St Louis, MO

• Maximilian Kast – Fearrington House, Pittsboro, NC

• David Keck – The Camerata at Paulie's, Houston, TX

• Brandon Kerne – 33 Wine Shop & Bar, St Louis, MO

• Jack Mason – Costata, New York, NY

• Steven McDonald – Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Houston, TX

• Jesse Moffitt – Capital City Club, Atlanta, GA

• Greg Rivera – The Flagler Steakhouse at The Breakers Palm Beach, Palm Beach, FL

• Brad Royale – Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, Calgary, Alberta

• Kevin Weeks – Canlis, Seattle, WA


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.

For those who cannot attend the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction, yet would still like to participate in the charitable effort, an online auction of additional  lots, including many of Sonoma County’s finest large format wine bottles and exclusive experiences, is open for bidding through September 6, 2013 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 Rodney Strong Vineyards

Rodney Strong Vineyards is dedicated to crafting world-class wines that capture the essence of Sonoma County.  Rodney Strong sustainably farms 14 estate vineyards and produces wines from Sonoma County’s finest appellations – Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill and Sonoma Coast.  The winery was founded in 1959 by Sonoma County wine pioneer Rodney D. Strong as the 13th bonded winery in the county.  It was purchased by the Klein family, a fourth generation California farming family, in 1989.  The company aspires to conserve and protect the environment in all its operations. For more visit  

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 (707) 255-0300 or For more information visit, like it on Facebook at and follow on Twitter at

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