LIVERMORE -- Foodies and wine fans -- whether experienced or just enthusiastic -- will be in their element this week when top chefs from around the Bay Area join local vintners for a four-day celebration of great food and drink.
The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association will host its largest-ever Taste Our Terroir event Thursday through Sunday at dozens of area wineries. The French word terroir refers to a sense of place; how the land, climate, culture and technique combine to create regional wine attributes.
The extravaganza will offer more than 20 events over the four days, including a food- and wine-pairing competition, cooking demonstrations, wine-tasting seminars and vineyard tours.
The event has been a popular mainstay for more than a decade, but this year it is expanding significantly, said Heather McGrail, co-owner of McGrail Vineyards and Winery.
"Our signature event has always been a sellout, and our clientele appreciates fine wine, so we wanted to draw from that and have them stay the whole weekend," she said. "We want to get people to come in from all over the Bay Area and to realize how much there is to do in the Livermore Valley."
The event starts Thursday with the popular wine- and food-pairing competition, in which 20 local winemakers each partner with a Bay Area chef to create a tapas-size item perfectly paired with a wine. The combinations are rated both by a panel of expert judges, who choose a winner, and by guests, who select a "people's choice" favorite.
A sampling of Friday events includes a sushi demonstration at Page Mill Winery; "Secrets of a Sommelier" at Double Barrel Wine Bar and a dessert wine stroll hosted by seven wineries.
Saturday includes a cooking demonstration by celebrity chef Ryan Scott at McGrail Vineyards and Winery and a demonstration of barrel-making and the effect of the wood on wine at Nottingham Cellars. Saturday will also feature a five-course varietal dinner with local winemakers featuring 17 Livermore Valley wines at the Martinelli Event Center at Garre Winery.
Sunday's events include a wine-and-cheese-tasting seminar at La Rochelle Winery, a wine and food pairing at Auburn James and a wine glass seminar and tasting at Las Positas Vineyards.
"There is something for every level," said Chris Chandler, executive director of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association. "If you already have an in-depth knowledge of wine and the winemaking process there are options for you, and at the same time if you're just curious there are some interesting and engaging events as well."
Organizers are hoping to showcase the continued growth and success of Livermore Valley wines to food fans throughout the Bay Area, said Jennifer Fazio, vice president of operations for The Steven Kent Winery and La Rochelle Winery.
"When I was first on the (Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association) board, there were 12 wineries; that was back in 1996," Fazio said. "Now, we have well over 40. Obviously we've grown a lot. There's a lot to see, and the quality is really apparent. Hopefully we'll get people out here to see that for themselves."
The Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association Taste Our Terroir four-day event will be held Thursday through Sunday, July 18-21, at a variety of winery venues. Each event requires its own ticket, with prices ranging from about $35 to $65 for most. The popular food- and wine-pairing competition kicks off the series from 6-9 p.m. Thursday. Tickets for that event are $85.
Combination packages also are available.
For details, or to buy tickets, visit http://www.lvwine.org.