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Kathleen Hill: Gloria Ferrer harvest, Stone Edge tasting and more

Gloria Ferrer first to harvest

As is often the case, Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards brought in its first 2017 Carneros Pinot Noir grapes on Monday, to the excitement of Mike Crumly, vice president of production, and Steven Urberg, director of winemaking at Gloria.

Basically, the combination of heavier rains than normal last winter and much hotter temperatures this summer altered the growing cycle of the grapes.

Urberg said in a statement on Monday, “As we reach the end of our sparkling bottling season we had been hoping for our harvest to begin around the middle of August which has been the normal start time for us (outside of the early harvests of the last few years). However, the recent warm weather pushed some of the vineyard blocks carrying a lighter crop to ripen more quickly and we found ourselves beginning the 2017 harvest this morning –more than a week earlier that we were planning on. But, our entire team is excited. We love this time of year.”

According to Crumly, “One of the defining features of this year’s growing season was the highest seasonal rainfall ever recorded on the North Coast. Rain that seemed relentless in the winter and spring followed several years of drought. When the vines woke up and pushed out the new spring growth, the roots remained inundated with water in the saturated soils. Roots starved for oxygen failed to grow for weeks; some roots below the water table didn’t survive.

“This wet spring period caused the vines to stop growing while the root system regenerated. Short little shoots with stunted growth showed pale color, and everyone was very concerned.”

But the warm dry weather eventually arrived.

“As the vines pulled the excess water from the soil, roots became healthy once again allowing shoot growth to take off,” said Crumly. “Vines grew many inches per day. Dark green healthy leaves replaced the small pale leaves of early spring.”

To celebrate National Pinot Noir Day on Aug. 18 Gloria Ferrer’s Pinot Weekend from Friday through Sunday will celebrate pinots with lots of tastes, light bites, tastes of their olive oils and live music. $45, less for wine club members. Friday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 23555 Highway 12 (Arnold Drive), Sonoma. Gloriaferrer.com.

Stone Edge Farm tasting Aug. 12

Winemaker Jeff Baker will lead a vertical tasting of his Stone Edge Farm cabernet sauvignon from the Moon Mountain District. Immediately after the tasting guests will attend an exclusive reception with passed hors d’oeuvres and new wine releases. $125. 2 to 5 p.m. Reservations, and location from kim@stoneedgefarm.comor dorothe@stoneedgefarm.com.

Stone Edge also serves exclusive three-course tasting dinners at Edge, prepared by Culinary Director John McReynolds, much of which comes from Stone Edge’s 16-acre organic farm, all paired with their cabernets. $150. 130 East Napa Street, Sonoma. For reservations contact Larry Nadeau at larry@stoneedgefarm.com.

Cocoa Planet’s new café hours

Due to more time needed to produce its low-sugar chocolates, Cocoa Planet is changing its café hours for the season.

According to owner Anne McKibben, “We are gearing up for a busy chocolate manufacturing season with lots of wholesale orders and need to focus more days to make more chocolate and do wholesale activities.” Now Cocoa Planet will be open to the public Fridays and Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Call 343-7453 for reservations for lunch, chocolate tastings and wine pairings, tours, and for private events.

Hemophilia Heritage’s Vines, Hops and Golf

In an effort to afford kids with hemophilia or other bleeding disorders to attend camp like other children, the Hemophilia Foundation of Northern California will hold its annual wine, beer and food tasting at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission in on Saturday, Aug. 13.

Local wineries and breweries, organized by Bryan Cooper of soon-to-reopen Sonoma Wine Shop, will pour and the FSMI will provide food. Meet the winemakers and loads of generous people who support friends and family with hemophilia.

The camps where this will support attendees include Camp Hemotion for families; B-Leaders for teens camp, an emergency assistance program and a family education day. Hemophilia, a disorder in which people bleed too easily and often excessively, is especially difficult for children to manage and enjoy life. $150. 4 p.m.

Too many tomatoes?

Let’s remember how fortunate we are to live in a place where some of us can actually grow our own food and have too much of it. Some of us grow too much on purpose to give it away to neighbors, friends, family or just those unable to grow any themselves. Or you can just buy some at the farmers market or your favorite store.

What to do?

The French really do know something about seasonal foods, because that’s how they live and eat. Simple sliced tomatoes sprinkled with a little salt can make a whole course. Or sprinkle a little olive oil or Balsamic or other vinegar of your choice. You might even want to top with a little basil or other favorite fresh herb.

And all those little “cherry tomatoes?” Most of ours get eaten in the garden or taken to friends. But some people love to roast them, either whole or cut in half, to turn them into a sweet candy-like snack or appetizer.

My personal secret to great tasting homegrown tomatoes is to plant fava beans in November, which bring nitrogen out of the air and into the soil as a natural fertilizer. Before the beans mature, cut and turn them under early enough for them to decompose before you plant your tomatoes.

Just pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees, toss the tomatoes with a little olive oil, place on a cookie sheet or other pan, and roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

New menu at Zina Lounge

Chef Yoshiharu Sogi has introduced a new wine and food pairing menu at Zina Lounge at the Ledson Hotel, emphasizing seasonal availability, all paired with Ledson or Zina Hyde wines.

Watch for an Heirloom tomato and stone fruit salad or a poached quail egg with cucumber, olives and capers; chilled Maine lobster and fennel pudding with shallots and Marin French Truffle Brie and lobster aspic with melon balls; seared Pacific salmon with succotash and cherry jam; duck leg confit eggroll with foie gras butter; New York steak with asparagus, summer squash carrots and roasted purple sweet potatoes; and chocolate crème brûlée with a cinnamon and cardamom churro. Four course $90, six courses $150. 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Reservations required. Call 895-9462 or zinawinery.com/wineandfood/index.html.