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Some #1 Advice for the Best 32nd Annual Taste of Sonoma Ever

At last year’s Taste of Sonoma, a sold-out capacity of 2,500 guests attended, converging on the sprawling green lawns of MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg’s Russian River Valley.

The draw was obvious: more than 60 of Sonoma’s top chefs preparing sumptuous food, more than 170 wineries pouring thousands of wines, casual seminars hosted by respected sommeliers and food experts, live music performances, cooking demonstrations by celebrity kitchen talent, and behind-the-scenes vineyard tours.

All set in the spectacular cradle of mountainside beauty that is this historic 1941 property that actor Fred MacMurray started as a cattle ranch and his daughter, daughter, Kate MacMurray, turned into a winery.

For some guests, there was an extra treat. Rather than battle the traffic that naturally comes with thousands of people navigating the narrow roads leading to the Ranch, and finding parking in the makeshift lots fashioned amid the vineyards and redwoods, they took a Pure Luxury shuttle.

Which could read as a shameless plug for Pure Luxury, except that plenty of local media applauded the idea in print last year, widely promoting the shuttle option as a convenient, green, and importantly, safe, option for getting to and from one of Sonoma’s most significant events of the year.

This year, the shuttles are back, offering round-trip transportation to and from Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch on Saturday, September 3. Booking a ride is easy – just visit the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend website and when you purchase your event ticket, click on the options section (if you have already purchased your Taste ticket and still need a shuttle seat, please call 800-939-7666).

The “designated driver” service couldn’t be more friendly. Pick-up locations include Hotel Healdsburg (25 Matheson Street, Healdsburg), The Vintners Inn (4330 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa), Hilton Sonoma Wine Country (3555 Round Barn Boulevard, Santa Rosa), The Lodge at Sonoma (1325 Broadway, Sonoma), and Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn (100 Boyes Boulevard, Sonoma).

If you’ve been to the Taste event before, you know how spectacular the showcase is. Food stretches in endless array, laid out in mini villages of tables and virtual courts, and stretching under a virtual city of tents populated by the County’s best chefs and winemakers.

The good times roll, as Sonoma celebrity culinary types let their personalities loose, mixing and mingling with people who love great food and great wine, and it all comes together for a great time in the sunshine.

The food is remarkable – row upon row of boutique cheeses, savories like root beer braised pork belly BLTs and fresh-grilled beef brochettes, ahi tuna sliders, sushi, insanely rich cakes, and nibbles like fig-ricotta bruschetta.

One of the great pleasures is to wander around, peeking at other guests in all manner of fancy to funky dress, and peering at what they’re eating/drinking, as you dream of your next little plate/splash in a wine glass. And if you’ve scored on the limited number of Grand Reserve tickets, you’ll get access to Club Reserve, where the winemakers and owners of Sonoma’s iconic wineries will personally pour their limited production, reserve and award-winning wines.

Here’s some more advice: buy your tickets quickly – last year, people who dilly-dallied ended up on wait lists for admission.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2011
Winemaker Lunches
12:30 p.m. | Wineries throughout Sonoma County

Winemaker Dinner Parties
6 p.m. | Wineries throughout Sonoma County

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2011
32nd Annual Taste of Sonoma
11 a.m. – 4 p.m. | MacMurray Ranch, Healdsburg

Winemaker Dinner Parties
6 p.m. | Wineries throughout Sonoma County

Honorary Chair Dinner Parties
6 p.m. | The Dutton Family or the Benziger Family

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2011
19th Annual Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction
1 – 7 p.m. | Cline Cellars, Sonoma

Winery BBQs
12:30 p.m. | Wineries throughout Sonoma County

Details: sonomawinecountryweekend.com

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