WOW Wine Festival Opens The Barlow in Sonoma County

Sonoma County's West of West wine event

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WOW Wine Festival Opens The Barlow in Sonoma County

It's been a dream in the making since 2005. But finally, The Barlow is a reality, and to kick off the celebration, West of West (WOW) is taking over the magnificent Sonoma Wine Country complex in downtown Sebastopol this weekend, running a full two days of wine seminars, wine tastings, and a gala dinner.

The 220,000-square-foot, $23.5 million culinary and art center at Sebastopol Avenue/Highway 12 and Morris Street has been long awaited, as developer Barney Aldrige worked his way through the permitting and development phases for the past seven years.

So what better way to show off the efforts to transform a defunct apple processing plant into an industrial-chic community destination boasting more than two dozen tenants, all showcasing arts, agriculture, food and wine?

Put together by the West Sonoma Coast Vintners association, WOW's Saturday schedule includes two wine seminars starting at 10 a.m. on The Barlow grounds, plus a luncheon, and then a Grand Tasting from 3 to 6 p.m., showcasing the wines of more than 40 producers and growers from the West Sonoma Coast.

Many of these wineries are tiny production and hard-to-find; they're considered maverick gems and feature names like Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Red Car Vineyards, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, and Small Vines.

The premium pours will be enjoyed alongside foods from local artisan purveyors like Hog Island Oysters, Boccalone Salami, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Liberty Duck, Olio Olive oil, Rocker Oysterfeller's, Trois Cochon Pates, Village Bakery, and Taylor Made Coffee.

Next, at 6 p.m. that same day, The Barlow will host a WOW Grand Dinner put together as a 'Low Country' seafood feast by James Beard finalist Steven Satterfield of Miller Union Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia.

Special bottlings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will be supplied by members of the West Sonoma Coast Vintners, and guests are welcome to bring a choice from their cellar to share.

The WOW party starts again at 10 a.m. on Sunday with more seminars, capped by a repeat Grand Tasting from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

This is the third annual WOW, and already, attendance for the weekend is already near capacity. So would-be-attendees need to purchase tickets quickly. And note that there are lots of other outside-The-Barlow WOW activities beginning Friday, too, like winery dinners and vineyard tours.

West of West, Aug. 2-4, 2013,

Tina Luster