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Wines that make you say WOW! 4th Annual West of West Wine Festival

The tent setting at The Barlow is convenient and perfectly sized. Cheese purveyors from the region offer samples.
The tent setting at The Barlow is convenient and perfectly sized. Cheese purveyors from the region offer samples.Linda Compisi

The West Sonoma County Vintners association hosted their 4th annual West of West (WOW) wine festival recently at The Barlow in Sebastopol. This was a unique (and in some cases 'rare') opportunity to taste the wines and meet many of the winemakers from this small rugged area of west Sonoma County.

The fog and coastal weather give West Sonoma Coast wines their distinct characteristics
The fog and coastal weather give West Sonoma Coast wines their distinct characteristicsCourtesy West Sonoma Coast Vintners

The Sonoma Coast American Viticultural Area (AVA) stretches the entire western boundary of Sonoma County from south of Petaluma all along the Pacific to the Mendocino coast. The West Sonoma Coast has distinguished itself by earning top honors around the world for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

It is the quality of these ultra premium cool climate grapes that has lead to efforts to establish 'sub-appellations' for several microclimates within the greater Sonoma Coast. Most recently, Fort Ross-Seaview received status as an AVA in 2012.

Identifying the 'Best of the West' at WOW is certainly a daunting challenge for even the most experienced palate. The region is a virtual 'Who's Who" of ultra-premium Pinot and Chardonnay. Names like Paul Hobbs Winery, Ramey Wine Cellars, Littorai Wines, Hirsch Vineyard & Winery, Lynmar Estate, Benovia, Peay Vineyards, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Small Vines, MacPhail Family Wines, Failla Wines, and Siduri to name a few are synonymous with Pinot Noir in particular. If you have tasted any of these wines you know there is something very special about Sonoma Coast and especially the West Sonoma Coast.

Newcomers (or in some cases newly recognized) keep adding to the variety of West Sonoma Coast wines. As they gain experience and learn from their neighbors, these names will certainly join the 'Pantheon' associated with this grape growing region. Noteworthy to this list are Furthermore Pinot Noir, Zepaltas and Senses Wines.

The Festival included Friday night Welcome Dinners which were hosted by member wineries and included the special opportunity to dine with the winemakers. Saturday was loaded with seminars, vineyard tours and flight tastings. The culmination of the festival was the Grand Tasting held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Meanwhile, The Barlow, just one hour north of San Francisco, continues its fast rise as an attraction by adding more restaurants and tasting rooms. MacPhail Family Wines just opened their tasting lounge a block from the festival site. Duskie Estes Zazu kitchen + farm and Woodfour Brewing offer cuisine at different ends of the spectrum. A spirits distillery, a bakery, a community market and many, many more unique offerings make The Barlow a complete destination.

Check the slideshow to view the highlights.

WOW Wine Festival and The Barlow in Sebastopol are the place to be August 1-2, 2015. Save the date!

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