There are loads of things to do in the Bay Area over Labor Day weekend. Not necessarily in the city, but throughout the entire Bay Area, north, south and east. For example:
- Sacramento stages its annual Gold Rush Days celebration;
- Livermore has its Harvest Weekend;
- Millbrae its Art and Wine Festival;
- Oakland its Art&Soul Festival
- Point Reyes its Annual Sand Sculpture Competition
- Sonoma has its multi-event, multi-venue Sonoma Wine Country Weekend; which contains a weekend full of picnics, tastings, BBQs, winemaker lunches and dinners, culminating in Sunday’s wine auction; and
- Sausalito just boosted the ante of its traditional Sausalito Art Festival by adding an Open Studios event in which artists in a nearby ICB Art Studios complex open their studios for free tours.
Yet, with all this activity and diversity, we have been doing the same two events for years:
- Saturday, we do the Taste of Sonoma event at the beautiful MacMurray Ranch, west of Healdsburg.
- Sunday is the Sausalito Art Festival adding this time, a tour of more than 25 artist studios The Sausalito Open Studios.
Taste of Sonoma
This year’s event was everything we have come to expect. The centerpiece of the event was five huge tents, each representing wineries and restaurants from four Sonoma wine regions: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Sonoma Valley. Each had tables for perhaps a hundred different wineries, pouring samples of their different varietals. A number of these wineries partnered with local restaurants, caterers or winery chefs to produce food tastings that paired with specific wines.
Taste of Sonoma, however, is more than wine tasting and food pairings. The Bubble Lounge was a separate section that was dedicated to, you guessed it, sparkling wines. Another tent was dedicated to cooking demonstrations and Steel Chef competitions. Special reserve wines were poured at a special VIP lounge at the ranch house.
There were also plenty of educational events, with sommelier-guided tent tours, lectures, comparative tastings and a tent in which Crushpad, our local do-it-yourself winery, provided demonstrations and lectures on different aspects of winemaking.
Sausalito Art Festival and Open Studios
The art festival was, as usual, great: The styles were diverse, the art was lovely, the music fun and the atmosphere festive. This year, for the first time in recent memory, we even managed to get out without buying anything, although we do plan to visit the studio of one particularly interesting glass artist).
The open studios event, as we discovered, has been going on for four years. This, however, was the first time we were aware of it. Unfortunately for the relative handful of galleries that were open, visitors were sparse. The small crowds, however, did provide a great opportunity to watch and speak with the artists. We ended up learning far more about the process of oil painting than we ever imagined was involved. Moreover, this preview has given us a great incentives to return for one of the complexes primary open houses (in which most artists participate) in May and December.
Typically, we always combine a trip to the Art Festival with something else. One of our favorite trips is biking to Sausalito, stopping for lunch at Murray Circle, spending a couple hours at the festival, stopping for a snack or early dinner at Fish, and then taking the ferry home. Although we always enjoy the trip, we unfortunately had to opt for what we expected to be a quick trip. Unfortunately, there was no such thing as quick in the 5-10 MPH traffic (both ways) within a few miles of the bridge. But even this may have been easier than biking on the same bridge sidewalk as pedestrians (since the Western walkway is now closed).
Still, a small price to pay for a fun afternoon.