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Famous Sonoma Chefs and Winemakers Team Up for New Foodie Event

For more than 20 years, charitable research Foundation V hosted an annual weekend wine celebration in Napa Valley to raise cancer awareness and raise funds for cancer research. Next month, Sonoma County will be in the spotlight by bringing together award-winning chefs and winemakers for a local edition of the charity event.

The inauguration Sonoma Epicureana series of “flagship events”, will begin on March 31 and run through April 3. The events will take place in various locations, primarily in and around Healdsburg. The weekend will kick off with a handful of “epicurean wine dinners” at Aperture Cellars, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars and Williams Selyem Winery. (Guests will be able to choose one of these dinners to attend.)

“Collaborating with members of my community here in Sonoma County and in the agribusiness industry is always inspiring and (it’s) rewarding to know how our efforts can help others,” said Jesse Katz, founder and winemaker of ‘Aperture Cellars.

For the event, Katz partnered with Chef Dustin Valette of Restaurant Valette and The Matheson to create a food and wine experience featuring locally grown and picked produce and wines from Aperture Cellars. Valette is just one of many top Sonoma chefs who will be pairing antioxidant-rich seasonal ingredients with local wines throughout the four-day event; Chef Charlie Palmer of Dry Creek Kitchen and Hotel Healdsburg will prepare a menu at Williams Selyem Winery in Healdsburg, and Montage Healdsburg Executive Chef Jaron Dubinsky will cook at Pride Mountain Vineyards in Santa Rosa.

Opening wineries in Healdsburg. (Courtesy of Aperture Cellars)
Dustin Valette, co-owner and chef of Valette and The Matheson in Healdsburg. (Courtesy of Michael Woolsey)

In addition to wine and food experiences, Sonoma Epicurean will also offer workshops including a wine tasting experience and photography class with Jesse Katz and his father, famed photographer Andy Katz. Tara Jasper, distiller and founder of Sipsong Spirits in Windsor, will lead a workshop with cookbook author Janet Fletcher on pairing cocktails with local cheese.

“Cancer research is near and dear to my heart,” said Jasper. “I am a recent breast cancer survivor and it also took my mother’s life. I found out I had BRCA after finding out I had cancer. Now my life’s work is focused on sharing this story. All women need to know if they have the gene. (BRCA gene mutations significantly increase the risk of breast cancer and other cancers, such as ovarian cancer.)

Tara Jasper, founder of Sipsong Spirits in Windsor.
A cocktail made with Indira Gin from Sipsong Spirits in Healdsburg.

On Friday, April 1, event attendees can attend a party at the Mayacama Golf Club in Santa Rosa with local chefs such as Duskie Estes of Black Pig Meat Company and Mark Stark, Executive Chef of Stark Reality Restaurants, which includes Willie’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa and Bravas Tapas Bar in Healdsburg. There will be wine and cocktails from local artisans and music from Grammy and Tony Award winner Christian Hoff and the Jonny Tarr Quintet of San Diego.

Partygoers can cure their hangovers with a “wellness breakfast” on Saturday, April 2, then attend a symposium with expert panel discussions on developments in cancer research, disparities between different ethnic groups and breast cancer awareness. The weekend of events will conclude with an “epic feast and auction” at Montage Healdsburg, featuring dishes from the hotel’s Executive Chef, Jaron Dubinsky, and wines from Sonoma County vineyards. The auction will be hosted by ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Sage Steele; Emmy Award-winning radio and television host Liam Mayclem will serve as the auctioneer.

Proceeds from the event will go to Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund and will be used to fund cancer research and related programs to improve cancer outcomes for Black Americans and other “underserved communities disproportionately affected by the disease.” Stuart Scott, an ESPN sportscaster, helped raise money for the V Foundation for more than two decades before he was diagnosed with cancer. He died in 2015.

“We look forward to welcoming this important benefit for cancer research. Sonoma County is celebrated as a wine and craft destination, and a farm-to-table paradise,” said Jane Baer, ​​vice president and general manager of Sonoma Epicurean. “We can’t think of a more picturesque setting to bring together the scientists, doctors and champions of the V Foundation with the winemakers and culinary stars of Sonoma.”

The V Foundation Wine Celebration was founded in 1993 by ESPN and legendary basketball coach and commentator Jim Valvano. The foundation has raised over $130 million for cancer research and has funded over $290 million in cancer research grants nationwide.

Tickets for the four-day Sonoma Epicurean are $2,500 per person. Day passes are also available, ranging from $750 to $1,500. You don’t have to attend the event to support a great cause – the V Foundation welcomes donations.

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