Oh, the tribulations of wining in the country! Miles of vineyards stretch between each winery, befuddling GPS systems and trusty internet devices. Don't know much about wine? Vineyard visitations also dig deeply into the pocket, especially when that Chard really didn't taste much different from that Sauvignon.
Eighth Street Wineries strips the thorns off the stem. The business collaborative features 10 local wineries whose cellars cluster around Eighth Street in Sonoma, an area filled with industrial-strength architecture. This unusual choice for a winetasting hot spot is where Enkidu Wine, Ty Caton Vineyards, MacRostie Vineyards, Three Sticks Durell Vineyards, Kamen Estate Wines, Talisman Wine, Parmelee-Hill Wines and Vineyards, Stone Edge Farm, Anaba Wines and Tin Barn Vineyards exchange skills and tools of the trade as well as share their craft with the community. Twice every year, Eighth Street Wineries hosts an open house, where devoted locals and serious wine drinkers gather to sip and nibble their way down the grape-lined avenue.
Sure, the aesthetics may seem a little stark, but Eighth Street is strictly about wine. While the collective is geared toward everyone, the open house targets newbies. Tin Barn's Amy Tsaykel says, "It's completely unpretentious. It's all about what goes into the bottle, and we really love people to come and not know anything about wine." Interaction between the winemakers and the customers is the linchpin to the event's success, which just last year attracted over 750 enthusiasts. "It's important that people see where we actually make the wine, to establish some connection between the wine and the fact that it's actually handmade," Tsaykel says.
Conveniently enough, Eight Street's Open House not only brings the people to the winemakers, but it's an easy one-stop. Visitors park once and enjoy food, wine and a chance to win one of three six-packs. Local specialists put the "art" in artisan during their Open House on Saturday, Aug. 7, at Eighth Street Wineries. 21481 Eighth St. E., Sonoma. 11am to 4pm. $30. 707.996.4480.